My husband and I have made countless road trips with the full family (four kids) in tow, so we know a thing or to about choosing the right road trip vehicle. And, although our children are all in their 20s now, we have two grandchildren and are enjoying multi-generational travel with them. We have learned, sometimes the hard way, what necessities we NEED in a road trip vehicle, and what comforts we WANT.
Safety is always at the top of the list for us, but past that we look for essentials like comfort, performance, reliability and value. A great resource for seeing a quick ranking of these particular categories on any given vehicle is Cars.com. The ranking is based on one to five stars with five being the best. This at-a-glance website feature gives buyers an excellent tool to assess their needs compared to the vehicle they are looking at.
For family travel, it’s hard to beat a good minivan like the new Honda Odyssey. The newer models have aerodynamic exteriors that offer far less wind drag than older models which contributes to better gas mileage and road handling. It also seems there are more models on the market with lots of storage compartments, even under-the-floor storage, and seat configurations that can be easily changed. Minivans offer lots of amenities that I can’t imagine traveling without like: navigation, blindspot monitoring, backup camera and lots of cup holders. Also, they offer many gizmos and gadgets that, while they aren’t necessities for me, they are definitely on the WANT list…things like seat warmers, rear entertainment systems and window screens to block the sun from napping babies.
Your family might prefer an SUV for your road trip vehicle and with all the options on the market, your choices are wide open. I prefer to search for one with good reliability, decent fuel economy, a comfy interior and, of course, super safety scores. Most SUVs, like the Mazda CX-9 come in different trim lines offering everything from a baseline model to a fully-appointed vehicle that offers all modern amenities including tech savvy products like Bluetooth connectivity for hands-free driving, music streaming from your phone, navigation and more.
I’ve mentioned the larger family travel options, but you may only have one or two children making a roomy sedan like the Volkswagen Passat, the perfect on-the-road vehicle for you. Research different models to find roomy back seats to avoid carsick kiddos, a good audio system, lots of trunk space for luggage and extra niceties that make traveling easier like cruise control and dual temperature settings.
In choosing the perfect road trip vehicle for your family, I suggest making a list of non-negotiable features you absolutely must have on a vehicle. Find vehicles that meet those standards and then see which of those models additionally have some things from your WANT list. That should shorten the list and give you several options to test drive. No matter what you choose, travel safe and enjoy the journey.