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The 16 Best Road Trip Cars

Having a bevy of delicious snacks is essential and of course the destinations are important, but driving one of the best road trip cars is what will make the journey truly amazing.  

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Aerial view of a red car driving in a snowy wilderness landscapeVia Kia.com

Hit the open road

While the vaccinated among us can once again fly to certain exotic foreign destinations, the allure of the American road trip remains strong! In fact, there has never been a better time to plan road trips to see, do, and drive to all the best sights and cities scattered around the continental United States. Here are the 16 best road trip cars for 2021, 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. Consult our road trip planner, learning how to save money on gas, fill up the tank (or plug in for a full charge), pack your bags, and go!

2022 Ford Bronco Sport

2022 Ford Bronco SportVia Ford.com

Lovingly known as the Baby Bronco, the 2022 Bronco Sport is a compact crossover based on the Ford Escape that is off-road-capable should you want to make your own trails on your next road trip. The “fun size” 2022 Bronco Sport is smaller than the standard Bronco and uses an independent rear suspension instead of the Bronco’s truck-like live rear axle. This edition of Ford’s famous nameplate is a best of both worlds road trip ride, providing you with smooth and quiet passage on paved portions of America and pleasurable power when the tires are traversing dirt, rocks, mud, and more. And all the while, you’ll feel safe thanks to all trims of the 2022 Bronco Sport featuring Ford’s Co-Pilot360 suite with automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, lane keep assist, blind-spot monitoring, and rear cross-traffic alert. Find out the best cars to rent for a road trip.

2022 BMW M440i Convertible

2022 Bmw M440i ConvertibleVia Bmwusa.com (2)

For the romance of seeing the country with the wind ripping through your hair, and with the power and prestige of a BMW, the 382 horsepower BMW M TwinPower Turbo inline 6-cylinder engine that includes 48V mild-hybrid technology of the 2022 M440i convertible is your dream road trip car. It’s a powerful fun ride that hugs the road and is comfortable to boot. Imagine the Pacific Coast Highway from the leather seats and weaving through the Redwood Forests or picture yourself in this M440i convertible BMW on a Florida Keys road trip from the fashionable Wynwood neighborhood in Miami.

2022 Land Rover Discovery

2022 Land Rover DiscoveryVia Landroverusa.com

Having gone through a major refresh last year, this fifth-generation 7-seat family SUV from Land Rover delivers everything you need and most of what you dream of when road tripping with your favorite people: style, comfort, luxury, and space for all of your gear. The Discovery is the second-largest ride in Land Rover’s refined fleet and provides a spacious interior to go along with that classic rugged yet elegant look from the outside. One of the things that set the 2022 Discovery apart is the way it handles, like that of a smaller vehicle, with nimble responsiveness to anything the road will throw at you, and better than expected gas mileage at 22 mpg highway. Eight-speed automatic transmissions and 4WD are standard, as is the legendary Land Rover opulence.

2021 Volkswagen ID.4

2021 Volkswagen Id.4Via VW.com

The winner of the 2021 World Car of the Year is ready to transform how you think about electric cars because with an EPA Estimated Range of 260 miles while taking only ten minutes to fuel up for 62 more miles at a public DC fast charger (and comes with three years of free DC charging at Electrify America), the ID.4 Pro can take you and your crew far and recharge quickly to keep the adventure rolling. Plus, the spacious cabin and slick design inside and out make driving this VW EV fun and photogenic. Additionally, the up to $7,500 tax credit for reserving and buying an ID.4 could single-handedly fund your next few road trips in the electric vehicle. If you’re thinking about renting one, here’s what to know about renting a car for a road trip.

2022 Toyota Highlander Hybrid Bronze Edition

2022 Toyota Highlander Hybrid Bronze EditionVia Pressroom.toyota.com

With height/tilt power passenger seat adjustments, the visually stunning Toyota Highlander Hybrid Bronze Edition offers road trippers a glimpse into new offerings for the 2022 Highlander in general. Finally, the front passenger can enjoy the luxury of power seat tweaks while driving across country in style. Also standard with the eye-poppingly beautiful Bronze Edition of this Hybrid SUV carrying a manufacturer-estimated 36 combined MPG rating are luxurious small details that will make any journey better like: a hands-free power liftgate, rain-sensing wipers, in-dash ambient lighting, driver seat memory with ten-way power seat, and a digital rearview mirror. Because the Highlander’s battery pack is so small, it sits under the rear seats so as not to occupy a single inch of that precious cargo or passenger space. This means Highlander Hybrid drivers get all the benefits of a capable hybrid powertrain without sacrificing much-needed cargo room for everyday activities and road trip overpacking! Finally, the 2022 Highlander Hybrid Bronze Edition combines a high-efficiency 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine with two electric motors, meaning you will have the fuel efficiency to drive far with the power to go anywhere—like a cross-country Route 66 road trip perhaps?

2022 Kia Seltos LX

2022 Kia Seltos LXVia Kia.com

Seltos has been out for a couple of years now but Kia’s newest SUV still has that new car smell! The Seltos LX 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 Seltos 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 2022 Kia Seltos LX is impressive and one of the best road trip cars of 2021 because, for an entry-level SUV equipped with AWD and 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.

2022 Toyota Sequoia TRD Pro

2022 Toyota Sequoia Trd ProVia Toyota.com

For over six decades, the Land Cruiser has been the road trip standard-bearer for expertly blending elegant refinement with old-fashion American muscle. Sadly, this legendary model will no longer be available in the United States. This provides the perfect opportunity to shift focus to the 2022 Sequoia, a less expensive road trip monster with more cargo capacity and comfort, towing capacity up to 7400 pounds, FOX high-performance shocks, and a hick aluminum skid plate allowing you to plan a driving route with no boundaries or limits. For the road trip when you need to haul a lot of people and even more stuff (like your boat or Airstream trailer), there may not be a better-equipped road trip car than this beautiful beast from Toyota, especially for exploring the country in the snow! Prep your car for winter to keep everyone safe on icy and snowy terrain.

2021 Mazda CX-9 Signature

2021 Mazda Cx 9 SignatureVia Mazdausa.com

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 2021 in the Signature trim. Before you hit the road during the pandemic, here’s what you should know about taking a road trip.

2022 Chevy Bolt EV 1LT

2022 Chevy Bolt Ev 1LTVia Chevrolet.com

The newest Bolt is a fun-to-drive electric vehicle capable of taking you nearly 260 miles on a full charge, at a price starting at $31,000, with 36 inches of rear leg room, and gives you 0-to-60 performance in just 6.5 seconds. If your journey involves roughly five hours of driving per day and no one has overpacked, the Bolt EV is the eco and economic-friendly car choice. And thanks to Chevrolet covering standard home installation of a Level 2 charging outlet for eligible customers who purchase or lease a 2022 Bolt EUV or Bolt EV and a network of over 40,000 public charging stations easily searchable via a smartphone app, Chevrolet gives you the tools to enjoy an electric road trip experience devoid of range anxiety.

For young drivers, the Chevy Bolt EV 1LT 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.

2022 Toyota Prius L Eco

2022 Toyota Prius L EcoVia Toyota.com

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, wherever there may be, and leave more money in your back account for souvenirs, memorable meals, and photogenic glamping accommodations along the way. Netting a generous 58/53-miles per gallon for city and highway driving and 5 seats, the 2022 edition L Eco base level model of this famed hybrid electric Toyota road trip legend also includes Toyota Safety Sense 2.0, Hill Start Assist Control, a backup camera display, smart key system with push-button start, and is Apple CarPlay and Amazon Alexa compatible.

2022 Honda Odyssey

2022 Honda OdysseyVia Automobiles.honda.com

The 2020 iteration of this palatial road trip palace was named the best minivan for families by U.S. News and World Report. Two years later and the ’22 model year Honda 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 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 but when all else fails, turn on some Taylor Swift or Olivia Rodrigo and let the Odyssey’s premium audio system and 11 speakers make all the bickering from the back seat go away!

2021 Toyota RAV4 Prime XSE

2021 Toyota Rav4 Prime XSEVia Toyota.com

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 if not, you’ll soon start! These are the apps to download as you plan your next road trip.

2022 Kia Stinger

2022 Kia StingerVia Kia.com

Kia changed more than its logo this year! With a new 300 horsepower, 2.5L turbocharged engine, the Stinger GT-Line has been revamped inside and out for its 2022 model year. 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 2022 Kia Stinger is gorgeous and one of the best road trip cars for 2021 and beyond. With the Sun and Sound package, this sports sedan is outfitted with 720-watt Harman Kardon QuantumLogic Surround Sound System including a grand total of 15 speakers, heated leather front seats, power adjustable passenger seat, and an extra wide sunroof. For when you want a break from blasting Dua Lipa, 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.

2022 Range Rover Westminster Edition

2022 Range Rover Westminster EditionVia Landroverusa.com

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 2022 Range Rover is one of the best road trip cars for 2021 and beyond because of a sliding panoramic roof, front console refrigerator, 20-way heated and cooled front seats, power recline heated rear seats, soft door close, 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 ($103,500) 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.

2021 Jeep Gladiator Rubicon

2021 Jeep Gladiator RubiconVia Jeep.com

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 the 2021 Jeep Gladiator can be configured doorless and roofless, can haul and tow more than a Wrangler, and just looks so incredibly cool on road and off! The 2021 Jeep Gladiator finally brings back the cargo bed Jeep addicts haven’t seen since the early ’90s, with a 7760-pound towing capacity, and now a diesel engine option to give road trippers more fuel economy while having epic adventures. Start planning for a Jeep Gladiator romp through the snow because the 2021 Rubicon will be a beast during one of these epic winter road trips.

2022 Hyundai Elantra

2022 Hyundai ElantraVia Hyundaiusa.com

Starting at under 20k, with up to 43 miles per gallon on the highway and boasting over 200 horsepower, the all-new 2022 Hyundai Elantra is the 2021 North American Car of the Year. And it is also a road trip gem thanks to standard adaptive cruise control, allowing your vehicle to manage the slowing and going on America’s crowded highways. Intelligent innovations in the ’22 Elantra include the largest available touchscreen in its class (10.25 inches), Apple CarPlay or Android Auto capable, and wireless device charging which helpfully reduces the number of cords and cables cluttering up the car while on your road trip vacation.

2022 Toyota Corolla Cross LE

2022 Toyota Corolla Cross LEVia Toyota.com

Toyota’s newest vehicle is an ergonomically-friendly, entry-level SUV iteration of the tried and very trusted Corolla (the 500 millionth of which was sold this past July)! The Corolla Cross offers the best of sedan driving with SUV capacity and fits snuggly in the Toyota lineup between the C-HR and RAV4. The LE trim has everything you will need to live the road trip life in style. Mixing value with versatility is what this all new Corolla will use as its calling card because there’s plenty of cargo space (26.5 cubic feet) for the overpacker of your family and it delivers 30 to 32 MPG—making this an extremely fuel-efficient crossover SUV. Additionally, there’s wireless charging up front and plenty of USB ports (3 total, with a Type A and C in the backseat), rear HVAC vents to keep your kids or besties cool/toasty depending on the season, automatic high beams, and adaptive cruise control, and of course Toyota Safety Sense is standard. That gives you lane assist, blind spot monitor with rear cross traffic alert, and a pre-collision warning with pedestrian and cyclist alert.

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.

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