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Colin Wood
Colin Wood Associate Editor
12/3/21 4:38 p.m.

As much as we love our track machines and our project cars, sometimes neither are particularly well suited to, say, getting groceries, commuting to the office or going on long road trips.

Enter the daily driver. Sure, these cars may not be quite as quick or interesting, but they still se…

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madmrak351 New Reader
12/3/21 4:49 p.m.

My Silverado pickup is fantastic as far as towing hauling stuff in the bed and more. However almost anything with 3 pedals is more fun, even my son's Xterra.

DirtyBird222 PowerDork
12/3/21 6:53 p.m.

The older I get the one constant I've always kept is decent power. The older I get the more I want in terms of comfort, sound system, and versatility. 

That being said I drive a lifted Sequoia as a daily thats beat to E36 M3. Waiting this market out. 

Keith Tanner
Keith Tanner MegaDork
12/3/21 7:36 p.m.

Reliability :)

80sFast Reader
12/3/21 8:08 p.m.

In reply to Keith Tanner :

100%...other than that something you don't HAVE to think about, but when you do it makes you smile. 

Captdownshift (Forum Supporter)
Captdownshift (Forum Supporter) MegaDork
12/3/21 8:15 p.m.

Minimum of 30mpg, 40+ even better. Enough utility to fit the occasional large item. Reliable enough to take for granted and easy enough to work on that when something does need attention that you're not trying to figure out how much it would cost a shop to do it. 

BlueInGreen - Jon
BlueInGreen - Jon UltraDork
12/3/21 8:22 p.m.

Sturdy, relatively comfortable, nimble enough to be fun in the twisty part of the commute, and enough space to carry stuff like kids, dogs, guitars, tires, etc.

If I could find a manual hatchback Focus in a fun color with the same options as our 2012 sedan, well that would be just about perfect. That might be a unicorn though: sport package, heated cloth seats/heated side mirrors. I don't think I've seen one with heated seats that wasn't also loaded with sunroof and leather.

Curtis73 (Forum Supporter)
Curtis73 (Forum Supporter) MegaDork
12/3/21 10:08 p.m.

Something that engages me as a driver.  That's kind of a hard metric to measure.  It has to be like Goldilocks' Porridge... just right.  It's one of the reasons I don't have a Miata.  They're friggin great, but after 30 miles I feel like I'm the underwear giving the car a wedgie.  I feel like I need to stop and get out every once in a while.  The performance is great, but they really are tiny inside.

Some of my favorites were:

E30 Cabrio.  It was lowered with H&R sports, Konis, and Mille Miglias.  It handled brilliantly, the engine was a blast, and it fit.  It was just the right mix of small but big enough.  I drove that car cross-country twice from L.A. to Toronto and if I were to be nitpicky, it was a little loud in the road noise department

On the complete opposite side of the spectrum, another favorite was a 73 Impala Wagon with a 454 and the coldest R12 A/C system I've ever known.  The cam I had in it was a bit big for the compression so it got 9mpg, but it would swallow a couch AND a loveseat.  I once used it to haul 15 concrete parking curbs.  Also drove that cross country twice.  It was a rolling futon.

Another favorite:  1978 MCI MC8 motorcoach.  8V91 Detroit.  It involved being an active driver.  Not active like "oh god I'm going to die because this steering is terrible," but active like Geordi LaForge on Star Trek. Flying the enterprise required pushing a lot of buttons and being the master of what you do.  The bus itself was a dream to drive, but you had to know it and talk to it.  You couldn't let the Dana auto downshift for itself.  If you did it would wait until 50mph going up a hill and that was too late.  As soon as you saw the needle start to reveal the top edge of 55 on the speedo, you dropped it down.  More passengers?  Adjust the air pressure in the tag axle springs so they get a smooth ride.  Tag axle steering giving you fits again?  Cycle the switch to re-engage the pin.  Know you're coming to a big hill?  Drop the A/C down to 68 for a couple minutes to cool things down and then turn it off before starting up the grade.  Make a wrong turn and have a low clearance? Cut off the air to the springs and drop it.  If that's not enough, air down the tires, and then refill them with the secondary brake tank.

I like things that offer a pleasant driving experience without being work.  I don't mind driving my 67 LeMans with it's marshmallow suspension and finnicky carburetor because everything works and it's pleasant.  My 73 AMC Hornet Sportabout was work.  Manual steering, brakes, windows... and none of it engineered properly.  I never understood how manual steering that was 309 turns lock-to-lock and 185mm rubber could be so impossible to turn below 25 mph, nor could I ever understand how those brakes ever passed a DOT approval.

Jay_W SuperDork
12/3/21 10:10 p.m.

4 doors, good size trunk, comfy, civilized, and able anytime and anywhere to get around the 10 under nannies and the left lane priuses that infest every goldern road. Geez I've put over 100k miles on this monster E55...

rslifkin UberDork
12/4/21 8:38 a.m.

Power is important.  I can't stand driving something underpowered on the street during high traffic times, particularly in areas with short highway merges.  Beyond that, at least half-decent gas mileage, comfy, relaxed enough to drive when I just need to get somewhere and am on a boring road, decent handling, working heat, A/C, and cruise control.  Oh, and it can't be boring. 

I think the dichotomy of boring is why I like the E38 as a DD so much.  You can very easily drive it like it's totally beige and the car won't fight you (beyond a bit of pull with the road crown when the summer tires are on), but if you push it a little bit, it becomes clear that the car is responsive, capable, and very much not beige. 

The Jeep was historically a pretty good DD, although as time went on, I think I made it less of a good one.  It became a bit more of a handful to live with as it got more modified, became a bit harder to drive, the front LSD made the steering feel weird, etc.  Although other than gas mileage, I think if I actually sat down and fixed everything that's wrong with it, it would be back to decent. 

petemc53555 New Reader
12/4/21 11:02 a.m.

Entertaining, reliable, cheapish to drive. Big enough for 4 folks to ride and for at least one to sleep in.

Honda Fit for now.

tremm Reader
12/4/21 1:30 p.m.

A Prius. /thread

james Kepford
james Kepford New Reader
12/4/21 2:14 p.m.

After a lot of looking and thinking about that in the last year I settled on a 2022 Mach-E GT performance edition. It will perform well in the summer months and has all wheel drive for those 5 months or so when the weather is not so nice. What's not to like about a daily driver that  will do 0 to 60 in 3.5 seconds that you don't need to park half of the year. Beside I still have the answer to every thing in the garage..2002 fly'n miata turbo charged car. 

Traum New Reader
12/4/21 2:36 p.m.

1. reliability

2. low operating costs

3. some semblance of good handling

The combination has pretty much kept me in the small Japanese econobox category, and I am perfectly fine with that. Unfortunately, cars in that camp seems to be constantly disappearing from the market now...

RyanGreener (Forum Supporter)
RyanGreener (Forum Supporter) Reader
12/4/21 3:33 p.m.

For most people?
1) Reliability
2) Low Operating Cost
3) Versatility

So what most people really need is a hatchback, but they prefer to get the lifted hatchback known as a crossover because it comes with gimmicky and very situationally useful AWD.

For me?
1) Engaging
2) Reliable
3) Low Operating Cost

Yup, this is a tough one. I initially had a JCW Mini which was absolutely perfect. I sold it though because it didn't have the engagement I wanted...which was hydraulic steering and more old school technology so I'm on the hunt for whatever can replicate that again.

BlueInGreen - Jon
BlueInGreen - Jon UltraDork
12/4/21 3:39 p.m.

In reply to RyanGreener (Forum Supporter) :

Funny thing is, awd is often an expensive option on smaller cuvs. Many of the tall hatchbacks running around are just that: tall fwd hatchbacks.

KyAllroad UltimaDork
12/4/21 3:47 p.m.

AWD station wagon with enough power to run a 14 second quarter, makes fun noises when pushed, and comfortable enough to go 1,000 miles in a day and not leave me feeling wiped out.   

RyanGreener (Forum Supporter)
RyanGreener (Forum Supporter) Reader
12/4/21 4:07 p.m.
BlueInGreen - Jon said:

In reply to RyanGreener (Forum Supporter) :

Funny thing is, awd is often an expensive option on smaller cuvs. Many of the tall hatchbacks running around are just that: tall fwd hatchbacks.

Yup, exactly! Every crossover is basically a lifted more expensive hatchback that gets worse fuel economy and has worse handling. I'm sure people who need a swiss army knife of a vehicle can appreciate crossovers though, but that's very few people (who take them softroading and whatnot).

Boost_Crazy Dork
12/4/21 9:37 p.m.

In reply to KyAllroad :


AWD station wagon with enough power to run a 14 second quarter, makes fun noises when pushed, and comfortable enough to go 1,000 miles in a day and not leave me feeling wiped out.   

My favorite daily driver was my 2005 Subaru Legacy GT Wagon with a manual transmission. It was reliable for the first 140k mikes, plenty fast enough, comfortable, and flew under the radar. It did everything well. 

Duke MegaDork
12/4/21 9:56 p.m.
KyAllroad said:

AWD station wagon with enough power to run a 14 second quarter, makes fun noises when pushed, and comfortable enough to go 1,000 miles in a day and not leave me feeling wiped out.   

Yeah, that's my daily.


Furious_E (Forum Supporter)
Furious_E (Forum Supporter) UltraDork
12/4/21 10:30 p.m.

Needs to be reliable, comfortable, and cheap to operate, those are non negotiable. Manual is pretty much a requirement for me as well. Space isn't a huge concern in my situation, 99% of the time it's just me and a sandwich driving to work and I have a truck for hauling stuff when the need arises.

Beyond that, I try to live by the philosophy that life is too short for boring cars. What I tend to appreciate more than outright power in a DD is good handling and the little tactile things like a nice shifter or really good steering feel. My E36 and FRS both fit that model to a large extent and have been my favorite DDs to date.

BlindPirate Reader
12/4/21 10:38 p.m.

Reliable, fun to drive, and nice but not too nice where you're not wanting to drive it so it won't get messed up

frenchyd UltimaDork
12/4/21 10:59 p.m.

In reply to Colin Wood :

While it's fun to jump into a small British sportscar. There are limits. Weather and capacity chief among them.  When I owned a Morris Minor Woodie ( traveler) the entry was easy, seat comfortable,  vision excellent,  it was nimble, easy to drive, carried 4 in comfort and got very decent fuel mileage.  Not to mention  carried a surprising amount and  very cute. 

Tom_Spangler (Forum Supporter)
Tom_Spangler (Forum Supporter) PowerDork
12/4/21 11:09 p.m.

For me, comfort is paramount. Followed be reliability and practicality. Fun-to-drive is nice to have, but I usually have a toy of some kind for that.

JThw8 UltimaDork
12/4/21 11:41 p.m.

Honestly the answer to that is as varied as the definition of daily driving can be.  

When I commuted 70 miles each way each day in NJ highway traffic my weapons of choice were panther platforms or my fav was my Caddy ELR (fancy Volt)

Now that I commute 50 miles once a week, non highway, all back roads the answers are much different.  Did a CTS V for awhile, currently its a Hummer H2 because my other standard uses are more suited for its function.  But I dont mind "DDing" my Kei cars either in the current scenario.

Different strokes for different folks and too many variations on the use case.  So every answer is the right answer.

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