Monday, June 17, 2013

What is the best car to use for a taxi?

What is the best car to use for a taxi?

By Eric Edwards

When answering the question “What is the best car to use for a taxi?”, one must first consider the intended market that the taxi will be driven in. A car that would be advantageous for short trips with light loads may not be appropriate for a market that includes mainly long trips with large loads. Each market presents a different scenario, and each will be best suited by a different type of car. These scenarios differ in many aspects, including road conditions, terrain, fuel availability and prices, as well as the load size and trip length requirements previously mentioned. In this article I will describe 5 different scenarios, or markets:


USA – 

In the USA, taxis are most often used for short trips and carry small loads, and are used primarily in
the larger cities and to carry passengers to/from airports. Passenger comfort and mechanical longevity are the most important areas to consider in this market. The relatively low fuel prices in most parts of the US make a larger taxi, like the Ford Crown Victoria, a viable option. Many taxi’s in the USA have a partition between the front and rear seat, so the prospective buyer must factor this space requirement into their purchasing decision.

UK – 

The high cost of fuel and relatively light distance and load requirements make fuel performance  and physical size the primary factors in choosing a car for use in a market like the UK. Another important factor is the size and maneuverability of the car;the taxi needs to be able to navigate the crowded narrow streets one encounters in the big cities of the UK.
India – In India the initial cost of the car and the cost of operation are the most
important factors when selecting a car for use as a taxi. Both load requirements and trip length are likely to be more of a factor than in the US or UK markets. Passenger comfort is a secondary factor in this type of market, while ruggedness and durability are of paramount importance. The roads in many rural areas are quite rough and given the heavy load that is often carried by taxis in these rural areas a vehicle with stout suspension and chassis is critical.

Europe – 

Like the US market, passenger comfort is important in the European market. Like the UK market, the European market has high fuel cost so fuel economy is also a primary consideration in this market. It is important to note that many countries have very stringent emissions laws, and the car chosen must be able to meet the emissions standards of the area to procure a taxi license. Many taxi companies  in Europe swear by diesel powered vehicles because of their reputation for long engine life, fuel efficiency, and low maintenance cost over the life of the car.

Asia – 

The Asian market model takes into consideration the high population density typical in many Asian cities, so the physical size of the vehicle as well as the vehicle’s maneuverability in tight quarters are a major consideration. Safety and emission laws vary widely in Asia, so the buyer must make certain the vehicle they purchase can meet the requirements for the area the cab is to be licensed in.

Now that we have briefly described the 5 scenarios we are going to explore, let’s look at the list of vehicles we will examine:


Ford Crown Victoria – 
A favorite of New York City cabbies, the Crown Victoria is often available in the form of used police cars. These used vehicles are typically well maintained and are sold for a fraction of their original cost. The “Crown Vic”, as they are affectionately known, are a  solid, full sized sedan offering excellent passenger comfort and are roominess. The downside is they typically come with gas guzzling V-8 engines and their large size makes them difficult to maneuver in tight places. Ford is discontinuing production of this venerable classic, however there will still be quality used models available for years to come.
Price: $7,000 (used)
 MPG: 15 city/21 highway

Ford Escape Hybrid – 
This car, like all hybrid models, emit very low amounts of pollutants and get extremely good gas mileage, up to 100 miles a gallon in some cases. The Ford Escape Hybrid, which gets 36 mpg around town and runs entirely off the battery at speeds less than 25 mph has much lower emissions in stop-and-go congestion than a similar vehicle with a standard engine.
Price: $30,000
MPG: 36 city/34 highway

Toyota Prius Hybrid – 
The Prius Hybrid has enjoyed great popularity in the USA and European markets due to it’s longevity and ruggedness, in addition to the great mileage/low emissions common to all hybrids. Users report trouble free operation for 250,000 to 400,00 miles. It’s compact size and short turning radius make it great for crowded, narrow streets.
Price: $25,000
MPG: 51 city/48 highway

2012 Dodge Grand Caravan –  
The roomy, dependable Grand Caravan has been a favorite of taxi companies the world over for quite some time. Both the new and used models represent a good value for use in the taxi industry.
Price: $22,000
 MPG: 17 city/25 highway

Nissan NV200 – 
Designed for taxi use, the NV200’s  features include:
low emissions and strong fuel efficiency Dual sliding doors with retractable enter/exit footstep        Flat "no hump" passenger floor area making it both  roomier and more comfortable  Lights that alert other vehicles that the taxi doors are opening, Additionally, Nissan has partnered with Braun Corp. to come up with and produce a new solution for a wheelchair-accessible taxi for the city that will be offered and available for sale in 2013.
Price: $20,000 (2013)
 MPG: 24 city/25 highway

VPG MV-1 –
 In October of 2011 it was announced that New York City's Taxi and Limousine Commission had approved the MV-1 for use as a yellow cab. Comfortable and roomy, the MV-1's body-on-frame design is highly durable and well suited for city road conditions. Designed for  taxi service, the MV-1 can comfortably  of carry 5 passengers, and includes the option of wheelchair transport capability.
Layout Front-engine, rear-wheel-drive
Engine 4.6 L Ford Modular V8
Price: $40,000
 MPG: 13 city/18 highway

2003-2006 Toyota Camry 4cyl. – 
The Toyota Camry is perhaps the perfect taxi, faithfullyperforming its duties, never annoying its owner/driver. It outsells all the other midsize cars largely because of Toyota's reputation for quality, durability and reliability.
The Camry’s huge popularity over the years means there are always an abundant number of used vehicles for sale, perfect for those companies with limited startup capital.
For 2006, the Toyota Camry gets a five-speed automatic choice with the available four-cylinder engine.
 Price: $7,911 - $9,561
 MPG: 24 City / 33 HWY

Ford Transit Connect - 
Available as a van or wagon, the Connect is also available with an optional Taxi Package.  
MPG: 21 City / 27 HWY
Price : $21,495

Conclusion – Best car for the markets:
USA – 2013 Nissan NV200
UK – 2013 Nissan NV200
India –  2003-2006 Toyota Camry 4cyl.
Europe – 2012 Ford Escape Hybrid
Asia – 2013 Nissan NV200


  1. As a cab driver and owner of Toyota Prius, I would strongly argue stated MPG: 51 city/48 highway.
    It's almost impossible in real time to get this kind of MPG, unless you drive very defensively without quick acceleration eg. to catch a green light, get from middle lane in front of other cars to make a right turn or "step on it", when your customer is in the hurry to get to airport on time to catch his flight
    Also Toyota's MPG estimated doesn't take into account Florida's hot weather, where in summertime you have to run AC nonstop and its a big factor on MPG consumption.
    In real life of taxi driving in Florida, Toyota Prius gets about 40-45 MPG depending on conditions like traffic, weather, etc
    It is still much better than driving Ford Crown Victoria, Dodge Grand Caravan or Chevy Impala.

    The other Problem in driving Toyota Prius as a taxi cab is also assumption by passenger, that since you driving hybrid, you don't spend as much money on gas as those drivers who drive Ford Crown Vic and other gas guzzling cars, therefor you deserve less of a tip on each fare.....some of them go as far as demanding 20-30% discount because they are getting in fuel efficient car....I usually refuse this kind of rides by saying "I guess, you will have to wait for a another cab ride that deserves you" or " hey, NO PROBLEM, I will give you FREE RIDE from
    Downtown Saint Pete to Saint Pete Beach"
    ....and sometimes when they get confident about their luck, I would tell them, "the ride to Saint Pete Beach is FREE, but you have to tip me $30 or $35 upfront" that usually sobers them up a little....

    1. at 112K miles, main battery in my prius went bad, guess what........? the dealer said $3,200,,,,,,,,,,,,,
      I don't want to think, what else can go wrong in this high tech gizmo and prices to pay........
      Could be one of 11 computers, could be brakes $200 to replace, could be air filter for battery cooling name it......
      .........and no local mechanic want to touch it, SO basically, YOU ARE FORCED TO pay dealer prices, PERIOD

    2. Just relapse my taxi for new one.Toyota Prius 233k
      1. Buttery 12V replace on 150,000

      2. Brakes pads and front rotors replace on 200,000 (Toyota brand parts)

      3. Spark plugs replace on 220,000 (Toyota Diller)

      4. A/C compressor replace 230,000 (Used one, but only was 5,000 on it.)
      8. Cooling liquid 225k
      9. Transmission liquid 225k
      Main battery in my Prius went bad on 233k. I fix it for $650 with one year warranty.
      Drives like new,but did not take a chance , relapse for new one.
      Any questions

    3. Sounds like you were lucky one with your toyota prius, in mine, my main battery went out at 112K miles,,,,
      cost of the repair at dealership $3500

  2. What are mechanical road requirements for taxi in Florida?

    1. In St Petersburg where I am driving a cab, there is no any requirements for a car to use as a taxi.
      Some of the cab companies like Town Taxi and Independent have in their fleets cars that are +20 years old,

  3. After 2 years of driving, odometer in my 2012 Toyota Prius taxi just hit 82,000 miles,- so far, I had to change tires, headlight bulbs every ~40,000 miles, cabin air filter and of course oil every 5,000 miles.

  4. My 2012 Toyota Prius hit 105K , so far so good

    1. Toyota Prius taxi at 114K, rude awakening,
      Main battery went bad,
      to replace it, the dealer asks $3200
      Was I stupid to buy Toyota Prius for taxi, or what........?

    2. That's the problem with Toyota Prius, once it gets over 100k miles, be prepared to to spend fortune on repairs, which can run into thousands at your local Toyota dealer, because no other mechanic can fix it.

  5. "What is the best car to use for a taxi?"

    IMHO, that depends where you driving?

    Lets say, if you driving in highly regulated taxi market somewhere in US without much of competition, you can buy one of Toyota new cars like Toyota Prius, Toyota Camry or Toyota Sienna
    but if you are taxi driver in the city with a lot of competition, you are better off to buy
    ~10 year Ford Crown Vic, Lincoln Town Car or Mercury Grand Marquis, with these cars you will save a lot on initial cost and cost of insurance.
    Grand Caravans are pretty good too, if you need a mini van

    1. Whatever you do, don't buy Toyota Prius
      It's too expensive and repairs done at local dealership are very costly.
      ......stupid oil change cost +$75 , because you have to use Toyota special mumbo jumbo synthetic oil

    2. RE Grand caravan as being good cars for taxi ?
      You don't want to mess with thi piece of junk, we had 3 of them in our fleet and in all of them we had to replace transmission between 160K and 200K,
      cooling system after 180k develops all kind of problems from radiators needed to be replaced to hoses blowing up
      Also, replacing tire is a major pain, because it is located underneath, AC sensors going heywire from 150K on and if you don't know what you are doing you will spend fortune on AC repairs..etc.
      Whatever you do, don't buy dodge caravan for taxi, period

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  7. Whatever you do, don't buy Chevy Impala, it has major electronic problems which are very expensive to fix.
    In general, GM cars are well below quality of Toyotas, Fords or any other brands for that matter which qualify to be taxis

    1. I am not sure about Toyota quality after you put +100 K miles on your Toyota Prius taxi........, mine experience was really bad when main battery in my prius went down at 112K and my local Toyota dealer told me it will cost me $3,200 to replace it......

  8. What is the best car for taxi in Florida and Tampa Bay? thx