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Best cars for UK taxi drivers and US cab drivers

There's a lot to consider when choosing the right private hire vehicle for you and your passenger’s needs. We reveal the best motors for taxis and private hire vehicles (PHVs).
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Woman on phone in a taxi
Woman sitting in back of taxi on her phone

As 2021 continues to become a year of great uncertainty within the jobs market, many people have sought new income streams and opportunities within the wider gig economy.

According to the most recent figures from the Department for Transport, as of 2019, England was home to 291,800 licensed taxis and PHVs alone, with PHVs making up 76% of all licensed vehicles.

With flexible hours and the opportunity to be your own boss, a job in the taxi or PHV industry may be something worth considering. However, there’s an awful lot to consider when choosing the right vehicle for you and your passenger’s needs. 

Experts at compared base model price, vehicle tax, emissions, fuel economy, comfort ratings, boot, front and back legroom dimensions. They analysed 23 of the most commonly used and referenced cars used for PHVs to uncover the best cars for taxi drivers in both the UK and US. 

Spoiler alert, it’s not the Toyota Prius! 

The top 5 cars for UK taxi drivers  

Top 5 cars for UK taxi drivers

The future of PHVs really is electric. Out of the 17 UK based cars analysed, the 2019 Nissan Leaf came out on top, scoring 86 out of 100. The fully electric car performed consistently high across all criteria, with the joint top MPGe (Miles per gallon gasoline equivalent), no vehicle tax, and a strong comfort rating of 4.

In second place is another electric vehicle, the Kia Soul. Whilst the model also topped the charts for MPGe, comfort and electrical design. Its smaller boot dimensions and front legroom meant it finished just shy of first position with an overall score of 81. 

Whilst the Ford Focus Estate also scored highly for fuel economy, boot size and comfort, the higher emissions and tax costs saw it drop points and finish third with a total of 72 points. 

In fourth and fifth place are the Skoda Octavia and Hyundai Ioniq scoring 69 and 67 respectively. 

To view the list of vehicles analysed and where they placed, explore the interactive table below.  

Ranking factors

Total score based on ranking factor percentages below.

Ranking factors UK

The best taxi cars in each category

When deciding on either your first, or next PHV it’s important to consider your top vehicle criteria, based on the types of journeys you’ll be undertaking. The best vehicle for inner-city driving, will not be the same as a vehicle required to fit a lot of luggage in on airport pickups. So which vehicle really is best for you? Read on to discover. 

Best PHVs for fuel economy  

Best for fuel economy

Taxis drive an average of 35,000 miles per year, compared to a normal car which would drive approximately 7,000. So taxi drivers have a significant interest in their car’s fuel economy to ensure their money goes a long way. 

For taxi drivers considering city-based fares, fuel economy and low emissions are vital for ensuring your car is as cost-efficient as possible. The Nissan Leaf and Kia Soul top the overall score and also provide the best MPGe (108), the equivalent of just £0.04 per mile. Both options are also guaranteed to meet the new zero-emission capable (ZEC) licensing requirements introduced for London-only drivers on the 1st January 2020. 

For drivers outside of the capital, the Ford Focus Estate also scores highly for fuel economy, giving drivers an average of 80 MPG, which equates to roughly £0.05 per mile. 

Best PVHs for airport routes

Best for airport routes

Airport pick-ups and drop-offs can be unpredictable. Between unexpected traffic, oddly shaped luggage and passengers forgetting their passports, it pays to be able to manoeuvre multiple large suitcases into the back of a taxi quickly and efficiently. 

With a 608L capacity, Ford Focus Estate stands in first position thanks to its spacious boot, which will allow you to move oversized bags with ease. In close second is the Skoda Octavia with a 600L boot capacity. In third place, with a total overall score of 65 and a 594L boot capacity is the Kia Proceed. 

Best for comfort

Best for comfort levels

With taxi shifts lasting between 8–12 hours, the comfort of a driver is just as important as the passengers. But which vehicles will guarantee that 5-star rating? 

The Mercedes E-Class boasts a comfort rating of 5, the highest possible rating given, and the only car analysed to receive it. In close second and third place are the Skoda Octavia and Audi A4 with comfort ratings of 4.5. 

Best electric and hybrid models  

Best electric hybrid models

Perhaps unsurprisingly the top two vehicles overall, the Nissan Leaf and the Kia Soul, are also the top picks for drivers looking for an electric vehicle. 

Whilst the petrol and diesel ban in 2035 may also include hybrids, drivers looking to dip their toes into the EV world may want to consider the Hyundai Ioniq, which ranks third for electric and hybrid models scoring 67 out of 100.  

Top cars for US cab drivers 

For American drivers considering a career change, our experts also analysed the top US vehicles for taxis and PHVs.  

Using the same criteria, the Nissan Leaf proves to be the ultimate contender in the US too. Scoring the highest total across all categories, the Nissan Leaf is awarded a score of 80. In second is the Honda Accord awarded 70 points for its performance across all categories. Although it doesn’t fare well in its emissions rating and fuel economy, it raises its overall score with a 472L boot and 4.5 level of comfort. 

Scoring higher in the US is the Hyundai Ioniq with a respectable 69. Like the Nissan Leaf, the Hyundai Ioniq has demonstrated that it’s a strong choice for the best taxi car. In fourth and fifth are the Toyota Prius Hybrid and Hyundai Sonata Hybrid which both score 69. Toyota Prius Hybrid sneaks into fourth place thanks to its cheaper price, fewer emissions, and better fuel economy. The Hyundai Sonata Hybrid, on the other hand, wins when it comes to comfort and overall space in the front, back and boot. 

Search our interactive table below to discover more. 

Ranking factors

Total score based on ranking factor percentages below

Ranking factors US

If you’re considering a job in the gig economy, it’s important to ensure you have the right car insurance for your needs.

If you're thinking of purchasing an electric vehicle, make sure you've looked into electric car insurance to make sure you're getting the best deal on your car insurance.

How we rank the best cars for taxi drivers

To discover the best cars for both UK and US taxi drivers, we looked at the most frequently recommended cars for PHV drivers, before ranking each vehicle against a series of criteria. The criteria included base model price, vehicle tax, emissions, fuel economy, comfort ratings. As well as boot, front legroom and back legroom dimensions. 

All information was gathered from reliable sources including .gov, review sites and car publications. 

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