The Ultimate Guide to the Best Road Trip Vehicles for Smooth Sailing

Kristin Shaw Avatar
Front view of a yellow Genesis GV60 automobile in front of trees.
Genesis GV60. Photo credit: Kristin Shaw

When you’re choosing a vehicle that works well for everyday errands and spectacular road trips across America, there’s a lot to consider. What are your priorities: one that offers plenty of room to stretch out? Luxury interiors? Fuel economy or electric power?

While SUVs and minivans tend to get all the love when it comes to road-tripping vehicles, a well-appointed sedan for a family of four can be divine, or a pickup truck is great for keeping all of the sandy accouterments out of the cabin on a beach trip.

These are our top picks:

  • Volvo XC60 Recharge plug-in hybrid 
  • Kia EV9 3-row all-electric SUV
  • Nissan Pathfinder with 16 cupholders!
  • Honda Odyssey Touring model minivan with rear-seat entertainment system
  • Chevy Silverado High Country Pickup Truck
  • Rolls-Royce Cullinan – yes, it’s $350,000, so shouldn’t it be on everyone’s list of favorites?

Read on to learn more about each of those along with other great road trip vehicles currently on the market.

How We Chose the Top Road Trip Vehicles

We chose our list with a focus on legroom, headroom, fuel economy and road-trip-friendly technology.

All these vehicles are available with adaptive cruise control, which reduces fatigue on the highway, and some even come with features that allow you to take your hands off the wheel for short periods of time while the vehicle stays on track.

Just remember there is no such thing as a self-driving car as of 2024, so keep your eyes on the road!

Our community of committed travelers wants you! Sign up here!

Going Electric

Genesis GV60

If you have never driven a Genesis, head to a dealership and check it out. This brand has been absolutely slaying it on the design side, with beautiful looks inside and out. Plus, this particular SUV is all-electric, and it charges up fast while on the road – Genesis says it can recoup range up to 80 percent in 18 minutes if you’re using a DC fast charger.

My favorite feature, though, is the unique Crystal Sphere that rotates to reveal the gear shifter when you turn it on. While that may seem unnecessary, it’s a beautiful way to alert the driver that the car is on and ready to drive.

“The facial recognition and fingerprint technology keep all your user profile settings intact — radio stations, HVAC, seat position etc., and make it so easy to switch back and forth between drivers!” says mom-of-one and Edmunds Creative Services Project Manager Carrie Kim. “It’s roomy and stylish, too.”

Base Price: $53,350 and up

Read More: 12 Iconic Road Trips in the USA to Add to Your Family’s Bucket List This Year

Front corner view of a blue Kia EV9 automobile in front of stucco residences.
Kia EV9. Photo credit: Kristin Shaw

Kia EV9

All-electric three-row SUVs are a rare breed, and Kia has managed to harness its EV success into this boxy, roomy model. The EV9 – especially in the striking Ocean Blue Gloss finish – is a handsome SUV on the outside and exudes modern style on the inside.

Available with one motor or two and five different trim levels, the EV9 is at its best as the Land version. An EV9 Land comes with 304 miles of range and can charge up from 10 percent to 80 percent in about 24 minutes. That’s enough time for a rest stop with a bathroom break for the whole family and maybe an ice cream treat. But even the base model comes with heated and ventilated front seats and USB ports in the first and second row, which is not shabby at all.

Base Price: $54,900 and up

View from the rear of a silver Rivian R1S automobile driving on a mountain road.
Rivian R1S. Photo courtesy of Rivian

Rivian R1S

Upstart Rivian has built only electric vehicles since its inception more than a decade ago, and its SUV and truck options are high quality. If you’re the adventurous sort, the R1T pickup and R1S SUV are both wildly capable off-road, and every vehicle is equipped with a plethora of tech features.

The R1S is available with a menu of range options from 260 miles to 400 miles, depending on your budget. Heated seats and steering wheel are standard amenities, and the SUV comes with a suite of driver-assist technologies like blind-spot warning with cross-traffic alert and a surround-view camera setup.

Base Price: $79,800 and up

Mid-Size SUVs

Side view of a white Kia Telluride automobile parked in front of a stone house.
Kia Telluride. Photo credit: Kristin Shaw

Kia Telluride

Kia’s newest midsize SUV took the industry by storm, earning positive reviews across the board for this three-row family star. Offering seating for seven or eight and a robust V6 engine, the Telluride has earned a spot on this list. It also includes standard safety features you’ll appreciate, like adaptive cruise control and blind-spot monitoring.

You’ll also get six USB ports to keep your electronics-loving passengers happy, smartphone integration and a 12.3-inch touchscreen — all critical components for a great family road trip vehicle. Upgrade from the base model to the S trim to get captain’s chairs in the middle row, wireless charging, and a sunroof.

Base Price: $37,355 and up

Front corner view of a brown Huyndai Sante Fe automobile, driving on a desert road.
Hyundai Santa Fe. Photo credit: Kristin Shaw

Hyundai Santa Fe

Hyundai radically redesigned the Santa Fe for 2025, all for the better. The Santa Fe looks brawnier and more capable in its new format, and it comes in five different trims. With seating for six or seven, the Santa Fe can comfortably accommodate larger families, it’s even better for families of four or five, using that extra seating for cargo.

The new Santa Fe comes with a sterilizing UV light in the glovebox that kills germs on things like smartphones, earpods, and headphones.

“I’d say the Hyundai Santa Fe comes out on top. We’ve owned two and we’re about ready to buy a third,” says Jill Robbins from Ripped Jeans and Bifocals. “We most recently had a 2019 Ultimate Limited, which had a third row. Although we didn’t use the third row for people – hardly ever – we did like the larger rear space that gave us for gear. It was easy to talk to the people in the back seat. As a driver or front seat passenger, I neither felt like the second-row passengers were on top of me or too far away. The seats were comfortable and as a tall driver, I felt like I had plenty of room and I didn’t feel squished, even on long driving days.”

And here’s a benefit that comes with any Hyundai or Kia vehicle: 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty and five-year/unlimited mileage roadside assistance.

Base Price: $35,345 and up

Side view of a black Volvo XC60 automobile, parked behind a field of bluebonnet flowers.
Volvo XC60. Photo credit: Kristin Shaw

Volvo XC60

When you think of Volvo, safety probably comes to mind because that’s a cornerstone of the brand’s messaging. Volvo takes family and safety very seriously, including standard features like adaptive cruise control, rear cross-traffic alert (which is so important when watching out for pedestrians, cars and cyclists behind you), and forward collision mitigation. Plus, the structure of the vehicle itself is designed for maximum protection in case of a crash.

We highly recommend the XC60 Recharge plug-in hybrid model, which gives you 32 miles of electric-only driving that you can use for errands around town. On road trips, you’ll appreciate that you can go nearly 400 miles between fill-ups, meaning fewer stops at the gas station. That’s a big win. All five seats in this vehicle are incredibly comfortable and the wool upholstery option is gorgeous.

Base Price: $54,676 and up

Rear corner view of a white GMC Acadia automobile parked in front of a lake.
GMC Acadia. Photo courtesy of GMC

GMC Acadia

The three-row SUV from GMC checks all the boxes: lots of legroom, smart tech, and a more efficient drivetrain. Redesigned for 2024, the Acadia is a great alternative to the truck-based Chevrolet Suburban or GMC Yukon, which are larger but also more difficult to park. Small and large storage is plentiful in the Acadia, including generous cubbies and cupholders.

Acadia’s newest version offers nearly 80 percent more cargo space behind the third row and more than 36 percent more behind the second row, GMC says, which means lots of room for you and your gear. Campers, you’re going to love the AT4 trim, which also adds tow hooks (max capacity of 5,000 pounds) and more off-roading capability. We highly recommend the Denali trim at the top of the line. Yes, it’s more expensive at closer to $56,000, but it has all the bells and whistles plus some: panoramic sunroof, adaptive cruise control, and Bose audio with noise cancelling technology. It’s tempting to plan a long road trip and enjoy the ride.

Base Price: $43,995

Front corner view of a Nissan Pathfinder automobile parked in front of trees and a brick building.
Nissan Pathfinder. Photo credit: Kristin Shaw

Nissan Pathfinder

Nissan’s Pathfinder offers a stunning array of amenities in a three-row, seven-or-eight passenger SUV. Wider and larger than the previous generation with 80.4 cubic feet of storage available with the second and third-row seats folded, the new Pathfinder is a great road trip choice. It’s powered by a 3.5-liter V6 engine, creating 284 horsepower and 259 pound-feet of torque; that’s plenty of get-up-and-go.

The Pathfinder has 16 cupholders, which is a whole lot of beverage holding and likely will mean a whole lot of potty stops on a trip in this family vehicle! It even has a bin in the back that can act as a cooler with a drain plug, which is awesome for camping and tailgating.

Base Price: $37,470

Side view of a white Toyota Grand Highlander automobile parked on a dirt bluff under a blue sky.
Toyota Grand Highlander. Photo courtesy of Toyota

Toyota Grand Highlander

We tested a Grand Highlander in Kona, Hawaii last spring and found it to be comfortable, capable, and an overall lovely experience. Technology features are generously applied, including Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and Amazon Alexa smartphone integration as well as onboard Wi-Fi hotspot and standard Toyota Safety Sense drivers’ aids.

Parents, know that the second-row seats move forward and backward quite easily, making it simple and hassle-free to add a car seat or booster seat. With 20.6 cubic feet of space behind the third row, a stroller will fit nicely along with toys, diaper bags, and even a pack-and-play.

You can buy a Grand Highlander in three different trims. In terms of fuel economy, an AWD Highlander will net 22 miles per gallon and the hybrid a fuel-sipping 36 miles per gallon combined.

Base Price: $44,164

Front corner view of a dark red Mazda CX-90 automobile parked in front of modern building with glass windows.
Mazda CX-90. Photo credit: Kristin Shaw

Mazda CX-90

Mazda’s CX-90 looks and feels more like a wagon than an SUV in the best ways. Available with a turbocharged 2.5-liter engine plug-in hybrid (with 26 miles of all-electric range) or turbocharged 3.3-liter six-cylinder engine or boosted Turbo S options, there’s something for everyone here.

Tri-zone climate control is standard, so all three rows can be comfortable. Adaptive cruise control, forward collision mitigation and blind-spot monitoring are also standard. Go for the whole package with the Premium Plus trim, which offers up cushy premium heated/ventilated leather seats, second-row captain’s chairs, and a 12-speaker Bose audio system.

“My go-to road trip vehicle is the Mazda CX-90,” says Amelia Dalgaard of Motorhead Mama. “Comfortable, smooth, fun to drive and fuel efficient, the CX-90 has just enough technology to keep you distraction free but also plenty to keep you entertained. On top of all of that, it’s beautiful and feels luxurious without the hefty price tag.”

Base Price: $39,300

Front corner view of a red Honda Pilot automobile parked on gravel in front of trees.
Honda Pilot. Photo credit: Kristin Shaw

Honda Pilot

You can’t go wrong with a Honda for a comfortable vehicle for a road trip. Its three-row Pilot is our favorite, available in six different trims, all powered by a 285-hp 3.5-liter V6 engine. Even the base model is well-equipped with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, tri-zone climate control, heated front seats, remote start, and soothing ambient lighting.

Work your way up the trim line for tons of options for excellent value: heated leather seats, a sunroof, rear USB ports and a power liftgate to make it easy to pack and unpack. The TrailSport version is best for those who love camping and overlanding, with skid plates to protect the underside and recovery hooks, and the top-trim Black Edition is dressed to the nines and even includes a household-style outlet in the back.

Base Price: $41,295


Rear corner view of a teal Chrysler Pacifica minivan parked on concrete with city skyscrapers in the distance behind it.
Chrysler Pacifica. Photo courtesy of Chrysler

Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid

Minivans are designed for comfort and convenience, and Chrysler gets it right with the Pacifica, a perennial favorite. While you can buy a Pacific with a gas-only powertrain, we like the hybrid version for its road-trip fuel economy. You’ll get up to 33 miles on all-electric power before it kicks in with the gas engine.

This van is as comfortable as a recliner on wheels for long drives. The base price on the 2024 Pacifica includes such niceties as remote engine start; a power liftgate and side doors; and climate control in three zones to make everyone happy.  In the top-of-the-line Pinnacle trim, you’ll get a built-in vacuum to suck up cracker crumbs and a 20-speaker Harman Kardon premium audio system along with a very cool theater setup and a “fam cam” that allows you to make sure the kids are behaving in the back.

SheBuysTravel Tip: With the hybrid version, the second-row seats can’t fold into the floor (as they do with the gas-only Pacifica) because that’s where the battery sits.

Base Price: $40,995 and up

Front corner view of a silver Honda Odyssey minivan parked on a street in front of buildings and trees.
Honda Odyssey. Photo courtesy of Honda

Honda Odyssey

Honda also makes a stellar minivan that will last nearly forever; the reliability is stellar. The Odyssey is extremely comfortable and a great value. We particularly like the deep cargo wells behind the third row, perfect for stowing beach gear or even extra diapers and wipes for a long vacation.

Even in the base model, you’ll get important driver-assist features like adaptive cruise control, along with a standard rear-seat reminder alert that tells you if you left anything or anyone in the car when you park.

Opting for the Touring model adds about $7,000 to the total. But that includes a rear-seat entertainment system with a 10.2-inch screen and Blu-Ray player as well. Plus, there’s a cabin monitoring system so you can check and see if the little one is sleeping yet and a cabin intercom system to hear passengers in the back. With 144.9 cubic feet of cargo space, you have plenty of room to hit the open road!

Base Price: $39,635

Full-Size Three-Row SUVs

Side view of an orange Toyota Sequoia SUV parked in front of a theater with a marquee reading, "Abilene Philharmonic Presents Vino with the Maestro, Thurs Mar 14 730pm"
Toyota Sequoia. Photo credit: Kristin Shaw

Toyota Sequoia

Now properly updated and resembling its big-sibling truck, the Toyota Tundra, the Sequoia has a fanbase of its own. This gentle giant boasts comfortable seats, cool exterior colors (like Terra and Blueprint), and even a sunroof at base level.

Fitted with a hybrid V6 powertrain, the Sequioa can tow an impressive 9,000 pounds, when properly equipped. You could easily load up a trailer carrying watercraft and head to Florida for a beach vacation or grab a few snowmobiles and head up into the mountains to commune with the green, blue, and black ski runs. It’s a super rugged SUV that can handle a variety of terrains from West Texas to the streets of Boston.

Check out the Capstone trim, the Sequoia’s most modern and luxurious option, and you’ll be convinced that this Toyota SUV can be tough and beautiful.

Base Price: $63,125

Front corner view of a white Jeep Grand Wagoneer SUV parked in front of trees and homes.
Grand Wagoneer. Photo credit: Kristin Shaw

Jeep Grand Wagoneer

Three rows of bold design and guest-focused technology are hallmarks of the luxurious Grand Wagoneer. Powered by a 3.0-liter turbocharged inline six-cylinder engine making a stout 510 horsepower, the Grand Wagoneer is lighter on its feet than it looks with its bulky, yet sleek frame. There are numerous USB ports located throughout the SUV, and kids of all ages will love the entertainment package, which adds touchscreens to the second row.

“The Grand Wagoneer is so ridiculously over the top with its features and comfort, has room for the whole family, and can handle some off-road adventuring if you’re daring enough to do that in a car this pricey,” says New Hampshire-based journalist Nicole Wakelin. “I love this car and for a road trip, it’s absolutely traveling in style.”

Base Price: $93,445

Front corner view of a white GMC Yukon SUV parked in front of a building with graffiti on a brick wall reading, "Wash ya hands ha filthy animal!"
GMC Yukon. Photo credit: Kristin Shaw

GMC Yukon

If you could take an RV and distill it down to a large SUV, the Yukon would be it. The newest Yukon is spectacular inside, with a console in the front that moves several inches back. It can be locked to secure your items while you’re away from your SUV. Big, brawny and long (especially in the XL version), this family road trip vehicle is like driving a living room around.

Standard features include wireless Apple CarPlay and wireless Android Auto, forward collision mitigation and front-wheel drive. But there are a plethora of options including all-wheel drive, an upgraded towing package, rear entertainment system and a ton more.

Base Price: $60,195

Front corner view of a white Dodge Durango SRT minivan parked in front of trees.
Dodge Durango SRT. Photo credit: Kristin Shaw

Dodge Durango SRT

I took a Dodge Durango SRT to pick up a 33-foot trailer my family rented for the weekend from RVShare, and the owner looked at me skeptically. “You’re going to tow with that Durango?” he said. What he didn’t know was that the Durango SRT has a killer towing capacity of 8,700 pounds. I had no problem towing that trailer.

The four of us took it to a campground in northern Michigan and it was incredibly capable. Now, you should know that it’s loud: it has a take-no-prisoners 6.4-liter V8 that roars. Or you could step it up to the SRT Hellcat with a supercharged V8 that makes 710 horsepower. This is the SUV you want for sheer power and driving fun. Basically, it’s a muscle car that has pumped up to superhero level.

Base Price: $76,590

Road Trip Vehicles for the Off-Road Adventurers

Front corner view of a green Ford Bronco SUV parked on gravel and grass with mountains in the background.
Ford Bronco. Photo courtesy of Ford

Ford Bronco

There aren’t many vehicles that generated the kind of hype the new Ford Bronco did in 2021. Offered in various configurations and trims, the Bronco can be anything to anyone, and that’s one of the key advantages of this adventure vehicle.

You can get a Bronco with a soft top or hard top, depending on whether you want a two- or four-door SUV. Wireless smartphone connectivity is standard, along with a robust 12-inch touchscreen. Tow hooks and a 300-horsepower engine are also standard.

Where the Bronco really shines is in natural settings: picture a trip to Sedona, Arizona, with the red rocks as a backdrop for your adventures. Or Baja, California, or Moab, Utah. The Bronco craves action, and it’s blatantly clear that this SUV belongs away from the city. It’s the ultimate road trip SUV for those who like to get away from it all.

Base Price: $41,525

Side corner view of a red Jeep Grand Cherokee Summit SUV parked in front of desert hills.
Jeep Grand Cherokee Summit. Photo credit: Kim Orlando

Jeep Grand Cherokee Summit

SheBuysTravel founder Kim Orlando had the opportunity to test out the Jeep Grand Cherokee Summit. Here’s what she had to say:

“Say cheese, because the seven-seat Jeep Grand Cherokee Summit is loaded with cameras. Parents will appreciate the ‘fam cam’ that gives the driver a birds’-eye view of everyone in the vehicle. If there is nit-picking going on in the backseat, you’ll be able to see who started it. It’s also helpful to keep an eye on rear-facing younger children. However, teens might not be as fond of this feature.

The Night Vision Camera was fun to play with and a first for me. Infrared sensors detect animals or people up to 200 yards away, making it easier to avoid deer or other wildlife that wander onto roads. But after a few minutes, I found it distracting and turned it off to better focus on the road ahead.

The 360 back-up camera shows all angles of the Jeep, which I found very helpful when pulling out of tight parking spots. It’s also useful when having to parallel park such a large vehicle.

Riding in the Jeep Grand Cherokee Summit is a pleasure. The spacious interior of my tester vehicle was gorgeous, with quilted leather on the doors and dash, a wide console for storage and the perfect height to rest an elbow. There’s no skimping on charging ports and legroom- even in the third row. My music-loving adult daughter commented on the amazing sound system. A family of five could comfortably road-trip for 12+ hours in this vehicle.”

Base Price (for this trim): $66,255 and up

Front corner view of a black Land Rover Defender SUV parked in front of evergreen trees.
Land Rover Defender. Photo credit: Kristin Shaw

Land Rover Defender

Legendary for its off-roading prowess, the Land Rover Defender comes in two-door and four-door versions, and you can even opt for a third row. If you wanted to go on safari or even just off the trail to commune with nature, the Defender can definitely get you there; it’s capable and tough.

My family took the Defender on a two-week trip starting in Portland, Oregon and up into the Gifford-Pinchot National Forest. There, we tackled snowy roads, hills, rocks, and bumpy county roads and the Defender didn’t even flinch. We loved the swing-out rear door that allowed us access to the entire back of the SUV and easy loading. Our fishing waders and cooler were easily within reach, and everything organized nicely into the cube-shaped back end.

Base Price: $57,875

Front corner view of a beige Subaru Forester vehicle parked on grass under a large tree.
Subaru Forester. Photo courtesy of Subaru

Subaru Forester

What is amazing about the Subaru Outback is that it looks unassuming. But it is incredibly capable for any adventure you want to take.

It climbs like a mountain goat if your family likes to hit the mountains for some rest and relaxation, and it’s just as comfortable on the road with a continuously variable transmission that clocks 29 miles per gallon. And the hatchback design and wagon shape make it a simple to load it up. Plus roof racks add even more storage capability.

“I’m a huge fan of vehicles with ‘marriage saving features’ –  I’m always cold, my husband is hot. I’m short, my husband is not. I have an iPhone, my husband is Android all the way. So, I always look for memory seat settings, multiple USB charge ports, heated-and-cooled seats, heated steering wheel and (this is the kicker) dual automatic climate control,” says car reviewer, journalist, and YouTuber Jill Ciminillo. “Wireless Apple CarPlay is also a bonus because then we don’t argue about directions with Waze smoothing the way between us. Right now, my top road-trip pick is going to be the 2025 Subaru Forester in the Touring trim because it has all the things that will keep me and my husband speaking to each other at the end of the drive.”

Base Price: $28,440

Side view of a silver Lexus GX parked in front of an office building and behind pink flowers and bluebonnets.
Lexus GX. Photo credit: Kristin Shaw

Lexus GX

Luxury brand Lexus gave its GX SUV a glow-up for 2024 with a new face, a more efficient engine, and a refreshed infotainment system. All major improvements that make the GX a stellar road trip vehicle that seats up to seven, whether you take the highway or head off the asphalt path.

As seems to be the trend for SUVs right now, the GX is boxier than it was before, and narrower in the hips. Storage options are plentiful and configurable, and there are six different trims to please just about everyone. This SUV is ready to take on some heavy-duty towing as well with an 8,000-pound tow rating.

There are six USB ports scattered throughout the GX, making charging multiple devices at once a breeze. The front seats are heated and ventilated as standard,  and a sunroof, running boards, and a power liftgate are also included from the start.

Base Price: $64,250

Luxury Mode

Side corner view of a red Audi Q7 vehicle parked on a road in front of a wooden fence and trees.
Audi Q7. Photo credit: Kristin Shaw

Audi Q7

One of the most luxurious, plush, and high-tech SUVs on the market, the Audi Q7 is a delight for short and long trips. It’s Audi’s largest SUV and the only one with three rows in the lineup, and seating is spacious. If you regularly travel with multiple generations at once, opt for the available air suspension, which lowers and raises the SUV with the push of a button to make it easier to get in and out. This is also a smart vehicle for large families with small children, as both the second and third row of seating can accommodate car seats.

A panoramic sunroof is standard with the purchase of a Q7, along with heated front seats, a power-folding third row, power liftgate, wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and more.

Base Price: $60,695

Side corner view of a black BMW X5 vehicle driving by desert hills.
BMW X5. Photo courtesy of BMW

BMW X5 xDrive50e

This hybrid SUV makes you feel like a million bucks but doesn’t cost nearly that much. I didn’t realize how much I liked this vehicle until I had a chance to borrow one for a week and drove it all over Texas.

With a 3.0-liter turbo six-cylinder with an integrated electric motor and intelligent all-wheel drive, the X5 xDrive50e (so much alphabet soup!) generates 483 horsepower and has an estimated range of 400 miles, including 40-plus on electric power alone. That’s pretty incredible, especially for a luxury vehicle. It merges comfortably onto the highway with plenty of get up and go, too.

The BMW has great touches like convenient fast-charging ports in front of the second row and a super sleek digital interface. Doesn’t hurt to add a brilliant-sounding 16-speaker Harman Kardon sound system, either. Wow.

Base Price: $74,095

Side corner view of a blue Mercedes-Benz GLE vehicle parked on on a gravel drive just off a road, with trees behind.
Mercedes-Benz GLE. Photo credit: Kristin Shaw

Mercedes-Benz GLE 450e

There’s no doubt that Mercedes-Benz makes luxurious vehicles, and the GLE 450e is no exception. Included in this SUV is 381-hp hybrid engine setup that’s good for about 60 all-electric miles before it leans on its gas engine. The list of niceties from the get-go is long, including ambient lighting, wireless device charging, sunroof, and a massive 12.3-inch touchscreen.

This gorgeous ride was made for resort living on wheels. You can even pull your RV with this vehicle, which is rated for up to 7,700 pounds, when properly equipped. You’ll enjoy every mile in this beauty, too.

Base Price: $70,650

Side corner view of a silver Acura MDX vehicle driving with foggy mountains behind.
Acura MDX. Photo courtesy of Acura

Acura MDX

I spent a weekend in this vehicle during Monterey Car Week with a driver shuttling me around from event to event, so I can attest to the comfort of this three-row SUV as a passenger. Equipped with a 290-horsepower engine, the MDX has no problem merging and passing on the highway and the drive is wonderfully even and smooth.

Some of my favorite features on the MDX include the reclining and sliding second-row seats, 12.3-inch touchscreen display, wireless charging pad, and heated front seats. The third row, like most other SUVs this size, is best for smaller children versus adult-sized people, or you can fold it down and expand your cargo space.

Base Price: $51,500

Side view of a beige Bentley Bentayga vehicle parked in front of a modern home and trees.
Bentley Bentayga. Photo credit: Kristin Shaw

Bentley Bentayga (Extended Wheelbase Version)

As is the case with other ultra-luxury brands, Bentley is finding that its customers are thrilled to have an SUV in the lineup. This is no ordinary SUV; it’s a Bentley, which means it comes with English style and a distinctive emblem on the front.

We’re recommending the Extended Wheelbase Version, which was new for 2024, is partially because it adds seven inches to the rear seat area. However, the main attraction is the incredible Airline Seat Specification package. These seats use sensors and software to keep the second-row passengers at the perfect temperature all the time. In fact, the system is so sensitive that Bentley says it knows when you’re going to sweat even before you do, and it adjusts the seat temperature accordingly. On top of that, the automaker worked with a research company to determine the proper seat angle that creates a positive increase of blood flow, increasing alertness and reducing fatigue.

It’s spectacular.

Base Price: $229,625

Side corner view of a red Rolls-Royce Cullinan vehicle parked next to a desert hill.
Rolls-Royce Cullinan. Photo courtesy of Rolls-Royce

Rolls-Royce Cullinan

Rolls-Royce not only makes an SUV and it has the class and elegance we know to expect from the brand, it’s unbelievably capable off-road. Ask me how I know: I took the Cullinan on a series of off-road obstacles last fall in Texas. But even more convincingly, a friend of mine piloted a Cullinan at the Rebelle Rally, a several-day trek across sand, hills and dirt. And she won.

All in all, the Cullinan is much more than an SUV. It’s a mecca on wheels, and it’s glorious. Powered by a strong twin-turbocharged V12 engine, there’s no question this SUV can carry its (substantial) weight. The adaptive air suspension absorbs nearly all the bumps in the road, and the adaptive cruise control works flawlessly. That’s a big plus for long drives. The amenities list seems endless, from massaging seats to soft-close doors to the iconic built-in umbrella. High rollers, this is the one for you.

Base Price: $353,850.

Trucking in Style

Front corner view of a blue Chevrolet Silverado pickup truck parked on a dirt hill.
Chevrolet Silverado. Photo courtesy of Chevrolet

Chevy Silverado High Country

Here’s what Kim Orlando has to say about the pickup that she drove around southern California:

The Silverado High Country is a luxurious family car disguised as a workhorse truck. The Silverado and I hauled furniture, maneuvered around Downtown Los Angeles, mini-road tripped between Costa Mesa and Culver City to see my kids, caught some great sunsets and attended my son’s wedding.

The wood panels and leather trim in the enormous cab are gorgeous. My expectation for all pick-up trucks is that they will drive smoothly and the infotainment will be easy to use. The Silverado did not disappoint.

What I didn’t expect was decent gas mileage (20-22mpg on average), superior technology and that I would feel comfortable riding in it in my formal gown on my son’s wedding day.

The huge console in the front holds a medium-sized purse and I used the wireless phone pad so much that I started to leave my chargers at home. Anyone riding in the backseat – big or small – will be comfortable on a long road trip.

We tested the Super Cruise hands-free driving feature on the 405 California highway, but chickened out after a few minutes. While it works great, I did not feel comfortable trusting it in LA traffic. My 26-year-old son loves the Super Cruise – even in LA traffic.

I have to admit that I needed the 360 camera for parking. The truck is large and the side mirrors make it feel even bigger. The cameras made my life so much easier.

My favorite feature of the truck: the retractable running boards, especially in a long dress and heels! Getting in and out of the truck was easy for me and my 75-year-old mom.

I’m also a big fan of the step tailgate. My 2000 Silverado pick up does not have one, but I am adding it to my “can’t live without” list. The integrated step ladder is a game changer. I used it to sit and enjoy the view and for easy access to load luggage and furniture. It was simple for me to open but a bit too heavy for my 8-year-old cousin to operate.

Overall, my family ages 8-78, enjoyed the comforts and utility of the Chevy Silverado HIgh Country. I recommend at least a test drive and don’t forget to try the Super Cruise feature (stick with it longer than our 3 minutes to get the real effect)!

Base price: $64,695

Front corner view of a red Ram 1500 pickup truck driving along a wooded area.
Ram 1500. Photo courtesy of Ram

Ram 1500

When Ram launched its updated 1500 pickup, families went crazy for it. It looks good, it drives great, and the visibility on the road is excellent from its high perch. This is a truck that feels like a plush sedan inside. While it’s certainly big, it drives like a dream. If you’re looking to tow a big trailer or boat, the Ram 1500 can handle up to 12,750 pounds with its V8 engine.

Ram added a giant touchscreen that controls everything, and it has smart toggle switches behind the steering wheel to quickly change the channel from KidsBop to the hard rock stations depending on who is traveling with you.

Choose the Ram Rebel if you like to hit the national parks and forests or even local dirt paths. The Laramie and Limited Longhorn stack on luxury features, and the top-trim Limited is the whole enchilada of plush amenities plus some driver-assist features like blind spot monitoring. If you’re looking for something to run wild in the desert, don’t miss the Ram 1500 RHO!

Base Price: $43,315

Front corner view of a black GMC Sierra Denali pickup truck driving on a bluff overlooking water.
GMC Sierra Denali. Photo courtesy of GMC

GMC Sierra Denali

One of the features we love about the GMC Sierra in the top-of-the-heap Denali trim is the incredible number of available camera angles. It’s easy for you to see where you’re going and what your boat or trailer is doing behind you, and that gives you peace of mind when you’re towing. The Sierra Denali pickup includes handsome side steps that make it an effortless endeavor for the whole family to get in and out.

On top of all the heavy-duty utility stuff, the Sierra Denali has wireless phone charging, heated second-row seats and USB ports within reach for tablets and gaming systems to stay full of juice on long trips. The Sierra Denali is very similar to its corporate cousin, the Chevrolet Silverado.

Base Price: $68,595

Front corner view of a blue Ford F-150 Lightning pickup truck with the front hood up revealing a cargo area packed with luggage, and with a tent and ladder set up over the truck bed, parked by trees and a creek.
Ford F-150 Lightning. Photo courtesy of Ford

Ford F-150 Lightning

There’s a reason Ford’s seminal pickup has been the #1-selling truck in America for many years, and the all-electric version is a revelation. It’s a terrific road trip vehicle all around, with loads of amenities for anyone who wants to travel in comfort and with plenty of space. Load up the back of the F-150 and slide all your luggage under a locking tonneau cover to keep it safe and you can go just about anywhere.

What’s really cool about the F-150 is that you can get an onboard generator that works out of the back. The generator can charge up an astonishing number of appliances (even a TV!) for the best camping and tailgating adventures ever.

In EV form, the F-150 Lightning is even better. It’s quiet, it’s comfortable, and it’s capable of traveling just about anywhere. Car reviewers at Edmunds conducted a real-world Edmunds EV Range Test on the Lightning and found it went 345 miles on a full charge with the larger battery. Impressive. Just remember that if you’re towing, that will affect the range and you’ll need to adjust your charging stops accordingly.

Base Price: $57,090

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Q: What size vehicle should I choose for a family road trip?

A: The size of your vehicle will depend on the size of your family and how much luggage you will be bringing. A four-door sedan or wagon may work for a smaller family, while a larger family may need a minivan or SUV.

Q: What amenities should I look for in a road trip vehicle?

A: Some helpful amenities for a road trip vehicle include built-in coolers, entertainment systems, and comfortable seating. Consider what features are important to you and your family when choosing a vehicle.

Q: Should I rent or buy a vehicle for a road trip?

A: This will depend on your personal preferences and budget. Renting a vehicle may be a good option if you don’t want to put wear and tear on your own car, while buying a vehicle may be a better long-term investment if you plan on taking multiple road trips.

Q: How do I prepare my vehicle for a road trip?

A: Before hitting the road, make sure your vehicle is in good condition by performing a thorough inspection. This may include checking the oil, tire pressure, and brakes. It’s also a good idea to pack an emergency kit with items like a spare tire, jumper cables, and a first aid kit.

Q: What are some tips for staying comfortable on a long road trip?

A: To stay comfortable during a long road trip, make sure to pack plenty of snacks, drinks, and entertainment options. Take frequent breaks to stretch your legs and stay hydrated. And consider investing in a comfortable neck pillow or seat cushion to make the ride more enjoyable.

Kristin Shaw is a freelance writer, adventurer, and motorsports competitor with bylines at Popular Science, Edmunds, The Drive, Motor1, Road & Track, Car and Driver, Forbes Wheels, U.S. News and World Report, GearJunkie, and more. Her work on parenting and relationships has been featured often at The Washington Post and the TODAY show site. Follow Kristin on these channels: Instagram Facebook LinkedIn TikTok
Read full bio

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *