Whether you’re heading into the office or running daily errands, an affordable commuter car offers plenty of convenience per dollar that makes driving in the dense Los Angeles traffic a little more fuel-efficient.

The current lineup of budget-friendly commuting cars delivers a range of features to meet every driver’s preference, such as fuel efficiency, roomy interiors, intuitive technology, and more. Check out the best affordable commuter cars below and browse for your top picks at Hawthorne Auto Square

1. 2024 Hyundai Elantra

With a sharp exterior style, spacious cabin, and compact body, the 2024 Hyundai Elantra offers a mix of convenience, comfort, and performance. Its conventional engine comes with a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine capable of 147 horsepower, while the hybrid model utilizes an electric motor for a slightly lower 139 horsepower. The standard Hyundai Elantra also earns up to 42 miles per gallon (mpg) and the hybrid model achieves as much as 56 mpg for a thriftier option.

The 2024 Hyundai Elantra also comes with an array of features, including a futuristic dashboard and center console, a modern infotainment system, and voice-recognition controls. Lane-centering adaptive cruise control and blind-spot monitoring plus a tight turn radius make it easy to drive and park in cramped city spaces.

2. 2024 Kia Forte

Zippy and sporty, the compact 2024 Kia Forte sedan is great on both the road and your budget. Available in four trims across a relatively narrow and low price range, the base Kia Forte LX offers a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine with 147 horsepower and a variable automatic transmission.

For enthusiastic drivers who prefer a peppy and engaged ride, the Kia Forte GT trim features a six-speed manual transmission and a 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine with 201 horsepower. The Kia Forte offers a combined fuel-economy rating of 34 mpg compared to the 27 combined mpg of the Kia Forte GT. 

3. 2024 Toyota Corolla

With an undeniable reputation for safety, efficiency, and comfort, the Toyota Corolla has long ranked among the most affordable and reliable compact cars. The 2024 Toyota Corolla remains true to its reliable heritage while also offering modern options, such as a stack of safety features, an optional hybrid powertrain, and a sleek and comfortable interior. 

Across an array of trims and options with a relatively low average MSRP, the Toyota Corolla offers further driver savings. The 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine boasts 169 horsepower and up to 41 mpg, and the hybrid XLE model impresses with up to 50 mpg. 

4. 2024 Honda Civic

Available as a sedan or hatchback, the 2024 Honda Civic has a stylish interior and features high-quality materials thanks to the line’s 2022 overhaul. Whether commuting or out for a leisurely drive, this streamlined and sporty car offers sprightly handling, spunky acceleration, and either a 158 horsepower 2.0-liter four-cylinder or 180 horsepower 1.5-liter turbo engine.

The Honda Civic EX trim earns the best fuel efficiency at a combined 36 mpg rating. Look out for the 2025 Honda Civic lineup, which includes an even more fuel-efficient hybrid model.

5. 2024 Mazda 3

Kitted out in stylish interior materials and available in either sleek sedan or hatchback body styles, the 2024 Mazda 3 brings a premium touch to an affordable commuter car. Its engine and drivetrain options are beefier across the board compared to many other fuel-efficient cars for commuting, featuring a 2.5-liter engine with a base of 191 horsepower or a turbocharged option with 250 horsepower. If you want a solid yet fun commuter, opt for the six-speed manual drivetrain to get the most from the intuitive handling and balanced ride.

6. 2024 Volkswagen Jetta

A model of affordability, the 2024 Volkswagen Jetta offers an upgraded safety and drive assistance system with stop-and-go adaptive cruise control and lane-keeping assist. Each 2024 Jetta trim option runs on a 1.5-liter four-cylinder engine with 158 horsepower, and the base S model offers either a standard six-speed manual or an optional eight-speed automatic transmission. Earning a top spot as one of the most affordable daily driver cars, the Jetta earns up to an estimated 44 mpg.

7. 2024 Nissan Sentra

Easy on both the wallet and the eyes, the 2024 Nissan Sentra earns its place among budget-friendly commuting cars for its strong perk-per-dollar setup. This sedan steps up from previous iterations with its revised all-over design as well as a stack of tech that includes a touchscreen display, ample driver-assistance technology, and connectivity access from both the back and front seats. Running on a 149-horsepower 2.0-liter engine, the Sentra’s continuously variable automatic transmission helps fuel efficiency reach up to 40 mpg.

The Best Car for Your Commute

When it comes to used vehicles, look for affordable commuter cars that still check all the safety, fuel economy, and longevity boxes. Factors such as fuel efficiency, the total miles and wear on the engine, maintenance history (or lack of), and past collisions can make the difference between a long-lasting and stress-free drive or a cheap car with unexpected repair costs later on.

For safety and driver assistance technology, look for features such as adaptive cruise control, which controls the car’s speed and maintains preset distances from vehicles ahead. Other tech includes assisted lane-centering, blind spot warning, surround-view cameras, and traffic sign recognition. Look for other perks, such as comfy interiors and sleek exteriors.

Visit Hawthorne Auto Square

As an everyday commuter, you value reliability, safety, and affordability. Affordable doesn’t have to mean minimal, however, and the top affordable used commuter cars offer a blend of function and fun driving features. 

For fun, comfortable, and affordable commuter cars, Hawthorne Auto Square has hundreds of low-mileage and pre-owned vehicles in stock. We’re a buy-here-pay-here dealership that can help you with credit-friendly financing options and a six-month comprehensive warranty on any car. Contact us to learn more or schedule your visit at our Los Angeles used car dealership.


At what speed is a car most fuel-efficient?

Conventional vehicles are most fuel-efficient at about 55 miles per hour. Hybrid vehicles evenly maintain fuel efficiency between about 45 and 75 mph.

Why is vehicle mileage important?

High mileage can indicate greater wear on a vehicle while low mileage and infrequent use can result in brittle parts, but regular maintenance can help maintain the vehicle’s reliability and extend its lifespan in either case.