Best Road Trip Cars
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Road trip anyone?
Whether you’re embarking on a cross-country trek to visit family or going on your next weekend camping trip, finding a car best suited for journeys out of town can make your trip go that much smoother.
Vehicles on this list prioritize comfort, not just for the driver, but passengers, too. We also looked at the quality of standard — and optional — infotainment systems, towing capability, what critics and consumers said about drive quality and whether the cars come standard with or offer exterior features such as luggage racks.
How we chose the best road trip cars
We first looked at safety so you’ll be well-equipped on the road — only vehicles that had high ratings by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and/or Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) were considered. We then looked to see that those vehicles received at least 4 out of 5 stars from Kelley Blue Book (KBB) experts and consumers on Edmunds. We then took mileage into account for their class — some of the vehicles you’ll see below have hybrid options. Next, we looked at technology such as cruise control, entertainment features and Wi-Fi capability. We also took into consideration whether the vehicle has room for gear and takes passenger comfort into consideration as part of its design. MSRP’s are accurate as of the date of publishing.
Best sedans for road trips
2019 Toyota Prius L Eco
4.1 out of 5 by KBB experts; not reviewed by consumers on Edmunds
58 city/53 highway/52 overall MPG
Though technically a hatchback, the Toyota Prius offers a lot of benefits for those wanting to go on long trips due to its hybrid powertrain. You get the best bang for your buck when it comes to fuel economy, plus the advanced monitoring system helps you improve your gas usage. There’s also the Entune Audio — an entertainment dashboard which includes a 6.1 inch touchscreen display, USB media port and music streaming via Bluetooth. You can upgrade to get integrated navigation capabilities which includes predictive traffic and doppler weather overlay — although other competitors offer more advanced features like Android Auto integration. As for cargo space the Prius has 65.5 cubic feet of space, with the seats down. Safety features include Toyota Safety Sense TSS-P, offering features such as a pre-collision system, lane departure alert with steering assist and automatic high beams. There is a less expensive (but also smaller) Prius, the Prius c, as well as the more expensive plug-in Prius Prime.
4.7 out of 5 by KBB experts; 4.2 out of 5 by consumers on Edmunds (9 reviews)
IIHS Top Safety Pick
30 city/38 highway/33 overall MPG
Honda’s well-known mid-size sedan offers a decent array of safety and entertainment features as well as details to ensure passengers’ comfort. The basic model offers dual climate control, helping you set the ideal temperature for you and your passengers. You also get a touchscreen entertainment system with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay integration — use apps such as maps to navigate your way through your road trip. There’s a bunch of safety features even in the standard models such as adaptive cruise control, collision mitigation braking system and traffic sign recognition, an advantage over Honda’s similarly priced CR-V or even the larger and more expensive Odyssey. However, if you’re after even better fuel economy, you can consider the Accord’s hybrid option ($25,320).
4.6 out of 5 by KBB experts; 4.2 out of 5 by consumers on Edmunds (29 reviews)
IIHS Top Safety Pick+
29 city/41 highway/34 overall MPG
The Camry offers a few driving modes — sport, ECO or normal — to help you with a better driving experience, though you’ll have to upgrade to the XLE model, one of seven Camry trims, not including its hybrid offerings. These modes depend on whether you want to maximize fuel efficiency or want better acceleration. All Camry models have Toyota’s P (TSS-P) Safety Sense package, including features like dynamic cruise control and lane departure alert with steering assist. Consumers on Edmunds mention a smooth drive. If you’re looking to pack a lot in this car, you can take advantage of the 60/40 split fold down rear seat, so you can still seat a passenger in the back along with tall or bulky cargo.
Best small to midsize SUVs for road trips
4.3 out of 5 by KBB experts; 4.5 out of 5 by consumers on Edmunds (19 reviews)
IIHS Top Safety Pick
24 city/30 highway/28 overall MPG
With more than 60 cubic feet of cargo room (with the seats folded down) thanks to its boxy shape, you can have plenty of room to pack essentials for your road trip. Like many other vehicles on this list, you get safety features such as lane assist, blind spot detection and smart cruise control though you’ll have to upgrade to the Plus trim ($20,490). Upgrading can get you features such as UVO eServices, which can help you add places you want to visit so it can sync with your car to give you turn-by-turn directions. But the Soul does have a few nice standard features on the base including a rearview camera and 5-inch touchscreen though be warned that the base comes standard with manual drive, too. You could opt for the electric version of the Soul ($33,950), but with a range of 111 miles, stopping to charge could significantly slow your roll on a road trip.
4.1 out of 5 by KBB experts; 4.4 out of 5 by consumers on Edmunds (11 reviews)
IIHS Top Safety Pick+
22 city/29 highway/23 overall MPG
The Kia Sorento offers a bit more bells and whistles than the Kia Soul. First, this three-row SUV offers more room — you can seat seven people or fold down the backseat for more cargo room. Outdoor enthusiasts may enjoy that the Sorento can tow up to 5,000 pounds on the EX V6 trim with all-wheel drive ($37,390).The base model includes Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration. Upgrade and you can get wireless charging and a Harman/Kardon premium sound system. There’s also safety features like driver attention warning, lane keeping assist and forward collision warning, but you’ll need to upgrade to at least the EX model to take advantage of these.
4.2 out of 5 by KBB experts; 4.8 out of 5 by consumers on Edmunds (30 reviews)
IIHS Top Safety Pick+
25 city/32 highway/28 overall MPG
Aside from being one of the more fuel-efficient SUVs on this list, Subaru’s EyeSight Driver Assist is now standard across all Outback models. Features include adaptive cruise control, lane keep assist and pre-collision braking. Other features include raised roof rails, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration. Upgraded models include heated seating for both front and rear passengers and a GPS navigation system.
Best large SUVs for road trips
4.3 out of 5 by KBB experts; 4.5 out of 5 by consumers on Edmunds (15 reviews)
19 city/26 highway/21 overall MPG
If you’re an outdoor enthusiast this could be the vehicle for you. The Jeep Grand Cherokee allows you to adjust how the power is being distributed so you can maintain traction and feel more at ease handling different road conditions. The 3.6L Pentastar V6 engine offers up to 295 horsepower and you can tow up to 6,200 pounds on upper trim levels. The interior includes a 60/40 split folding rear seat and an 7-inch touch screen that includes a navigation system, Bluetooth connectivity, integrated voice command as well as Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration.
4.5 out of 5 by KBB experts; 5 out of 5 by consumers on Edmunds (8 reviews)
20 city/27 highway/23 overall MPG
5 stars NHTSA
This luxury three-row SUV offers details such as optional leather seats and standard 19-inch alloy wheels, all-wheel drive and 250 horsepower. The interior also has Volvo’s CleanZone technology — a more efficient filter with active charcoal that removes contaminants and improves air quality. Standard safety features include collision avoidance and adaptive cruise control. There’s also the optional Sensus navigation, which includes navigation apps, and connects with other cloud based services. It’s included with the optional multimedia package which may include a premium sound system that monitors speakers so that all passengers hears individually adjusted volumes. The XC90 is also available as an AWD plug-in hybrid, but it’s a significant price bump, starting at $67,000.
Best minivans for road trips
4.5 out of 5 by KBB experts; 4.4 out of 5 by consumers on Edmunds (4 reviews)
IIHS Top Safety Pick
19 city/28 highway/22 overall MPG
The Chrysler Pacifica offers a few nifty features that offer convenient stowing and travel options. The Stow ’n Go seating and storage system allows you to fold down the second or third row seats so you can configure an arrangement that can store both passengers and cargo. There’s also hands-free power sliding doors and an option to include an interior vacuum system to keep your car clean. Entertainment includes the available Uconnect Theater system which includes dual touch screens for second row passengers, wireless streaming, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto support. Plus, both the hybrid and gasoline models offer optional safety features such a 360 degree view camera, forward collision warning and blind spot monitoring.
4.4 out of 5 by KBB experts; 4.7 out of 5 by consumers on Edmunds (6 reviews)
19 city/27 highway/22 overall MPG
Up there with mileage for the Chrysler Pacifica, the Toyota Sienna can seat up to eight people (depending on the model) and a three zone automatic climate control where you can set individual temperature settings for all three passenger zones. For entertainment on the road, you get an 7-inch infotainment system that has integrated apps, Apple CarPlay support plus Amazon Alexa compatibility. You can also connect up to five devices with Sienna’s available Wi-Fi connection through Verizon. Aside from safety features such as dynamic radar cruise control and lane departure assist, there’s an all-wheel drive option which could provide a better driving experience.
Looking for other large road trip cars — check out these best cars for big families.
Ways to finance the best cars for road trips
Getting your best auto loan rates depends on your credit history, the car you intend to purchase and the lender. Consider shopping around by looking at places like your local bank, credit union or even an online lender. That way, you can find a pre-approved auto loan to take to a dealer so you can use that to try to get a better APR — see if the dealership can beat the lowest rate. LendingTree’s auto loan comparison tool may match you with up to five different lenders based on your creditworthiness within minutes.
Road trip safety tips
Planning and taking precautions may take a little more work before your trip, but it will protect you if something does happen — a crash or a breakdown. Before doing any long distance driving, check to see if there are any safety issues with your make and model, aka if there are any recalls. You can check with NHTSA and enter your VIN (vehicle identification number) to see if you need to bring your car in for repairs before hitting the road.
Even you don’t, it’s a good idea to get your car serviced. Have your mechanic go over any preventative measures so you can be safe on the road. In addition, ensure your safety and those of your passengers by wearing your seatbelts and making sure children are in the appropriate car or booster seat. Long road trips can be tiring for anyone, so factor in plenty of breaks to stop and get food or a beverage. If you’re feeling drowsy, get off the road and consider changing drivers or resting somewhere for a few hours.