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The Best Road Trip Cars of 2017

Nothing like a good road trip, with or without the family

Updated May 28, 2018

There is nothing quite like taking a road trip in an interesting car. Sure, there are faster and more comfortable ways to travel out there, but is there a more interesting way? That’s doubtful, unless you have a submarine or a hovercraft, in which case your life is probably pretty interesting already.

For the rest of us seeking good stories and good destinations before the actual destination, road tripping is the way to go. And it starts with the right car.

A good road trip vehicle is mostly practical with a hint of character. The latter is important because after long hours of driving, you will become well acquainted with every quirk and drawback your car has to offer, and that’s just fine.

If you want a boring, semi-comfortable trip; just fly and rent the most beige car (maybe a van?) you can find when you land. A road trip is an adventure, and the good parts will outweigh the discomforts.

This sacred American tradition dates back to well before the days of satellite navigation systems and electronically-adjustable, ventilated seats. Since those things exist currently, though, they are rather nice additions.

Out of all new offerings from manufacturers in 2017, these vehicles stand out for their promising road trip abilities. That means that they are gasoline or hybrid-powered vehicles, as fully electric vehicles haven’t quite reached the drive-across-a-continent point at this time (they’ll get there). Also, a minimum of four doors. No road trip is complete without trying to fit five grown adults into a car already crammed full of stuff. 

 

2017 Toyota C-HR

The trip: You’re a college student home for the summer yearning for an interesting time.

The 2017 Toyota C-HR is easily the most practical vehicle on this list. In fact, it is so practical that it almost got eliminated from this list entirely due to being too normal. It may be offered with the same hybrid drivetrain as the Prius, and will also be available with a 2.0 liter gasoline engine. Unfortunately it looks like the only drivetrain arrangements available will be paired with a CVT.

While the lack of three pedals may bother some, it is important to keep in mind that this car is one of the first built upon Toyota’s New Global Architecture, meaning that the handling should feel stable and rigid, even if the transmission is slushy and slow.

The styling is really the most polarizing part, and some people will inevitably find it unbearable to look at. I find it to be a fun take on an otherwise boring concept. For fuel economy paired with edgy looks and interior space, the 2017 C-HR is unmatched.

 

2017 Hyundai Ioniq

The trip: You’re an eco-minded young person who wants to see some sights with the freedom of the open road, but you don’t want to make polar bears go extinct.

There are plenty of reasonable hybrid hatchbacks on the market today, so why do we need another? The 2017 Ioniq from Hyundai was announced last year and has not really caused too much of a stir. While some may view this as a sign that the Ioniq is too boring, I see it a different way. The Ioniq is nothing revolutionary, it’s just a good hybrid.

The Ioniq is one of the first hybrids to hit the market without claiming to have re-written the book on green technology and awareness. It seems to know that it is, in fact, a car. Add that to the fact that the Ioniq comes with a DCT instead of a slow-shifting CVT, and the picture becomes a bit brighter for the underdog from Hyundai.

This car has plenty of room for your friends and your stuff (and probably your friends’ stuff, too). The good gas mileage will be a nice feature as well. The Ioniq comes with a 1.6-liter gas engine paired to an electric motor. Both hybrid and plug-in hybrid models will be available in 2017.

 

2017 Alfa Romeo Giulia

The trip: You want to see how many great driving roads you can reach before your friends get completely sick of truck stop food.

The 2017 Alfa Romeo Giulia is not just a great road trip car coming out in 2017. It is the best car coming out in 2017. Sure, production was delayed dude to some failed crash tests or something, but that’s not the important part. The important part is: just look at this car. It’s next-level gorgeous and it’s engineered for driving sensation.

With up to 505 horsepower available via an Italian V6 hooked up to two turbochargers, this car is no slouch. It doesn’t now how to slouch. Pair that with decent storage space and seating for five adults, and you would be hard pressed to find a better car for a road trip.

While the 2017 Giulia is gorgeous and has a soundtrack that can drown out anything else on the road, there is some competition joining the ranks this year.

 

2017 Jaguar XE

Jaguar has finally released a sedan that will compete with not only the likes of the Guilia, but the BMW 3-series and Mercedes C-Class as well.

The initial model of the 2017 XE S produced will feature a supercharged V6 putting out 340 horsepower and 332 lb-ft of torque. This is all placed on a new aluminum chassis with the power running to the rear wheels. All-wheel drive models will be available later on in 2017.

Given their spotty history with sedans (the X-Type comes to mind…) Jaguar is not taking any chances. They put a lot of time and effort into making the 2017 XE a comfortable driver’s car. If you love the grunt and handling of the XE but still need a bit… more, just turn to the next page.

 

2017 Jaguar F-Pace

The trip: Taking the annual ski trip a bit further off the beaten path this year.

With the same underpinnings and power train as the new XE, the 2017 Jaguar F-Pace is set to be a huge commercial success. One big theme this year seems to be, “Look, we made a crossover that is a bigger version of this car we make,” or, “Look, we made a crossover that is a smaller version of this SUV we make.” With the way crossovers are taking over the roads, it would be silly not to make one.

Jaguar joining the ranks of manufacturers churning out small sport-utilities is not surprising. What is surprising is the fact that they seem to have done a very good job of doing so.

On top of the 340-horsepower V6 also found in the new XE sedan and the car-like handling characteristics, the 2017 F-Pace also has interior space capable of transporting whatever you need to take with you. It will turn rough roads into butter and smooth roads into race tracks, if the hype can be believed. From this angle, all we can tell is that the F-Pace is a damn good-looking vehicle, crossover or not.

 

 

2017 Ford F-150 Raptor Supercrew

The trip: I hear that Baja is nice this time of year…

Not all of us can take road trips on nice, smooth, paved roads. Some of us only want to visit paces covered in mud, rocks, sand, snow, or a combination of all four. For those people, there is only one option for a solid road trip: the new and improved 2017 Ford Raptor Supercrew.

On top of being more spacious and comfortable than the previous model, the new Supercrew has a brand new aluminum body that lightens the load by a hefty 500 pounds. Powering this is a 450-horsepower Ecoboost V6.

The advanced four-wheel drive system and 10-speed transmission should make this truck just about unstoppable. Out of all of the cars on this list, the 2017 Raptor can hold the most cargo as well. The Ford Raptor: putting the ‘practical’ back into ‘wildly impractical’.

 

2017 Bentley Bentayga

The trip: From Manhattan to Aspen and back again.

It’s finally here, for better or worse. The 2017 Bentley Bentayga has been unleashed on the world. Bentley, the purveyors of many a fine and subtle luxury automobile have decided that they want to offer customers something a bit… bigger.

And what is bigger than an SUV? Finally the world can know that you both enjoy outdoor activities and enjoy being $230,000 lighter after leaving the Bentley dealership. For this rather extreme amount of money you get 5,300 pounds of leather and chrome, pushed down the road by 600 horsepower at all four wheels.

So if your road trips involve stops at high-end boutiques and restaurants that you need reservations months ahead of time to attend, then this might be just the thing for you.

 

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Calvin Escobar
About Calvin Escobar

The Car scene is so diverse Where I come from, most enthusiasts recognize the amazing engineering (particularly the engines). The bulk of the ridicule originates from the manner in which many of the vehicles are modded/maintained. Thus, the jokes and or hate tends to be aimed more at the owner rather than the machine. All of which makes seeing properly sorted old Toyota's and Hondas at car meets, auto shows, and track days all the more refreshing.

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