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The top 10 cars for short distance road trips

6th June 2019 Print

Everyone likes going on a road trip from time to time, so it makes sense that you would consider this aspect of usage when comparing prospective vehicle models for an upcoming purchase. Getting from point A to point B is only one part of the equation, as you also have to consider comfort, fuel efficiency, and other factors that influence how ideal a car is for a trip out on the open road. 

However, while you might be more serious about choosing a perfect road trip vehicle if you're the type of person who likes to go on adventures and lengthy expeditions, if you're usually only taking shorter road trips then you can have a bit more flexibility in the car that you choose. With that said, here are the top 10 cars to consider if taking short distance road trips is something you plan on doing:

1. Mini Cooper

Okay, so it's not the king of storage or cabin space, but the flexibility and easy handling of having such a small vehicle can come in handy. Plus, it's fairly fuel efficient in comparison to larger models like SUVs. The fact that it uses so little fuel and is a joy to drive makes it perfect for outings that are closer to home, such as destinations that are within the same county. Of course, if you're travelling alone or even with one other person, a Mini will accommodate your needs perfectly. You can also find some great Mini personal lease deals and Zen Auto have these Minis to lease if you’d rather do this than buy the vehicle outright. 

2. Porsche 911

When you're not going to be traversing an entire continent, you probably won't care much about storage space, so you might as well make drivability the top priority. When it comes to enjoyable driving, few cars can compete with the Porsche 911. Any trim of this vehicle will work because they all have luxurious and comfortable interiors. The handling is the 911's strong point for taking road trips, as you'll feel an amazing level of control and oneness with the road. 

3. Jeep Cherokee 

The Jeep Cherokee is a legend in the realm of road tripping because it's known for being extremely reliable and it typically has better fuel efficiency than most other SUVs. Plus, you can usually find older models very cheaply, which can be great if you're looking for something that you can drag through the mud without feeling bad about it. In particular, the Cherokee XJ is an older model with an especially large cabin and rear storage space, making it one of the best cars of all time for road tripping. 

4. Mazda Miata

Few cars are more enjoyable to drive than the Miata, especially if you like to feel close to the road or if having a convertible is a big deal for you. Taking a short road trip with the top down is always a great pastime. However, keep in mind that there is very little storage space in the trunk, so you may wind up throwing some of your stuff onto the back seat. 

5. Range Rover

The Land Rover Range Rover is one car that fits the bill for both long distance and short distance trips because it has plenty of space and gives you some serious off-roading capabilities. The newer models are also quite luxurious, so you get the combination of rugged functionality with a fancy interior. 

6. Land Rover Defender

While the Range Rover is often touted as Land Rover's flagship or most popular SUV, the reputation of the Defender as being one of the greatest off-roading 4x4 vehicles of all-time is undeniable. This thing can take you literally anywhere you're trying to go. If you need something that can brave the elements with unparalleled reliability, the Defender should be at the top of your list

7. Volkswagen Camper Van

The Volkswagen Camper Van has been one of the most popular vehicles for road tripping for decades and is still a very appealing option for short road trippers. However, campers with high mileage are known to have some mechanical issues that cause the need for more frequent maintenance. Thus, it might be better to avoid taking longer road trips with older models. If you can get your hands on a Volkswagen Camper Van that has low miles and has been well-maintained, this is a perfect choice for adding some nostalgia to your road trip. 

8. Honda Element

The Honda Element has some really cool features that make it perfect for taking road trips of any length, starting with the rear cargo space that comes with an industrial floor liner for easy cleaning. This is a very practical and economical option for families because it's good on fuel and can accommodate everyone's belongings with ease. Try to go for an AWD model and a sunroof if you know you're going to be using it for road trips. 

9. Westfalia Sven Hedian

You've heard of an SUV, but what about a CUV (caravan utility vehicle)? This thing is like a mix between a van and SUV and is a lot like a newer version of the Volkswagen Camper van but with a much lower incidence of mechanical problems. Overall, you get a ton of interior features that make this a legitimate alternative to an RV but in a fraction of the size and with much better fuel efficiency. 

10. Mercedes Sprinter

Converting a Sprinter into a camper van can be a great option if you like the Mercedes brand and want luxury and reliability. You can find plenty of guides and videos showing walkthroughs of converted Sprinters, so there's no shortage of inspiration to help you turn yours into the perfect vehicle for short distance road tripping. 

Decide What's Important to You – Space or Handling?

Ultimately, you have to decide whether you want more cargo space or more handling, as the decision will come down to your preferred balance between these two attributes. It's worth noting that Mini Coopers can come with roof racks that allow you to bring extra cargo on top, so that's one option that offers small vehicle handling while still letting you bring a decent amount of stuff.