On the Road Again
The lure of the open road — the need to get to somewhere new, somewhere distant, somewhere else . . . a little wanderlust is part of being human, especially for those who love to drive. And no matter how much more accessible the world gets each day, this need to roam is still best expressed through the classic road trip. As we approach the summer travel season, let’s look at some of the best road trip cars, and the best trips to take in 2017.
Camping Trip: Jeep Wrangler
Even as it becomes more refined with every incarnation, the Jeep Wrangler remains unique in its focus on off-road functionality. Whether you’re in the 4-door Unlimited or the classic 2-door, the Wrangler’s go anywhere / do anything spirit makes it a no-brainer for the great outdoors. And considering the vast aftermarket of Jeep-related goodies, you can deck out your Wrangler for just about any outdoor situation imaginable.
Cross-Country Run (Family): Tesla Model S
With hundreds of Supercharger stations dotting the continental United States and just as many destinations offering charging capabilities, taking a Model S for a cross-country family adventure is more than a novelty these days — it’s fairly easy. If the family can pack light enough, put the kids in the optional jump seats at the very back of the car for a view of the country they’ll never forget.
Cross-Country Run (Non-Family): Mercedes-Benz AMG GT S
Plotting a trip that will cover everything from long, straight highway stretches to twisty country roads, maybe a mountain or two, and some coastal cruising at the end? The AMG GT S packs enough grunt (503 horsepower and 497 lb-ft) and cornering capability to have as much fun as you feel like along the way. It can even settle in and behave if you feel like it. (Note: You will not feel like it.)
Boat Towing: Ford F-450 Platinum
With 440 horsepower and 925 lb-ft of torque from its 6.7-liter turbocharged diesel engine, the F-450 Platinum is probably overkill in terms of a recommendation, but it’s still fun to consider. With room for six, the F-450 can haul just about any boat to any body of water you choose, along with most — if not all — of your passengers. Better to have the capability and not need it, right?
Trailer Towing: Ram 3500
If setting up your camp trailer for a few days here and there is your thing, the Ram 3500 is a great towing option. The 6.7-liter Cummins Diesel engine generates up to 385 horsepower and 900 lb-ft of torque; properly equipped the Ram 3500 is rated to tow over 31,000 pounds. All that plus the spacious cabin makes the Ram 3500 a comfortable home away from your home away from home.
Happiest Place in Your Region of the Country: Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid
Packing up yourselves and the kids — along with all their stuff — for a trip to the nearest geological wonder, cartoon character attraction or country music superstar theme park nearest you is no simple task, but the Pacifica Hybrid is up for it. The Pacifica has a dual-screen entertainment system for second-row passengers, which should help avoid dreaded conversations about whether you are, in fact, there yet. The Pacifica Hybrid’s 566-mile total range could also help save a few extra bucks on rest-stop concessions as well.
Weekend City Getaway: Ford Fiesta ST
Looking forward to a weekend in the metropolis of your choice? The Fiesta ST has enough power to make decent time on highway runs coming and going, and is small enough to put most city-sized parking opportunities into play. Find a way to overlook the perils of stop-and-go traffic with a sporty 6-speed manual transmission; the moments you’ll get to cut loose in the Fiesta ST will make it worthwhile.
Coastal Highway: Porsche 718 Boxster
You’ll need a drop-top to get the full effect of your chosen coastal drive, and if you’re on the right road you’ll tackle some nice twists and corners, too. It’s hard to imagine a better tool for the job than the Porsche 718 Boxster. The 718 gives you the open-top experience to appreciate every view, while the balanced chassis and 300-horsepower (350 in the S) turbocharged 4-cylinder boxer engine provides as much fun as you feel like having.
Beach Cruising: Chevrolet Corvette Stingray
Getting to the beach is one thing; being seen once you get there is another. If you’re looking to get noticed cruising the main drag of your preferred beach town (especially on the East Coast), there’s only one way to go — Corvette. The Chevrolet Corvette is the classic American beach cruiser, and a strong enthusiast community means you can find Corvette gatherings at beaches all over the U.S.
Day Out in the Country: Mercedes-Benz SL550 Roadster
Taking a day away from the city can encompass everything from long, open straight runs to exciting back roads to small-town sightseeing and cruising. With its 449-horsepower twin-turbocharged 4.7-liter V8, the SL550 Roadster can do all the above with the comfort and convenience of the high-end luxury car it is. There are certainly worse impressions you could make rolling into town.
Daytrip Back Roads: Alfa Romeo 4C
Low-slung, loud and capable of transmitting every road contour though the seats, the Alfa Romeo 4C is not an everyday driver (although we’re sure some brave souls are out there right now trying to prove us wrong at this very moment). With the right destination and curvy back roads, however, the 4C shines. The noise becomes a glorious racket; the “rough” ride becomes “communicative.” You may not have a ton of time to get away, but you can make the most of it with the 4C.
Cabin in the Woods: Ford F-150 Raptor
Cabins are usually found on mountains, by rivers or just out in the woods somewhere. But all these sound like great excuses to bring your 450-horsepower 510 lb-ft toy-truck-come-to-life with you, in case any playful opportunities for off-roading present themselves. The new Raptor swaps the old V8 for a 3.5-liter twin-turbocharged V6, but what you lose in sheer grunt and noise is made up for with improved off-road ability and a spacious cabin of its own.
L.A. to Vegas Run: Ferrari 812 Superfast
If there’s any opportunity in life to excuse a little over-the-top thinking, it’s when you’re making a run from Los Angeles to Las Vegas. Stopping in Death Valley or at the many sights to see might not be on your agenda. But if you’re looking for pure desert-drive goodness, the 789-horsepower naturally-aspirated V12 in Ferrari’s 812 Superfast delivers. As a bonus, the Superfast will also help you make a splash at either end of the trip — no easy task.
Independence Day Cruising: Dodge Challenger SRT Demon
The most patriotic of American holidays, July 4 presents plenty of opportunities for parading through small-town America. And what better way to do it, and what better vehicle to do it in, than a spectacularly vocal Challenger SRT Demon. This 840-horsepower Roman candle sports a supercharged 6.2-liter Hemi engine designed to eat up quarter-mile runs and light-to-light challenges (we don’t recommend the latter, of course). Bail money not included. Making sure your insurance (of all types) is in order is on you.
Beach Rental: Volvo V90
As a genre of automobile, the beach wagon (especially the woody) has been long lost in America, and the odds of a return are not great. In the meantime, if you have a few friends and a place at the shore for a week or two, Volvo’s V90 wagon can carry all of you (and your stuff) there and keep you in style. Simply strap a surfboard or two to the V90’s roof — instant beach wagon. Granted it’s not a woody, but it’s close enough.