With vacation season almost upon us, I asked my friend Keith Buglewicz, founder and editor-in-chief of FamilyCarReview.com and creator of the Family Friendliness Index, to put together a list of his favorite summer roadtrip vehicles for XTRORD.com readers planning to hit the highway in search of extraordinary experiences in the months ahead:
If you’re thinking about setting off in search of adventure this summer but worried your current vehicle may not be up to making the trip, I’ve got good news. Automakers eager to spur sales are currently offering generous incentives, ranging from low-interest loans to generous cash-back offers, that make this a great time to trade in that old jalopy for a shiny new set of wheels.
With that in mind, here’s a look at a half-dozen distinctly different summer roadtrip vehicles:
When it comes to towing a large camping trailer or boat, bigger vehicles are better. Cue the Dodge Ram Mega Cab heavy-duty pickups which offer towing capacities of up to 16,500 pounds. While that’s plenty impressive, the real attraction here is the Mega Cab’s humongous interior that can be fitted with all kinds of creature comforts from heated, reclining rear seats with gobs of legroom to a rear-seat video system with satellite TV service and a 10-speaker surround-sound system.
While Land Rover’s new midsize LR4 SUV has gone decidedly upscale, don’t let its luxurious trappings fool you. This is one serious summer roadtrip vehicle, built rugged enough to take you on all those adventures that begin where the pavement ends. Best of all, it makes tackling the toughest trails you can imagine easy with an innovative Terrain Response system that allows you to dial in the ideal powertrain and suspension settings for everything from sand to mud to bowling ball-sized rocks with the twist of a console-mounted knob.
While the Ford Flex may grab your attention with its low-slung styling, it’s literally what’s inside that counts. Like a comfortable six- or seven-passenger interior that can be decked out with a long list of cool bells-and-whistles, including a huge panoramic sunroof for enjoying the view, a nifty navigation system that can display weather radar images and help you find the lowest gas prices along your route, and even a built-in refrigerator/freezer.
If you’re looking for an ideal way to schlep the whole family and all their gear on a cross-country adventure, you’d be hard-pressed to find a better summer roadtrip vehicle than the all-new Toyota Sienna. While the top-of-the-line Limited model offers some clever new features—including available Barcalounger-style reclining second-row seats with pop-up footrests and a new video entertainment system with a 16.4-inch screen that allows rear seat passengers to watch one widescreen movie, two separate movies, or one DVD and a video game at the same time—it’s the sporty new SE model that deserves special recognition for being quite possibly the most fun-to-drive minivan ever.
If the recent economic downturn has left you feeling especially frugal, you’re going to like the Volkswagen Jetta TDI Sportwagen. For starters, there’s a peppy 2.0-liter turbodiesel four-cylinder engine under the hood that’s rated at 42 miles-per-gallon on the freeway, giving you a range of 600-plus miles between fill-ups. Add nimble European handling and an ample 32.8 cubic feet of cargo room behind the rear seats and you have no excuse to stay home this summer.
If you and your significant other are looking for a summer roadtrip vehicle ideally suited to an amorous adventure, BMW’s über-sexy 335i Convertible will go a long way towards setting the right mood by guaranteeing you’ll arrive in style. Add a slick retractable hardtop, gutsy 300-horsepower turbocharged engine, and sport-tuned suspension and you may well find getting to your romantic hideaway will be at least half the fun.
MORE EXTRAORDINARY EXPERIENCES: