Go to the Globe and Mail homepage

Jump to main navigationJump to main content

Best of the Lot

How to deal with driving 10 hours per week in traffic Add to ...

Hey, you guys: I dread my daily drive to the office. Just hate it. I spend at least 10 hours a week in traffic, going back and forth to the office or visiting clients. It's awful. But I can't quit. I won't go into it, but I just can't. So what I need now is a decent, affordable and reliable car with room inside, a smooth ride and good gas mileage. I don't want to empty my wallet, so keep that in mind. What do you think? - Noel in Mississauga, Ont.

More related to this story

Vaughan: Anyone who endures 10 hours a week sitting in traffic needs a change, not a car. Move closer to the office, Noel. Then we'll talk.

Cato: You are insufferable and insensitive. You have no idea why Noel does the traffic tango every day. He may have no choice in the matter.

Vaughan: Everyone has a choice.

Cato: And Noel's choice here has been to ask for some advice about a commuter car. So let's get down to business. Noel, start with the 2011 Hyundai Sonata, which has a base sticker of $22,649 and at least a $3,000 cash incentive to lower that price. The Sonata is comfortable and big enough, I think, for Noel, too.

Vaughan: I have no problem with the Hyundai, Cato. It's a winner and not too expensive. But Mr. 10-hours-a-week should also consider the $27,800 Toyota Prius hybrid. Look at the fuel economy: 3.7 litres/100 km in the city and 4.0 on the highway.

Cato: You talking up a hybrid? What about a diesel?

Vaughan: Be patient, though I know it's hard for you. Hybrids can't be beat for stop-and-go driving; diesels can't be beat for highway cruising. Sounds like Noel is doing little cruising.

Cato: What excites me here is the fact Toyota Canada has slapped on a $1,500 cash incentive for the Prius. Toyota's original hybrid has a firm, steady ride, is reasonably roomy inside and the rear hatchback is ideal for loading large items in the cargo hold.

Best of all - and this goes straight to Noel's big worry - it's reliable. The taxi drivers in Vancouver who almost all drive a Prius marvel at it. They tell me they get 170,000 km between brake jobs and the car never breaks. Consumer Reports says it's the most reliable car you can buy.

Vaughan: Yes, Cato, I agree. But just maybe Noel is blasting down the highway an hour a day in which case the Golf TDI diesel is the better choice. He didn't specify the kind of monotony he's suffering. Stop-and-go means Prius; flat-out highway means TDI.

Cato: It's not cheap to buy, though. The least-expensive Golf diesel in five-door form starts at $25,275. That said, Volkswagen Canada looks to be boosting Golf sales with as much as $1,500 in cash incentives. Ask your dealer, Noel.

Vaughan: Whatever VW Canada is putting in the glovebox to spur sales, diesel cars get about 25 per cent better fuel economy than comparable gasoline cars.

Cato: Sure, and the Golf has a very high resale value. I'm not going to argue with you here, Vaughan, though I should do simply on principle and for the fun of it.

Noel, here's what you should not bother with: crossover wagons, minivans, SUVs, pickups and all that. I know light trucks such as these are flying off the lot in record numbers, thanks to all the fat sales sweeteners being offered by the car makers. But you don't want a light truck of any sort. You want a car and we've suggested three good ones.

Vaughan: Cato is talking sensibly here and we all should note the date and time. No lectures, no rants. I need to sit down.

Cato: My vote's for the Prius. The most reliable of the bunch, and the cleanest, too.

Vaughan: See above: stop-and-go means Prius; highway cruising means TDI. And if you're tired of our arguing just go out and get that Sonata.

*****

HOW THEY COMPARE



2011 Golf TDI Comforline four-door hatchback

2011 Toyota Prius four-door hatchback

2011 Hyundai Sonata GL sedan

Wheelbase (mm)

2578

2700

2795

Length (mm)

4201

4460

4820

Width (mm)

1786

1785

1835

Height (mm)

1480

1480

1470

Engine

2.0-litre four-cylinder, Diesel

1.8-litre four-cylinder with electric motor, battery pack and hybrid contoller system

2.4-litre four-cylinder

Output (horsepower/torque)

140/236 lb-ft

134 net horsepower

198/184 lb-ft

Drive system

front-wheel drive

front-wheel drive

front-wheel drive

Transmission

six-speed manual

CVT

six-speed manual

Curb weight (kg)

1388

1380

1437

Fuel economy (litres/100 km)

6.7 city/4.6 highway

3.7 city/4.0 highway

8.7 city/5.7 highway

Base price (MSRP)

$25,275

$27,800

$22,649

Source: car manufacturers

Jeremy Cato and Michael Vaughan are co-hosts of Car/Business, which appears Fridays at 8 p.m. on Business News Network and Saturdays at 11:30 a.m. on CTV.

Follow on Twitter: @catocarguy

In the know

Most popular video »

Highlights

More from The Globe and Mail

Most Popular Stories