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The 18 Best Road Trip Cars

The snack selection is vital and of course the destinations are important, but having one of the best road trip cars is what will make the journey amazing.

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Hit the open road

There has never been a better time to plan road trips make fresh plans to see, do, and drive to all the best sights and cities scattered around the continental United States. Here are the 18 best road trip cars for 2020, from a living room on wheels that’ll fit your kids and their friends to a sporty two-seater for when you and your better half want to escape for a romantic road trip together.

2020 Lincoln Navigator Reservevia

2020 Lincoln Navigator Reserve

Sure, you’re giving up some gas mileage (16 city/22 highway) compared to similarly-sized SUVs but the return on that investment is a truly stunning expression of luxury and one of the absolute best road trip cars. Up to eight passengers can travel in style in the Lincoln Navigator thanks to plush, comfy seats, a 360-degree camera, adaptive cruise control with stop-and-go that will make highway driving pleasurable, and a panoramic vista roof to watch the stars come out at night as you power through to your next road trip destination. Music lovers will appreciate the Revel audio system that features 14 speakers. You packed the trunk like a Tetris master, but don’t leave just yet! Make sure you check these eight things on your car before your next road trip.

2021 Range Rover Westminster Editionvia

2021 Range Rover Westminster Edition

For those with the budget, the Westminster Edition of the famed Range Rover will carry you, your people, and your things in exclusive comfort and inimitable style, whether you’re heading up to your mountain house or across the whole of the country. This 2021 Range Rover is one of the best road trip cars for 2020 and beyond because of a panoramic roof, auto high beam assist for relaxed night driving, the ability to control the climate in four distinct zones of the luxurious cabin, and ambient interior lighting that can be configured to your liking—this is as glamorous as it is fun. For this price tag ($103,000) you also get some of the highest tech in the automotive world, including a Range Rover Drive Pack and Park Pack, consisting of traffic sign recognition, adaptive speed limiter, 360-degree parking aid, rear traffic monitor, and more. A road trip in a Range Rover Westminster is as satisfying, safe, and stylish as is possible. You’ve got one of the best road trip cars, now get the best munchies for the journey—here are the 25 best road trip snacks.

2020 Toyota Highlander Hybrid Platinumvia

2020 Toyota Highlander Hybrid Platinum

Kelley Blue Book is right, any model of the 2020 Toyota Highlander will indeed carry you and your favorite people perfectly up and over any stretch of America but the 7-seater Hybrid Platinum trim is going to do so with an environmentally friendly style unlike any other SUV on the market. You’ll enjoy fewer stops at gas stations with 36/35 miles per gallon, a bird’s eye view camera, a panoramic tilt and slide moonroof, and the Highlander’s massive 12.3-inch touch screen display. If you’re trying to stick to a road trip budget, here’s how to calculate the gas cost for a trip and how to save gas.

2021 Honda Odysseyvia

2021 Honda Odyssey

The 2020 iteration of this palatial road trip palace was named the best minivan for families by U.S. News and World Report. A year later and the ’21 model year Odyssey keeps on delivering comfort and performance, making this spacious living room on wheels one best road trip cars for treks of any distance, for families of almost any size. The Odyssey isn’t just about cabin space though, there’s also a sophistication to the design (magic 2nd-row seats slide side to side as well as up and back to put some much-needed social distance between feuding siblings as well as provide ample legroom for the growing teenagers in the back), exceptional performance, and better than expected 28 mpg on the highway. Here are road trips games to keep your kids entertained—and you sane while driving your Odyssey.

2021 Kia Telluride Nightfall Editionvia

2021 Kia Telluride Nightfall Edition

Arriving at dealers in the second half of 2020 is this stunning iteration of MotorTrend’s SUV of the Year, World Car of the Year, “North American Utility Vehicle of the Year” and one of Car and Driver‘s 10 Best. If the Stinger announced Kia as a major player in the U.S. auto scene a few years ago, the Telluride has confirmed it. Now, for model year 2021, Kia’s bold Telluride ups the ante with a stunning special Nightfall Edition package. Gloss black elements give this Telluride a more aggressive yet sophisticated character and the new, exclusive to Nightfall exterior color of wolf gray is going to make your road trip photographs pop on social media, and your friends drool with envy. Inside, there’s comfortable seating for up to eight, tucked into an affordably opulent cabin, and under the hood, a powerful 291-hp 3.8-liter V6, with available active on-demand all-wheel drive, will power you through national parks and into big cities alike. U.S. News and World Report ranked the 2020 Telluride as the best 3rd row in the SUV segment and nothing about the 2021 Nightfall Edition should change the best in class seating inside this luxurious road trip SUV.

2021 Toyota RAV4 Prime XSEvia

2021 Toyota RAV4 Prime XSE

This hip, spacious plug-in hybrid can go for over 40 miles on a full charge, meaning your local driving at home or around your road trips destinations, could be 100 percent gas-free while still delivering 38 mpg performance when you need it, on each tank of gas. You’ll feel safe as you road trip in a 2021 Toyota RAV4 Prime SXE thanks to the blind spot monitor and read cross-traffic alert, and experience ultimate comfort while sinking down into SofTex-trimming seats. As far as color options, the supersonic red with a midnight black metallic roof is simply stunning and is one of the standard exterior paint options with the XSE trim. If you regularly take photos of your ride in magnificent places while road tripping, this RAV4 Prime XSE option is a dream, and it not, you’ll soon start! These are the apps to download as you plan your next road trip.

2020 Jeep Gladiator Rubiconvia

2020 Jeep Gladiator Rubicon

Any model of Jeep Wrangler is going to be one of the best road trip cars, whether you choose to stay on the road or venture far off it, but Kelley Blue Book says that the “2020 Jeep Gladiator builds on [the Wrangler] heritage with the functionality of a pickup bed,” added that the, “rugged Rubicon trim…can take plenty of your stuff including bikes, kayaks, and camping gear on that trek into the backwoods to practice the ultimate in social distancing.” The Jeep Gladiator won 2020 North American Truck of the Years honors and has one of the most striking interiors of any road trip car on this list. This unique road trip car also made the 2020 Hagerty Hot List—an exclusive award for vehicles likely to endure the test of time with collectors and car fans by offering sustained popularity and value. The 2020 Rubicon will be a beast during one of these epic winter road trips.

2020 Kia Stingervia

2020 Kia Stinger

You wouldn’t expect a sports car to have road trip worthy trunk space but then again, most wouldn’t have expected one of the best sports cars of the 21st century to be carrying a Kia nameplate. The 2020 Kia Stinger is gorgeous and one of the best road trip cars for 2020 and beyond. The sedan is outfitted with the 720-watt Harman/Kardon QuantumLogic Surround Sound System—a grand total of 15 speakers. For when you want a break from blasting Harry Styles, here are the best audiobooks for your road trip listening pleasure. All the while, you’ll sink deep down into seats that fit like a glove and experience an engine that’ll power you through the “boring” stretches of highway.

2020 Miata MX-5 Club Convertiblevia

2020 Miata MX-5 Club Convertible

The Mazda Miata MX-5 is the finest vehicle to see fall foliage while driving with the top down and with the one you love this year. This two-seat roadster is the best-selling roadster of all time, and once you experience the Club trim, it’ll be easy to see and hear why. Rock out to your favorite playlists streaming from the Bose nine-speaker audio system that seamlessly incorporates Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, to keep your eyes aimed forward on the beauty along the road. The MX-5 isn’t just sporty, it’s also smart, letting you spend less time at the pump thanks to an estimated 35 highway miles per gallon performance from this Mazda convertible. Be sure to avoid this most hated gas station in America.

2020 Mazda CX-9 Signaturevia

2020 Mazda CX-9 Signature

Mazda’s largest vehicle is outfitted with Nappa leather, three-zone automatic climate control with pollen filter, i-ACTIV AWD with off-road traction assist, a hands-free rear power liftgate, and power sliding-glass moonroof with a one-touch-open feature to gaze up and out at the clouds. The inside of this premium Mazda is a mecca for relaxation and road trip fun, with second-row retractable window sunshades, plenty of ports to plug and play thanks to front center console armrest with storage and two USB inputs and a second-row center armrest with integrated cup holders and another pair of USB inputs. For max comfort in any weather, the Signature CX-9 boats heated front and second-row seats, ventilated front seats, and a heated steering wheel. As a bonus, Captains Chairs with a center console in the second row is standard for the model year 2020 in the Signature trim. Before you hit the road during the pandemic, here’s what you should know about taking a road trip.

2020 Mazda CX-30via

2020 Mazda CX-30

The first-ever Mazda CX-30 is already one of the best road trip cars because it’s nimble and oh so fun to drive—the estimated 33-miles per gallon doesn’t hurt either! This new vehicle to Mazda’s lineup for model year 2020 is sized just below Mazda’s number one best-seller, the equally road trip approved CX-5, and has unique features like rain-sensing windshield wipers, a cargo area light to help you easily unload your stuff when arriving at your destination after dark after a wonderfully-weird day getting lost while exploring curious small towns, and MAZDA Connect interactivity on an 8.8-inch center display. Follow these car maintenance tips to extend the life of your vehicle.

2020 Subaru Outback Touringvia

2020 Subaru Outback Touring

The Outback is known for being as plush on the inside as it is rugged on the outside. If you want to supersize the luxuriousness, look to the 2020 Outback Touring‘s upgraded interior with elegant java brown Nappa leather, heated steering wheel, as well as heated and ventilated front seats. After 100 or 1,000 miles in the lap of this kind of luxury and you’ll know that you’re at the helm of one of the best road trip cars around. Find out how the color of your car affects your chances of getting in an accident.

2021 Kia Seltos Svia

2021 Kia Seltos S

The new Seltos from Kia is a roomy, rugged, and thoroughly affordable entry-level road trip SUV that comes in a positively delicious color blend of starbright yellow with a cherry black top that dazzles and delights as you drive everywhere from Death Valley to Dallas, Duluth to the Mississippi Delta. The Kia Seltoa has what the brand describes as ‘Herculean interior’ thanks to a versatile cabin offering copious amounts of hip, shoulder, leg, and head room in both rows, and the adjustable luggage board which can ramp up the available cargo space. So go ahead and pack those golf clubs for the family road trip, dad! The 2021 Kia Seltos S is impressive and one of the best road trip cars of 2020 because, for an entry-level SUV starting at just over $22,000, you get a bevy of safety features often found only in SUVs costing twice or three times as much, such as forward collision avoidance-assist camera, driver attention warning, high beam assist, lane departure warning, lane keeping assist, and lane following assist. Find out the most popular car the year you were born.

2020 Chevy Bolt EV LTvia

2020 Chevy Bolt EV LT

Props to Chevy for building an electric vehicle capable of driving over 250 miles on a full charge, at a price starting below $30,000 (with current cash allowances). Thanks also for offering the Bolt in oasis blue, a bastion of fun in a sea of automotive greys, blacks, and whites. If your journey involves roughly 4-5 hours of driving per day and not a bevy of luggage, the Bolt EV is the eco and economic-friendly car choice. For young drivers, the Chevy Bolt EV LT is one of the best road trip cars because of Chevy’s innovative Teen Driver configuration which lets concerned adults activate customizable vehicle settings associated with a key fob to help encourage better driving behavior. This can also limit certain vehicle features and automatically turns on certain safety systems while providing in-vehicle report cards containing information on driving habits that may help with the ongoing coaching of your young driver, whether they’re cruising around home or venturing out for their first road trip. The Chevy Bolt also makes the list of one of the best cars to rent for a road trip.

2020 Chevy Traverse LSvia

2020 Chevy Traverse LS

This affordable SUV from Chevy can tow up to 5,000-pounds out back and haul up to 8 total stowaways on the inside, making the Traverse one of the best road trip cars for families to safely and comfortably see the country. The ingenious stop/start tech under the hood of the Traverse will, under certain conditions, automatically shut off the engine when the vehicle comes to a stop, at a light, or in a traffic standstill, before restarting on its own when the brake is let up. This feature helps with gas mileage and, dampens the noise while driving the vehicle. The Infotainment system permits audio streaming for 2 active Bluetooth devices (for compatible phones), meaning kids and adults can trade off control of the musical selections during the family road trip, and the enhanced voice recognition will respond to you…even when your kids don’t! Speaking of, learn the car games for kids that even parents love.

2021 Toyota Prius L Ecovia

2021 Toyota Prius L Eco

Making a road trip of any length in a Toyota Prius will be easier on your budget but you will sacrifice space both in the cabin and the trunk. If traveling light, with a small family, the Prius will get you there, whether there may be, and leave more money in your back account for souvenirs, great meals, and exquisite glamping accommodations along the way. Netting a healthy 58/53-miles per gallon for city and highway driving, the L Eco base level model of this famed hybrid electric Toyota road trip legend also includes Toyota Safety Sense 2.0, a backup camera display, smart key system with push-button start, and is a Apple CarPlay and Amazon Alexa compatible. If you’re thinking about renting one, here’s what to know about renting a car for a road trip.

2021 Chevy Suburban Z71via

2021 Chevy Suburban Z71

The Chevy Suburban is not only a staple American family road trip car, it was actually the first family SUV on the market, way back in 1935, a whole year before popular road trip destination Joshua Tree became a recognized National Monument! As we head into the third decade of the 21st-century, the Suburban, which is the longest-running nameplate of any vehicle on the road today, remains one of the best road trip cars because of its massive cargo space capacity (144.7 cubic feet), 355-horsepower V8 engine allowing you to power through the American west or wherever you are traveling, innovative entertainment and connectivity technology (such as Chevy’s new rear seat media system), safety features like nine total camera views for relaxed backing up and easy towing, and the super clever power sliding center console. This last feature allows for hidden storage between the seats by automatically sliding back up to ten inches. Find out 14 unusual car features you didn’t know you might have.

2020 Toyota Land Cruiser Heritage Editionvia

2020 Toyota Land Cruiser Heritage Edition

For over six decades, the Land Cruiser has been the road trip standard-bearer for expertly blending elegant refinement with old-fashion American muscle. Now comes the 2020 Land Cruiser Heritage Edition, one of the best road trip cars that honors the legendary vehicle’s continuous evolution, from bare-bones, mountain-climbing 4×4 to world-renowned, full-capability premium-luxury utility vehicle. Offered only as a two-row model, the Heritage Edition maximizes cargo space and is dressed dapper for any occasion in either Midnight Black Metallic or Blizzard Pearl. Inside, road trippers will find this new edition exclusively outfitted with black leather-trimmed upholstery offset with delicate bronze stitching throughout the cabin on the steering wheel, door trim, center stack, console, and seats. Finally, the Land Cruiser Heritage Edition features all-weather floor mats and cargo liner, so it’s ready for all kinds of good times on the road. No matter which paths your own road trips will traverse, the full-capability 4-wheel drive with advanced chassis control, CRAWL control, and the downhill, off-road turning, and hill start assistance will ensure that you traverse them all in complete comfort and control. Prep your car for winter to keep everyone safe on icy and snowy terrain.


Jeff Bogle
Jeff Bogle is an Iris Award-winning photographer, avid traveler, and English football fanatic who regularly covers travel, culture, cars, health, business, the environment, and more for Reader's Digest. Jeff has also written for Parents Magazine, Esquire, PBS, and Good Housekeeping, among other publications. He is the proud dad of teen daughters. You can follow his adventures on Instagram and Twitter @OWTK.