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  1. Default Good Vehicle for road tripping?

    Hello everyone, New member here, Doug sr.
    Recently retired and looking to do some road trips to search for a retirement location for my wife & I. We currently reside in central FL.

    I'm going to be purchasing a new Truck / SUV soon and before I make that purchase, I want to get some feedback as to vehicle choices which have proved to be good for traveling. That is, comfortable, great ride, decent on gas, etc. Any help with that would be very much appreciated!

    Thank you!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2016
    Phoenix, Arizona


    Welcome to the RTA Forum!

    I'm sure you'll get a few opinions, based on your question, but honestly, the choice of vehicles for road tripping is just as personal as your choice of shoes, and almost as varied. It should be something that you, personally, are comfortable driving, with plenty of room for all of your stuff. Me, I drive a Jeep Grand Cherokee and I dearly love it, because there's no road I can't travel. Mileage? I get maybe 18 mpg, going downhill with a tailwind, but what the heck, I still love my Jeep.

    What kind of vehicle are you driving currently? If it's reliable and in good condition, is there a reason why you'd prefer something else?


  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default Some Thoughts

    Yes, as Rick notes, this is going to be a personal choice. And compromises will have to be made as some of your criteria are mutually exclusive. For most of my own major RoadTrips I used two vehicles, an AMC Gremlin and a Subaru GL Wagon, that were great on mileage and very nimble in cities. They were not so great for sleeping but could be made to accommodate one person and his/her gear. Later, while doing geologic field trips into the 'back of beyond' with full crews, the 4WD Chevy Suburban proved to be a tough and reliable vehicle, but not so great on mileage.

    From what you're saying you want, and with an additional person, I think something in the intermediate size range would be more appropriate. But you indicate that ride and mileage are two of your main criteria while also saying that you're going to get a truck or SUV. Neither of those vehicles will meet either of your criteria. If your plan is to sleep in hotels/motels/BnBs then you have no need of something you can outfit as a camper. If you'll not be towing anything then you have no need of the brute horsepower of a truck/SUV. And if you don't plan to be going off-road then you have no need of 4WD or AWD.

    So, to me it sounds as though a nicely appointed, mid-sized wagon is just what you're looking for. My wife currently drives a Subaru Outback which I think you should definitely look at. It gets very good mileage and has a comfortable ride. You also sit up just a bit higher than in most comparably sized sedans. Finally, you can get both AWD and environmental (mileage) upgrade packages if you so desire. And of course it also has competitors which offer many of the same amenities. Some of those competitors include the Hyundai Santa Fe, Jeep Grand Cherokee and Volvo V60.


  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin


    Welcome to the RTA Forum!

    While this seems like such a simple question, there really isn't a one size fits all answers. So much of it depends upon personal taste, budget and how you'll specifically use it - which is why there are so many different kinds of car out there.

    The compact SUV has certainly become the workhorse of the American road - it's by far the best selling type of car out there now. RAV4, CR-V, Ford Escape and those type of vehicles are good all-purpose, do a little over everything well cars. I personally drive one, a Mazda CX-5, and I've been very happy with it. Previously I had a Subaru Forester, which is in the same class, and I did not like it at all - but clearly Subaru has a large fan base so opinions vary.

    You can also go smaller or larger. There's plenty of great subcompact SUVs offering basically the same features as a compact, in a smaller package for a smaller price which might be great for just the 2 of you. There's also larger SUVs, like the Toyota Highlander which is very comfortable, especially if you're traveling with more than 3 adults, but might be larger than you'd like for daily driving?

    I'm noting SUVs because you stated that from the beginning, but while Sedans have lost their buzz compared to SUVs, there are many times where a sedan is actually more comfortable, handles better, and gets better gas mileage than an SUV. There's also minivans, which have absolutely zero cool factor at this point, but are incredibly practical and can be quite comfortable. Sports cars can be great roadtrip cars, but not if you need to haul a lot of gear while traveling, and probably don't fit your goals of comfort and fuel economy.

    Which is all a long way of saying - any car can be a great roadtrip car, as long as its a car you enjoy being in!

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Las Vegas, Nevada

    Default the concept of getting stuck (on purpose) extremely annoying

    As Michael & the others have suggested -- it really comes down to what you are looking for in a road trip vehicle. And how much gear you want to take with you. And how comfortable you want to be. My personal preference is to have as much cargo space as possible. I always carry rescue gear and survival supplies for 2-3 days on road trips. (Left to my own devices, I have a predilection to getting vehicles stuck in difficult spots.)

    My wife & partner finds the concept of getting stuck (on purpose) extremely annoying and she prefers an all-wheel drive cross-over with an emphasis on comfortable seating and good connectivity equipment.


  6. #6


    LOL, most people are road tripping to Central Florida to set up retirement housekeeping.

    In addition to all of the points made above, I will also chirp in on a couple of additional factors for consideration: how much luggage, gear and stowage and for any vehicle, is it easy to load and unload?

    The large sized Prius can be surprisingly comfortable and flexible for load-outs and of course, very good on gas mileage. Some of the minivans feel like you are driving a sedan and tend to be more spacious than many vehicles, both for driver and passenger and for load-outs. Easy to get into and out of. One thing I have learned from being a long time camper and/or road tripper, I love a vehicle that is easy to access, easy to get the items out that I want or need, and flexible for parking. Guess that is why I have been a minivan owner for over three decades now.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Joplin MO


    Sounds to me like a mid-size SUV would probably suit your requirements best, unless you will be towing a trailer. Read this article for brief reviews of 16 of them:

  8. Default

    Hi Rick, thanks for the reply. I knew the question was going to elicit a variety of responses, because there are indeed dozens upon dozens of rides out there that will fit the bill. I was just wondering if most folks use 4 wheel drives, larger SUV's. large trucks, that sort of thing.

    I currently drive a Toyota 4-Runner, not very comfy on trips over 2 hours, ride is horrible, but she's very dependable, great in wet conditions, and holds a ton, but the comfort factor is really low.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Nov 2005
    Ft. Collins, CO.


    Much depends on your style of road tripping. Mine is to drive my Jeep Cherokee on high-altitude shelf roads in the mountains of Colorado and sleep in the back of it at night.

    My father put 330,000 mi on a half-ton Chevy Suburban. Sometimes he towed an Airstream trailer on the trip, other times the trip was to the backcountry of British Columbia where he slept in the back of the truck and fly-fished the lakes during the day.

    Both of us need and used 4WD.

    If you're going to sleep at Holiday Inn every night then you'll be smart enough to know whether 4WD or AWD is what you need.

    Too many choices, not enough time. Have fun!

  10. Default

    Thanks everyone for all the great suggestions, options, and advise. I posted this really vague question in the hopes of finding one or two vehicles that many of you use and it sounds like the mini-van might be one of those areas I should investigate. My wife & I drove one for years and loved it because it had so much room, but when it was just me and her, we thought something that could easily hold 7 was a bit much.

    The Toyota Highlander Highbred may fit our intentions as well, I just don't know how comfortable the ride is. We recently test drove a Honda Ridgeline and absolutely loved it. Lots of cabin room, lots of bed space, lots of little cargo area's as well. Was thinking I needed a 4 wheel drive if we hit snow and icy roads but I guess AWD can handle most of that.

    I think we have our sights set on a mountainous area to start our retirement search, TN, NC, somewhere like that, so I want something that can handle the occasional snow storm.

    Thanks again for the warm welcome and the article "glc" much appreciated everyone.

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