What is the Perfect Vehicle for a LONG Road Trip?


Ultimate Road Trip Car


Next year looks like it will be time for another 8000 to 9000 mile road trip.  The last time I did a serious road trip was back in June of 2007.  It took 30 days and took me out to the west coast.  along the way were many stops at car museums, speed shops, race tracks, and private collections.  I was able to avoid the Interstate highways for the most part and it gave me a chance to share the experience here.

What are the characteristics of a vehicle for such a road trip?


With fuel prices ratcheting up should I focus on economy?  Should I look for a turbo diesel?  How about a high mileage gasoline car – say one getting 35 mpg?  Should it be a Scion Xc? a Lotus? a Prius?


There is  a huge difference in the personality of vehicle law enforcement as you travel from state to state.  For some it is sincerely a task to try to ensure safety and for others it is a vital revenue stream.  In order to get through with a low profile sometimes the vehicle will affect how you as a driver are treated.  Should it be a car that blends in with the “average” car?  How about using a second hand state police car?

Electronics of all types are employed these days to enforce traffic laws and collect revenue.  Speed cameras are not just in the UK.  Red light cameras are everywhere.  Police are using LIDAR more than RADAR in many states.  There are aircraft and a few use VASCAR.  Are electronic counter measures at the top of the list?  RADAR/LIDAR detectors?  Police scanners?  Anti-radar coatings?


Comfort or speed?  With 8-9000 miles to look forward to should a nice ride and creature comforts be primary?  Music, air-conditioning, and a cushy ride?  Or should that be ignored and speed and handling be put at the top of the list so that the ride becomes the focal point?  Get there fast and with great handling on twisty roads?

Is there something else that should be considered?

This entry was posted in Automobiles, Car Stuff, Cars, Life and Cars, Road Trips. Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to What is the Perfect Vehicle for a LONG Road Trip?

  1. Jim's sister says:

    I chose comfort because I felt the road trip IS the destination; not getting to the end of the road trip. If you’re comfortable while you drive, you can take the scenic byway or stick to the zippy thoroughfare and enjoy both. Speed, countermeasures and blending in all seemed to me to be about speed. Drop speed out of the road trip experience, and you’re left with gas mileage and comfort. Save speed for the track. (And by the way, “handling” is to my mind different from speed.)
    There is a very frugal bone in this old body, but reasonable planning, a gregarious nature that has complete strangers becoming overnight friends and inviting you to sleep at their place, or creative ways of adding to your cash on the trip (such as offering your expertise on car repair or computers for a day) can assuage a lot of the twinges caused by high gas prices. Besides, it ain’t the 60’s and it never will be again.
    Don’t forget your camera! 🙂

  2. Jim's sister says:

    What was I thinking! The wind whipping your hair, the high keening sound from your tires as you make that hairpin turn coming down the mountain, the growl of a big engine under the hood ready to give you every ounce of power at a whisper touch on the accelerator. Speed! Speed! And traction. Hell, it ain’t the 60’s anymore. ‘Tain’t even the twentieth century anymore. Break out those toys that keep the pigs at bay!

  3. kyle says:

    Comfort and speed can be had in many of today’s cars. You don’t want something with such a poor seating position that your butt falls asleep on the long stretches of highway, but you also don’t want something with the suspension so soft that you’ll have to slow down for the twisties. I would think an Infiniti G35/G37 would be suitable. Maybe a BMW 3 series (depending on the year). Neither is so flashy (don’t get a red or yellow car) that you’d attract a lot of attention from the cops, but I’d get some techno-gadgets that can let you know where to expect speed traps, red-light cameras, high traffic volumes, etc. LIDAR/RADAR detectors in my opinion are not a good value, they only let you know you’re about to get a ticket, before the cop actually hands it to you. Plus, there are so many false positives, you have to just as vigilant with a detector as without one. There are radar blockers available, but they’re quite pricey. Just travel at a brisk, but not unacceptable pace and I don’t think you’ll have much to worry about. Be sure to slow down for construction zones. A lot of states, especially in the mid-west, are really cracking down on speeding in work zones. Let us know what you decide on, and why.

  4. Lee K says:

    Panther love! A old Crown Victoria kills two birds with one stone. Tons of comfort and some stealth. You could even be mistaken for an unmarked police vehicle. Put some dog dish wheel covers on and maybe a CB antenna and you will definitely find everyone slowing down around you. But the less attention, the better. The journey *is* the destination, so there is no really need to go blasting around the countryside. Enjoy the view and chill.

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