Summer is here (well... maybe not officially but nobody told that to San Diego weather!) and we've got road trips on the mind. We looked at the 2013 models to determine which make the top 10 summer road trip cars and we think we've got a pretty useful list, if we do say so ourselves. We included vehicles that cater to the fuel efficiency and budget minded folk (road trips can get expensive, after all) but that doesn’t mean we didn't include cars with a little oomph! Besides, what's the point of having a new car if it offers so little fun that you would never consider a road trip in the first place?
Now, we don’t care if you're just visiting relatives in Des Moines or if you decide it’s finally a good time to drive from sea to shining sea on our nation’s glorious potholed highways and byways. After all, you haven’t really lived until you've seen the world’s largest outdoor ball of twine in Cawker City, Kansas. (Yes, it’s really there.)
2013 VW Passat TDI—If you want a truly amazing, interstellar and interstate capable family sedan, look no further than the 2013 VW Passat TDI which can go an amazing 700 miles on a single gas tank thanks to its frugal EPA fuel economy of 43 city/31 highway. Add in limousine-like rear seat space, a trunk that is big enough for the junk of five adults who can’t pack light as well as a smooth, refined and quiet drive and this VW is definitely a smart choice. Prices start at just $26,225 as well for the TDI variant.
2013 Mazda3 SkyActiv—You can buy one for just a little over $20,000 and not only does this economy car promise terrific EPA fuel economy figures, it also really manages to deliver in the real world. A manual transmission Mazda3 SkyActiv we tested for a week returned 39.7 miles per gallon, only .3 off from the 40 mile per gallon EPA highway estimate which few cars ever get anywhere near.
2013 Dodge Charger—One of the last full size sedans to be built in this country, this rear drive family four door actually also manages to look tough and menacing in many of its unique color combinations. You can even get a very rosso red leather interior that the high quality trim pieces somehow manage to help this car pull of nicely. The trunk is large, the rear seat expansive and the car is just a barrel of fun to drive whether you get the new 3.6 liter V6 or the notorious Hemi V8 engine.
2013 Cadillac Escalade Platinum Edition—This is perfect if you are a person like J-Lo who has an entire entourage. Or a whole lot of kids (especially kids who can’t ever agree on anything...). This giant SUV comes with a three screen rear seat DVD entertainment unit that can play three different DVDs at one time with each passenger tuning in via their own headphones. Does anyone remember when they were kids and they had to actually look out the window at the passing scenery?
2013 Volvo S60 T5 AWD—You never know in what road conditions you might run into so if safety is a concern check out the sexy looking and fast (but safe) 2013 Volvo S60 with all-wheel drive. This most basic model comes with a characterful 250 horsepower 5-cylinder engine, a bevy of safety features, top safety ratings as well as the world’s most comfortable seats.
2013 Honda Civic—When Honda launched the 2012 Civic just a year ago people called it a bad car, which was unfair considering it merely suffered from a lack of imagination. But just as quickly as the 2012 Civic was torn apart in the media the 2013 model is being built back up again thanks to Honda’s speedy reaction to criticism. They improved interior quality to class best so trust us when we say the plastics are very soft to touch. Exterior headlamp and tail lamp designs add character but Honda also worked to improve the tightness of the steering, the agility of the handling and made the interior quiet at freeway speeds. What more could you want?
2013 Ford Flex EcoBoost—Want to avoid the dorkiness of a minivan but need that much space and a similar passenger layout? Then look no further than the 2013 Ford Flex Eco Boost which comes with a turbocharged 3.5 liter V6 pumping out over 300 horsepower. Make sure the kids are strapped in tight.
2013 Subaru Forester Turbo XT—Sure, you could always go ahead and buy the plain non-turbocharged Forester compact SUV but if you want to really enjoy your road trip you will most assuredly want the extra thrust and swagger afforded to this utilitarian and highly comfortable SUV when you skip the 2.5 liter 170 horsepower standard motor. Character and fun come courtesy of the optional 2.0 liter 250 horsepower/258 lb. feet of torque “flat” four turbocharged engine whose unique cylindrical design also helps keep handling tidy due to a low overall center of gravity.
2013 Buick Enclave—Now, this is easily the most comfortable three row passenger SUV out there thanks to clever use of space on the inside. This SUV is the perfect length that allows third row passengers to keep their legs. It also lends a newfound sense of upscale luxury that is becoming a Buick trademark.
2013 Audi A6 3.0T Quattro—Sure we could think ridiculously and opt for the nearly $100,000 A8 luxury sedan, which is - admittedly - a work of art (carved out of aluminum body panels that are also insanely expensive to repair should you ever dent your car). Since the roads out there can be hard on your car, especially if you back into a taco truck, we recommend the sublimely sexy and fun to drive 2013 A6 3.0T Quattro four door sedan. Trust us, you will still love it.
Images courtesy of James Hamel.