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Best Cars for Uber & Lyft
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Driving for Uber or Lyft can be a way to supplement your income. The average Uber driver earns around $10.87 an hour after accounting for fees, taxes and vehicle maintenance, according to the Economic Policy Institute. Perhaps that’s not as much as you had hoped to earn. One key piece of the equation is your vehicle.
Picking a car that is affordable, offers top-rated safety features, is dependable and efficient will help make sure that the most money possible stays in your wallet after you pay for your driving expenses. Driving a certain type of vehicle — like a luxury sedan or SUV — may allow you to work on multiple platforms (such as UberX and UberXL or Lyft and Lyft Lux simultaneously) but may be more expensive to maintain.
We’ve sifted through the options to find the best cars for Uber and Lyft that will help you make the most money possible. While we focus on new vehicles with high ratings from Kelley Blue Book (KBB) experts, consumers on Edmunds, the National Highway Traffic Safety (NHTSA) and Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), we’ll discuss used vehicles as well. We’ll also discuss vehicle requirements when driving for a ride-sharing service.
Best new sedans for Uber and Lyft
When you’re moving people from Point A to Point B, the last thing you want is an unsafe, unreliable gas-guzzler. These cars are just the opposite of that. We focus on sedans because Lyft no longer allows certain subcompacts and Uber vehicles must have four doors.
- $17,100 MSRP
- 4.5 out of 5 by KBB experts; 4.8 out of 5 by consumers on Edmunds (4 reviews)
- 4 stars NHTSA; IIHS Top Safety Pick+
- 29 city/38 highway/33 combined MPG
A big advantage of a Hyundai is that all of its cars all come with a 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty and a five-year/60,000-mile standard warranty. Technically speaking, the Elantra is a compact car. Don’t let that scare you away — its interior room is actually rated as a mid-size sedan, which means there’ll be plenty of room for your guests and their things. If having top-of-the-line safety features is your priority, however, consider upgrading to a higher model for premium tools like collision avoidance and lane-keep assist. Drivers should also keep in mind that the base SE comes with a manual transmission which could be tiresome if you’re ferrying passengers in stop-and-go city traffic. Upgrading to an automatic transmission tacks on about $1,000. It’s also worth noting that the Elantra has a slightly lower rating from NHTSA than others on this list due to a warning from the safety agency about side crash tests.
- $22,990 MSRP
- 4.4 out of 5 by KBB experts; 4.8 out of 5 by consumers on Edmunds (6 reviews)
- 5 stars NHTSA; IIHS Top Safety Pick+
- 25 city/35 highway/29 combined MPG
The Kia Optima has an impressive suite of safety tools that come standard on all models with its ADAS (Advanced Driver Assistance Systems) suite. This includes a rear cross-traffic collision warning which helps when you’re backing out of a parking spot into traffic and can’t see above the tall vehicles parked next to you. It also includes many of the other increasingly-common safety options for 2019, including lane-keeping assist, driver attention warning (the days do get long, after all), and forward collision-avoidance warning. Once you get going, it’s no less impressive. There’s enough room in the Optima to easily fit four six-foot-tall passengers. If ultra-low mileage costs are what you seek, consider springing for a plug-in hybrid version of this model which gets a 103 combined MPGe, for a base MSRP of $35,390.
- $23,945 MSRP
- 4.6 out of 5 by KBB experts; 4.2 out of 5 by consumers on Edmunds (29 reviews)
- 5 stars NHTSA; IIHS Top Safety Pick+
- 29 city/41 highway/34 combined MPG
The Toyota Camry used to be the white bread of sedans thanks to its rather dull and predictable features, but this year it’s fresh with a sporty new redesign. The base model comes with a 4-cylinder engine that gets a fuel-efficient 34 combined MPG, although you can spring for a hybrid that gets up to 52 combined MPG for a base MSRP of $28,250. Like many of the other cars that made our list, the Toyota Camry comes with some high-tech safety features in its TSS-P (Toyota Safety Sense P) package, which comes standard on all models. This set of safety features includes lane-keeping assist, automatic high-beams, emergency braking, collision warning, and pedestrian detection.
Best new SUVs for Uber and Lyft
If you’d like to boost your driving options by expanding with UberXL or Lyft XL, you’ll need a vehicle that seats at least 6 passengers. Here are our top picks:
- $26,290 MSRP
- 4.1 out of 5 by KBB experts; 4.4 out of 5 by consumers on Edmunds (11 reviews)
- 5 stars NHTSA; IIHS Top Safety Pick+
- 22 city/29 highway/25 combined MPG
Depending on your city, the Kia Sorento is a bit on the smaller side for UberXL-approved SUVs. This means you might run into trouble if you have to tote six tall ski bums up to the mountains with all of their gear for a week-long getaway. The advantage of a slightly smaller SUV is you’ll get a cheaper price tag right out of the gate and more efficient fuel usage, which helps your bottom line as an Uber or Lyft driver. All models also come with a five-year/60,000-mile standard warranty, and an extended 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty for extra peace of mind. The Sorento base model offers a 4-cylinder engine and three rows though critics say it’s fairly cramped in the back. However, most experts suggest skipping it for at least the LX model (starting at $27,650), which also offers AWD for an extra $1,800. Another nice feature that comes standard on all models is stain-resistant fabric (except for upgraded leather interiors), something to consider if you’re picking up riders downtown after the bars close.
- $31,530 MSRP
- 4.4 out of 5 by KBB experts; 3.8 out of 5 by consumers on Edmunds (10 reviews)
- 5 stars NHTSA; IIHS Top Safety Pick
- 20 city/24 highway/22 combined MPG
The Toyota Highlander has long been known as a reliable people-mover. Every model comes standard with TSS-P (Toyota Safety Sense P) features: automatic braking when an imminent collision is detected, pedestrian detection and lane-keeping assist. Even the base model comes with nice touches like five USB ports (three in the front and two in the second row), which your smartphone-using passengers will appreciate. Common complaints about the base model, however, are that it only comes with a 4-cylinder engine, which makes this big beast appear not-so-mighty anymore. Instead, most people recommend springing at least for the LE Plus model (MSRP: $36,460), which is when the V6 engine starts kicking in. If you’re looking to maximize gas mileage, however, you can splurge even further with the Hybrid LE, which starts from $37,170 and offers up to 29 combined city/highway MPG and all-wheel drive. If you’re in the snow belt, it’s also wise to consider an AWD model since the last thing that earns you good ratings is a sketchy ride on snow-covered roads. AWD is standard on all hybrid Highlanders and an option for all of the traditional models.
Best cars for Uber Black and Lyft Lux Black
Uber Black model eligibility may differ between cities, however the company does require that you have a 4.85 minimum rating to drive for this service. You might even be required to be licensed through your city’s passenger vehicle for hire program. That’s why it’s especially important to find a car that balances the best of the best with an affordable price. That’s why we chose these cars. These models are also eligible for Lyft Lux and Lyft Lux Black.
- $75,300 MSRP
- Not yet rated by KBB experts; 4.0 out of 5 by consumers on Edmunds (1 review)
- 19 city/30 highway/23 combined MPG
While the vehicle is a notably lacking in safety ratings — it has yet to be rated by NHTSA — we include it because of its overall positive consumer reviews on KBB and Edmunds. One of the best things about the Lexus LS is its great resale value. That means if things don’t work out with Uber Black and you decide to switch back to a non-luxury car for your own personal use, you won’t be out as much money. Aside from whisking your guests from one location to another in style, it’s the little touches that make the Lexus LS 500 stand out. We’re talking about things like soft-close doors, Wi-Fi capability, and a cabin that’s specifically soundproofed to block out road noise. There’s plenty for you as the driver too: rain-detecting windshield wipers, automatic high-beams, and useful safety features like front and rear parking sensors, pedestrian and collision detection systems with automated braking, and lane-keeping assistance. Critics did note a less-intuitive touch screen, although it does have its uses as long as you take the time to use it on the fly.
- $53,400 MSRP
- 4.6 out of 5 by KBB experts; 4.6 out of 5 by consumers on Edmunds (10 reviews)
- IIHS Top Safety Pick+
- 24 city/34 highway/27 combined MPG
The BMW 5 Series might not have as great as a resale value as some other cars, but you’re still likely to get your money’s worth out of this car. It offers a blend of comfort, handling ability and cargo capacity. Experts say the trunk on the BMW 5 Series can fit up to four golf bags, so there shouldn’t be any worries about not being able to accommodate your riders’ baggage. All cars come standard with advanced safety features such as lane-keeping assist, pedestrian detection and forward collision avoidance. If you’re feeling a bit more adventurous, you can spring for optional features such as all-wheel drive, soft-close doors and adaptive suspensions for a smoother ride from start to finish.
Best used cars for Uber Black and Lyft Lux Black
Luxury cars aren’t cheap. Instead, buying a used luxury car can make the economics of driving for Uber Black tip a little more in your favor. Keep in mind that Uber Black cars must be five years old or newer — even more recent for certain Lyft Lux Black vehicles — which is why we considered 2017 models. Even then, you’ll only get a good three years of use out of it before having to sell it or retire it for your exclusive personal use. Pricing is based on KBB’s Fair Purchase Price range near Seattle.
2017 Mercedes-Benz S550
- Fair Purchase Price $62,846 to $71,441
- Not rated by KBB experts; 4.4 out of 5 by consumers on Edmunds (10 reviews)
- 18 city/26 highway/21 combined MPG
The Mercedes-Benz S550 is the luxury sedan that all other luxury sedans want to be when they grow up. New, a comparable sedan in the Mercedes S-Class can cost almost $100,000. But give it a few short years to depreciate, and you can have one for a much more reasonable price. Your guests will be able to tell the difference, especially with the in-cabin aromatherapy fragrance system, premium Burmester audio speakers, and air-cushioned suspension system that all come standard with every model. For you, the driver, there’s plenty of safety features like a collision detection system with automatic braking, and if you ever do break down, the car comes standard with a 24-hour roadside assistance package for the life of the vehicle. If the S Class is too swanky for your budget, a used E Class could be significantly cheaper but still gives you a highly-rated luxury vehicle.
Check out Mercedes-Benz financing deals.
2017 Genesis G90
- Fair Purchase Price $39,222 to $43,178
- Not rated by KBB experts; 4.2 out of 5 by consumers on Edmunds (14 reviews)
- IIHS Top Safety Pick+
- 17 city/24 highway/20 combined
This luxury sedan can be had for much less than the price tag of a more well-established luxury brand like BMW or Mercedes. All models come standard with Nappa leather and an adjustable 16-way passenger seat. If you live in a sunny climate, your riders will also appreciate the power sunshades which cover not only the back window, but also the rear side windows as well. If you live in a snowy and icy climate, it might not be a bad idea to find a used model with optional AWD for sale. And for you, the driver, one more cool feature: a heads-up display on the windshield comes standard with all vehicles.
Check out Genesis financing deals.
Driving for Uber and Lyft: Things to keep in mind
You don’t necessarily need a new car to drive for Uber or Lyft — cars up to 15 years old may even be eligible for driving with Uber in certain cities. But some cities may have more stringent requirements. And, as we mentioned earlier, premium services like Uber Black will require even newer vehicles and may restrict you to certain models.
There are a few other important things you should keep in mind while driving for Uber or Lyft:
- Make sure you set aside money for repairs and taxes, since these expenses often catch rideshare drivers unawares.
- Check with your insurance provider and your rideshare service of choice to see if you are covered while on the clock. Your policy might exclude ridesharing, and so you may need to purchase additional insurance.
- If you’re buying a new or used vehicle for Uber or Lyft, pick one you can use in your everyday life since rideshare services generally don’t provide a full-time income.
- You’ll also need a cell phone plan with plenty of data, since the apps used by ride-sharing services run off of mobile signals while you’re out working.
Ways to finance the best cars for Uber and Lyft
It’s best to do your homework when buying a new or used car for Uber or Lyft. That’s because it’s essentially a business decision, and getting the financing right from the start can set the stage for it being a profitable endeavor. One good way to do this is to shop around with your bank, credit union or online lender and get preapproved for an auto loan. This gives you bargaining power when you go to negotiate the price of the car. You could fill out an online form on LendingTree and receive up to five auto loan offers.
We chose vehicles that scored at least a 4 based on reviews from Kelley Blue Book experts and Edmunds consumers, when available. One notable exception is the Toyota Highlander with a 3.8 consumer rating as of publication. While that score is lower than we’d like to see, the Highlander has received overall positive reviews in the past and we expect that rating to improve as more 2019 reviews are added. Selected vehicles also must have received at least a 4 star safety rating from the NHTSA and/or be a Top Safety Pick by the IIHS, if rated. We then narrowed down the list further by comparing features that would be important to Uber and Lyft drivers, such as the MSRP and mileage rating for the base model, as well as rideshare-friendly standard features that come with each model to select the best picks for each category.