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18 Cars To Take On A Summer Road Trip

Vukasin Herbez July 3, 2019

Summer is finally here and what better way to start a vacation than with a good old-fashioned road trip? Road trips were one of the original American pastimes before people got hooked on the internet and started refusing to move anywhere without a proper Wi-Fi connection. In the days before GPS navigation, in-car infotainment systems, and interstate highways, road-tripping was the favorite way of exploring the many vast spaces of this magnificent country.

But there is no perfect road trip car. It is the car that makes you happy, doesn’t break down and provides you with the constant pleasure of driving. Sometimes, the perfect road trip car isn’t fast or comfortable, but it is interesting and makes the whole experience memorable. So here are 18 of the most interesting road trip cars to drive. So, just turn the radio on and enjoy your vacation.

1. Oldsmobile Vista Cruiser 442

Going on a road trip through rural America in a muscle car is so cliché, but it is something you should do at least once in your life. Any muscle car will do, but here is a combination of the two opposite sides of the automobile spectrum. On one side is a muscle car and on the other is a family station wagon.

You are probably thinking how could a family station wagon be a muscle car? Well, it can because you could order the 1970 Vista Cruiser with a 455 V8 monster of an engine. And basically, it was the same powerplant from the famed Oldsmobile 442 muscle car. This transformed an otherwise ordinary ’70s American suburban wagon into a fire-breathing muscle car they disguised as practical family transport.

2. Porsche Cayman GT4

The Boxster/718/Cayman models are one of the best driver’s cars since the day they have introduced, but the GT4 is something else. The Cayman GT4 was practically the best Porsche 911 compilation they installed in a smaller package. Indeed, the GT4 was a blast to drive and it is still capable of beating some versions of the 911. But, Porsche is not intimidated.

Simply, the 911 is still the king of the lineup despite the Cayman GT4 arguably being a better driver’s machine. This Porsche is manual only, so be prepared to shift your own gears since the GT4 is a proper performance car. Taking a road trip in a manual-only sports car – how cool is that?

3. Lancia Delta HF Integrale

Lancia is virtually unknown in America and on the verge of closing in Europe. And that’s too bad because it was a fantastic company with fantastic cars. Their last really magnificent car was the Delta HF Integrale. It is rare in the USA, but can you imagine this rally champion tackling the deserted twisty mountain roads in your region?

The main features of this model are a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder with, at first, 185 HP, and later up to 220 HP. Also, it has a permanent and well-balanced all-wheel-drive system. The Delta HF Integrale is an important hot hatch because it was the first one with an AWD system. In fact, it marked the beginning of the transition from the front-wheel drive, simple, inexpensive hot hatches, to high-tech, all-wheel drive performance monsters of today.

4. Dodge Charger Hellcat

Everybody went crazy when Dodge announced the Hellcat Charger and Challenger models. After all, they expected this reaction since the 6.2-liter supercharged V8 with 707 HP was a proper monster of a muscle car that shouldn’t be released on the streets. And that is what makes it perfect for a road trip.

But, Dodge did just that by allowing the public to buy one of the fastest and most powerful muscle cars they ever built. Despite being overpowered in any aspect, the Dodge Charger and Challenger Hellcat are surprisingly easy to drive and can be docile at low speeds.

5. Buick Riviera GS

In 1963, the Buick Riviera debuted and immediately, it became one of the most interesting cars on the American market. The combination of sleek, elegant styling, with a modern interior and powerful Buick Nailhead engine made the Riviera an instant bestseller. But best of all, all that made it the first real competitor to the famous Ford Thunderbird.

But Buick wanted more, so the company introduced the legendary Riviera Grand Sport or GS in 1965. The car featured a revised suspension, a bigger 425 engine, and a host of other performance upgrades. In this version, the Rivera was a true world-class automobile with 360 HP and acceleration times of 7.9 seconds. And that was so powerful and better than most of the sports cars of the period.

6. Volvo 850 R Wagon

After Volvo’s success with the T5 version in the 850 series featuring a turbocharged engine, they decided to introduce an all-out sleeper machine – the 850 R. Under the hood was a 2.3-liter five-cylinder engine with a bigger turbo and updated intake system and electronics. With a 250-HP output, the 850 R Wagon could go from 0 to 60 mph in just 6.5 seconds with a top speed of almost 160 mph.

Today, those performance numbers still demand respect. Better yet, the 850 R is quite affordable on the used car market. Also, you can find various power upgrades for this model, so consider buying this ultimate wagon. Lots of space, unassuming looks, and a performance that demands respect makes the 850 R the perfect car for a road trip.

7. Ford Crown Victoria

They based the Crown Victoria construction with a ladder chassis, live rear axle, tough suspension, and heavy-duty components on midcentury technology. And it is still effective and durable even today. The 4.6-liter modular V8 engine pumps out only 260 HP. But that is more than enough to give this big rear-wheel sedan decent acceleration and cruising speeds.

The models from the ’90s and early 2000s were common as police cruisers and taxis. And despite being 20 years old and surviving all kinds of torture, those cars are still on the road and running. So, if a car can endure being beaten on by countless cops it has proven that it is a good road trip vehicle.

8. Mercedes R63 AMG

If you are not familiar with the R-Class, it is a big minivan Mercedes based on the S-Class sedan. Also, they equipped it with all the conceivable luxuries and powerful engines. This car is perfect for crossing the continents in the same comfort as a leather sofa traveling at 100 mph.

However, AMG, Mercedes’s performance division had something to say about that, so they introduced the R63. It came with a fantastic 6.2-liter naturally aspirated V8 delivering 503 HP. With a stiffer suspension, tons of power and great performance, the R63 is no ordinary minivan but a sports car with room for seven people.

9. Buick Roadmaster Wagon

The legendary Roadmaster name returned to the Buick lineup in 1991 after a 33-year-long hiatus gracing the freshly styled luxurious sedan and station wagon model. The car was basically the same as other offerings from General Motors in the same class. However, the Roadmaster had some more luxury options and one interesting engine that turned this comfy cruiser into a muscle car.

The Buick engineers found a way to install a Corvette LT1 5.7-liter V8 engine into a Roadmaster engine bay. The LT1 delivered 300 HP in the Corvette, and in the Buick, it provided 260 HP. And that was more than enough to turn this heavy wagon into a proper hot rod. Despite the curb weight of over 4,400 pounds, this car could outrun most of the muscle cars of the day.

10. BMW M5 E39

The BMW M5 they offered from 1998 to 2003 is widely considered one of the best-performance sedans of all time. Most BMW fans consider it to be the best M5 model and a prime example of a German muscle car. You are probably asking what this model did to receive such high praise from the car fans and motoring press.

The M Power department took already competent E39 platform and re-engineered it into pure sports car chassis with space for five people and their luggage. The heart of the car is a glorious S62 4.9-liter V8 engine with 400 HP. And it sends all of its power to the rear wheels through a six-speed manual, which is the only transmission choice. So, if you want to travel at high speeds in full comfort, this is your car.

11. Ferrari FF

What is the first thing that pops into your mind when you hear the word, “Ferrari”? Most people imagine a red mid-engine sports car or a classic GT cruiser with a front-mounted V12 engine. But what about an all-wheel drive, four-seat, three-door station wagon pumping out 660 HP? Although it is not the typical Ferrari, when Ferrari presented the FF in 2011, everybody was stunned.

It was more a hot hatch than a pure thoroughbred Gran Turismo in station wagon form. The FF proved to be quite popular, so they made over 2,000 in the five-year production run at $300,000 apiece. This was the first Ferrari road car featuring the shooting brake/wagon form and all-wheel drivetrain. It must have been a slap in the face for Ferrari purists, but it was also a great road trip car and practical station wagon sports car.

12. Cadillac CTS-V Wagon

For years, Cadillac was without the proper performance series they needed to compete with BMW or Mercedes. But finally, the V-Series was born. It was all that Cadillac lovers dreamed of with its powerful engines and world-class handling. Also, they updated the suspension setup, and made the production exclusive. Arguably the most successful was the second-generation CTS-V model they produced between 2008 and 2014.

Under the hood was a supercharged 6.2-liter V8 with 556 HP, making the CTS-V the most powerful performance sedan on the market. Cadillac produced three body styles, so the CTS-V came as a sedan, a coupe, and interestingly, as a wagon, too. The rarest of the three, the CTS-V Wagon, shared all mechanic components with the rest of the V-Series models.

13. Chevrolet SS

The Chevrolet SS is out of production, but you can still find them on the dealer’s lots. And you should do that since the SS is one of the best affordable performance sedans on the market today. With a 6.2 liter V8, 412 HP, precise steering and neutral handling, this car rivals Europe’s finest sports sedans.

The performance numbers are respectable, too. A 0 to 60 mph sprint is possible in just 4.7 seconds, while top speeds are over 150 mph. The Chevrolet SS may be a sales flop, but with a powerful engine, composed handling and fantastic performance it is a great road trip car.

14. ICON Derelicts

The idea behind the Derelicts series is to find original, unmolested vehicles with their original paint. Then, they disassemble the cars and give them new power plants, transmissions, chassis components and suspensions. ICON even produced custom wheels that look totally stock and fit modern rubber. The most important thing is to keep as much of the original body and paint intact.

In fact, they even keep the interior in rugged shape. ICON modifies many ’40s and early ’50 American cars. So, at first glance, you might think you are looking at an unrestored and tired old car. But in fact, you are looking at a perfect Restomod with 500 HP under the hood.

15. Jeep Cherokee XJ

When it debuted in 1984, the Cherokee XJ was an enormous success for Jeep. With its boxy yet elegant looks, great build quality and lots of usable features, the second-generation Cherokee was the SUV of the ’80s. Also, it was a globally successful model. Despite being a modern, comfortable vehicle, the Cherokee XJ retained all its Jeep characteristics.

And with rugged mechanics, dependable AWD drivetrain and quality engines, the XJ soon claimed the title of one of the best Classic SUVs of all time. In some foreign markets, they produced the Cherokee XJ until 2014, which shows how good of a car this Jeep was. The XJ is the ultimate road trip SUV since it is comfortable, affordable and dependable.

16. Chevrolet Corvette C5 Z06

When they presented the C5 Corvette in 1997, they brought several improvements as well as a fresh design. However, the Z06 is a fan favorite since it was kind of an amplified base Corvette. They equipped it with 385 to 405 HP from the high revving 5.7-liter V8 engine They used a lightweight body, adding sticky Goodyear tires and a stiffer suspension. The car handled perfectly and looked unique with a different roofline and wheels.

Even today, more than 15 years after they introduced it, the Corvette Z06 C5 is a tough car to beat on the street. So, if you are looking for the pure sports car experience and don’t have a ton of money to spend on an expensive European exotic, this Corvette will provide the same driving dynamics for a fraction of the cost. And that is why this is one of the top road trip car choices.

17. Lincoln Continental

This classic American sedan belongs on this list despite being a cliché. In fact, luxury four-door cars are still great road trip cars. But when Lincoln first revealed the 1961 Continental, the automotive public was stunned. The beautiful elegance of the styling, conservative use of chrome, straight lines and futuristic design transformed the four-door luxury model into a work of modern art.

But the best exterior features were the suicide doors, with the rear doors opening towards the traffic. Of course, this wasn’t the best solution, but it only added to the charm of the Continental. Interestingly, Lincoln offered a cool-looking four-door convertible model that proved to be popular and quite unique on the market.

18. Ford F-150 Raptor

The F-Series trucks are all over the place, but the Raptors are much rarer and more recognizable. The F-150 Raptor comes with a 3.5-liter turbocharged V6 that provides a whopping 450 HP and 510 lb-ft. Also, it has a 10-speed automatic transmission and sub-five-second acceleration times. Ad all that makes the F-150 Raptor a good road trip car.

These are 18 of the best cars for the ultimate road trip this summer. Which one did you choose? Any of these cars would make the perfect road trip vehicle. All you have to do is buckle up and go.

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