We love road trips. Exploring new vistas. Reliving favorite childhood journeys. Trying out a latest purchase. Any excuse is good enough to hit the road. Our choice of vehicle has an enormous effect on the quality of the trip, however. Some cars are better at certain things, aren’t they? And some are truly horrible at long-distance drives.
On Monday we asked you, via Facebook, “What’s the worst car to take a road trip in?” Your answers followed three veins: small cars, high performance cars, and trucks and sport-utility vehicles.
Bart McGrath led the charge against small cars by calling out the “1997 Chevy Crapalier.” Clearly, it did something to earn his scorn but we’re left to wonder what. But Bill Bloomfield left no doubt about the 1970 Jackal Dune Buggy he drove haltingly from Nantucket, Mass., to Syracuse, N.Y. “No heat, wrapped in a sleeping bag. The carb froze a few times in western Massachusetts and we had to stop and let it thaw before proceeding.”
Ross Bickerton mentioned a ’73 Volkswagen Super Beetle, although it seemed his problems stemmed from his companions more than the car: “Toronto to Cape Cod (Mass.) and back… with three guys (two of them over 6’4”) and all of their luggage and tents crammed in.” We could’ve predicted that a few VWs would make this list but were surprised by the high percentage (over 10 percent) of Smart Car mentions.
It’s only 185 miles from Yuma, Ariz., to Phoenix, hardly a long road trip, but it was plenty long enough for Bob Mahood. “In a Smart Fortwo without cruise control it was/is my limit.” Carter Deven Stokoe took the small car theme to an extreme by suggesting the Peel P-50. That’s not a bad road trip car, it’s masochism.
You also mentioned lots of high performance cars. Small ones especially, like the Lotus Elise. Dimi Tron said his was “unbearable after four hours.” As for supercars? “No luggage space, uncomfortable, bad gas mileage,” opined Juan Carlos. “I mean why? Take an SUV or at least a big sedan.”
Reggie Horning, Hagerty Licensed Sales Agent, disagrees, claiming that trucks are a poor choice. “We had a 1982 GMC One-ton 4WD truck that I used to drive back and forth to school, a three-hour drive. It was rough. It felt more like six hours.” And John Halter, Jr., simply said “Jeep CJ5.” We feel your pain, John — tire and wind noise are miserable over long stretches, and that short wheelbase doesn’t help.
Some of you didn’t name a specific type of vehicle, but rather described other things that are sure to make your life miserable out on the road. “Any vehicle that’s low on oil, equipped with bad tires, or has an empty gas tank,” offered Mark Huber. Bryce Iliff added, “Any high-profile vehicle so that I have to fight the wind.” And we’re not sure what Adam Rodriguez has endured but he said, “Any car that has my mother as a passenger.” We’ll take his word for it.