Reviews & Features

The 10 Best Cars For a Summer Road Trip


Is there anything quite as rewarding as a Summer road trip? Whether you’re headed to a baseball game with your buddies, to the beach with all your friends, or dragging the kids and dog out into the majesty of nature for a camping trip, the Road Trip is a time-honored tradition. But in order to make the most of your next lengthy highway cruise, you need to have the right wheels.

Ranging from sporty to rugged, we narrowed down our favorite vehicles for all kinds of road trips. So whether you’re embarking on a his-and-her romantic getaway for two or packing the extended family into the backseat, we’ve got a vehicle for you. Plus, we picked from a wide range of price tags, meaning that there’s a road trip for every budget. After all, even if you can afford to fly, the best part of any road trip is the journey itself, not the destination.

Jeep Renegade

Technically, the Jeep Renegade is a compact crossover — half SUV and half a standard four-door sedan. However, this recently released model (2015 was the first year it was sold) definitely packs in a ton of features into smaller frame. While it can’t compare in size to a full-fledged SUV, the Renegade has plenty of storage space in the back. It’s the perfect vehicle to take if you’re planning to run into any wilderness, as it has four-wheel drive with a number of settings like mud, sand, or snow.

For the full experience, get the Trailhawk model. It includes a beefier off-road suspension and comes with the MySky removable roof panels — great for that classic open-air Jeep experience. The MySky is an option on the other versions of the Renegade as well.

Kia Sedona

Minivans have a bad reputation for being the uncool vehicle-of-choice for suburban soccer moms everywhere. But we say that’s unfair, because new van models are sleek, sophisticated, and come packed with everything you need for a great road trip. Take the Kia Sedona, for example. For the price (starting at around $22,000), there might not be a better option for a family outing.

It includes a laundry list of convenient features, like stow-away seats and a power lift-gate. It also has all your standard safety upgrades, like blind spot detection, autonomous emergency breaking, and a back-up camera. And for anyone worried that driving a minivan means a sacrifice in performance, fear not. The Sedona packs a sizable punch with a 3.3-liter, V6 engine — perfect for towing the kids or the family boat. Or both.

Bentley Mulsanne Speed

We go from the budget version of a road trip to one where you ride in high style. Starting at around $300,000, the Bentley Mulsanne is a full-sized luxury car. If you don’t have kids spilling crackers or apple juice in the backseat (or you’re just too rich to care about those things), then this four-door beauty might be perfect for you. It’s outfitted with every piece of luxury that you would expect from a Bentley, and even includes a bottle cooler that has space for two full-sized bottles of (hopefully equally luxurious) champagne.

For cruising down the roadways of America in style, the Speed version of the Mulsanne (launched in 2013) boasts a more powerful engine — a 6.75-liter, twin-turbocharged V8 that cranks out over 500 horsepower. Despite it’s size, the Mulsanne speed can 60 mph is just under five seconds and boasts a top speed of 190 mph.


Toyota Highlander Hybrid

Ready for a road trip, but concerned about gas prices? Try the Toyota Highlander Hybrid. Not only does it have enough room for eight people, but it also boasts 28 mpg with a standard 3.3-liter engine combined with an electric drive. The newest versions of the Highlander also comes with a whole host of new safety features, along with entertainment features that will keep everyone entertained on your next Summer journey — an 8.0″ touchscreen infotainment display and a 12-speaker JBL soundsystem are available upgrades. Plus, depending on what terrain you plan to tackle, the Highlander is available in two-wheel and four-wheel drive models.

Mazda MX-5 Miata

Forget being the kids or your friends. The Mazda MX-5 isn’t going to hold all of them. Instead, this version of the popular Miata sports car is the perfect road trip vehicle for a couple (even if that means bringing your non-romantic BFF). While the MX-5 isn’t the biggest car on this list, nor the most powerful, people always seem to agree on one thing when it comes to the Miata — it’s simply fun as hell to drive.

This two-seat roadster is reasonably priced (approx. $27,500) and is great for riding off into the sunset, and into whatever your next planned adventure is. It comes with a six-speed transmission, available in either manual or automatic, and still has plenty of zip for what is sometimes considered an underpowered sportscar. Convertibles were made for road trips, and the MX-5 Miaita won’t disappoint.

Honda CR-V

The CR-V is one of the classic compact crossovers, having been a part of Honda’s lineup since 1995. Even the name of this vehicle points out that it’s meant for fun, as CR-V stands for “compact recreational vehicle.” Honda has sold millions of these things, and with good reason. They are perfect for all aspects of life, from your daily commute to the office (around 25 mpg) or getting away for the weekend with family or friends (ample storage space in the back).

Even better, the CR-V is affordable for most people looking to road trip, starting at around $20,000 for the base model. Fancier models include a panoramic sunroof, a power tailgate, and a roof rack.

GMC Canyon

The Canyon can be considered a spin-off of the more popular GMC Colorado pickup truck. But unlike most spin-offs, the Canyon can’t be considered inferior to the original. It’s more of an upgraded version, with additional options like active aero grille shutters, OnStar 4G LTE with on-board wifi, forward collision warning, lane departure warning, and a Teen Driver feature that limits speed and audio volume.

For road trippers, the Canyon features plenty of storage space and comes in four-wheel drive for those deep wilderness camping adventures. Of course, all these extra Canyon features come at a higher price than the standard Colorado pickup, but we think it’s worth shelling out the extra cash for a premium ride.

Mitsubishi Outlander

The Outlander is an excellent crossover vehicle, combining the extra space of an SUV with the smooth handling of a smaller car. This one is perfect for families, as it includes a variety of back seat configurations, including a 50-50-split third row if you have some extra passengers to move. Or, you can fold all the seats down for even more cargo room.

The kids can stay busy with an optional rear-seat 9-inch DVD/Entertainment system, that comes with two sets of wireless headphones and a auxiliary port. The driver can stay busy a 2.4-liter engine that generates 166-horsepower and gets an efficient 31 mpg.

Range Rover Autobiography

If money is not an object, there may not be a better road trip option than the Range Rover Autobiography. Seriously, this SUV starts at $150,000 (the high end model goes for over $200,000), but will render the idea of “roughing it” completely obsolete. We don’t even have room to talk about all the features crammed into this beauty, but the highlights include entertainment screens for passengers, fold out tables for meals on the go, a drink cooler, and event seating. What is event seating, you ask? The Autobiography features a pair of fold out chairs that come out of the back when the tailgate is open. It’s perfect for tailgating, a night at the drive-in, and just staring out at the beach with a friend or that special someone.

This luxury model also includes a panoramic sunroof, built-in massage chairs, and genuine leather interior, plus a 5.0-liter V8 engine that produces a whopping 510-horsepower. Don’t let the price tag scare you — the Autobiography is a true road tripping machine.

Chrysler Pacifica

If you can’t afford the previously mentioned Range Rover, then maybe you should consider the Chrysler Pacifica, one of the best minivans available on the market today. It has a lot of the same features, for a lot less price. For example, it’s optional rear-seat entertainment system features twin touch screens that play DVDs, Blu-rays, and can even be hooked up to gaming console via HDMI in.

The patented “Stow ‘n Go” seating of the Pacifica means that storage for your next road trip won’t be a problem, as the back seats fold directly into the floor to open up the interior. This model has replaced the best-selling Town & Country model in Chrysler’s line-up, and it’s a worthy successor. For eco-conscious owners, the Pacifica is also available in a gas-electric hybrid model as well.