Road trips bring the anticipation of the unknown and the thrill of newly discovered vistas. Anyone with memories of a family vacation, spring break adventure, or a cross-country journey on four wheels, knows that the wheels are a major part of the trip. But which cars are the best for the hitting the road? According to Kelley Blue Book, it all depends where you’re at in life.
For this year’s list, the editors at Kelley Blue Book chose to name the “life stage” for which each car is most appropriate. Are you a student? Going through a midlife crisis? Rolling into your golden years? No matter where you are in the giant road trip we call life, there is a corresponding car.
The Kbb.com editors kept key road trip criteria in mind when choosing each vehicle – aspects such as a comfortable cabin, good fuel economy, reliability and superior over-the-road driving dynamics. They also considered the vehicle’s overall image and desirability. Click on ahead to see the list, starting with a recommended car for the youngest drivers.
By Colleen Kane
Posted May 19, 2011
Here’s what the Focus has going in its favor: “It looks cool, sports an upscale interior, rides and handles incredibly well and costs about the same as some of the more boring compact cars.”
The Kelley editors suggest opting for the five-door variant with extra cargo room, because you never know what—or whom—you might pick up on a good toad trip. Also, no small part in this decision is the Focus’ highway fuel economy, which runs up to 38 miles per gallon (40 MPG for the sedan with SFE Package).
This one is for drivers planning weekend getaways with friends, all hoping to meet someone special. In the Camaro, the great advantage to youths on the prowl is the convertible factor. Whether sitting in the front or the back seat with the top down, all passengers can see and be seen.
And if you’re behind the wheel of the 426-horsepower, 6.2-liter V8-enhanced Camaro SS, you can quickly chase down any other drivers trying to play coy.
Endless summers do come to their inevitable ends, and another influx of twenty-somethings enters the ranks of stiffs working for the weekend. Aside from moving into a new tax bracket, being a worker bee also means parent-subsidized cross-country excursions are replaced with shorter road trips.
For this stage, the Kelley Blue Book editors recommend the Buick Regal Turbo. It’s stylish enough to impress potential new employers, while they cite its quiet ride, Euro-like driving dynamics and 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine to help new nine-to-fivers forget about PowerPoint presentations when redeeming those hard-earned vacation days.
“Spend it while you got it.” As the Kelley editors point out, one minute you’re a Romeo or a Juliet in an Audi Cabriolet, the next minute you’re installing a baby seat in a…well, you’ll have to wait for the next slide to see what car gets the baby seat.
But for those still in the self-indulgent stage, the Audi A5 Cabrio is classy enough for impressing dates with nice restaurants, but still comfortable enough for long drives and convertible enough to attract even more dates.
When vehicle choice is about more than the driver’s ego, and road trips focused on quality family time have replaced journeys of youthful soul-searching, the practicalities of the CR-V can provide peace of mind for the budding new family.
The Honda CR-V addresses the transportation needs of the 2+1 family. The Kelley Blue Book editors praise its high riding stance, which makes it easier to buckle in the baby, and say that its fuel-efficient, 2.4-liter engine means fewer stops at the gas station. As another helpful feature, the available satellite-linked navigation can guide parental drivers to the nearest little kiddie theme parks.
A bigger family doesn’t necessarily mean an SUV. The Honda Odyssey has seating for eight and is available with a multi-view rearview camera for safely reversing and parking, a 16.2-inch rear entertainment system to ensure those welcome rapt silences, and a cool box up front to keep drinks and snacks chilled. It also gets better fuel economy than most similar-capacity SUVs.
For those looking to expand their families and take some grand vacations, an SUV could do the trick, but the editors at Kelley say “the Odyssey does many things better.”
Hairlines and waistlines change, but when it comes to midlife crises, the Corvette is a constant. So when gents of a certain age decide to indulge the youthful fantasies they can now afford, the Chevy Corvette has some attributes worth considering.
While the midlife crisis sports car stereotype remains strong, one fact is little known: The 430-horsepower Corvette returns up to 26 highway mpg. It’s not going to win a green cars award anytime soon, but for a car that can shoot to 60 miles per hour in 4.2 seconds on its way to a top speed of 190 mph, the Kelley Blue Book editors say it’s downright fuel-efficient.
The recently divorced cougar has experience, money, and freedom, and she’s ready to hit the open road in search of young cubs.
The Mercedes convertible has some features that will appeal to such women: In addition to being lavishly equipped, this convertible can be outfitted with Mercedes-Benz’s “Airscarf” neck-warmer system to keep delicate skin warm while trolling top-down through beach communities. Plus, a new “Aircap” system deflects air over the passenger compartment, addressing that classic convertible beauty issue of over-windblown hair.
Rough rides are for kids. In the golden years, the last thing you want when traveling from the winter home to the summer home, or making a trip to visit the grandchildren, is to be feeling every bump on the highway.
The Toyota Avalon gets the Kelley Blue Book editors’ thumbs-up, as they say it floats along the road, absorbing all of the potholes. It’s also easy to enter and exit, it has a roomy trunk for a lifetime of well-traveled luggage, and it can fit three adults in back when you want to treat the whole family to an early-bird dinner special.
When it comes to life’s ultimate journey, why slum it? Consider riding in style aboard a Cadillac DTS Hearse. An incredibly soft ride, tasteful exterior styling, and “a dignified, tomb-like interior help the miles slip by unnoticed.”
For trips to the great beyond, the choice is obvious, say the Kelley Blue Book editors, with perhaps a bit of tongue lodged in their collective cheek.