Expert picks best cars for LIers to drive

By Ted Starkey

Between long commutes, harsh weather and some of the worst traffic in the country, Long Islanders have a long list of must-haves when it comes to driving in Nassau and Suffolk.

Newsday asked Jennifer Stockburger, director of operations for Consumer Reports' auto test center in Connecticut, about which vehicles would be the best fit for Long Islanders based on the many obstacles residents face on a daily and yearly basis. 

Check out some of her picks below: 

Toyota Corolla

Photo Credit: Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., Inc.

Small sedans with their typically better-than-average fuel economy are a good fit for Long Islanders who face long commutes, Stockburger said. One of her picks is the Toyota Corolla, which she said offers reliability, owner satisfaction and standard auto emergency braking. A new 2018 Corolla retails from $18,600 to $22,780. 

Mazda 3


Another small sedan that Stockburger recommended for Long Islanders is the Mazda 3, which offers 32 miles per gallon, reliability, owner satisfaction, good handling and transmission, as well as high-end options and standard automatic emergency braking, Stockburger said. The 2018 Mazda 3 starts at $18,095.

Subaru Forester

Photo Credit: Subaru of America

For those who want a slightly bigger vehicle that can handle the snow on Long Island, as well as haul around your stuff, small and midsized SUVs offer all-wheel drive and provide good visibility. The 2018 Subaru Forester costs between $22,795 and $36,090, offers 26 miles per gallon, excellent reliability, braking and a roomy interior and controls, Stockburger said.


Toyota Highlander

Photo Credit: Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., Inc/Dewhurst Photography

Another SUV Stockburger recommended for Long Islanders is the Toyota Highlander, which retails for between $31,030 and $48,280, and offers 25 miles per gallon for the hybrid version, and 21 mpg for the standard version. The Highlander offers reliability, is quiet and roomy, has three rows, and is versatile, as well as offers infotainment and standard automatic emergency braking, according to Stockburger.


Photo Credit: BMW of North America, LLC/Uwe Fischer

For those in the market for a luxury SUV to handle Long Island winters, the BMW X3 offers 24 miles per gallon, with very good reliability and owner satisfaction, and very good handling, Stockburger said. The X3 costs from $42,650 to $54,500.

Audi Q7

Another luxury SUV model is the Audi Q7, which costs from $49,900 to $56,400. It gets 20 miles to the gallon, has very good reliability, excellent owner satisfaction and powertrain, is quiet, and offers towing, three rows of seating, standard AEB, according to Stockburger.

Ford F-150

Photo Credit: AP / Carlos Osorio

For those who want a pick-up trucks and a big vehicle to pick up mulch and other landscaping materials, or for towing their boat or trailer in the summer, one of those recommended by Stockburger is the Ford F-150, which offers good reliability, 19 miles per gallon, a quiet cabin, good acceleration and towing and payload capacities. A 2018 F-150 can range quite a bit in price, starting at $27,705 and going up to $64,275. 

Toyota Tundra

Photo Credit: Anthony Lanzilote

Another good pickup truck option for Long Islanders is the Toyota Tundra, Stockburger said, which costs between $31,120 and 50,130. It offers reliability, 15 miles per gallon, as well as a good powertrain, towing capacity, a low-effort tailgate, and standard automatic emergency braking.

BMW 2 series

Photo Credit: Bloomberg/Michael Noble Jr.

There's no better way to enjoy a drive to the beach in the summer time than feeling the breeze in a convertible. For those looking for a more luxury driving experience on Long Island, Stockburger suggested the BMW 2 series, which includes a convertible option and costs between $34,950 and $54,500. The 2 series has good reliability and owner satisfaction, acceleration and handling. The 2018 BMW M2 model offers 25 miles per gallon.

Audi TT

Photo Credit: Audi of America

Another sporty model on Stockburger's list is the Audi TT, which is offered in a convertible as well. The TT offers 26 miles per gallon, has good reliability and owner satisfaction, agility, comfort, and costs $43,950 to $64,900.

Toyota Prius Three

Photo Credit: Toyota/David Dewhurst

For those looking for a more environmentally friendly vehicle with improved gas mileage, as well as eligible for the Clean Pass program to use the HOV lane on the Long Island Expressway, the Toyota Prius Three fits the bill, Stockburger said. This hybrid offers 52 miles per gallon, good reliability and owner satisfaction, and is a versatile hatchback with standard automatic emergency braking, Stockburger said. The Prius Three costs between $23,475 and $30,565.