Spring is here, which is the unofficial start to road trip season. The weather is warming up, the wildflowers are blooming, and the open road is calling your name. Hands down, the best part of road trips is the freedom. Don’t have a set destination in mind? No problem. No passengers? No big deal. The one thing you do need? A reliable vehicle.
Nobody wants to deal with car trouble, especially on a road trip. Depending on what kind of road trip you are taking (or dreaming of taking), your needs and “must-haves” may vary. The one thing that is certain: you need a car that is reliable.
Here’s the very best cars for every type of road trip.
Best For Taking Roads Less Traveled: Jeep Wrangler
It seems like Jeep has been synonymous with off-roading for as long as it’s existed. Jeep is known for making super durable, reliable vehicles and has become a highly sought after in the used car market. The Wrangler has 10.9 inches of ground clearance and control that makes it feel like it was made specifically for climbing over rocks, up hills, and through rough terrain — which isn’t far from the truth. The option to remove the top and doors is the icing on the adventure cake. Jeep Wrangler is one of the best road trip vehicles you can buy, especially if you are looking to go off the beaten path.
Best For Adventuring with the Fam: Toyota Sienna
Despite being the only van that offers 4-wheel drive, there’s more to the Toyota Sienna that makes it an awesome choice for adventurous families. Known for functionality, reliability, comfort and style, it’s great for both short trips and extended adventures. With up to eight seats, there’s plenty of room for your people without compromising space for all your gear.
Best for the Eco-Friendly Explorer: Chevrolet Bolt EV
It’s not your typical Chevy, but it’s easy to see why so many are applauding this compact electric vehicle. In addition to easy handling and a spacious cabin for passengers, the Bolt has a whopping 238-mile range with a fully charged battery — double than most of its rivals. That means you can set out and enjoy the trip without constantly worrying about finding your next charge station. The Bolt also costs less than most of its rivals, making it a no-brainer for eco-friendly road trips.
Best for fuel efficiency: Honda Accord Hybrid
Honda has been lauded for cars that seemingly run forever and the Accord is no exception. With both city and highway ratings of 48 mpg, those seeking a fuel efficient road trip should look to the Honda Accord Hybrid. Beyond being a stellar fuel sipper, the Accord Hybrid is very roomy while still compact, with enough space for hauling people or gear with ease. Honda has been making the Accord for 40 years and there are plenty of models to choose from, but the 2019 Honda Accord LX is our favorite for road trips.
Best for Car Camping: Volkswagen Westfalia Camper
VW’s Westfalia Camper may be the quintessential hippie van, but there is a reason why people are still seeking out these old beauties today. The Westfalia has been a go-to for outdoor lovers and road trippers since it hit the road in the late 50s. With the Westfalia set up, you can live on the road for weeks on end. There’s a small kitchen with a propane-powered stove and propane-powered fridge, a small sink, and plenty of available storage areas for dishes, utensils or a few road treasures. One of the beds is stowed in the pop-up roof. The two front captain seats are big and comfy. The interior is incredibly simplistic and spacious — you can easily stand up and walk around in the van. If this vehicle has any cons, it’s that it’s slow (like really slow) and the engine can easily get over-worked. But if you are looking to take your time on the open road, the Westfalia is definitely for you.
Best For Hauling Gear & Toys: Toyota Tundra
Toyota Tundra has built a lot of cred over the years when it comes to off-roading, hauling, and being an all-around dependable pickup truck. In comparison to its sibling, the Tacoma, the Tundra has a massive bed for hauling your gear, a roomy cab for people (or more gear), and can haul up to 10,100 lbs and still gets about 18 mpg with a load. It’s perfect for folks headed to the mountains or desert with their toys or camper in tow.
Best for Long Destinations: Ford Mustang GT
Besides being a legendary car, Ford Mustang GT is an excellent vehicle for cruising long distances. The interior is incredibly comfortable and while it isn’t the most roomy vehicle, it is more than capable of hauling you and a passenger plus your luggage. The Mustang’s independent suspensions setup takes corners like it was made for cruising — because it was. Besides being a reliable long distance vehicle, the Mustang GT is just plain fun to drive.
Best for Top Down Cruising: Mazda MX-5 Miata
The Mazda MX-5 Miata practically wrote the book on the roadster and it’s the best selling two-seater of all time. The MX-5 is a two-seat, rear wheel convertible with a fantastic six-speed manual. It’s perfect for those who have a passion for driving and like to be able to truly feel the car. The MX-5 is really for an escape: there aren’t many bells and whistles and there’s not a lot of room. That’s because the caris the fun and the joy comes from simply driving it. Just you, the open road, wind in your hair and sunshine on your skin… that’s what the MX-5 is all about.
Best All Around Road Tripper: Subaru Crosstrek
Subaru has been a long time favorite for road warriors and it’s not hard to see why. They are reliable, practical, capable, and affordable. The Crosstrek checks all those boxes and some. It has well-rounded character and excellent gas mileage of 27 mpg city and 33 mpg highway, plus its rugged durability makes this the top choice for weekends on the open road or in the mountains. The other great thing about Subaru is it’s fairly easy to find used models in really good condition.
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