- Claire Vorster
Road Trip? These Cars Rock
Longing to escape the city for the open road? Pick up one of these cars, all designed to get you, your friends and/or family - and your stuff - anywhere you want.
Best SUV – 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee EcoDiesel
Few SUVs are as adaptable and competent as the Jeep Grand Cherokee. This impressive rig is just as happy in the city or in the mountains. There’s enough storage space to make a diva or a mountain climber happy, and if you still want more, the split folding rear seat will happily accommodate.
The improved 2014 Grand boasts a diesel V-6 and a robust 420 lb-ft of torque on tap down at 2,000 rpm. Best news for your wallet, the Jeep should return about 30 mpg on the motorway (depending on options), this should mean 700 glorious miles before you need to fill up. Want to add a camper? The Grand can handle a 7400-pound mini-mansion on wheels.
Best Economy – 2013 Jetta Sportwagon TDI
The Jetta Sportwagon TDI could be one of the cleverest cars on the road. It may not pack all the high-tech gadgets of some of its German luxury cousins, but the Jetta’s smartness comes from its super efficient use of both fuel and space.
Under the bonnet, the Jetta’s turbodiesel sips rather than glugs fuel – 42 mpg on the motorway. But unlike its close rival the Pruis V, the Jetta is a great drive thanks to 236 lb-ft of torque and a lively dual-clutch transmission. Behind the rear seats is an SUV-ish 33 cubic feet of cargo space. A go-to car for a summer road trip, especially if you’ll be driving in busy city centres.
Best Crossover Utility Vehicle (CUV) – 2014 Honda Crosstour
While this nifty crossover may not be the hottest design from Honda, it is an amazingly practical car for any road trip. The Crosstour is pretty much a taller, all-wheel-drive Honda Accord wagon and, if you’ve driven an Accord any time over the past three decades, you’ll know that Honda infuses happiness into this family car.
The Crosstour is not quite as light on its feet as the 2014 Accord, but it is a much smoother and more engaging drive than many of its rivals. It’s also quick with a 278-hp V-6 and can deliver 31 mpg on the motorway. What really ticks the right boxes is the wagon’s ample cargo space, almost 26 cubic feet of behind the rear seats and a secret utility box beneath the cargo floor. Clever that.
Best Luxury – 2014 Audi A8 TDI
Let’s be upfront, this is an expensive choice. But if you have the means we can’t think of a better way to cruise down the freeway. The A8’s 240 hp and 406 lb-ft of torque propel this 4500-pound champion to 60 mph in just 6.4 seconds, and yet it offers a respectable 36 mpg on the motorway. There’s 42.9 inches of limo-like legroom in the rear, surpassing even Chevy’s gigantic new Impala. Comfortable, elegant and a pleasure to drive, you’ll arrive at your destination without ruffling any feathers.
Best Classic – 1961 Lincoln Continental Convertible
The first post WWII mass-produced, American four-door with a fully retractable roof. With an incredible 300 h.p. big block V-Eight, this gentle giant, runs whisper quiet. No manufacturer has produced anything like it since production of the Lincoln convertible stopped in 1967. Forget mileage: this is the choice of US Presidents. It’s a land yacht built for road trips.
Volkswagen Westfalia. No cooler camper. Mercedes-Benz “Bobby” SL. Grand old dame of the freeways. Subaru Legacy GT Wagon. Thinking man’s WRX wagon. Toyota MR2. Tiny convertible, room to pack, mid-engine. Class.