What do the best cars for road trips have in common?

Whether it's just you, one passenger, or a whole family, there are some qualities the best road trip cars of all time may share. No car will check all these boxes, and some items may be more important to you than others.

Safety

So many amazing driver assistance technologies like the following have arrived recently to make your ride safer:

  • Forward-collision warnings and automated braking
  • A rear-view camera and rear cross-traffic warnings
  • Blind-spot warning systems and intervention
  • Lane departure warnings, lane centering, and lane-keeping assistance

Effort

Driving long distances is not a passive activity. Features like these may help reduce the effort of driving:

  • Adaptive cruise control
  • Proper steering alignment
  • Turbocharged/supercharged engines
  • Good aerodynamics

Experience

Certain vehicle features and amenities can make a long drive more comfortable, including:

  • Silent sealed cabin
  • Comfortable seats
  • Space (seating, but cargo space is important, too!)
  • Electric seat adjustment
  • Heated and cooled seats
  • Smooth suspension
  • Entertainment/infotainment systems
  • Built-in navigation app
  • Safety communication services

What attributes should the best car for cross-country road trips have?

The items listed above may apply to any car with any number of people riding in it. If you're planning a family vacation or multiple nights under the stars, you might want specific vehicle attributes such as comfort for long trips, enough room for you to sleep in, and ability to travel long distances.

Comfortable cars for long trips with the family

In addition to the features above, the following may interest you if you're traveling with a larger group of people.

  • Third-row seating
  • The spaciousness of second and third-row seating
  • Individually adjustable second-row seats
  • Separate rear entertainment systems
  • Intercom system
  • Power outlets
  • Wi-Fi hotspot

Best road trip vehicle to sleep in

You might think that vans, SUVs, and crossovers are your best bet — and they're certainly great options — but some larger hatchbacks have fold-down rear seats that can make for a good sleeping space. Some trucks also offer tent options that you can erect over the bed of your truck. You may also consider the towing capacity of your car if you plan to use a trailer to spend the night.

Best car for traveling long distances

If you're thinking about driving a muscle car or sports car when you hit the road, responsiveness is the key to your driving pleasure. Steering, handling, engine power, and torque are all attributes you'll highly value.

What should I do to prepare my car for a long trip?

The checklist to get your car ready for a long trip is very much like a routine maintenance checkup list, such as checking or changing the oil and other fluids, replacing windshield wipers, and checking the air pressure in your tires. You can do many of the items yourself, but a couple of them may be done more easily by a qualified mechanic.

One final tip since you'll be spending so much time in your car. Start fresh – literally – and give the inside of your car a thorough cleaning before you hit the road. Wipe down the seats, vacuum the floors, and wash the insides of the windows.

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