The long and winding road: 5 awesome cars to take on a roadtrip
The roadtrip is a cultural staple for countless people around the world. However, most don’t have the luxury of hand-picking the vehicle they take with them on their four-wheeled sojourns. Using a lot of imagination and whimsy married with a little bit of good car sense, we take a look at 5 cars that would make the perfect companion for that next big trip.
- Pic – iambents
If we’re talking roadtrips, the conversation is inevitably going to lead to the roominess and dependability of the minivan. And if we’re talking minivans, the Honda Odyssey warrants some serious consideration. A marriage of fashion and function, the 2012 model of this distinctive automobile is big on space (it seats 8, including room for 5 fully-fitted child safety seats); power (uses a 3.5L V-6, rated at 248 horsepower and 250 pound-feet of torque); and fuel efficiency (Honda’s Variable Cylinder Management idles cylinders during low-demand driving).
The Odyssey also offers a Touring Elite package, which features a premium DVD entertainment system, including a 16.2inch monitor with split-screen video capabilities – there is also an in-built digital media centre in the dashboard. 15 drink holders are more novelty than a practical addition to the car, but they highlight the expansiveness of the Odyssey’s design, and the designers’ absolute focus on comfort. Throw in a custom navigation system and front-wheel driving, and the Honda Odyssey must sit prominently in considerations for a roadtrip (especially if you’re dragging the whole family along).
- Pic – Audi USA
OK, this one’s a little bit fantastical, but lists like these are hotbeds for indulgent imaginations. The Audi S8 is a sleek, fuel-efficient and incredibly powerful car built to tear strips off the German autobahns and the dollars out of your wallet. While not exactly a weekend-roadtrip-to-visit-grandma type of vehicle, it offers supreme comfort and ultimate street cred to anyone needing to zip from A to B in style (the 3-hour drive from Northern Italy to Monaco is supposed to be fabulous at this time of year).
A premium Bang & Olufson sound system, diamond-quilt leather upholstery, dominant exhaust pipes and 20-inch alloy wheels are just a few of the seemingly perfunctory features of the S8. However, for all of its aesthetic flashiness, the performance and safety aspects of the vehicle are equally impressive. A 4L twin-turbo V8 engine powers a car which can push the 100km/h mark in 4.2 seconds, while a blind-spot monitor, lane-change warning and in-built driver fatigue system focuses on your safety. Of course, Audi is renowned for its impressive safety arsenal, and the S8 includes its trademark adaptive cruise system, which uses radar to detect potential dangers both in front and behind the vehicle. Perfect for a scenic, if somewhat extravagant, driving experience. It also helps if you’ve got a spare $250K or so.
Toyota Camry Hybrid
Pic – miss604
This 2012 hybrid model from Toyota is not simply on this list to appease greenies or air my left-wing sentiments. This is a genuinely impressive vehicle. The on-road balance, smooth acceleration, and road noise suppression of the Camry H alone make it a surprising prospect for a hybrid vehicle – in fact, the stereotypical perceptions of such cars as being weak or undercooked are defied in every category by this model.
The CVT transmission and light steering can be seen as boon or bane for drivers, depending on the road circumstances and your feel for the car. New drivers may find the driving experience to be slightly jerky, especially on corners, however once you’ve settled in the Camry H allows for an extremely smooth drive, only expending power when you really need it without compromising overall feel. It can also be driven on the electric motor alone when navigating grid-locked city traffic or a quiet shopping centre carpark (you’ll need supplies for the road, won’t you?). A dynamic yet humble design unites this highly intriguing vehicle, and shouldn’t be forgotten when pondering a long-distance, environmentally-friendly trek.
Mazdaspeed MX-5 Miata
- Pic – Manglo
There’s nothing like a convertible, especially an easy-to-drive and affordable one. The Mazdaspeed is not the most powerful car, nor the most spacious, nor the best-equipped for driving in extreme weather. However, the nimble handling, a factory-developed and -installed turbocharger kit, and a charming character replete with red-stitched wheel and gear-lever covers, the car offers a memorable and intimate driving experience.
There is limited boot space in the Mazdaspeed, which does demand creative packing (potentially a problem when on a roadtrip), yet the allure of this sleek and user-friendly convertible asks you to forget about the extra carry-bag you had to leave at home and just feel the wind in your hair.
Subaru Outback SUV
For the more adventurous roadtripper, staying on the road itself can become a bit of a bore. Purposely built to navigate hostile territory, the Subaru Outback offers powerful suspension, superior spaciousness, and a choice between 3 versatile engines: four-cylinder boxer, a V6 and a turbo-diesel. All bring their own merits to the table, yet the latter two are more impressive when it comes to delivering a smooth All Wheel Drive experience.
A lower-front air dam and wheel arch flares have been added to the latest Outback model, while a sophisticated modern design for the interior and an extended cargo area round out a vehicle which will not disappoint when the terrain gets tough. This car was built specifically to take you on an off-road adventure – so what are you waiting for?
Rob Johnson is a media graduate and freelance writer who also loves an outback trail ride. He knows what he likes in a car, but if you don’t trust his advice, ask a genuine pro dealer like John Hughes.
- homepage photograph – Claudio.Ar