A Look At The Best Cars For Commuting in 2021

Hyundai Elantra

Most drivers spend their time commuting, though it may not be the best driving experience in the world. It is a vital part of our culture however; there is even a set of towns known as “part of the commuter belt.” Lets dive into the phenomena of commuting and the types of car best suited for it.

The Company Car:

The 1960’s was especially known for the introduction of a specific commuter vehicle; the company car, given as part of the job package. As the name suggests the vehicle does need to have the approval of your company and are usually of the “city car” appearance, rather than something like an SUV. It’s part of something called an incentive package. Starting around World War II, when businesses were capped on how much they could pay employees, businesses have responded with incentives. They initially took the form of retirement and health insurance plans, but in the 60’s they also included a company car, and it’s a tool to attract talent still today.

According to the website mybusiness.com 71.3% of all businesses have a company car, while an additional 6.1% have a “car allowance,” for fuel and so on.

The company car comes in many forms starting with a fleet vehicle which you can take home with you overnight. The car is owned and maintained by an employer but you don’t have to put miles on your personal car getting to and from work.

Another common type of company car is when the company leases or buys a car for your use, pretty much without restriction. In this scenario, you typically make your own maintenance arrangements and pay for it yourself, but at least you don’t have a car payment to deal with. Not many people realize that you can sell the company car in the future. For this reason, it may be worthwhile using your own private vehicle on the weekend or whenever you aren’t at work.

Sometimes the company will pay for maintenance just to be sure you’re taking care of it. There are a few companies that also pay for gas, with the stipulation that you’re not charging them for personal use gas–on vacation for example. It’s a bit of gray area.

Non-Company Commuter Cars

For the rest of this post, I will assume that you don’t have a company car. If you commute more than 60 miles a day it pays to have your own vehicle, it is best to look for something fuel efficient and comfortable. It is not cost-effective for a couple to rely on one car if both of you commute, but it all depends on maintenance costs, insurance and how much you earn.

The top three priorities for a commuter car are fuel efficiency, comfort, and reliability.

Nissan Leaf

Good cars for a commuter include the Nissan Leaf especially for those who require an eco-friendly car. It helps if your workplace has charging stations. The 40kWh charger allows for 149 mile range. Confusingly the e-Pedal system that they utilise is a mechanical system, but it gives, according to reports, effective braking.

Reviews Chevy Sonic

An alternative would be the Chevrolet Sonic which has an abundant level of space allowing you to sit in comfort whether in the back or the front. Also adding to the driving enjoyment is Bluetooth and Apple CarPlay.

Chevy Cruze

Hyandai Elantra has similar plus points in its upholstery with its sizable headroom and legroom, as does the Chevrolet Cruze which has the special upgrade of heated seats, which is so important when commuting on a cold day.

Maybe you will get a new car for the new year – keep life fresh?

Driver’s Costs and Expenses

Many new drivers underestimate the various car costs they have to shell out for, whether they be fixed (standing charges at certain points of the year) or ones that may be altered. We often put ourselves in debt by buying a car but sometimes expenses get out of hand—we get “car poor.”

It’s worth shopping around on comparison sites to obtain the best value for items like insurance or other costs which vary from vendor to vendor.

Most people are aware of the running costs – fuel, maintenance, parking and fines, as well as insurance but there are other payments to consider. The car itself may not be paid off in one lump sum but you need to be fairly soluble finance-wise in order to afford it.

Let’s face it, the individual costs are a headache, so it is well worth creating a check-list so you make sure you don’t miss anything and don’t receive any nasty surprises.

Every vehicle in the US needs its own certificate of ownership. It shows the owner’s name and address, the registration number and various other details.

The applications need to be made to the state office, which may be the Department of Motor Vehicles. When selling the vehicle, the seller should endorse the certificate of title. Another thing the seller should do is notify the office which issued the certificate that a sale has been made.

As well as this (hopefully endorsed) certificate of title you also need…

  • Proof of ownership, which may be the certificate of sale
  • Proof of your identity including your date of birth
  • Proof of insurance
  • Sales tax clearance
  • An emission inspection certificate if needed
  • The completed registration form and the fee itself. This may be a flat fee or could be based on such variables as age, value or even weight of the car. (If you wish a personalised plate you will need to pay more.)

If you are wishing to move to another state, you will need to re-register your vehicle pretty soonish. You may need to apply for a visitor’s permit if you have to drive in an unregistered car while waiting for registration to take place.

There are special municipalities in the US which charge a particular tax rate. Trucks or buses in contrast have to pay a heavy use tax, though vans and pick-up trucks pay the normal amount. If you travel more than 5,000 miles by the truck you don’t have to pay this tax.

In addition to these taxes New York has a Highway Use Tax which is similar to the congestion charge found in several foreign cities.

There are numerous other costs to consider, items such as car seats if you happen to have young children, a sat nav if your car doesn’t have one in-built, and various products to help with day-to-day running such as a de-icer or car polish.

But there’s so much pleasure in the open road, it must be worth all the expense? Right?

A look at China and Cars

Op-Ed by P. Wimsett

These days you might see conspiracies everywhere you go, at least where China is concerned. However a closer look at car making in China presents an interesting conundrum. Although China has built up a reputation as the world’s factory (due to various tax exemptions and the ability to operate without too many rules and regulations) other countries have proved better in exporting cars. And China’s domestic market could be a lot better.

The question might not be why the Chinese car market is huge, but why isn’t it bigger?

Not that cars aren’t important of course, its just that other materials have been more important. It just has never been a priority for the country. Although 46.8% of China’s GDP is from manufacture, most of this is chemicals, steel, and cotton. The manufacture of cars goes way down the list. Typically, countries that make there own steel do well in the vehicle manufacturing arena.

When you consider the entrepreneurial spirit of countries such as the US and Japan it doesn’t come as that remarkable that these countries sell more cars. But China gives them a run for their money-or did until very recently.

Last July there were reports that the Chinese car industry was failing. In 2019 there were 21 million passenger vehicles created in the country whereas 2017 had 24 million cars (These figures are from the German Association of the Automotive Industry).

But as of now the country seems to have come through the Coronavirus and out the other side, its possible to view China car manufacturing as an investment.

It seemed that even without the virus, the Chinese car industry was in a bad way. It seems that car sales in China fell by 92% after that with only 811 vehicles produced per day. Even without the virus we wouldn’t exactly be singing China’s praises as far as the car market is concerned.

Names like Chang-an and Chery Automobiles haven’t fared that well in the Western world, where Japanese cars remain quite popular. In other words The “West” has no problem buying cars made in Japan or South Korea, but not China. The Chinese seem okay buying Western Cars so long as they are made in China, which was the case until Covid shut down several factories.

To look at one name in more detail, Ford’s sales in China fell 20%. Since a factory operating at 80% can only break even, Ford was forced to close factories temporarily.

We don’t really know how much of this is Covid related and how much was already in the works. The closures were treated as longer Lunar New Year holiday. There’s not that much good news at the moment.

The factories were not just manufacturing Chinese cars. In Wuhan there was a Nissan factory (which were founded in Japan) and one for Honda (also Japan) and Hyandai (South Korea). So, by China falling ill, other countries soon felt the pinch.

Maybe by looking into how the US and Japan operate, China can now take the advantage? When the lockdown is over, and people begin to take to their cars out more it will be a rush by all automakers to resume manufacture. China could focus on finding a competitive advantage for their designs.

Areas it might look into is creating lightweight designs with composite materials, possibly personalizing the design. Things must surely change for the Chinese market, there should be a way through. Granted, these times are unprecedented, so no one knows what is coming.

Inside the Motorbike Garage

For those who prefer the motorbike to the car what are options when it comes to improvement?

It depends on if you wish to restore the bike or start a new trend. With special parts and kits available including luggage racks, tool bags, fenders and crash bars amongst other items you can customize the bike for your needs.

Before customizing a new bike, be aware that it will violate the factory warranty. Most bike enthusiasts are more concerned with customizing than factory warranties, but it’s worth mentioning.

Possibly there is too much emphasis on restoring the bike to factory settings. Instead of completely restoring the bike, it may only need to look right. In this case you can give it more power and reliability.

Before taking your bike anywhere make sure the shop can deal with your specific make; some brands are obscure (there are more brands of motorcycle than automobile). Some dealers specialise in only one make, if you are looking to fix a rare Kawaski for instance it makes sense to go to someone who specializes in only that type of bike.

The aftermarket refers to the market for the repair or enhancement of a product. The improvements depend on whether you are dealing with a dirt bike or one more designed for the road. Frames may need to be modified, engines to be rebuilt. Does your bike require the latest top of the range wheels? It will certainly help it in its performance.

You may be looking at purchasing a hand-built motorbike from a specific factory rather than a more well-known make. The tricky area is that your hands will be tied if and when it breaks down, the person best qualified to fix it will be the original manufacturer.

If you are looking to do your own repair job on the motorbike it might help browsing picture sites such as Pinterest and Instagram to see what other people are doing, what works and what may be a mistake. This is particularly true of color choice. Most people like a black or strong color such as red, but if you see a cooler color you’d prefer out there, maybe you can give your bike a respray? You could also change the color of the seating or the frame, etc. You are hampered only by the size of the vehicle.

The motor trike is a recent invention, although considered as cool as a motorbike, many go up to a seventh gear and there are better luggage options than a regular bike. Other areas of improvement are better comfort and more seating – two seater and three seater varieties are available, also they have a more centralized light than a motorbike. Well-known brands, for example, Harley Davison have created versions of motor trikes and customization is possible.

Other items you can obtain from a motorbike shop include Davida bowl-shaped helmets, 60s and 70s helmets, motorbike gloves and transfers to individualize your particular runabout.

Whether you are on a motorbike or motortrike you will be more exposed than you would be in a car so be careful out there. But it’s all part of the attraction of being a biker.

The Confusions Over Utility Vehicles

In one sense every car is a passenger car, although many are also created with another purpose in mind, so when we use the term “passenger vehicle” we’re referring to a car whose primary purpose is to carry groups of people. Many passenger cars have features that ignore things like rough roads, so there is a need for something that carries people and is a bit more rugged, whether this is more one type of vehicle or the other is open to debate.

Utility Vehicles

Utility vehicles are designed for a specific purpose; it isn’t a passenger car alone. Many utility vehicles like SUVs were designed for off-road usage and for towing other vehicles in a way similar to a jeep.

Small utility vehicles are likely to be electric/zero emission. They aren’t as good as jeeps for towing due to their compactness. To add to the confusion, a jeep is called a light utility vehicle, even if there are many utility vehicles which are lighter.

A coupe utility or tray utility vehicle has a cargo “bed” at the back. These are known as ‘utes in the back.’

Sports Cars

Because of the link with sports utility vehicles, it is worthwhile to identify just what a sports car is – one which is designed for on-road driving. As with the SUV both designs are prioritizing handling, power, and acceleration.

The Tesla Cybertruck, which is new for 2021, may be thought of as a cross between a coupe utility vehicle and a sports car; the large storage area of a coupe utility vehicle but with the performance of a sports car. Its appearance is futuristic, note the stainless-steel facade. It also has the 0-60 rate of 2.9 seconds. It has been built for such functions as moving, carrying and towing.

Regular SUVs

A regular SUV has been also referred to as a tall SUV due to its increased height. The purpose of the height is ground clearance so you vehicle can climb over obstacles. Many are 4-wheel drive and may be referred to as 4×4, but technically these can be any car with off-road functionality, so it might be a jeep.

There is a feeling of chunkiness in the design and a long jump to the ground. It has the ability to drive through dirt, mud and some rocky surfaces, though there are limits to how far it can go. Always check it over when you have finished for the day.

Crossovers:

Crossovers are a type of sports utility vehicle crossed with a passenger car; they’re not designed for off-road use as much as a regular SUV. 50% of all SUV purchases are crossovers. There are sub-compact, compact, mid-size and full size crossovers available. In the UK they may be thought of being hatchbacks with some extra styling.

Why buy a crossover? The plus points include a large cargo space, a large passenger area and a nippy engine.

SSVs

An SSV is a small vehicle designed for recreational use. The number of passengers can be from 2 to 6 and the seating is “side by side”. Some SSVs have enclosed cabs, some do not. They are made by manufacturers such as Honda, Yamaha and Kawasaki.

Essentially all SUVs, jeeps, coupe utility vehicles and crossovers are multi-functioning vehicles and they all come down to being of utility or usefulness; whatever your needs.

Testing A Car’s Aerodynamics

A number of companies are dropping wind tunnels in favor of virtual simulation. Against what people may think, the computer simulation gives a better idea of reality than wind tunnels.

Propulsion, also known as drag, has a complicated relationship with the speed of the vehicle. As the speed doubles the drag goes up to four times that much.

Using wind tunnels to test cars goes all the way back to 1960. Things that can be tested include the design, speed, fuel efficiency and how the driver handles the car, the latter is especially important in assisting racecar drivers to know how to perform in the toughest conditions.

For a car to turn corners at 200mph requires the aerodynamics to be tested and retested. Racecar designers will actually use wind to artificially increase the cars weight to improve its traction and handling. They do this by adding spoilers and fins in order to increase the downforce.

It’s important that the peak of the roof is far enough forward, which not only adds to the aerodynamics it means there is more headroom for the back seat.

BMWs are tested in the Aerodynamic Test Center, which recreated road speed and air speed, up to a massive 300 km/h. The difficulty here is that you need a prototype vehicle to start with.

The variables investigated include the drag, lift, side forces, pitch, yaw, and roll.

The lift is the opposite to the drag, an upward force countering the weight of the object.

The pitch is a rotation by side parts of the vehicle, it isn’t that noticeable unless you are talking about the wing of a plane or the sail of a yacht.

The yaw is the rotation of the vehicle’s nose whereas the roll is the rotation of the whole vehicle’s body, usually in a crash.

In reducing these variables, the car becomes easier to handle. To prevent a car skidding on the road, you need to know the yaw and the drag especially, to prevent the car flipping over you need to know the roll force, but also the load and pitch forces. Ultimately whatever happens to a car is a result of all these forces interacting with one another. If a car is unstable it will be harder to control.

Flow Field

The areas that are affected by the aerodynamics of a vehicle is known as a “flow field”. It all comes down to optimization, making the car as easy to handle as it can be. This include lengthening the car, which effects the flow field” to make the car more aerodynamic as well as fuel effective–the pressure is distributed around the vehicle. The “flow field” is a picture of the drag, lift and the side forces and is shaped in a similar way to the car itself.

After the indoor stuff the cars are tested on the racetrack. They require 200 hours in all.

Another way of carrying out test is modelling, at around 30-60% of the production size. It’s a way to carry out similar tests but to save on running costs.

It’s best to understand how your car operates in tests so you know where the potential liabilities are. A car only drives well because its aerodynamics have been well thought out.

The Black & White of Car Choices

The most popular car color depends on the make and model of the car, which tends to be limited by the types of colors offered by the manufacturer. However, the two most popular colors of car overall are black (22%) and white (19%).

White Cars

Some people think they look cheap, others think they look girly. There’s a feeling that the people who own them are pristine and direct, though for some people direct can mean cynical or over-honest. White has become popular due to its link with technology, white i-phones, i-pads and so on. They keep in more of their heat during a hot day.

If you have a white car you may need a glaze as well as a wax to increase the brightness. Any car needs wax to remove scratches from the surface and a white car is no exception.

If you wish to paint a car white you should know there are various paint shades on the market, apart from “Pearl White” which is a metallic white most whites could be thought of as a conventional white with various shades of brightness, “Ermine White”, “Artic White” and so on. Care must be taken when handling car paints as they contain solvents as well as being awkward to apply.

Popular white cars on the market according to online marketer “Car Shop” include Ford Fiestas and Ford Focuses (which you may associate with single people, especially males?) as well as Vauxhall Corsas and Astras. It seems that white is also a popular color for pickups, vans, and minivans.

Black Cars

A black car owner in contrast is much more rebellious and possibly dangerous, don’t want to be dull or normal, even if the most famous black car, the Model T, was only black due to convenience. The owners of a black car may have a feeling of confidence and sophistication or want to be seen as such.

Strangely enough, black cars are the hardest to keep clean. It’s not a good choice for someone who drives a great deal through mud. Black cars heat up the interior more, 130 degrees F as opposed to 113 degrees F in a white car.

The blackness enhances the shape of the car, making it appear bigger and smoother.

Black cars should be waxed every three months to keep in peak condition, otherwise swirling can form. Buffing can remove scratches but can also get rid of wax.

The Vantablack is the world’s blackest black paint, less reflective than the usual black paint; more than 99% of the light is absorbed.

It has the uncanny feel that you are staring at a car which isn’t there, we’re not used to a black that can absorb so much light. Without the visual cues of the reflection the headlights seem to hang in mid-air, an optical illusion.

Although it will be hard to get your hand on a car painted in Vantablack there are a number of best-selling black cars out there. Black is the most popular color for coupes, followed by sport cars. After black and white the next popular color tends to be brown, though a small minority are more experimental with their choice of color, especially those who buy cars when they first come out. As well as looking for a “reliable engine,” owners tend to look for a “reliable color” and black or white achieves that.