Road trips have been a part of American lore since America had lore.
Everyone from settlers to movie stars has made the cross country trek; no one can say they’re well-travelled without at least once journeying from sea to shining sea. But how you travel and what you travel in makes a world of difference to your comfort and enjoyment level. (My first trip was in a 1988 Plymouth Horizon. I do not recommend this.)
While a conventional RV is always an option, it can prove expensive and unwieldy. Below are four of the best cars in which to make the trip, depending on what you’re looking for.
Best Fast Car – Ford Mustang
Thinking of outrunning all those speeding tickets?* Look no further than the Ford Mustang. With a swell tweaked design for 2013, the Mustang comfortably seats two and gets 31 mpg on the highway. But the power is why you want this car: a V6 provides 305 hp, while a V8 serves up over 400. (In fact, with the right gas, some V8s demonstrate 650 hp.) And it’s relatively affordable: the Mustang base model starts at $22,200.
Best Luxury Car – Range Rover
If you’re looking for a posh, comfortable ride (and money is no object, of course), consider the Range Rover by Land Rover. As you’d expect, the Range Rover boasts a million standard features, including heated leather seats, four wheel drive, an impressive Harman / Kardon entertainment system with built-in navigation and a V8 engine. The base model starts at $80,275 (hey, I said it was luxury), but if you’re into travelling in style, you can’t do much better.
Best Family Car – Honda Odyssey
Of course, the best road trip family car is a minivan. (And it may be the best road trip car, period. Nothing else represents your living room as well.) The Honda Odyssey, however, stands out in a sea of minivans for its technology and plethora of storage. Starting at $28,375, this 28 mpg vehicle offers a rear entertainment system with ultrawide screen.
Best Dog-friendly Car – Chevy Equinox
For pet lovers, animals are as much a part of the family as anyone walking around on two legs; a trip cross-country without their furry pal is unthinkable. While all cars have trunks, not all of them are wide or deep enough to accommodate a dog carrier. However, dog-lovers need look no farther than the Chevy Equinox, an SUV known for its animal friendliness. Starting at $23,530, the Equinox gets 32 mpg highway and the base model is equipped with a 182 hp 2.4 Liter 4-cylinder engine.
*I do not advocate this!
Katie Fetting-Schlerf is a Seattle-area writer who loves road trips and hopes to go on one soon – as soon as she can afford the Range Rover, that is.