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The 2017 Mazda 3 was choses and U.S. News and World Report’s top commuter car.

Daily trips to and from the office can be painless cruises on wide open roads taking minutes. Judging from traffic figures and motorists anecdotes, it’s more often hard-to-endure treks in endless lines of traffic stretching commutes to hours.

Either way, certain vehicles make for more comfortable, energy-saving commutes whether a solo motorist or carpooling, automotive researchers say.

“Drive to work every day and your car can feel like a second home for the hours spent behind the wheel,” U.S. News and World Report said in its top commuter car findings last year.

“The average commuter probably doesn’t need to see U.S. Census Bureau data to know the nationwide average commute each day is getting longer,” the publication noted. It pointed out that “86 percent of Americans who work outside the home travel to work via automobile,” according to Census figures.

In its report, the magazine said that fuel economy, comfort and technology conveniences are likely factors for buyers of commuter cars. Safety features are more common than before, whether forward-collision warning or lane departure warning with steering assist.

“Look for a car with comfortable back-seat space for passengers,” according to U.S. News and World Report. Electric or plug-in hybrids are an option, notably because of federal tax credits can mean a hefty rebate. Many states also offer credits and single-rider “high-occupancy vehicle” lane permission for electric cars.

The guide’s top eight choices are headed by the 2017 Mazda3, priced at $17,845; equipped standard with a 155-horsepower four-cylinder engine and EPA estimated 28 mpg in the city and 37 on the highway.

Next are the Kia Forte costing $16,600 seating five comfortably and including a rear-view camera and LED headlights; Honda Civic valued at $18,750 and getting up to 40 mpg highway with seating for five and “a generous package of standard and high-tech features; Toyota Prius hybrid garnering 54 mpg city and 50 mpg highway and including a solid safety package; Chevrolet Bolt plug-in priced at $36,620 -- the least expensive electric -- and able to travel more than 200 miles on a single charge; Buick Encore costing $22,990 and available in six trims; GMC Acadia midsize SUV priced at $29,070 and showing top safety scores and good fuel-efficiency; and Toyota Highlander hybrid, also a midsize SUV with “superior fuel economy, standard all-wheel drive and solid safety features” and seating up to eight people.

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