Chicago—May 24, 2005—Despite soaring prices at the pump Americans will hit the highway in record numbers this summer. According to AAA, more than 31 million are planning to travel by car this Memorial Day weekend alone, making the vehicle an essential part of summer vacations. For many travelers, the car is as much a part of the experience as the destination, prompting the automotive experts at Cars.com to name the best vehicles for this summer's road trips.
"With so many features and options available to today's car shoppers, there is something to fit every type of vacation. We considered common summer road trip activities to find the best vehicles based on their performance in several categories," said Joe Wiesenfelder, Cars.com senior editor and vehicle profiler.
For the economically/environmentally conscious:
Whether you're looking for a "green" car for your national park tour or just hoping to avoid sacrificing your entire vacation budget at the pump, these fuel-efficient options are best bets for tree huggers and penny pinchers alike.
Best to tow behind a motor home:
- Best overall: Toyota Prius
If you're looking to save fuel, the Toyota Prius is the best choice overall once you consider fuel economy and accommodations. It's a midsize car that seats five and gets an EPA-estimated 60 mpg in the city and 51 mpg on the highway.
- Best for larger families: Toyota Highlander Hybrid
The Highlander Hybrid is the first hybrid vehicle to accommodate seven occupants, with fuel economy besting that of any other seven-seater: 33/28 mpg (city/highway).
- Diesel options: Volkswagen and Mercedes-Benz
Currently, diesel engines produce more pollutants, but they're more efficient than comparable gasoline engines in the same models. They burn 20 percent less fuel and produce 20 percent less carbon dioxide (a greenhouse gas).
- Volkswagen's Passat TDI sedan and wagon get 27/38 mpg (city/highway). VW also has diesel versions of its Beetle, Golf and Jetta with fuel economy as high as 38/46 mpg.
- Mercedes-Benz's E320 CDI sedan is EPA rated 27/37 mpg.
Once you've pulled the motor home into port and dropped anchor, you could use a little runabout to navigate the grocery store parking lot or go sight-seeing. The Scion xA is the perfect car. It is small in size and has a surprisingly roomy interior. It also is light weight and has a fuel economy of 32/37mpg.Best to tow a trailer:
Nissan Armada 4x2
With a maximum towing capacity of 9,100 pounds, the Nissan Armada full-size SUV should have you -- and up to seven passengers -- covered. The only SUVs with comparable capacities cost much more. For entertainment, take your pick of Sirius or XM Satellite Radio and/or the drop-down DVD video system. There's even a jack on the dashboard for attaching your iPod to the premium stereo.Best for a fishing trip:
GMC Envoy XUV
Imagine an SUV in which a midgate can be raised to isolate the cargo area from the passenger compartment. Imagine hosing it out like a pickup bed. Imagine opening it up to the sky or sealing it up tight like a regular SUV. That's the GMC Envoy XUV.Best for a camping trip:
Honda Ridgeline pickup truck
The Honda Ridgeline is the first pickup with a trunk, accessed by raising the cargo floor's rear section. What does this give you? Covered, secure storage, an open pickup bed and a cabin big enough for five people -- or two people and a couple of mountain bikes, wheels attached. Fill the trunk with ice to store your food; you can open the drains once it melts.Best to cross the country:
For four people to cross the country, there is no better choice than Lexus' flagship sedan. The LS430 is plenty roomy, has a large trunk and is one of the most comfortable and quietest -- if not the quietest -- vehicles you can buy. Though it's large and quick, the car's 25-mpg highway fuel economy still puts SUVs to shame.Best for an extended family journey:
Honda Odyssey minivan
The Odyssey is simply one of the best-executed vehicles sold. On the road, nothing beats GPS navigation, satellite radio and a flip-down video system to quell the are-we-there-yet chorus. Other vehicles have these things, but not along with 20/28 mpg (city/highway) fuel economy -- especially not when equipped with all the features in a loaded leather-upholstered Touring model.Best for a scenic drive:
Chrysler PT Cruiser Convertible
Two attributes make this your best drop-top choice: occupant room and cargo room. Aside from being one of the largest convertibles sold, the PT Cruiser Convertible has a pretty large trunk for a ragtop. Add the flexibility of fold-down rear seats, also practically unheard of in a convertible, and you have a viable ride for the average nuclear family. If you'll have a full load and/or hills to climb, definitely go with one of the turbocharged models.Best for a weekend of golf:
The Montego deserves more attention than it's getting due to hysteria over the Chrysler 300. The Montego might be less flashy, but it has more headroom and considerably more backseat legroom despite being smaller from bumper to bumper than the current Grand Marquis, let alone the hulking 300. The Montego's trunk will hold nine sets of golf clubs. Nine! Twenty-one cubic feet vs. the 300's 15.6 cubic feet.Best for a visit to the in-laws':
Ford GT supercar
For a car that runs with Ferraris, Lamborghinis and Saleens, the Ford GT is a steal at $139,995. If you're going to spend Memorial Day weekend with the in-laws, you might as well have fun getting there, right? Also, with a 0-to-60 mph time of 3.8 seconds and a top speed of 190 mph, imagine how quickly you can escape if things get ugly. Dad's LeSabre doesn't stand a chance. The single passenger seat might come in handy: "It's them or me, honey!"
For more information about these vehicles or to find a local dealer , visit Cars.com.
The site lists more than 1.4 million vehicles from 10,000 dealer customers, classified advertisers and private-parties to offer consumers the best selection of new and used cars online, as well as the content, tools and advice to support their shopping experience. Cars.com combines powerful inventory search tools and new-car configuration with pricing information, photo galleries, buying guides, side-by-side comparison tools, original editorial content and reviews to help millions of consumers connect with sellers each month.
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