QOTD: What's Your Road Trip Car for Turkey Day?

Tim Healey
by Tim Healey

Thanksgiving is tomorrow, and I have visions of a Steve Martin/John Candy movie classic in my head.

You'll remember that the "automobiles" part of "Planes, Trains, and Automobiles" involves a poor, doomed Chrysler K-car rental. You might also point out that perhaps if the duo had rented a car sooner, instead of trying to use a train and bus to get home after their flight is diverted to Witchita, they might have made it without quite so many wacky misadventures.

So, let's say you're visiting family for Thanksgiving. It's too close to fly, but the drive is over an hour. You need to haul yourself, plus any family. And a couple of side dishes. What vehicle are you picking? Does your current ride work? Or do you lust after something you can't afford?

In general, cars that offer some utility work best for this QOTD, but if you want to say "screw it, I am showing up with my date and a bottle of bubbly and nothing more in an Alfa 4C", well, it's a free country. Though your hosts may have some concerns about what you do with your date, and where.

Happy Thanksgiving, all. Sound off below.

[Image: Foxys Forest Manufacture/Shutterstock.com]

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Tim Healey
Tim Healey

Tim Healey grew up around the auto-parts business and has always had a love for cars — his parents joke his first word was “‘Vette”. Despite this, he wanted to pursue a career in sports writing but he ended up falling semi-accidentally into the automotive-journalism industry, first at Consumer Guide Automotive and later at Web2Carz.com. He also worked as an industry analyst at Mintel Group and freelanced for About.com, CarFax, Vehix.com, High Gear Media, Torque News, FutureCar.com, Cars.com, among others, and of course Vertical Scope sites such as AutoGuide.com, Off-Road.com, and HybridCars.com. He’s an urbanite and as such, doesn’t need a daily driver, but if he had one, it would be compact, sporty, and have a manual transmission.

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4 of 18 comments
  • Tassos Tassos on Nov 26, 2022

    I hope y'all had a happy Thanksgiving. To answer the question, my present car is almost Ideal for such road trips, but I can think of an even better one, which has the same awesome engine in a bigger, far more luxurious vehicle.

    OK, let's THINK, what kind of car is best for such a trip? NOT a 911 or a Corvette, not a Body-on-frame pickup truck or SUV. It has to be a LONG vehicle, and most importantly, with a LONG WHEELBASE. It should be quite heavy so it is comfortable (in addition to the always nice to have passive safety). It should be powerful but frugal, with today's ridiculous gas prices. It should be LUXURIOUS so when you get out of it after 12 hours of driving, to feel as rested and relaxed as when you started the trip.

    So naturally the best candidates are FLAGSHIP LUXURY SEDANS with the above attributes.

    What are the best ones to choose? A 2007-2012 Lexus 460 LS would be hard to refuse, and is very reliable to boot. (in 2012 they ruined its grille), but is poor in other chores (handling, poor steering feel etc). A BMW 7 series, like the MAGNIFICENT 1998 740iL with its adequate 4.4 lt V8 and its 282 HP and 300+ LBFT torque was also an excellent cruiser AS WELL as a great (as if on rails!) Handling car, with plenty of features and luxury fit for a king inside (plus they had facrtory GPS as early as 1998, which Merc Did not then!), but it is not as reliable as you would like. I owned one from 2005 to 2017, almost 20 years old and 150k miles at the end, when I donated it.

    My current car is just perfect for this job, being a GLORIOUS DIESEL Merc E 320 Bluetec 2007 (I also have a 2008 twin!), it gets 35-37 MPG on long trips, which offsets the ridiculous current Diesel prices, AND its 21 Gallon tank gives you 700-800 MILES OF RANGE, so you can fill up at the lowest cost stations at your convenience. COmpared with the BMW 7 V8, its V6 actually gives you about the3 same performance at half the MPG!! Because the HP may be less (208 vs 282) BUT the TOrque can only be matched by AMG gas versions, the E55 AMG, at over 400 LBFT.

    If you want a little better than the above AWESOME choice, try the S350 Bluetec Diesel, 2010-2013 models. THere are very few Diesels sold in the US, so you may have to drive 4 hours to buy yours (as I had to do with both of mine), BUT it is REALLY WORTH IT.

    BTW, the extra benefit of the diesel MErcs, they are THE MOST RELIABLE VEHICLES I EVER DROVE, and I had plenty of Hondas and other alleged reliable cars in the past. TWO diesels, owned from 2016 and 2017, and NOTHING went wrong with them except ROUTINE Maintenance, brake pad replacement, new set of tires, NO FAILURES OF ANY KIND!

    If you have experienced these outstanding cruisers, tell us what you think. If NOT, try them!

  • Funky D Funky D on Nov 26, 2022

    While my father-in-law was still with us and my parents were able to host us for several days (they are now both deep in their 80s), we would travel from our home in the Deep South to Ohio and Indiana.

    We've done the trip in everything from an 87 VW Cabriolet to an 96 Impala SS to a 2002 Chevrolet Avalanche, 97 GMC Safari, and lastly, a 2011 Toyota RAV4.

    My favorite of the above had to be (naturally) Clifford the Big Red Avalanche. We made the most trips in him than any of the others. It lasted until a year ago at 20 years and 183k miles.

  • Jeff S Jeff S on Nov 27, 2022

    My wife's 2000 Taurus was one of the best road cars I have driven in a while with its cruise control, 6 speaker stereo, large trunk, and added traction control when the roads are slick or with snow on them. Mpgs were outstanding and the ride was very smooth. My 77 Monte Carlo was another smooth riding car soaking up the miles with ease.

  • Dave Holzman Dave Holzman on Nov 28, 2022

    My '08 Civic with 5 on the floor, and Michelin Pilot Ultra Sports, or whatever they're called, which noticeably add to the already good handling. But what makes this car the right car for the trip is the back roads between suburban Boston and Niskayuna NY--outside of Albany. Rt. 2, from the Connecticut River to Troy, NY (just short of Niskayuna) goes from being a gently winding two lane road to climbing the Berkshires, where the Civic excels with its tight handling, and relatively high power to weight ratio as it tips the scale at slightly more than 2,600 lbs. (For reasons I haven't yet figured out, the climb is even more fun going west to east.) Going east to west, once down from the Berkshires 2 does a lot of gentle winding on the way to Troy.

    There are other, more interesting backroads to get from Williamstown to Albany... and there are a lot of fun backroads between the Connecticut River and Rt. 7.