Uber or ride-sharing cars, in general, undergo lots of abuse. They drive thousands of mostly city miles which involve a lot of starting and stopping, turning off and turning on and at inconsistent but frequent intervals.
Ride-share drivers need cars that can take all of that, and still get them home in the morning, and that kind of reliability has to stretch across different platforms. Seeing as how there are four different kinds of ride-share options now, that’s four different cars to accommodate all of the classes.
In San Francisco, depending on the type of ride your vehicle classifies as your ride-share car can be no older than 2001. Understandably the rules for what kinds of vehicles are allowed change periodically and differ depending on what city you're in, and what class of vehicle you drive.
This is similar to Lyft's much simpler newer-than-2005 requirement. Uber has several different classes of vehicle to choose from, and each varies depending on the size of the vehicle which then dictates the cost.
If you've taken your fair share of UberX (or Lyft Line) rides, you probably noticed that Toyota Prius is one of the most popular cars for those drivers. After casually surveying some of them during our rides around town in SF, we found out that the main reason many rideshare drivers prefer the Prius not only because it's a small hatchback, but because of its gas mileage efficiency.
They’re also relatively inexpensive, with the base model costing just $20,630 brand new. So if you're looking for the perfect car to drive UberX with, look no further. Keep in mind that if the Prius doesn't strike your fancy an X car in San Francisco must be no older than 2000.
Other X Choices:
For an UberXL, the Honda CR-V seems like an optimal choice. It’s not super powerful though so the next step up would be the Pilot. It’s big, it has Honda reliability and much more power. Like the X class, your car can not be older than 2000.
Other XL Choices:
For this class which requires an entry-level luxury sedan, we recommend the Acura ILX. A brand new Acura ILX starts at only $28,930 and yet still has its place on the luxury car totem pole. Again, it’s got that Honda reliability, so it’s certainly a solid choice for the driver who wants just a little bit more. Bear in mind cars for this class must be no older than 2007.
Other SELECT Choices:
For an UberBLACK driver, a 2015 CTS-V is an option that shouldn’t be overlooked. They are fast, comfortable and are fairly reliable. There’s no better combination of Cadillac luxury and Corvette speed. If you're looking for different options for this class take note that whatever you choose must be no older than 2010, must be black inside and out, and as a driver, you must have an airport permit.
Other BLACK Choices:
For UberSUV a car that is rated higher than most other new cars is the BMW X3, starting at around $40,000. There’s obviously the comfort and performance from BMW, and common among all models is the ample cabin space. A 2014 model is a decent choice and is valued at around $34,123 for the base trim and has decent reliability.
For the UberLUX, your car can't be any older than 2010 so the pickings are a little slim. For one of the most extravagant options that Uber has to offer, you can’t pass up the Mercedes S-Class. Mercedes is branded as having high-end luxury cars, and with the S-Class being so ingrained in high-class transportation, an Uber driver could make a lot of riders happy. Don't forget that as a LUX driver you must have a commercial driver's license.
Other LUX Choices:
Uber Pool drivers carry a lot of people, and since they drive customers during commuting hours they need something robust, nimble, and reliable. Enter the Honda Accord. It starts at $22,455, is bigger on the inside than a Civic so it can accommodate multiple passengers comfortably, and can be quick with 278-horsepower. The Honda Accord also gets up to 36 mpg. For the driver who needs a car that can take a lot of beatings, the Honda Accord seems like the right choice.
Other Pool Choices:
Another way to go if you're looking to start driving for Uber is the Toyota Camry. They're bigger and more comfortable than the Corolla, and although you will be taking a slight hit on gas mileage your passengers will have a more relaxing ride.
They cost around $24,000 for the base model which comes with a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine that makes around 180 horsepower. Like the Accord there's a V6 option that makes close to 270 horsepower, so you're by no means stuck with a comfortable albeit slightly sluggish ride.
If you want to work a shift that shuttles people to and from the airport and need a lot of cargo room, check out the Mazda3. It comes in a hatchback version and while it isn't the quickest thing on the street, it'll get around 40 mpg and only cost you around $17,845.
If you’re looking for a car to start driving for Uber, Lyft or any other ride-sharing program, don’t forget to consider the maintenance and repair costs for the vehicle throughout its lifecycle. Evaluate the car’s reliability and performance, as those are the most important things for city driving.
Even the mightiest commuter cars like Honda Civics, as ride-sharing cars need new engines and transmissions around the 200k mile mark. This comes down to the fact that ride-share cars are put through a lot more than average city-driving time, which is a lot of stopping and going, often never shifting past 3rd gear. It's a good practice to take your car for a little freeway relaxation, just to stretch its legs.
If you'd prefer not to buy a car for ride-sharing, it is possible to rent one via a rental agency like Hertz. On the surface it looks like a great deal. Hertz includes:
Be sure to check out the policies of other rental agencies as well, as they could be different. Remember you still must qualify to drive for Uber (or Lyft, whichever you choose) by passing their various checks.
As long as you take care of your car and thoroughly maintain it, and give it a rest once in a while your ride-share car is going to last for a long time.
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