I think we can all agree that the best cars for San Francisco are going to be the cleanest, most polite vehicles with the best ability to both handle hills and throngs of pedestrians. No small feat, in all honesty – often people feel as though you have to compromise on handling when getting into hippie hybrid territory. Thanks to the high price of gas and some innovative minds in the auto industry, however, cars with a broad spectrum of talents are more and more common these days, which means that driving those San Francisco hills should be a challenge even the most starter of small cars can tackle.
Top Pick in Best Cars for San Francisco: Scion iQ
If you haven’t heard of the Scion iQ yet, don’t worry – it’s a future-tense vehicle set for a more general release in 2012, but is available in California as of December 1st of this year. It’s what Scion calls a “micro sub-compact” car, and all of the reviews say it’s a vehicle that will give the Smart fortwo a ride for its money. It’s one of the best cars for San Francisco because any city is likely to have lots of stops and starts, not to mention tight parking spots to squeeze in to. It has an impressive list of standard features for its size, and for those that might be concerned about safety, don’t fret – this little tank comes with 11 airbags, including knee airbags for the front 2 passengers. Not bad for a little guy.
If you’ve ever lived in California or considered buying a car there, then you’re probably intimately acquainted with the smog and emissions standards to which your purchase must adhere. However, hybrid vehicles are allowed to exempt themselves from the smog testing, so the best cars for San Francisco are the ones that allow you to spend less time being inspected, and more time on the PCH. Enter the Kia Optima Hybrid. Kia’s first shot at a hybrid vehicle is well received, with the EPA estimates coming in at about 35/40 mpg for city/hwy driving, and reviewers saying that it comes with standard features that are only options on other hybrids.
One of the raddest, most city-friendly features on the Optima Hybrid is its virtual engine sound system, which plays a pre-recorded engine noise while it’s in electric mode to avoid sneaking up on pedestrians like hybrids are wont to. Since San Francisco is a city friendly to all manner of self transport, those walkers will be thankful.
Second Runner-Up in Best Cars for San Francisco: Volvo S80
Volvos have a long-standing reputation for being tank-like in construction – safe and unshakable. The Volvo S80 follows along that same vein, only it’s a very sleek and sophisticated tank. A tank that will easily and smoothly wind you through the concrete tangle of streets from The Embarcadero to Nob Hill. What makes this one of the best cars for San Francisco is its traction control and front and rear fog lights, which can help navigate those notorious hills. And features like heated windshield washer nozzles means that, not only is this car sporting top-of-the-line trim, but it’s never going to leave you with a blurry view of the Golden Gate.