East to West and maybe some more
i have planned to go on a 3 month road trip starting in january next year we have not totally planned the route but basically we want to go from Massachusetts to LA. We are both under 21 so have planned to buy a car for the trip and then sell it when we leave. can anyone tell me what might be a good car for the journey, had thought of a honda civic or equivalent? Also does anyone think we will have problems with our UK licenses in the States? both of us have held them for over 18 months. Thanks
I got an International Driving Permit for my trip to the states earlier this year partly because I only have a UK paper licence and I thought people might react badly to a licence without a photograph, but as it turned out no-one even looked at the IDP when I presented both.
As to the car, I have comparatively very little experience driving in the States but I was struck by just what a strain mountain driving can put on the car. I've driven up north in Scotland a lot but there's no comparison really with the huge ranges you'll likely encounter over there, and without a pretty powerful car it will be more like hard work than a holiday.
Until I drove through Yosemite I thought that Americans' comparatively large engines were solely a luxury allowed by cheap fuel prices with no consideration for the environment, but I've revised that opinion; conditions are more arduous, distances are greater, and I'd recommend something considerably more powerful than a Civic equivalent. The two vehicles I rented were 4.0 litres and 6.0 litres respectively and I didn't feel either was overkill for driving in California and Nevada / Arizona.
By the way, the thread title "East to West and maybe some more" made me worry you're going to drive into the pacific!
Not So Simple
Welcome to the RTA Forum!
Since you are both under 21, renting a car can be difficult, so I certainly see why purchasing a car looks like an attractive option. However, purchasing a car comes with a number of hurrdles as well. I suggest you read this thread where we discussed some of the challenges of purchasing a car, with plans of selling it later.
A Honda Civic could be an adaquate car for you. Honda certainly has built a reputation for quality, and while that's a relatively small model, with only two of you, it should be just fine. The bigger question to me is how much money do you have saved up? The up-front expense of purchasing a car will run at least $4000 for a car that's worthy of a major roadtrip (and in a Honda Civic, that's probably a 10+ year old car with 100k+ miles).
Well put -- the smallest engine I ever recommend for a visitor is 6.0 litres.
Originally Posted by dj toast
[this comment has sparked some appropriate controversy -- (read below) 4.75 litre engines are fine]
Last edited by Mark Sedenquist; 07-25-2006 at 06:28 PM.
Reason: removed the egg from my face (on this post)
for a young driver in the states, how expensive is the insurance on larger engined vehicles. while not wanting to be underpowered i also dont want to be crippled by insurance!
That seems pretty excessive! A Hemi is only 5.7 liters. 6.0 liters is 366 cubic inches and requireing that big an engine would rule out most American and nearly all foreign cars including my mini-van with its "paltry" 3 liter V6. I actually think that there are very few cars sold in the US today that cannot handle the vast majority of roads unless overloaded with passengers and luggage.
Originally Posted by Editor
I knew that was going to get a response!
OK, OK, I will grudingly admit that one of my roadtrip vehicles is a 4.75 litre monster, and I have driven hundreds of mountain passes in 4-cylinder cars of all makes -- with no problems -- but a bigger engine is more fun!
Originally Posted by AZBuck
With all due respect...
Mark, have you lost you mind?
What sort of vehicles are you driving that you even have the option of a 6 litre engine?
I'm pretty sure that would rule out every major sedan available for sale in the US, and most trucks would be out of the question too!
The standard police issue Crown Vic only has a 4.6 V-8, the Top of the line $70k Caddilac doesn't even top the 5.0 mark, and taking a look at Ford's truck line, you have to get an F-350 (the largest sized truck they make) with the optional V-10 engine before you cross the 6L mark.
My Roadtrip SUV "only" has a 3.0L V6, and even fully loaded with the auto transmission, I didn't have one single case of not having enough power while driving over several 10k+ foot passes in Colorado.
Even in the toughest of mountain driving, I think its pretty unlikely you'd run into any problems with any engine that's 2L or larger. Even a smaller 4 cyl engine won't have any significant problems, although they will probably be a little sluggish if they're fully loaded and are going up a particularly steep mountain.
Its not so much the size....
The engine size is just one of many factors that comes into play when pricing insurance. Your driving history, your level of coverage, and most importantly WHERE you are getting your car insured all play as big, if not a bigger, role in your insurance rate quote.
Originally Posted by freddy
The bigger cost factor with a larger engine is fuel consumption. If you take a 10,000 mile trip a car that gets 20 mpg will cost $500 more to drive than a car that gets 30 mpg - assuming current gas prices of around $3/gallon.
What to drive, what to drive....
*laughing* This is sounding a lot like a macho thing about who has the bigger engine. But seriously, depending upon who you are and what you like is more about what type of style you have roadtripping, IMHO.
I've done some serious roadtripping in a massively underpowered ancient Volkswagen van. Pretty good car for road tripping, in that it carried everything we wanted to, got pretty good mileage, and handled the freeways. But going into a wind, you might end up going backwards. (Seriously, its the only car I've driven that would change lanes on its own, with a serious gust of wind....)
Similarly, I've done probably 10,000 miles in a diesel 2-door coupe (!) . Great mileage (30 mpg), good on the highways once you accelerated up to speed, and a smooth comfortable ride, but Ssslllooowwww going up the mountains. But being a coupe, it didn't carry much roadtripping supplies. Wonderful car that I put around 200,000 miles on in daily use.
My current vehicle is a largish SUV -- Toyota Sequoia. Very good on the highways, moderate on the gas mileage (20 mpg on the highways fully loaded with a roof cargo carrier using regular gas), very good ride on the roads (and off road), and carries a huge amount of stuff if you need to. Big enough I can sleep in the back if I want to, with a powerful 4.7 Liter V8 engine.
Now... freddy's looking for a road tripping car for a couple of young guys. A civic would probably work fine -- good quality car in general with good mileage -- but I would perhaps be a little concerned about volume in the car for a long trip. My experience is that a little extra volume always helps -- to carry a good cooler, camping equipment, stretch out a bit on the road, etc. Civics also have the reputation around here as being good mini-racers (high power/ weight for their class) so I might want to check it out mechanically a bit more to see if its not been revved to death.
There are a number of other types of vehicles which might also be considered, but won't be as stylish. A good minivan -- lots of volume, good on the roads, usually reasonable mileage. But I'd check to make sure it hadn't been commuted to death, and check the maintenance records for that make and model of vehicle in something like consumer reports magazine before getting serious. Similarly, a mid-sized SUV (like a Toyota Pathfinder, for example) would be a good choice as well -- with the same caveats about checking out the make and model for reliability in general, and the specific mechanical condition on the vehicle. Mid-sized SUVs get reasonable mileage (not wonderful, but not bad...) and are usually pretty durable.
Heck, a mid-sized pickup would probably work well for 2 young guys -- they can carry stuff in the back and even sleep in the back if they want to. Reasonable mileage, reasonably powerful, and usually built for durability.