QOTD: What's the Best Taxi?

Doug DeMuro
by Doug DeMuro
qotd what s the best taxi

I was driving around the other night in New York City and decided to see how many miles are on all the taxi cabs. This is something you can do with a $25-a-month subscription to the Carfax app. You just type in the taxi’s license plate number and — BOOM! — you have the entire Carfax report complete with mileage, service history and precise dates of all nine of each taxi’s accidents.

So I ran maybe 20 or 25 taxi cabs through Carfax and I discovered something: the Ford Crown Victorias aren’t the highest mileage cabs in New York. Not even close. In fact, I had trouble finding a Crown Vic with more than 200,000 miles on the odometer and more than three accidents, which is “just broken in” by New York City taxi standards.

It wasn’t the Toyotas, either. When you go to New York City now, the yellow cab fleet is dominated by Toyota Camrys of the two most recent generations, which seem to be a little zippier than the old Crown Vics. However, I didn’t find a Camry older than the 2012 model year, so I guess these haven’t been in service long enough to rack up the serious miles.

Same goes for the new Nissan NV200 van, the “taxi of tomorrow.” These are starting to get pretty common in Manhattan now, but they just haven’t been on the road long enough to rack up serious miles. I only ran one or two, and neither came back with more than 100,000 ticks on the odometer.

So the winner of the great What New York City Taxi Has The Most Miles On It competition? That would be…

…the Ford Escape Hybrid.

I was surprised too.

I ran several Escape Hybrids through Carfax, and each time the numbers came up with astronomical figures. The highest-mileage Escape Hybrid I found was a 2009 model that had racked up 493,936 miles since its original purchase from Manhattan Ford on May 19, 2009. For those of you playing at home, that’s 214.3 miles per day. Every day. For nearly six and a half years.

So the Escape Hybrid must be a pretty damn reliable vehicle if you’re looking for a taxi cab. Not only had this one done 214.3 miles a day, but it also had six accidents on the Carfax, which means it was probably laid up for at least six weeks over the years. Add the odd snowstorm and the occasional mechanical failure, and this thing has probably done 250 miles a day, nearly every day, for years.

But there’s a problem with the Escape Hybrid as a taxi: it isn’t really all that big. I rode in one recently, and the already small amount of legroom in a Ford Escape is made even worse by the fact that New York City insists that all taxi vehicles have a central partition the size of a middle school trophy display case. So while the Escape Hybrid may be a reliable taxi cab, it’s hardly a very comfortable taxi cab.

And this brings us to today’s Question of the Day, which is: what’s the best car for use as a taxi?

I first posed this question a couple of years ago on this very website, and the responses were — naturally — all over the place. But a lot has changed in the last two years. We’re now more heavily focused on alternative fuels and getting good gas mileage. Van and SUV taxi cabs have become a lot more common than the sedan variety. And even the most die-hard Crown Victoria supporters are starting to admit those things are getting pretty old.

So what say you? If you were operating a taxi company, what vehicles would make up your fleet?

If it were me, I would consider using a Hyundai or Kia. The damn things have 100,000-mile powertrain warranties, which — even in taxi frenzied New York City — would last for at least a year or two. The Sonata and Optima are roomy, they offer hybrid models, and they’re relatively affordable. It’s worth a try over a Camry.

As for you, here’s your criteria: It has to be able to carry around at least two or three people. It has to be relatively fuel efficient. It has to last a long time. And by God, it can’t be a Crown Victoria.

Ford Escape Hybrid Taxi by Mariordo Mario Roberto Duran Ortiz (Own work) [ CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

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2 of 64 comments
  • 2ACL Some of the reported issues sound expensive for all but the most committed wrenchers. Scant documentation on some of the previous work is also a minus. I wouldn't mind something like this, but whereas the seller is trying to make room, I don't have any for something this intensive.
  • Merc190 Any Alfa has a unique character built in, so there's that, once you get it running properly, until it doesn't...
  • Syke Yeah, no sympathy for the dealerships whatsoever. I've gone enough thru training a dealership's salesperson under the guise of trying to buy an EV. I'm pleasantly surprised that Ford's insisting on Level 3 DC Fast Charging rather than the usual Level 2 that most dealerships have now. This is definitely forcing a commitment on the part of the dealer that they're going to be serious about selling EV's.Oh yeah, DC Fast Charging is never free, so you're definitely talking another income stream for the dealership. The big question is are they smart enough to make something real of it?I continue to say that the legacy automakers biggest problem when it comes to selling EV's is their own dealerships. And this article really drives that home.
  • SCE to AUX Yeah, I'm going to spend 5 or 6 figures on a used/abused car from a punk.
  • MrIcky I'm not buying any of Musk's BS until he steps into the ring with Zuckerberg. Musk dropped the challenge, Mark picked it up, Musk pussed out. 2 men enter, 1 man leaves- you know the law.