Finding the right vehicle is a crucial part of your summer vacation plans. To help, here are our picks of the best road trip cars on the market.
A year’s worth of cabin fever has a lot of us making plans for a summer road trip and picking the perfect vehicle to get you from hither to yon can be pivotal. That’s why we’ve compiled a list of the best road trip cars to make the most of your vacation, whether it’s a romantic jaunt to the countryside or hopscotching with the family from Yosemite to Yellowstone.
Obviously, you and I don’t buy vehicles based solely on their long-haul capabilities. There’s the commute to consider, too. To that end, we’ve chosen vehicles that will serve you well year-round while also maximizing your enjoyment of those cross-country road trips you’ve been looking forward to all winter long.
The Toyota Prius has always been a bit funky looking, and not in the Kia Soul-quirky-charm kind of way, either. But this champion of practicality makes up for its cosmetic deficits through its nearly unmatched efficiency, which, if you think about it, is an aesthetic all its own. The Prius’s 58 city mpg is great for your commute while the 53 highway mpg makes for over 500 miles of driving between fill-ups. The Prius is also surprisingly spacious inside with plenty of adult-size passenger space in both rows and an impressive 24.6-27.4 cu. ft. of cargo space in back and a maximum of 50.7 cu. ft. with the seats folded down. If you’re in it for the long haul, consider the Prius.
What’s better than a road trip with the top down? A road trip with the doors off and the windshield folded down. Add in some impromptu off-roading and you’ve got an unforgettable adventure thanks to the one-of-a-kind Jeep Gladiator. Whether you’re snaking your way along the Pacific Coast Highway or getting dusty on an unexplored overlanding trail, the Gladiator makes a unique and compelling choice of conveyance. The bed lends added utility to this most rugged of mid-size trucks with 60-inches of space in back along with up to 4,500 lbs. of towing capacity.
Color us impressed with Kia’s redesigned and renamed Sedona minivan. The Kia Carnival offers all the upsides of a minivan versus the typical SUV, with significantly greater passenger and cargo room, while dodging much of the minivan stigma with a rugged SUV-like look. Chock full of the latest tech and modern conveniences, our favorite feature is the second row VIP Lounge seats. These fully recline, are both heated and ventilated, and even sport power footrests. If you’ve got driving age kids, we recommend letting them drive as you sit back and relax on your next road trip.
The Lexus LC 500 is a beautiful road trip car. Its naturally aspirated V8 sounds like no other. Its interior is stunning and unique. Oh, and you can get it as a convertible. We can’t think of a car better suited for a romantic trip for two, regardless of the destination. Comfort, speed, refinement; it’s all here. In fact, traveling in the LC 500 is so compelling, you probably won’t even need a destination. Just pick a route as gorgeous as this car, and drive.
If you want to travel in style with the whole family, the Volvo XC90 has a lot to offer. This three-row luxury SUV features arguably the best interior for the money with super comfortable seats (though the third row is best left to the kids), high quality materials, and a distinctive design that’s far more attractive and less austere than those Scandinavian stereotypes would have you believe. Despite the relative affordability (you can spend a whole lot more on a luxury SUV), the Volvo XC90 features on of the very best audio systems on the market. The Bowers & Wilkins stereo is well worth the $3,200 upgrade for audiophiles in search of the best sound system to pair with their ultimate road trip playlist.
Driving exhilaration can come in many forms. The thrills you can derive from the Mazda Miata MX-5 are best found on winding canyon roads or along the twisty turns of the Tail of the Dragon along US 129. There are few cars that can offer a more immersive and engaging driving experience. So, let us recommend finding yourself a Miata, putting the top down, and taking in all the sights, sounds, and smells along the way on your summer road trip.
The experiment in spatial reasoning that is packing for a road trip can be a headache. Who hasn’t overstuffed their vehicle with luggage, camping gear, and kids and then lashing still more stuff onto the luggage rack? I’ll tell you who hasn’t, Chevrolet Suburban owners because they have the space, all the space. Car reviewers like to toss around terms like cavernous where it doesn’t apply, but the Suburban literally echoes (maybe not literally, but you get the point). With the Suburban you can bring it all: the kids, the dog, grandma, all that camping gear, and, with up to 7,800 lbs. of towing capacity, even the boat, too.
Ah, the Mercedes-Benz E-Class wagon. Whether in its new AWD All-Terrain form, the basic E-350, or the absurdly powered AMG E63 version, the E-Class wagon is perhaps the ultimate road trip car. Like all proper station wagons, the E-Class wagon has plenty of room in the rear for mounds of luggage. Then there’s all the Mercedes bells and whistles including the next-level drivers assist features, over sixty hues of ambient lighting, and the Air Body Control suspension system for a glass-smooth ride. You can get the E-Class wagon in a number of powertrains ranging from turbo four-cylinder all the way to the 603 horsepower biturbo V8 in the E63. From driving excitement to cosseting luxury to basic practicality, the Mercedes-Benz E-Class wagon has it all as your next road trip car.