06/25/2012 06:11 pm ET Updated Aug 25, 2012

5 Best Road Trip Cars

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With summer underway, it's time for vacationers and pleasure seekers to start heading out on road trips. Some will be short hauls to the nearest beach, while others might be cross-country slogs. Here's a look at five great vehicles, based on the type of trip you're looking for.

Family Trip

Cadillac CTS-V Wagon
We were going to pick a seven-seat crossover here, and while there are a whole slew of good ones to choose from, we're going to let our hearts win over our brains on this one. Yes, a Ford Explorer, Dodge Durango, Chevrolet Traverse, or Honda Pilot might make more sense for a family from a practicality standpoint, but imagine how many heads will turn when you pull into the resort in this bad boy. Hot-rod station wagons are always cool, and the CTS-V will get you to the beach in a hurry, while also making you the coolest parent in town. Just don't forget to pack lots of cash for gas.

Coastal Cruise

Mazda MX-5 Miata
If you're hitting a scenic highway along a sun-soaked coast, what better way than to do it in a convertible? Sure, there are more powerful roadsters out there, but the MX-5 has classic looks and spritely handling. It's also more comfy than it looks. You'll feel like you're in a car commercial.

Beach Bombing

Ford Mustang GT Convertible / Chevrolet Camaro SS Convertible
This is a tie, because preference between the two might come down to your own bias in the Ford/Chevy war. We went with the V-8 versions since V-6 convertibles feel too much like rental cars, and because American muscle gets you noticed both on the beach and the boardwalk. We could've listed the Shelby GT500 convertible and the upcoming Camaro ZL1 droptop, but for now, we'll go with the more affordable muscle.

Two-Person Trip

BMW 3-Series
Let's say you're going somewhere with a friend or your significant other. Let's say you want some comfort but you don't want to sacrifice style, you want to have four doors for spatial reasons, and you want at least some fuel efficiency. There are plenty of sporty compact and mid-size four-doors out there, but the 3-Series still offers a great driving experience to go along with luxury.


Jeep Wrangler
Not all road trips occur on pavement. Some involve rock climbing and boulder bashing, and Jeep's iconic Wrangler remains one of the most capable off-road vehicles out there, and it's relatively affordable. It's also competent on-road and the interior no longer seems like a vehicular prison. If your journey starts when the road ends, the Wrangler is still a solid choice.

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