10 Road trip warriors for your family vacation this summer

Sun, 07/24/2016 - 06:40

School’s out and summer has officially arrived! By now, you’ve made plans to head to the beach, grandma’s house, or visit some of America’s biggest tourist destinations this summer. That means you’re going to need a vehicle to get you there — and one that comfortably fits you, the kids, a pet or two, and all of your stuff.

We’ve tested some of the biggest, most luxurious SUV’s on the market, taking them on long road trips where we can, and have put together a list of our favorite “Road Trip Warriors”.

Total Road Cruiser

1) Infiniti QX80 Limited

Nine-hour journeys won’t make this all-wheel-drive beast flinch. Infiniti makes the interior of its QX80 Limited so comfortable, stylish, and practical that you may just prefer it over your vacation digs. The tall ceiling and spacious layout give both driver and passengers a luxurious experience. And it’s got the rear entertainment for the kids, too. Despite its monstrous size, this Infiniti is smooth-as-glass on the highway. If you’re looking to purchase, it’s no small chunk of change ringing in at roughly $85,000.

2) GMC Yukon Denali XL

What, Infiniti’s offerings aren’t big enough? Not to worry, GMC has you covered with its massive Yukon Denali XL. That’s right, “XL” stands for extra length. We drove this bad-boy to Wilmingotn, NC and back for a long weekend at the beach. Even with us, our two dogs and all of our beach gear, we still couldn’t fill the Denali XL. The Yukon’s new design gives it a fresher feel both inside and out, and despite its size (and thanks to cameras and sensors everywhere) it’s quite easy to pilot. This one’s also got a hefty price, but if you’re a regular on the road, then it may just be worth the investment.


Practical for the Whole Family

3) Chevrolet Tahoe LTZ

Don’t need all the cargo capacity of a Yukon? Try GMC’s little brother from another mother, the Chevy Tahoe. GM keeps the design in the family, so sleek modern lines and an updated interior carry through to this make and model. The Tahoe is the Goldilocks of large SUVs, if you ask us. It’s got plenty of elbow room for passengers and cargo space for their luggage. Averaging 20 mpg, fuel economy is decent, too.

4) Lexus GX 460

Lexus knows how to give passengers a luxurious ride, and the GX 460 is no exception. With seats for seven, the whole family (so long as the last two are young and petite) can enjoy a smooth ride. Unlike the Tahoe, this fancy ute actually has off-street cred. The Lexus GX is completely rugged when and where it needs to be yet refined on suburban thoroughfares.


Easy on the Pocketbook

5) Kia Sorento

The Sorento is probably one of the most affordable, practical three-row SUVs on the market today. We love the massive panoramic roof, which comes in handy when driving through uncharted territory (for your family at least, and especially for those riding in the back). The seats are comfortable from front to rear, and the last row folds down flat to be used for cargo. If you want captains chairs that recline and a vehicle that’s slightly lower to the ground, then consider the Kia Sedona minivan, which we also enjoyed.


Photo credit: Melanie Batenchuk

6) Nissan Pathfinder

Back on a unibody platform, the Pathfinder has traded its rugged roots for a more family friendly vibe. This Nissan mainstay now has three rows of seats to carry up to seven passengers. It remains a contender off-road as well, which makes the Pathfinder a great option for families up for all kinds of adventures.


Nissan’s 2015 Pathfinder eschews the model’s rugged legacy, but maintains much of the capability.

Minimalistic Luxury

7) Volvo XC90

This award-winning comeback from Volvo has been a hit with auto journalists and families alike. Great for a more refined excursion, the XC90 brings all the creature comforts without the fussy extras that can sometimes overwhelm a vehicle’s design.


8) Range Rover Sport Turbodiesel

If Swedish style isn’t your cup of tea, how about something British? Range Rover gives its driver and passengers a totally effortless user experience inside a spacious, elegant cabin. The Rover is a big boy, but thanks to a turbodiesel engine, it slurps down fuel a little slower than its gasoline counterparts.


Unsuspecting Big Comfort

9) Nissan Titan XD Pro 4X

The door threshold may be waist-high, but we absolutely loved the riding in Nissan’s latest big-boy diesel truck. If you like the feeling of sitting above all the other cars on the highway, then this is the vehicle for you. The Titan XD has an extended full cab for additional passengers, and don’t worry, they’re not skimped on room either. The truck bed easily will fit your gear (or 20 bags of hardwood mulch, if you so choose), so no need to worry about cargo carrying ability.


10) Ford F-150 Supercrew Limited

The F-150 may not be a traditional pick for the family vacation, but who says a truck can’t be good for long hauls? We recently spent some time in the new F-150 Supercrew Limited, and we found it to be an especially capable road warrior, particularly given the $400 upgrade to a 36 gallon fuel tank, which means this truck’s V6 Ecoboost engine can stretch more than 600 miles of open highway.


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