Top 10 Road Trip Vehicles for 2009

The top ten road trip cars for 2009 brought to you by DriverSide.com.
By Zach Bowman

Gas has finally retreated from the low-orbit prices of last year and summer time is right around the corner. That’s a perfect combination for a road trip no matter how you slice it, and manufacturers have plenty to offer when it comes to vehicles that are ready to take on the task of carting you and your best friends wherever you want to go. Whether it’s a quick trip to the mountains for some time on the trails or a long haul to the beach with surfboards and towels aplenty, they’ve got you covered. Check out DriverSide’s top 10 list of 2009 road trip vehicles.


2009 Ford Flex




2009 Audi A3 2.0 TFSI

2009 Ford Flex  
No matter where you’re headed, the Ford Flex has you covered. With striking style, a cavernous interior that includes seating for seven and a silky-smooth six-speed automatic transmission, this is the ultimate road tripper. No matter where you’re seated inside, you’re guaranteed plenty of legroom and a comfy chair. That won’t keep your friends from fighting over shotgun, but it will make sure no one complains about not being able to feel their legs an hour into your trip. What’s more, even though the Flex sports a powerful 3.5-liter V-6 with 262 horsepower, it returns fuel economy in the mid-20s. While that’s not great, it’s more than respectable for such a huge vehicle. You can get yours in all-wheel drive trim, too.
 
At a glance
MSRP: $28,550
Engine and Drivetrain: 3.5-liter V-6 engine with 262 horsepower and 248 lb-ft of torque; 6-speed automatic transmission; front-wheel drive standard, all-wheel drive optional
MPG: 17 mpg city/24 mpg highway front-wheel drive, 16 mpg city/22 mpg highway all-wheel drive
 
If you’re planning on hitting the highway, why not do it swaddled in German luxury? The A3 delivers seating for five and enough room behind the rear hatch for all of your road-tripping necessities. That’s good news for your passengers, but the A3’s real bright spot comes from behind the wheel. In 2.0 TFSI trim, the A3 is powered by a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine with 200 horsepower. Throw in the manual six-speed transmission or Audi’s legendary Quattro all-wheel drive system and you’ve got a ride that makes the trip more fun than the destination – at least for the driver.
 
At a glance
MSRP: $26,920
Engine and Drivetrain: 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine with 200 horsepower and 207 lb-ft of torque; 6-speed manual or a 6-speed automatic transmission; front-wheel drive or optional full-time all-wheel drive.
MPG: 22 mpg city/28 mpg highway (front-wheel drive, automatic), 21 mpg city/30 mpg highway (front-wheel drive, manual), 21 mpg highway/28 mpg highway (all-wheel drive, automatic)
 
So you want to head up the highway with a couple of friends and a couple of dirt bikes but don’t want to suffer at the gas pump? The Honda Ridgeline is for you. Inside the cab, you’ll find all of the creature comforts you’d expect out of a Honda – including supportive seating for five, a rear seat that offers plenty of legroom and beaucoup safety. Under the hood is a whole different story. The Ridgeline is powered by a 250 horsepower 3.5-liter V-6, which gives this truck enough gusto to tow 5,000 pounds. What’s more, the bed has a watertight, lockable trunk to stow the gear you don’t want snatched from prying eyes. Other neat tricks like a multi-function tailgate and an automatic sliding rear glass make this one rugged road tripper. If you want to head off the pavement, the Ridgeline’s got you covered with a four-wheel drive system stout enough to take on the Baja 1000.
 
At a glance
MSRP: $28,200
Engine and Drivetrain: 3.5-liter V-6 engine with 250 horsepower and 247 lb-ft of torque; 5-speed automatic transmission; standard, fully automatic 4-wheel drive system
MPG: 15 mpg city/20 mpg highway
 
The 2009 Toyota Venza may look like it’s more fit for picking up the kids from soccer practice than heading out for a wild spring break weekend, but it brings a lot to the road trip table. For one, it seats five people with space to spare and the interior is the kind of comfortable you don’t mind spending hour after hour riding along. The available panoramic glass sunroof provides ventilation and plenty of sunlight. If the passenger and cargo area isn’t enough to convince you the Venza is your ride, the fuel-thrifty 2.7-liter four-cylinder should be. The engine delivers up to 29 mpg highway while toting you and your friends along, meaning more cash stays out of your tank. 
 
At a glance
MSRP: $25,975
Engine and Drivetrain: 2.7-liter four-cylinder engine with 182 horsepower and 182 lb-ft of torque; 6-speed automatic transmission; front-wheel drive.
MPG: 21 mpg city/29 mpg highway
 
Not every trip requires raiding the sporting goods warehouse before setting out. Maybe you’re headed to Las Vegas for a weekend of hitting the strip instead of the beaches. If that’s more your style, the 2009 Lincoln MKS is for you. Lincoln has blessed its MKS with looks that mean business and the motor to back it up. Under the hood lies a deceptively powerful 3.7-liter V-6 engine with 273 horsepower. That’s more than enough to get you and your friends where you’re going in a hurry, and the deep trunk out back means there’s room for everyone’s luggage. Inside you’ll find the kind of interior befitting a luxury sports-sedan – meaning everyone gets their own leather throne.
 
At a glance
MSRP: $40,380
Engine and Drivetrain: 3.7-liter V-6 engine with 273 horsepower and 270 lb-ft of torque; 6-speed automatic transmission; full-time all-wheel drive
MPG: 16 mpg city/23 mpg highway
 
If spending hour after hour crammed in the same space with five friends isn’t the thing for you, the 2009 Volvo C30 just might be. With the rear seats folded down, there’s plenty of room for trip cargo and only one extra seat for one very lucky individual. Inside, occupants get treated to the finest in Swedish designs – which means a super low-stress, clean interior that’s comfortable enough for mile after mile of carefree driving. The C30 also offers up great fuel economy thanks to its 2.5-liter turbocharged five-cylinder engine. 
 
At a glance
MSRP: $23,800
Engine and Drivetrain: 2.5-liter turbocharged five-cylinder engine with 227 horsepower and 236 lb-ft of torque; 6-speed manual, 5-speed manual or 5-speed automatic transmission; front-wheel drive
MPG: 19 mpg city/28 mpg highway 
 
The MINI Cooper Clubman just won’t stop being cool, and the relatively new Clubman model makes all that awesome functional, as well. That’s thanks to its barn-door style rear gate and a third door that makes sliding in and out of the backseat a breeze. There’s even more room behind the backseats for extra cargo room and all of the personalization options we’ve come to associate with MINI. Of course, the company’s legendary fuel economy is part of the package, too. If you’re looking to get where you’re going in style, the Clubman’s your ride.
 
At a glance
MSRP: $20,850
Engine and drivetrain: 4-cylinder engine with 118 horsepower and 114 lb-ft of torque; front-wheel drive; 6-speed manual or 6-speed automatic with manual mode and paddle shifters
MPG: 28 city/37 highway (Manual), 26 city/34 highway (Auto)
 
Subaru’s given its mighty WRX some of its grunt back compared to last year’s model. That means all the gusto we know and love out of the 2.5-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine is back in a big way with 265 horsepower kicking at all four wheels. If you’re headed somewhere snowy this year, the Impreza WRX is your go-to machine thanks to Subaru’s unstoppable all-wheel drive system and the company’s years of experience tackling slippery rally conditions all over the world. Of course, there’s room for five inside and copious cargo room under the rear hatch. What’s not to love?
 
At a glance
MSRP: $24,995
Engine and Drivetrain: 2.5-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine with 265 horsepower and 244 lb-ft of torque; 5-speed manual; full-time all-wheel drive
MPG: 18 mpg city/25 mpg highway
 
Yes, Nissan’s new-to-the-U.S. Cube is a little funky looking, but that’s the fun of it. The asymmetrical design and Scion-fighting amenities make the Cube ideal for low-cost road-tripping fun. Inside there’s enough space to stuff all of your friends and their goods, and with a base price of just $13,990, quality highway time doesn’t get much cheaper. Of course, this isn’t the most powerful box on the block with just 122 horsepower, but it does offer up solid fuel economy and lots of entertainment options. Plus, there’s something to be said for cruising around in a first-edition ride.
 
At a glance
MSRP: $13,990
Engine and Drivetrain: 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine with 122 horsepower and 127 lb-ft of torque; 6-speed manual or continuously variable transmission; front-wheel drive
MPG: Estimated 30 mpg highway
 
If you just can’t quite give up the idea of hitting the road in your luxury SUV, Mercedes-Benz has the answer for you in the 2010 GLK. This baby ute has a shorter wheelbase than the company’s SLK drop-top, but offers up the kind of comfortable ride as excellent interior only Mercedes-Benz can deliver. Power is no problem thanks to a 268 horsepower 3.5-liter V-6, and while there isn’t a whole lot of room for cargo, there is enough to stash a few bags for quick trips out of town and back. Unfortunately, the GLK’s fuel economy puts it at the bottom of the list. Still, that doesn’t mean we wouldn’t hop in it and go anywhere in a heartbeat. 
 
At a glance
MSRP: $33,900
Engine and Drivetrain: 3.5-liter V-6 engine with 268 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque; 7-speed automatic transmission; rear-wheel drive
MPG: 16 mpg city/22 mpg highway

 


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