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  1. #1

    Default The Ideal Road Trip Vehicle?

    What is your idea of the perfect road trip vehicle? Better yet, can you help me find mine?

    I am planning to purchase a new (probably used, but new to me) car in the Spring and I am having a very difficult time trying to decide what to get. I have a number of trips planned for next year, including a possible two-month trip in the fall. Right now I have a small compact car that gets excellent gas mileage, but I have been thinking about getting a larger vehicle. However I don't want to have to sell a kidney to pay for fuel. Does anyone know of a vehicle that has lots of cargo space, but still gets decent gas mileage?

    When I go camping with friends, it would be nice to have enough space for all our gear. When I travel solo (which is often), I'd like to have enough space to sleep in back when I camp (as a 27 year old female I don't always feel comfortable tent camping alone – even with my Louisville Slugger by my side – and I think in some instances I would feel safer sleeping in a locked car).

    In all your years of experience on the road, is there any particular car/SUV/van/whatever that stood out as being ideal for road trips? What kind of things should I be looking for? Any suggestions you can offer would be appreciated.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Location
    Las Vegas, Nevada
    Posts
    10,059

    Default Some ideas

    Quote Originally Posted by Digital Vagrant View Post
    What is your idea of the perfect road trip vehicle?
    Not surprisingly, this topic has come up before.

    Here are some previous thoughts on this subject:

    Conversion Vans?
    VW Busses
    Cars versus vans

    Well, that is a start.

    Mark

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Keithville, LA
    Posts
    638

    Default What I've got

    I've got a Ford Taurus that I love for roadtrips, but I've also recently been fixing up and learning to drive and old Ford Aerostar van for car camping purposes. It's a standard and built on a truck bed as opposed to a car bed. I haven't actually taken it out of town yet, but my thoughts are to put an air mattress in the back. Like you, I don't like the thought of sleeping in a tent, but a locked vehicle sounds a lot better to me.

    Laura

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    13,063

    Default some things I've worked with

    A subaru outback might work pretty well for you. It doesn't really pretend to be anything other than a station wagon, so it gets reasonable (mid-20s) gas mileage, and has plenty of cargo space. A friend of mine used to have one and I took a few roadtrips in it with multiple people and camping gear, and it worked pretty well.

    I'm currently using a Mazda Tribute/Ford Escape/Mercury Mariner SUV which I like. MPGs are around 20 with 4 wheel drive, mid-20s without it, and it comes in a hybrid if you wanted to get your mpgs up near 30. I've been happy with mine, although its still based on a car frame so I avoid taking it too far off the beaten path.

    Minivans are often overlooked, but I think could serve the same purpose very well, with good mpgs and a lower cost than most SUVs. You could also look into the "Crossover" category, which are really just station wagons made to look a little more like an SUV.

  5. #5
    RoadTripper Brad Guest

    Default A nice one I've looked at

    One of the cars that is top on my list when I replace my 1991 Dodge Dynasty here within the next 2 years is a Pontiac Vibe.

    Their website states that it gets the following mileage on a 13 gallon tank:
    MPG mileage EPA estimates

    5-speed: 26/33 (city/highway mpg)
    Automatic: 25/31 (city/highway mpg)

    It's also a small SUV, so it is a bit bigger than a sedan, not huge, but, all the seats including the front passenger fold flat and, from what I see in the photos, maintain a uniform hard plastic surface great for hauling gear.

    It's definitely in the top running for my next car.

    -Brad

  6. #6

    Default Big Thanks!

    Wow guys! Thanks for all the great suggestions! Shopping for a new car thus far has been pretty overwhelming, and this will give me a good place to start looking. Most of the car salesmen I have encountered aren't really interested in helping me find the best vehicle for me - they just want to sell something (anything) to me on the spot. It is nice to get advice from someone who isn't getting a commission. I am going to read through the past forums now to get a few more ideas, but I will definitely put some of your suggestions (Outback, Vibe, Escape, etc.) on my list of cars to test-drive. Thank you!!

  7. #7

    Default Women Traveling Solo

    Quote Originally Posted by lhuff View Post
    Like you, I don't like the thought of sleeping in a tent, but a locked vehicle sounds a lot better to me.
    Laura
    I am glad to know I am not the only person who feels this way. I am a pretty laid back person, not usually given to excessive worry, but my fear of camping alone has a very tangible basis: A few years ago I was camping with a friend and a man tried to crawl into our tent in the middle of the night. It was one of the most frightening experiences of my life.

    In retrospect we weren't in any real danger - he didn't really mean us any harm. He was just very very drunk and wandered into the wrong campsite by mistake. In fact, I think he was almost as freaked out as we were. Nevertheless, it opened my eyes to the possible dangers in a very real way.

    I love camping and I have met and shared campfire meals with a lot of really great people while on the road. I am not about to let one bad experience ruin it for me - but there is nothing wrong with being a little cautious, is there?

  8. #8
    RoadTripper Brad Guest

    Default A word about caution

    Quote Originally Posted by Digital Vagrant View Post
    I am not about to let one bad experience ruin it for me - but there is nothing wrong with being a little cautious, is there?
    Caution, like security, is an act of very careful balance. I work often with computer security settings (like in internet explorer), when set too low, you can find yourself with every bug on the internet in a weeks time. Set too high, and any website that is more than just text won't work properly. Life is a lot like that. Be too careful and you don't enjoy anything. Not careful enough, and you run the risk of being yet another statistic and newspaper headline.

    -Brad

  9. #9

    Default This is Me Pleasantly Surprised

    Quote Originally Posted by Arizona Brad View Post
    One of the cars that is top on my list when I replace my 1991 Dodge Dynasty here within the next 2 years is a Pontiac Vibe.
    Brad, thanks again for this suggestion. As someone who has traditionally leaned more towards Toyota and Ford vehicles I probably never would have considered looking at a Pontiac. However I did a little research today and I can see why you are drawn to this car.

    It has the same engine as the Toyota Corolla and most of the reviews say it's very reliable. It has the cargo space and the gas mileage - the two big items on my wish list - as well as some other fun features. One cool feature that would come in handy on road trips: optional 115V power outlet to plug in your laptop or other equipment. Once again, great tip!

    I am still doing research, but right now the Ford Escape, Pontiac Vibe, Subaru Outback/Forester, Honda CRV, and the Ford Focus Wagon are at the top of my list.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Location
    Las Vegas, Nevada
    Posts
    10,059

    Default Field Testing a Dodge Nitro

    We will be using a 2007 Dodge Nitro this weekend for our coverage vehicle for the DARPA Urban Challenge. So, far it has great sight line visibility on all sides from the driver's side. Four RTA reporters will give it an evaluation -- I think it is roomy enough to sleep in as well.

    Mark

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