Taking a road trip is the vacation du jour this summer: AAA forecasts Americans taking 700 million trips during the season, 97% of which will be done on four wheels. It’s no surprise, as road trips are a great way to travel while simultaneously maintaining safety and social distancing restrictions.
If you choose to take a long drive with family, friends or a significant other, there are some aspects of the trip you’ve most likely thought about ahead of time such as the best route, an itinerary and travel essentials.
It’s easy to overlook the most important component: the car. Not every type of car is right for every kind of road trip. Where you’re going and who you’re going with play a significant role in picking a vehicle best suited for your travels.
If you’re traveling with your family, the most important vehicle feature will likely be size. After all, fitting several people and their stuff is simply impossible to do in many cars.
Depending on the size of your family, you’ll probably want to look for a crossover, SUV or minivan. Many such models can seat up to eight people. Remember also that you’ll need to bring along each person’s luggage. When choosing a car for a family road trip, check that the amount of cargo space available is suitable, as well as if seats can fold to create more room and whether or not the vehicle has roof rails.
A great road trip need not require a great number of people. Sometimes two is more than enough. When you have the luxury of traveling light, why not opt for a smaller, more luxurious ride?
If you’re taking a scenic drive, a perfect option would be a convertible. You’ll feel the wind in your hair as you enjoy unobstructed views of the picturesque surroundings.
Most rental companies will have luxury cars and convertibles in their collection. However, availability may be limited so make sure to book early. Some great car options for couples are the Cadillac XTS, Chevrolet Camaro, Ford Mustang, Chevrolet Corvette and Mercedes-AMG E63.
For the Eco-Conscious
It wasn’t long ago that the idea of taking an electric car on a road trip would scare most people off, worried about having to constantly find a charging station or else be stranded on the side of the road.
However, more and more charging stations are being built as electric vehicles continue to surge in popularity. Plus, advancements in technology have increased the mileage range of batteries. Fully electric vehicles can travel more than 250 miles without a charge.
In addition to the environmental benefits, the main appeal of electric cars is the savings in gas costs. Electric vehicles get north of 100 mpg while hybrids can get more than 50 mpg. Average mpg for fuel-engine cars sits at around 25. If you plan on going on a long-distance trip, an electric vehicle could save you a significant amount of money.
In the past, electric vehicles were all primarily sedans. But over the past several years, manufacturers have released more electric SUVs. Now you won’t have to choose between going green or going with limited supplies.
For Thrill Seekers
If you’re planning a road trip that keeps going after the pavement ends, you’re going to need a vehicle that can handle the terrain. While engine power, suspension and four-wheel drive will come to mind when deciding between vehicles for such a trip, a key feature for off-road cars is ground clearance. This is the distance between the lower end of the vehicle body and the ground. You’ll need an elevated clearance to get over any hills, rocks and mud. Aim for a minimum ground clearance of 8.5 inches.
If you’re the outdoorsy type, you probably have some gear you’d like to bring along like bikes, camping gear and the like. If so, check the vehicle’s cargo space.
But let’s not focus entirely on the vehicle’s technical aspects. It’s important to consider the fact that you’re going to be in this car for extended periods of time. Therefore, you’re best off not choosing the car based solely on off-road capability but one that combines performance and comfort.
Interested in purchasing a new road trip car? AAA’s Auto Buying Program can get you behind the wheel of the perfect vehicle – and save you money in the process. If you’re looking for a rental instead, AAA members can save up to 20% on Hertz rentals.