» more from Autos

The Best Cars for Commuting

The average commute in the U.S. is about 25 minutes each way. That’s 50 minutes a day, more than four hours a week — and more than 200 hours a year.

When you spend that much time behind the wheel, you need to choose your ride carefully.

“A good commuter car is one that should be economical, both in operation but also, and perhaps more importantly, in purchase price,” said Robert Sinclair, the manager of media relations for AAA New Yorkand the test-drive editor of their Car & Travel magazine.

With gas prices barreling toward $4 a gallon, it also has to get better-than-average fuel efficiency. And, with all the crazy drivers you encounter, making a mad dash to be on time, you have to have a car with good safety features.

“Safety is an important consideration: It’s far better to avoid a crash than attempt to survive one,” Sinclair said. And we’re not just talking air bags, Sinclair said — we’re talking about a solid body structure and good visibility.

“That’s why I like station wagons,” Sinclair said. They’ve not only got extra pillars of support in the back that cars with trunks just don’t have. Plus, with all those windows, they offer great visibility. They may not be as sexy as, say, a convertible, but they get high marks for safety. “Style can create certain compromises when it comes to safety,” Sinclair said.

You also want what they call “active safety features” such as stability control, quick steering, superior brakes and handling.

And, of course, some creature comforts inside – comfortable seats, a good stereo system, good navigation, Bluetooth for hands-free connectivity, and a roomy trunk or hatch so when you stop to pick up some groceries on the way home, you can fit it all in.

Here are 10 of the best cars for commuting, according to AAA New York, and what makes them great rides for work.

Sources: List from AAA New York, extra analysis from Kelly Blue Book and Edmunds.com and fuel-efficiency data from Fueleconomy.gov.

Photo: Tetra Images | Getty Images