The Best Cars for an American Road Trip

The open road has always been a big part of the American mystique, drawing in travelers from all walks of life and various places. Whether it’s to see amazing landmarks such as the Grand Canyon or to retrace the path of the historic Route 66, a journey by car through the U.S. should be on any avid traveler’s bucket list.

While many consider the ideal vehicle for an American road trip to be an American car, the following list also includes a couple of European options that offer excellent levels of comfort, efficiency and performance for the road ahead. Also note that most European visitors to the U.S. tend to rent their vehicles for short-term stays, but auto loans are available for those who might stay for a while or for Americans looking to explore their homeland.

Toyota Prius – $24,200

The Best Cars for an American Road Trip

While fuel prices are significantly cheaper in the U.S. than in Europe, it still pays to have a fuel-efficient vehicle for those long stretches of highway. According to Toyota, the Prius offers an EPA-estimated 51 mpg city and 48 mpg highway as well as a reduced environmental footprint thanks to its Hybrid Synergy Drive technology. Additional features include SofTex-trimmed seating for five, a spacious interior with generous head and leg room and over 21 cubic feet of cargo volume.

Chevrolet Tahoe – $43,600

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The Tahoe is the perfect vehicle to have if your road trip calls for lots of luggage. With 108.9 cubic feet of maximum cargo space, it can effortlessly haul almost anything you need to put it. The Tahoe also offers amazing levels of luxury, from available first and second-row heated and cooled seats to SiriusXM satellite radio and touch-screen navigation. GM’s Active Fuel Management system helps the 5.3-liter V8 achieve up to 21 mpg in highway driving, an outstanding feat for a vehicle of its kind.

Volkswagen Jetta Sportwagen TDI – $26,250

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The Jetta Sportwagen TDI might not offer the amazing gas-electric hybrid tech of the Prius, but it offers reliable, long-lasting and surprisingly eco-friendly diesel power. The 2.0-liter TDI engine offers 236 pound-feet of torque and up to 42 mpg on the highway, while the Sportwagen body offers up nearly 67 cubic feet of cargo space for your luggage and souvenirs, according to data from Volkswagen. The Jetta Sportwagen offers a comfortable and economical way to hit the open road.

Ford Mustang Convertible – $27,310

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A ragtop Mustang is the quintessential American road trip car – you get the wind in your hair with the top down, a powerful engine working effortlessly under the hood and plenty of heads turning your way as you cruise along the open road. The standard V6 offers excellent power and up to 29 mpg in highway cruising, but the 420-horsepower 5.0-liter V8 is the way to go for a memorable experience. Don’t worry – it’s still capable of up to 26 mpg in highway driving, according to Ford’s numbers.

Mercedes Benz E-Class Wagon – $58,600

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The Benz costs a pretty penny, but it makes up for it in comfort, space and surefooted driving dynamics. The E-Class Wagon offers 57.4 cubic feet of total cargo capacity, along with over 38 inches of front and rear headroom. The E-Class Wagon comes standard with the 4MATIC all-wheel drive system, allowing for superior traction in all types of adverse road conditions. The standard E350 4MATIC offers a 302-horsepower 3.5-liter V6 with an advanced seven-speed automatic transmission and an EPA-estimated 27 mpg highway. For gearheads with a need for speed, there’s also a spicy E63 S 4MATIC version that drops the fearsome 5.5-liter 577-horsepower turbocharged AMG V8 under the head.


  1. henry

    Took my 2013 Ford F-150 Raptor to Utah and had a fantastic time handling all the Jeep trails around the Moab area Arches and Canyonland State Parks. Granted the mpg isn’t the best but you know what you’re getting into when you buy a top of class vehicle like this.

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