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  1. #1

    Default Best Road trip vehicle?

    My husband and I love road trips and go on multiple road trips through out the year. Its gotten to the point where we would like to get a vehicle just for our road trips. So I am looking for advice. I have googled best road trip vehicles and they all say things like "Porsche" or "Corvettes", thats not really our style of road trip. We are more the camping in national parks kind of road trippers. We spend a lot of time in our car and bring a lot of stuff so tiny cars are out id say. Cars have better gas milage but not a lot of space, vans are roomy but im not sure they handle well in mountains/snow, I was thinking maybe a truck with a topper because they have the room and 4 wheel drive but are tough on gas. We do end up spending a few nights in our car here and there, I kind of like sleeping in the car but then again im only 4'11" my 6'1" husband might not agree with me. So I just wondering what everyone else takes on road trips. I really think a good vehicle can add to the enjoyment of a road trip. I think the sales men think we were nuts when we put the seats down to see how well it is for sleeping :) Thanks in advance for the thoughts! P.S. not sure if i posted this in the right forum.


    _Grace

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Southern California
    Posts
    4,546

    Default

    When we tent-camped, here's our run of vehicles we used:

    Started with a compact Subaru sedan, putting everything in the trunk, backseat, and in a cartop carrier (hard top).

    Then we had kids. Went to a mini-van. That worked better since we had equipment space and still had room for the kids and their car seats. That worked until they got older.

    We wrecked that van on a trip, and the replacement was a mini-van with less storage space. We ended up buying a utility trailer (which we called the rolling coffin, since that was its shape) to put all the camping and other travel gear into.

    That was the end of tent-camping. Once we realized how easy it was to tow something like that, and going through a very rainy season, we moved up to a tent-trailer ("pop up").

    The point I'm trying to make is: what will work for YOU?

    BTW, we never tried sleeping in the cars, not even in the mini-vans. We do have a pickup with a camper shell now, but at 15 mpg tops, that's not much fun.


    Donna

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    13,067

    Default that word

    This is yet another place where "best" really doesn't work when coming to roadtrips, because there are so many options and the right answer completely depends upon your travel style.

    Based on what you are looking for, I'd think something in the SUV/Crossover/Wagon segment would probably work best for you. It seems like you're a pretty similar traveler to me, and I just bought a Subaru Forester, that replaced a Mazda Tribute that I just sold after 294,000 miles. Those small SUV's have been big enough to fit in all of our camping gear, and luggage for 3 people. They both had 4 wheel drive, and enough ground clearance where you could comfortably get off the beaten path, although I wouldn't use either for hardcore off-roading, and yet they are built to handle more like a car than a truck. Gas mileage is reasonable for a larger vehicle, newer models should get you mid-20's or even low 30's on the highway.

    I did sleep in the Tribute a few times (I'm about the same height as your husband), but it was always on solo trips. 2 people could have been done, but since you're taking up the entire cargo area, it leaves the problem of what to do with the stuff you've got with you. That's one (of several) reasons that it was a rare thing, but if its a priority, you could find a way to make it work.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Melbourne, Australia
    Posts
    6,936

    Default My take.

    Hi Grace, and Welcome to the Great American RoadTrip Forum. (I note that although you have been a member for more than a week, and have contribnuted three posts, somehow, a welcome was overlooked. Does not happen often, but sure hope this makes up for it.)

    In the last two years I have bought two roadtrip vehicles, one in the US and one in Oz. As a solo roadtripper, I chose a van in both cases. A conversion E150 in US; a T4 VW Transporter in Oz. When I am on the road, they are my little homes on wheels, and give me a tremendous feeling of freedom and independence. I could not imagine two people in one, though I have seen couples who travel in vans, usually larger ones than mine.

    Have you thought about a small campervan of one sort or another. I know the mileage is not great, mine gets around 16mpg. However, the benefits of the van and not having to book hotels and motels and stay on paved roads and all the other restrictions one strikes in a roadtrip, soon make the cost of fuel well and truly worthwhile.

    Just as Michael states, there is no generic 'best'. It needs to be 'your' best. I know the vans are the best choice I have made. Wouldn't travel any other way now.

    Lifey

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Joplin MO
    Posts
    9,272

    Default

    Michael - if you got rid of the Mazda you need to get a new avatar!

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Tucson, AZ
    Posts
    9,358

    Default A Theme Is Developing

    For my own part, the three vehicles that I have gotten the most RoadTrip use out of and enjoyed the most were: a 1957 SAAB, a 1972 Gremlin, and a 1979 Subaru wagon. As with most of the other cars being listed here, they have several things in common: small size (good gas mileage), utilitarian design (lots of storage space), and excellent visibility. I've also owned/driven more typical sedans, full-sized and mini- vans, as well as the occasional sports car and truck. Nothing beats the compact wagon for a basic RoadTrip vehicle (for me, at least - and it would seem for others too). My current car of choice is a 2010 Honda Fit which falls into the same general category.

    While some of those vehicles had 'extras' such as both the SAAB and Gremlin made up into beds (The SAAB came that way from the factory. The Gremlin required a minor adjustment to the passenger seat.), and all except the Gremlin were front wheel drive, what made them suitable to the task at hand was their versatility. All could tow small trailers, up to about 1000 pounds with no great loss of gas mileage as long as the trailer was low enough to follow in the car's slipstream. All had good storage, and all got great gas mileage. Keep in mind that even though you may be buying this vehicle for RoadTripping, most of the miles you'll be putting on it will be simple around town driving.

    Obviously, what you have to consider is what's important to you and how many miles you'll be putting on the vehicle under various conditions. As you should be able to tell, we are not giving you a hard and fast "best", just trying to enumerate the different things you'll want to consider in deciding what's best for you.

    AZBuck
    Last edited by AZBuck; 08-28-2013 at 10:33 AM.

  7. #7

    Default

    Thanks for the input, I realize there is no one best road trip vehicle but its nice to see what other road trippers take on road trips. As of now we are leading towards a used mid-sized van and maybe building a platform bed in the back with storage underneath. It would have plenty of room for our tent, camping gear, we could toss the canoes on the roof even. We will see. We have a 3 week road trip coming up next month and I will be taking my moms 2011 jeep compass so we will see how that vehicle is, plus id rather put 5,000 miles on her car instead of mine and its bigger then my jeep with better gas milage :) Its amazing how much money you can save by getting just a few more MPG!

    I wish I could get the MPG of the Geo metro (42-50mpg), the room of a GMC safari van, the looks of a big Chevy silverado, the off road style of the Jeep Wrangler and the driving comfort of a smaller SUV but I don't think they make anything like that, lol.

    We have taken many different vehicles on our road trips but think it would be nice to have one that we use for just that purpose and personalize it with the things that we find important. Its nice to get use to a vehicle so you are not learning it one the road.

    On our first road trip to the west coast together we took a BMW 323 we had at the time and it was actually nice but we didnt sleep in it back then or camp, we mainly stayed in hotels.

    On our next 2 trips to florida and the east coast we drove a Dodge Advanger which again was nice but back then our trips were only around 10 days long and we didn't bring as much stuff.

    On our month long road trip to the west coast we took my mom's haundai sonata which was not the most comfortable and we had to learn the vehicle while on the road, just little things like the seat belt reminder going off (I know we should always wear a seat belt but when we are in National parks and always stopping for pics we don't always).

    We got a Jeep Liberty for our main vehicle a year ago with the hope of it being a great road trip vehicle but sadly its not. The front seats dont recline hardly which is a nice thing to have when you stop for a bit and regroup. The dashboard is super tiny which is something we never even thought of but believe it or not I really miss being able to put my feet on the dashboard or tossing the map on the dashboard. Alot of other things im not a fan but I am rambling.

    The worst vehicle so far has be the new Dodge dart we rented when we to Hawaii this April. It had no power, had the hardest time going up the volcanos. Everyone seem to be driving a Jeep Wrangler, everyone passed us, lol.

    Took a few other vehicles on some road trips but not worth mentioning.

    THanks every one for the input, appreciate it. Love reading these forums!

    Grace

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Melbourne, Australia
    Posts
    6,936

    Default Seen others.

    Quote Originally Posted by graceplaster View Post
    As of now we are leading towards a used mid-sized van and maybe building a platform bed in the back with storage underneath.
    Last year in Ft Nelson BC, I was camped next to a couple who were travelling in a new Dodge Grand Caravan. The seats fold down leaving a flat floor. The husband had modified a double bed frame to fit, on which they slept and all their gear was stored underneath. There was a large cooler behind the front seats. They were on their way to Dawson City to visit some of their grandchildren and great grandchildren. Only that morning they had been notified of their eigth great grandchild born in Florida.

    They were into their eigthies and had been travelling this way for years.

    Lifey

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    Location
    South Central Orange County
    Posts
    249

    Default

    As a previous generation Subaru Outback owner, I see the new enlarged version as a great choice.

    I don't think there is a perfect do-all vehicle made, so there will have to be compromises made with the final choice left to your greatest preferences.

    It is big enough to carry a lot of cargo, and the rear caro area can be used for sleeping if you can pile your gear in the front seats or in a tent at night. Gas mileage is decent. It has high ground clearance (8 1/2" or so) and AWD for snow and dirt road driving. Fortunately Subaru has added more legroom to the back seats. For those with back seat passengers, this is a big deal.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Southern California
    Posts
    4,546

    Default

    Good to know this about the newer Outbacks! We are former Subaru owners -- owned a 1979 4-door sedan and then a 1986 4-door sedan -- gave up Subaru because the costs were high. Yet, today, I'd go back to one in a heartbeat, especially after hearing that several recent owners have had such good experiences with them!



    Donna

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