Best vehicle for a cross country road trip?

CharlieO

Friend of Leo's
Ad Free Member
Joined
Mar 2, 2003
Posts
3,150
Location
Sarasota, FL
I am just beginning to think about a cross country road trip, going from Florida to the west coast in spring. The eventual destination probably is Portland, OR. I will be driving alone. I expect that I will be staying in motels for most of the time, but will also stay with friends and family in various locations. I am not opposed to sleeping in my vehicle occasionally, but I am not a camper and am not really interested in staying in RV parks. I have tossed around ideas for various vehicles to drive, but have not settled on anything yet.

My budget could go as high as $30,000, but I wouldn't have a problem a with a reliable $5000 20-year old vehicle. I usually drive sedans and convertibles, and have never owned a van, SUV, RV or any kind of truck. My first thought was to buy a station wagon, maybe a BMW 3 Series, Mercedes E-Class, Cadillac CTS, or Buick TourX. All of these should be a pretty nice car for 400 or 500 mile days, and I could sleep in the back if necessary. The next obvious choice would be a van or SUV, but honestly I really don't know anything about them because I never wanted one and never paid any attention to them. This is where I could really use some help. If you were considering a van or SUV for a long trip, what would you buy?

I suppose that I could also consider a Class C motorhome, something like a Mercedes Sprinter or whatever. Would I hate driving something like this for a month or more?

I guess my chief consideration is comfort for long haul drives. Fuel economy is something to think about, and I would buy a diesel, hybrid or plug-in hybrid if it makes more sense than a typical gas-powered vehicle. Another thing that I thought about is the possibility of selling the vehicle on the west coast and flying home. Is there anything that you can think of that would be easy to sell quickly? I bet an AWD wagon would sell quickly in the northwest.

My brothers on the west coast do this kind of travel frequently. They both leave their wives at home and go wherever they want for a month or more. One drives a relatively new Honda Civic and the other drives an old VW Eurovan. I suppose I could imagine a Eurovan for short trips, but not for something like this.

If you were going to plan a trip like this, would would you drive? What ideas do you have that I should consider?
 

jfgesquire

Friend of Leo's
Joined
May 23, 2018
Posts
2,456
Age
55
Location
Lake View
These unloved vehicles were only imported into the US for three years. Even though they have a Buick badge, they were made in Germany by Opel, which GM no longer owns.

My TourX had a $40k sticker that I paid less than $30k for it, all in, NEW.

You can still find a few at tremendous discounts, but they stopped putting Buick labels on them and importing them in January of this year. They are running out.

250hp, 295lb ft of torque, 0-60 in 6.2 seconds, Turbo 2.0 AWD with torque vectoring.

The pic is NOT mine, just one I found on the web, but I do own one.

tourx.jpg
 

Nightclub Dwight

Friend of Leo's
Joined
Aug 12, 2016
Posts
2,542
Location
Pittsburgh
Maybe rent a vehicle? We travel from Pittsburgh to New England every autumn (except this year unfortunately) to visit family. After a mishap one year we decided to rent and have had worry free enjoyment from then on. We often find great bargains on unlimited mileage rentals through Costco. You can rent just about any type of vehicle if you plan ahead.
 

jfgesquire

Friend of Leo's
Joined
May 23, 2018
Posts
2,456
Age
55
Location
Lake View
Maybe rent a vehicle? We travel from Pittsburgh to New England every autumn (except this year unfortunately) to visit family. After a mishap one year we decided to rent and have had worry free enjoyment from then on. We often find great bargains on unlimited mileage rentals through Costco. You can rent just about any type of vehicle if you plan ahead.

And Costco membership gets you a free second driver, doesn't it?
 

CharlieO

Friend of Leo's
Ad Free Member
Joined
Mar 2, 2003
Posts
3,150
Location
Sarasota, FL
These unloved vehicles were only imported into the US for three years. Even though they have a Buick badge, they were made in Germany by Opel, which GM no longer owns.

My TourX had a $40k sticker that I paid less than $30k for it, all in, NEW.

You can still find a few at tremendous discounts, but they stopped putting Buick labels on them and importing them in January of this year. They are running out.

250hp, 295lb ft of torque, 0-60 in 6.2 seconds, Turbo 2.0 AWD with torque vectoring.

The pic is NOT mine, just one I found on the web, but I do own one.

View attachment 762913

That actually has been what i have been thinking for my first choice. My neighbor bought one several months ago, and I love it. It would make no sense for what I do here in Florida, but I really could imagine it for a trip like this. New or nearly new with a warranty and a bargain price. What's not to like?
 
Last edited:

Speedy454

Tele-Holic
Joined
Oct 1, 2013
Posts
649
Location
Highland, IL
The best deals in used cars are the 3 year old lease returns. Generally under 40K miles and about 1/3 to 1/2 off orig. sticker price.
Having driven about 1.25M miles in my career, I like the ride of a sedan but the convenience of a mid size SUV. Some of the newer small and mid size SUVs have a ride nearly as good as a sedan, and nearly as good of gas mileage. As for exact choices, that is a personal thing. Ask 100 people and get 98 different answers. But I will say that something to keep in mind is maintenance on the trip. A cross country trip will almost always need at least an oil change. Pick a make/model that will be able to be serviced along the way without those dreaded delays waiting for parts to come from who knows where.
 

Speedy454

Tele-Holic
Joined
Oct 1, 2013
Posts
649
Location
Highland, IL
While I was typing, Subaru came up.
Solid, reliable, common enough, comfortable enough. Very safe and stable.
My daughter has one with about 200K on it, her boyfriend has her older one with almost 400K on it. They do seem to last if you take care of them. Most of the known engine issues through the years have finally been resolved on the newer models.
 

CharlieO

Friend of Leo's
Ad Free Member
Joined
Mar 2, 2003
Posts
3,150
Location
Sarasota, FL
Maybe rent a vehicle? We travel from Pittsburgh to New England every autumn (except this year unfortunately) to visit family. After a mishap one year we decided to rent and have had worry free enjoyment from then on. We often find great bargains on unlimited mileage rentals through Costco. You can rent just about any type of vehicle if you plan ahead.

I hadn't thought about renting. That idea might have some merit. If I could do one way rentals at a good rate, I might do that. It also might provide flexibility. If I don't like what I start with, maybe I could change vehicles along the way. Thanks for this. Now I have to dig into it a bit.
 

unixfish

Doctor of Teleocity
Silver Supporter
Joined
Apr 20, 2013
Posts
15,896
Location
Northeast Ohio, USA
I have thought of driving to see my sister - a 20 hour drive. I would take my VW Jetta; 1.8T engine makes good torque, and gets 40+ MPG at 65 MPH, 35+ MPG at 75. Big enough, comfy, etc.

I would look at a midsize or larger sedan that gets good mileage. Some would look at an SUV or pickup, but the gas, OMG, the fuel costs!

Hmmmm, used, 3 year old, and sell it to fly home? That is not a bad plan. You may not lose much depending on patience.
 

CharlieO

Friend of Leo's
Ad Free Member
Joined
Mar 2, 2003
Posts
3,150
Location
Sarasota, FL
Uh how bout a Harley or maybe and Indian?:cool:

I have absolutely no interest in motorcycles. In my 68 years I have seen the bodies of 8 dead motorcyclists on the road or at the side of the highway as the EMTs and police tended to them. No, thank you.
 

CharlieO

Friend of Leo's
Ad Free Member
Joined
Mar 2, 2003
Posts
3,150
Location
Sarasota, FL
I have thought of driving to see my sister - a 20 hour drive. I would take my VW Jetta; 1.8T engine makes good torque, and gets 40+ MPG at 65 MPH, 35+ MPG at 75. Big enough, comfy, etc.

I would look at a midsize or larger sedan that gets good mileage. Some would look at an SUV or pickup, but the gas, OMG, the fuel costs!

Hmmmm, used, 3 year old, and sell it to fly home? That is not a bad plan. You may not lose much depending on patience.

I was thinking something on the line of what you are suggesting. I might buy something used that it not particularly desirable or suitable to Florida, like an AWD wagon, at a good price. If it is worth a couple of thousand more in the northwest, that would be great.
 

Boreas

Poster Extraordinaire
Joined
Nov 3, 2019
Posts
8,396
Age
66
Location
Adirondack Coast, NY
I am just beginning to think about a cross country road trip, going from Florida to the west coast in spring. The eventual destination probably is Portland, OR. I will be driving alone. I expect that I will be staying in motels for most of the time, but will also stay with friends and family in various locations. I am not opposed to sleeping in my vehicle occasionally, but I am not a camper and am not really interested in staying in RV parks. I have tossed around ideas for various vehicles to drive, but have not settled on anything yet.

My budget could go as high as $30,000, but I wouldn't have a problem a with a reliable $5000 20-year old vehicle. I usually drive sedans and convertibles, and have never owned a van, SUV, RV or any kind of truck. My first thought was to buy a station wagon, maybe a BMW 3 Series, Mercedes E-Class, Cadillac CTS, or Buick TourX. All of these should be a pretty nice car for 400 or 500 mile days, and I could sleep in the back if necessary. The next obvious choice would be a van or SUV, but honestly I really don't know anything about them because I never wanted one and never paid any attention to them. This is where I could really use some help. If you were considering a van or SUV for a long trip, what would you buy?

I suppose that I could also consider a Class C motorhome, something like a Mercedes Sprinter or whatever. Would I hate driving something like this for a month or more?

I guess my chief consideration is comfort for long haul drives. Fuel economy is something to think about, and I would buy a diesel, hybrid or plug-in hybrid if it makes more sense than a typical gas-powered vehicle. Another thing that I thought about is the possibility of selling the vehicle on the west coast and flying home. Is there anything that you can think of that would be easy to sell quickly? I bet an AWD wagon would sell quickly in the northwest.

My brothers on the west coast do this kind of travel frequently. They both leave their wives at home and go wherever they want for a month or more. One drives a relatively new Honda Civic and the other drives an old VW Eurovan. I suppose I could imagine a Eurovan for short trips, but not for something like this.

If you were going to plan a trip like this, would would you drive? What ideas do you have that I should consider?

Volvo 245 Wagon. I did two solo cross-country trips in mine, sleeping in the back. They are very roomy.
 




Top