Skip to main content

The Globe and Mail

How to deal with driving 10 hours per week in traffic

Hey, you guys: I dread my daily drive to the office. Just hate it. I spend at least 10 hours a week in traffic, going back and forth to the office or visiting clients. It's awful. But I can't quit. I won't go into it, but I just can't. So what I need now is a decent, affordable and reliable car with room inside, a smooth ride and good gas mileage. I don't want to empty my wallet, so keep that in mind. What do you think? - Noel in Mississauga, Ont.

Vaughan: Anyone who endures 10 hours a week sitting in traffic needs a change, not a car. Move closer to the office, Noel. Then we'll talk.

Cato: You are insufferable and insensitive. You have no idea why Noel does the traffic tango every day. He may have no choice in the matter.

Story continues below advertisement

Vaughan: Everyone has a choice.

Cato: And Noel's choice here has been to ask for some advice about a commuter car. So let's get down to business. Noel, start with the 2011 Hyundai Sonata, which has a base sticker of $22,649 and at least a $3,000 cash incentive to lower that price. The Sonata is comfortable and big enough, I think, for Noel, too.

Vaughan: I have no problem with the Hyundai, Cato. It's a winner and not too expensive. But Mr. 10-hours-a-week should also consider the $27,800 Toyota Prius hybrid. Look at the fuel economy: 3.7 litres/100 km in the city and 4.0 on the highway.

Cato: You talking up a hybrid? What about a diesel?

Vaughan: Be patient, though I know it's hard for you. Hybrids can't be beat for stop-and-go driving; diesels can't be beat for highway cruising. Sounds like Noel is doing little cruising.

Cato: What excites me here is the fact Toyota Canada has slapped on a $1,500 cash incentive for the Prius. Toyota's original hybrid has a firm, steady ride, is reasonably roomy inside and the rear hatchback is ideal for loading large items in the cargo hold.

Best of all - and this goes straight to Noel's big worry - it's reliable. The taxi drivers in Vancouver who almost all drive a Prius marvel at it. They tell me they get 170,000 km between brake jobs and the car never breaks. Consumer Reports says it's the most reliable car you can buy.

Story continues below advertisement

Vaughan: Yes, Cato, I agree. But just maybe Noel is blasting down the highway an hour a day in which case the Golf TDI diesel is the better choice. He didn't specify the kind of monotony he's suffering. Stop-and-go means Prius; flat-out highway means TDI.

Cato: It's not cheap to buy, though. The least-expensive Golf diesel in five-door form starts at $25,275. That said, Volkswagen Canada looks to be boosting Golf sales with as much as $1,500 in cash incentives. Ask your dealer, Noel.

Vaughan: Whatever VW Canada is putting in the glovebox to spur sales, diesel cars get about 25 per cent better fuel economy than comparable gasoline cars.

Cato: Sure, and the Golf has a very high resale value. I'm not going to argue with you here, Vaughan, though I should do simply on principle and for the fun of it.

Noel, here's what you should not bother with: crossover wagons, minivans, SUVs, pickups and all that. I know light trucks such as these are flying off the lot in record numbers, thanks to all the fat sales sweeteners being offered by the car makers. But you don't want a light truck of any sort. You want a car and we've suggested three good ones.

Vaughan: Cato is talking sensibly here and we all should note the date and time. No lectures, no rants. I need to sit down.

Story continues below advertisement

Cato: My vote's for the Prius. The most reliable of the bunch, and the cleanest, too.

Vaughan: See above: stop-and-go means Prius; highway cruising means TDI. And if you're tired of our arguing just go out and get that Sonata.



2011 Golf TDI Comforline four-door hatchback

2011 Toyota Prius four-door hatchback

2011 Hyundai Sonata GL sedan

Wheelbase (mm)




Length (mm)




Width (mm)




Height (mm)





2.0-litre four-cylinder, Diesel

1.8-litre four-cylinder with electric motor, battery pack and hybrid contoller system

2.4-litre four-cylinder

Output (horsepower/torque)

140/236 lb-ft

134 net horsepower

198/184 lb-ft

Drive system

front-wheel drive

front-wheel drive

front-wheel drive


six-speed manual


six-speed manual

Curb weight (kg)




Fuel economy (litres/100 km)

6.7 city/4.6 highway

3.7 city/4.0 highway

8.7 city/5.7 highway

Base price (MSRP)




Source: car manufacturers

Jeremy Cato and Michael Vaughan are co-hosts of Car/Business, which appears Fridays at 8 p.m. on Business News Network and Saturdays at 11:30 a.m. on CTV.

Report an error
About the Author
Senior writer, Globe Drive

In 25 years of covering the auto industry, Jeremy Cato has won more than two-dozen awards, including three times being named automotive journalist of the year. Jeremy was born in Montreal and grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area. More

Comments are closed

We have closed comments on this story for legal reasons. For more information on our commenting policies and how our community-based moderation works, please read our Community Guidelines and our Terms and Conditions.

Combined Shape Created with Sketch.

Combined Shape Created with Sketch.

Thank you!

You are now subscribed to the newsletter at

You can unsubscribe from this newsletter or Globe promotions at any time by clicking the link at the bottom of the newsletter, or by emailing us at