Top 5 Cars for Summer Trips

By

Automotive Editor

J. Mark Sternberg is an automotive journalist with a passion for cars. He spends his spare time watching Formula 1, boating and brewing beer at home.

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, Automotive Editor - March 18, 2013

Planning a road trip this summer? Maybe you have a large family and need to tow a trailer, or maybe you're seeking a small, easy-to-park vehicle that still excels in cargo and passenger space and fuel efficiency. These five vehicles from five different segments all make great cars with which to tame the open road.

1
Crossover: 2012 Subaru Forester
2012 Subaru Forester

Planning a trip that involves crossing the Rocky Mountains? The all-wheel drive Subaru Forester is a great choice for a family of four on vacation, its usable rear seat allowing enough leg and headroom for adults or teens. Add in 33.5 cubic feet of cargo space behind the rear seat and you'll have plenty of room for your family's gear if you pack carefully. The Forester's 23 combined mpg does not lead the class, but in a comfortable, spacious AWD crossover it's not poor, either. A bargain-basement price helps its cause.


2
Minivan: 2012 Honda Odyssey
2012 Honda Odyssey

The Honda Odyssey may not be the 'coolest' vehicle around, but its winning blend of comfort, utility, a surefooted and comfortable ride, passenger and cargo space, and safety makes it a fine all-around family vehicle. The kids will love the Odyssey's best-in-class rear seat entertainment system, featuring a beautiful 16.2-inch screen and an HDMI input for high-definition video and gaming. Parents will love its outstanding safety features, seating for up to 8 passengers (with optional equipment) and economy at the pump.


3
Large SUV: 2012 Chevrolet Tahoe Hybrid
2012 Chevrolet Tahoe Hybrid

The hybrid Tahoe is a great answer for those who can't get by with a smaller vehicle but still want to save money at the pump. Seating is for a legitimate 8 passengers (just don't put Grandpa in the third-row seat), and cargo capacity is quite generous. With a 6,200-lb. towing capacity, the Tahoe Hybrid is plenty willing for boats or smaller trailers. You'll likely see 30-40% better fuel efficiency than with a conventional gasoline large SUV. The only downside is the rather high base price.


4
Sedan: 2012 Toyota Camry
2012 Chevrolet Tahoe Hybrid

There are many virtues that cause the Camry to be the nation's best-selling car year after year. Its softly sprung, supple ride may not win over sports car enthusiasts, but it makes eating up hundreds of highway miles just that much more comfortable. The Camry also has enough passenger space in the back for taller adults, and a usable trunk. Among non-hybrids, its 28 combined mpg rating is outstanding. You could also buy two for the price of a Tahoe Hybrid, with money left over.


5
Compact Car: 2012 Ford Focus
2012 Ford Focus

One of many quality choices for compact cars, the Focus is a favorite around here thanks to its great gas mileage, look-at-me styling and outstanding suite of interior technology. The hatchback can carry more of your stuff, so keep cargo space in mind when choosing a body style. The optional SYNC with MyFord Touch package excels at entertainment and getting you to your destination. Smaller families with younger children just don't need a big SUV or crossover, and the Focus is a great alternative costing thousands less.


, Automotive Editor

J. Mark Sternberg is an automotive journalist with a passion for cars. He spends his spare time watching Formula 1, boating and brewing beer at home.

Follow On: Twitter | Google+ | Website