Compact, crossover SUVs such as the Toyota RAV4 or Lincoln Corsair are the most popular new car models in America after trucks. But you need a Toyota Highlander or Lincoln Aviator mid-size SUV if you want to go on a proper road trip with the family.
Top Road-Trip Apps For Your Smartphone
These mid-size SUVs are bigger and more comfortable and many of them even offer a third row of seats, even though you’d probably fold down that back seat and use the expansive cargo space available instead if you’re going to use it for a proper road trip.
A mid-size SUV allows you to pack plenty of luggage for two to four people – that Lincoln Aviator offers an expansive 41.8 cubic inches behind the second row with the third row folded flat.
You won’t even have to tow a trailer with that much luggage space. Of course, the Aviator is just a single example of a mid-size SUV crossover that’s ideal for a road trip.
This class is awash with vehicles, from car-based 2WD crossovers to serious 4WD machinery.
Here is just a shortlist of some of the best-known SUVs classified as mid-size:
- Audi Q7, Q8, e-tron, and e-tron Sportback
- BMW X5 and X6
- Jeep Grand Cherokee, Grand Cherokee L, and Wrangler Unlimited
- Tesla Model X
- Ford Edge, Explorer, and Bronco
- Porsche Cayenne and Cayenne Coupe
- Chevrolet Traverse and Blazer
- Volkswagen Atlas and Atlas Cross Sport
- Mercedes-Benz GLE, GLE Coupe, and G-Class
- Lexus RX and GX
- GMC Acadia
- Honda Passport and Pilot
- Hyundai Santa Fe and Palisade
- Kia Sorento and Telluride
- Toyota Highlander and 4Runner
- Dodge Durango
- Volvo XC90
- Land Rover Defender 110, Discovery, and Range Rover Sport
- Lincoln Aviator and Nautilus
The Right Car For That Road Trip
A typical base model or mid-range SUV with sensible wheels and tires will be able to traverse rough roads if necessary. You only need AWD if you are planning to go off-road or will be driving in slippery or snowy conditions. A normal 2WD crossover should suffice for the majority of road conditions.
The best vehicle for frequent road trips will depend on your requirements in terms of horsepower, space, seating configurations, luxury features, performance, and fuel economy. Plan your trip in advance, have your car serviced, and be sure that you tick what to pack off a comprehensive list.
The Best Road-Trip Apps
Pack those car chargers and cables and keep your smartphone at the ready, because here are a few great apps to help you plan an unforgettable road trip:
- PackPoint. Never forget something at home again. Available for Android and iOS, PackPoint can organize your packing lists based on what type of trip you’re taking and where you’re going. It can suggest clothes based on the weather forecasts and according to whether you will have access to laundry facilities and are willing repeatedly wear basic shirts and pants. It can connect to the TripIt app for the automatic creation of packing lists.
- Google travel tools. Integrated into its online search and into Google Maps are many tools to help you plan trips. Google now displays COVID-19 alerts alongside available hotels, indicating whether, for example, proof of vaccinations or quarantine will be required.
- The Explore feature on Google’s travel site highlights popular attractions, hotels, local COVID-19 trends, and when is the best time of the year to visit. Even better for road trips are the suggested stops along your route, including campsites, parks, and hotels – but this works only on the desktop Maps.
- iExit. This very handy interstate exit guide helps you plan for bathroom, food, and gas stops and breaks along your route. It offers surprisingly detailed summaries – including gas prices – of what you’ll find at the next interstate exit and you can search for other exits from your current location. It has you covered for well-known brands such as Walmart and Starbucks too, as well as trailer/truck parking and free Wi-Fi. For Android and iOS.
- GasBuddy. GasBuddy helps you find the cheapest gas stations in your area of travel. You can set filters to sort these gas stations according to whether they have a bathroom, car wash, or restaurant. You can even pay for your gas in the app. For Android and iOS.
- OpenTable. OpenTable makes it easy to filter local restaurants according to many criteria. Images of menu items are shown and you can even make reservations via the app and get recommendations that are personalized according to your preferences. For Android and iOS.
- ParkMe. With ParkMe, you can find and pay for the cheapest parking spot closest to your destination, not just in the USA, but on seven continents and 16,000 cities. It updates parking-spot availability in real-time and even includes parking-meter rates for street parking. For Android and iOS.
- Roadtrippers. For Android and iOS, Roadtrippers can create a route based on the places you want to visit. The travel guides are free, you can share planning progress with friends, and they can suggest places and join in on the planning. It also covers Canada.
Roadtripping has gone all high-tech with these useful apps helping you with everything from where you’ll find a Walmart along the way and where to exit the interstate for the cheapest gas to reserving dinner at a great local restaurant.
Roadtripping is about far more than just the right car and the right company. With the help of a host of travel-specific apps, you can now make an informed decision every step of the way.