Driving the right kind of car can impact your rating as an Uber driver, so it’s important from that point of view to choose a good one. But as drivers know, there are many more reasons to choose carefully. A good Uber car needs to comfortably seat four adult passengers so things like leg room and head height are important. Squeezing three adults into the back of a Nissan Micra is possible but not ideal if you’re the 6ft tall guy crammed in the middle.
Fuel efficiency should be high on your list in order to keep costs down and maximise your profit. Sure, a Land Cruiser would provide ample comfort for your passengers but just think of how much you’d be spending on fuel. You’ll also need to consider affordability, maintenance, insurance and registration costs, and so on.
But let’s not forget you, the driver. You’ll be spending a lot of time behind the wheel so your car needs to be comfortable to drive and give you a certain amount of the ‘feel good factor’ when you look at it parked in your driveway.
The important thing is to try to strike a balance that works for you, your pocket, and your passengers. I’m no car expert – far from it – but I have tried 3 different cars in my time as an Uber driver and can share my experiences of these cars with you.
2016 Mitsubishi Outlander Price Guide Here
This was the first car I used for Uber. It had 30,000 kms on the clock when I picked it up but it felt and ran as if it were brand new, so that’s a good start. This car rates well in the looks department too. Mine was red but it looks great in black also, especially with the chrome details. They come with nice alloy wheels and tinted rear windows too, so it looks the part as you arrive to pick-up a passenger.
Inside there’s plenty of space and the rear seat in particular is very roomy. In terms of comfort and space it only got positive feedback from passengers. The boot is big enough for those airport runs and it can handle plenty of luggage. The only drawback is that as an SUV the boot compartment is open to the rest of the car so if bags are sliding around in the boot it can be noisy in the back seat. So it’s good to look at, it’s comfortable, and it can fit plenty of luggage. However, there were reasons why I decided to part company with it. Firstly, it’s zero fun to drive. I found the engine completely gutless whenever I asked it for more power. The driving position was uncomfortable and I was almost crippled after a long day of driving. Fuel economy was poor also. At roughly 11 litres per 100 kms (even in ‘eco’ mode) it was quite a thirsty ride. Overall, a comfortable (for passengers) SUV, plenty of space, good-looking, but a bit thirsty and lacking in power.
2016 Volkswagen Golf Price Guide Here
The VW Golf has long been a favourite of mine and holds a special place in my heart as the second car I ever purchased was a 1996 version. Ah, the memories! Unfortunately, 20 years later the 2016 model broke my heart.
All started well when I picked it up brand new. It had the typical Volkswagen feeling of quality and was very well equipped – this car has all the bells and whistles. It feels solid on the road, the seats are very comfortable, and despite being a mid-sized car there’s plenty of room inside. I was constantly getting positive feedback from passengers remarking how comfortable it was and how good the inside looked – it’s clearly still a favourite with the everyday people. This version of the Golf has got plenty of power and the throttle is very responsive. Even with a full house the Golf never feels like it’s struggling.
The problems I had with this car were all to do with the technology. Sometimes people say that less is more, and with this car I’d actually prefer some things to be more simple. The reversing camera is neatly hidden behind the VW logo which opens to reveal the camera when you put the car in reverse. A really nice idea but it only worked about 80% of the time, so when I needed to reverse it was a bit of a lottery to see if the camera would display on the screen or not. It also has an automatic stop-start function to save on fuel – again a good idea in theory but it hadn’t quite been perfected which makes me prefer not to have it at all. I did have the option to turn this function off, but had to remember to turn it off every time I got into the car as it cannot be permanently disabled. There were other issues but the biggest problem was the gearbox. After only 5000 kms the gearbox started making squeaking noises while changing from 1st to 2nd gear, and then from 2nd to 3rd gear. This problem got progressively worse very quickly and I had to return the car. The gearbox is known as DSG and is a complicated double clutch system but it simply caused more problems by being too complicated – again, less is more.
Overall it really hurts me to say it but I cannot recommend a 2016 VW Golf as an Uber car. It has so many good attributes you’d look for as a driver but we need to know that we can rely on our car to perform day in and day out, and I couldn’t do that.
2016 Toyota Corolla (Hatch) Price Guide Here
This is the car I currently drive for Uber. When changing from the Golf to the Corolla I didn’t feel any change in quality as I sat in the driver’s seat. The Corolla is very well designed inside and out, and it regularly receives compliments from riders on how modern the dash looks – the radio is fully touch screen and beautifully illuminated.
To me the inside feels just a touch smaller than the Golf but it’s still comfortable for 3 adults in the back. With this car it’s definitely a case of just enough space and nothing more. I would never consider anything smaller than a Corolla or Golf for Uber, this is as small as you should consider going.
This car has a shorter list of technology than the Golf but I have to tell you that is a good thing. I never have to worry about things not working in this car. It feels as though Toyota have taken the basics and perfected them. Simple things done properly which work as anticipated 100% of the time is much more appealing to me than complicated things almost done properly and working 80% of the time. If you are driving for a living you need reliability, you need to be comfortable and safe, and you need your passengers to be comfortable and safe also. The Toyota Corolla ticks all of those boxes.
The system tells me that I’m currently using 9.8 litres of fuel per 100kms which is a bit higher than I’d like it to be. However, in terms of dollar amounts I’m not spending excessively on fuel and am definitely spending less than I was on the Golf or Outlander. All of my driving is done on city roads with city traffic so I think I’m actually doing OK.
There is only one thing I’d change about this car and that is to get the sedan instead of the hatch. The boot in the hatch is just a touch too small on those rare occasions when you have more than 2 passengers with big luggage. The back seats do fold down very easily but if you have 4 passengers you’ll be needing those seats for bums, not bags. Overall, this is a great car for Uber and I’ve only ever needed to cancel 1 trip because they had too much luggage. Big tick of approval from me!