Road-Trip-Ready Vehicles for Summer 2011
American drivers love to spend their vacations hitting the open road. For those in the market for a new vehicle that they hope to log plenty of miles in while traveling, we've got your top vehicle picks for road trips.
"Since the invention of the automobile, Americans have enjoyed taking road trips. From wood-paneled station wagons to oversized conversion vans, most Americans have grown up taking road trips with their family and friends," said John Nielsen, AAA National Director of Auto Repair, Buying Services and Consumer Information. "Today's American road trips come in many different forms: family vacations, mancations, girlfriend getaways, romantic excursions and more. And the ideal vehicle for a road trip can come in as many different forms depending on where you want the road to take you and who will be joining you for the ride."
If you're about to embark on a cross-country trip, you'll want a set of wheels that's both economical and eco-friendly. Take a peek at the front-runners below, which offer plenty of cargo space, great mileage and most importantly, a fun driving experience:
Chevrolet Cruze Eco – From the Cavalier to the Cobalt to the Cruze, each generation of compact Chevrolet vehicles has been an improvement from the previous, and the Cruze is no exception. AAA Auto Buying experts tested the "Eco" version with a six-speed manual transmission, which is the non-hybrid gasoline fuel economy leader in its size category. It also received a five-star overall rating in the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's (NHTSA's) more stringent new crash test program. AAA found the Cruze Eco to be a good value with impressive fuel economy, making it a smart pick for road trip lovers on a budget. For those looking to take more than two on their road trip, the Cruze lacks rear cup holders and a center armrest, and the rear seat may be cramped for tall passengers.
Ford Focus – A definite improvement over the previous version, the new 2012 Ford Focus drives very nicely with above average ride and handling. Fuel economy and engine performance also are very good and highway cruising is impressively quiet for the small car field, making it a top pick for road trips. As with other cars in the category, it's ideal for two travelers as the backseat can be a bit cramped.
Toyota Prius – The Toyota Prius is a road trip top pick because it's roomy, comfortable and economical. The hatchback design makes for exceptional flexibility, as well. The hybrid drivetrain sips fuel, and with careful driving, it can push fuel economy well past 50 mpg. However, for those who love engaging and sporty vehicles for their road trips, the Prius may not be the right choice. It's a secure and predictable ride, but not engaging to drive.
Ford Escape Hybrid - For families with a bit more to tow, we can't leave the Escape Hybrid off this list. It's roomy cabin is perfect for a long ride and its expanded sun roof lets in lots of light. Driving in either pure electric mode, or with the gasoline-powered engine, fuel economy evens out to be great bang for the buck, and let's not forget the ability to tow a trailer or camper if needed. (Hey, sometimes a tent just isn't enough.)