As a seasoned road-tripper with a penchant for both automotive know-how and dragging my three teenage accomplices across continents, I’ve seen the good, the bad, and the cramped when it comes to vehicles suited for family adventures. Here’s my no-nonsense guide to the best cars for your next family road trip. 

The Ultimate Road Trip Warriors: Top Cars for the Family Adventurer

1. Honda Odyssey – The Family Fortress on Wheels

Eden flying a kite in Gearhart Beach

Eden flying a kite in Gearhart Beach with our Odyssey behind her. She’s 20 now!

I have owned a Honda Odyssey for 17.5 years. Yes, you read that correctly. When I was pregnant with Jonah, my 3rd child, I ended swapping my Ford Explorer out for a minivan. It’s so convenient when I need it that I’ve just kept it. It’s got 245,000 miles on it and it is still going strong. That’s why I am kicking the list off with it. 

  • Space Galore: Enough room to keep the peace among warring siblings, with seating for up to 8 and generous legroom.
  • Magic Slide Seats: Because apparently, kids can’t sit next to each other for more than five minutes without an international incident.
  • Rear Entertainment System: For those “Are we there yet?” moments, which start approximately 10 minutes into any drive.
  • Built-in Vacuum: For all the snacks that will inevitably end up everywhere but their mouths. (Mine is so old that I don’t have this feature, but all the newer ones do.)

2. Subaru Outback – The Adventurer’s Dream

Subaru Outback 2023 (1)

2023 Subaru Outback

  • All-Wheel Drive: For when the road less traveled isn’t actually a road. (I know because I may have off-roaded my brother-in-law’s Outback while he was out of town. Turns out it has plenty of power. Don’t tell him!)
  • EyeSight Driver Assist Technology: Because herding kids is enough work without worrying about the other drivers.
  • Spacious Cargo Area: Fits enough luggage to satisfy even the most overprepared parent (yes, including the kitchen sink).
  • X-Mode with Hill Descent Control: For navigating those mountain passes like a boss.

3. Toyota Sienna – The Cool Parent’s ChoiceToyota Sienna Minivan

  • All-Wheel Drive Option: For families who don’t let a little weather ruin their plans.
  • Flexible Seating for Up to 8: And by “flexible”, I mean you can practically do yoga with how those seats move around.
  • Dual Power Sliding Doors: Because asking kids to close the door softly is a lost cause.
  • Kick-Activated Sliding Doors and Liftgate: For when your hands are full (so, always).

 

 
 
 
 
 
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4. Ford Expedition – The Road BehemothFord Expedition is massive a great minivan alternative

  • EcoBoost Engine: Who said a beast can’t be gentle on the fuel?
  • Seating for 8 with Room to Spare: You can literally separate the kids by an entire row. Peace at last.
  • Advanced Towing Capabilities: For those who can’t leave home without their second home.
  • Panoramic Vista Roof: Because sometimes the best part of the trip is looking up.

5. Volkswagen Atlas – The Euro Chic Wanderer

Volkswagen Atlas

We’ve taken multiple trips in the Volkswagen Atlas because it is just so roomy. The most recent road trip we did in this was to Bend, Oregon.

  • Three Rows of Adult-Sized Seating: Because teens magically grow 6 inches overnight.
  • Digital Cockpit: Keep track of all your important info while the kids argue over whose playlist is better.
  • Ample Cargo Space: Fits everything from suitcases to sports equipment to the inevitable souvenir collection.
  • Adaptive Cruise Control: For when you need to rest your foot but not your vigilance.
  • High-end Features: Ventilated Front Seats, heated steering wheel, and IQ.Drive assistance.

6. Chevrolet Suburban – The Road Trip Behemoth

2025 Chevrolet Suburban

2025 Chevrolet Suburban

  • Enormous Cargo Space: Because packing light is for amateurs.
  • Seating for 9: Finally, a car that fits your family and the dog. Or two.
  • Rear Seat Media System: Because peace is priceless.
  • Advanced Safety Features: Keeps your most precious cargo safe.

7. Kia Telluride – The Underdog Turned MVP

2023 Kia Telluride

2023 Kia Telluride

  • Spacious Seating for 8: With room left for the family pet to stretch out.
  • Driver Talk: Broadcast your voice to backseat occupants, because why yell?
  • Quiet Mode: Front audio plays only in the front, for when the backseat passengers finally nap.
  • Smart Power Liftgate: For hands that are always full.
  • Wi-fi Hotspot: Compatible with iPhone, Apple Watch, and Samsung Galaxy smartphones.

8. Chrysler Pacifica – The High-Tech HavenTake a Pacifica mini van down Howland hill road in the Redwood National Forest

The kids and I took this hybrid minivan on a super long trip through Oregon and down into the Redwood National Park in California. Despite the long journey, it was a comfortable ride for the entire family. 

  • Stow ‘n Go Seating: Because sometimes you need more cargo space than seating.
  • Uconnect Theater: Dual 10-inch HD touchscreens with built-in games and apps.
  • Advanced SafetyTec Group: Because your family’s safety isn’t optional.
  • Plug-In Hybrid Option: For the eco-conscious family.

9. Tesla Model X – The Electric ExplorerTesla Model X

  • All-Electric Range: Long enough to forget gas stations exist.
  • Falcon Wing Doors: For easy loading in tight spaces, and because they’re cool.
  • Autopilot: For when the driver deserves a break too.
  • Spacious Interior: Comfortably seats 7 with room for luggage.
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10. Volvo XC90 – The Scandinavian SanctuaryVolvo XC90

  • Luxurious Interior: Because comfort is key on long drives.
  • Pilot Assist: Semi-autonomous driving because even parents need a co-pilot.
  • Integrated Booster Seats: For the little ones growing up too fast.
  • Large Cargo Capacity: For all of life’s essentials, and then some.
  • Top-Notch Safety Features: So you can focus on the journey, not the hazards.

11. Honda Pilot – The Dependable Workhorse

off-roading the 2019 Honda Pilot Elite

Off-roading the 2019 Honda Pilot Elite

  • Roomy Interior for 8: Space for everyone and everything.
  • Rear Entertainment System: Keeps the peace among quarreling siblings.
  • All-Wheel Drive Available: For adventures off the beaten path.
  • Ample Storage Compartments: For snacks, gadgets, and treasures found along the way.

12. Land Rover Discovery – The Rugged Luxe

  • Three Rows of Comfortable Seating: Luxury even in the wild.
  • Terrain Response System: For every type of adventure terrain.
  • Ample Cargo Space: Plus, clever storage solutions everywhere.
  • Advanced Tow Assist: For bringing along anything from boats to trailers.

13. GMC Yukon – The Luxe Tank

  • Massive Interior: With seating for up to 9.
  • Advanced Safety Features: Keeping everyone safe is a top priority.
  • Rear-Seat Entertainment: With dual screens and Wi-Fi.
  • Powerful Engine Options: Because mountains shouldn’t slow you down.

14. Audi Q7 – The High-Tech Highway Star

  • Luxury Seating for 7: So everyone gets a window seat (or close enough). With leather and comfort that spoil you.
  • Virtual Cockpit: For navigation and entertainment at your fingertips.
  • Generous Cargo Space: Plus, electric folding seats for easy configuration.
  • Quattro All-Wheel Drive: For when the weather turns as quickly as your teen’s moods.
  • Luxurious Interior: Because comfort should never be compromised.
  • Advanced Safety Features: Audi’s got your back (and front, and sides).

15. Toyota Highlander – The Reliable Roadmate

Toyota 2021 Highlander XSE

2021 Toyota Highlander XSE

  • Seating for 8: Room for the family and then some.
  • Driver Easy Speak: Voice amplification through rear speakers.
  • 5 USB Ports: Because every device needs to stay charged.
  • Safety Sense P: Keeping an extra eye out for you.

16. Mercedes-Benz GLS – The Pinnacle of Road-Trip Luxury

  • Three Rows of Sumptuous Seating: Travel in first-class comfort, with room for the extended family or an entire soccer team’s worth of kids.
  • E-ACTIVE BODY CONTROL: Glide over bumps and dips as if you’re floating on air, ensuring even the most motion-sensitive passenger enjoys the ride.
  • MBUX Infotainment System: A user-friendly interface that responds to natural voice commands, because sometimes you need to keep your eyes on the road and hands on the wheel, especially with a carload of distractions.
  • Panoramic Sunroof: Offers a sky view for passengers, turning every drive into a scenic journey, and perhaps providing a peaceful distraction from backseat quarrels.
  • Heated and Ventilated Seats: Keep everyone comfortable, no matter the season. Because the war over the thermostat doesn’t need to extend to the vehicle.
  • Ample Cargo Space: With easy-fold rear seats, there’s plenty of room for luggage, sports equipment, and the occasional large, impulsive purchase from roadside attractions.
  • Driver Assistance Package: Offers peace of mind with features like active brake assist and blind-spot assist, because safeguarding precious cargo is always a priority.
  • Impressive Towing Capacity: For those who believe a luxury getaway still can include boats or trailers, proving once and for all that elegance and utility can coexist beautifully.
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17. Chevrolet Tahoe – The American Road Icon

  • V8 Engine Power: Because sometimes, you just need to feel the roar.
  • Generous Interior Space: Enough room to avoid accidental elbow jabs (and the ensuing arguments).
  • Infotainment System with Wi-Fi: Keep the digital natives in their natural habitat – online.
  • Multiple USB Ports: So everyone’s device is charged and no one’s bored.

18. Kia Sorento – The Underestimated Challenger

Kia Sorento Hybrid

Kia Sorento Hybrid

  • Three Rows in a Compact Frame: Because you need to park this beast eventually.
  • All-Wheel Drive Capability: For when “off the beaten path” is taken literally.
  • User-Friendly Infotainment System: Because no one has time for a complicated relationship with their car’s interface.
  • Surprisingly Affordable Luxury: Who said opulence had to empty your wallet?
  • Advanced Driver Assistance Systems: Blind spot colllision-avoidance, Rear cross traffic collision avoidance, and safe exit assist. 

19. Dodge Durango – The Muscle Mover

2023 Dodge Durango SRT Hellcat

2023 Dodge Durango SRT Hellcat

  • Powerful Engine Options: Because a little grunt work never hurt.
  • Three Rows of Seating: Space for everyone, even the family dog.
  • Uconnect Infotainment: Keeping everyone connected and entertained.
  • Towing Capability: For families that bring their adventures with them.

20. Mazda CX-9 – The Stylish Roadster

  • Turbocharged Engine: Who said a family car can’t have a little zoom-zoom?
  • Sophisticated Interior: Feel like you’re in a luxury vehicle (even with a car full of kids).
  • Advanced Safety Features: Mazda’s got your back, side, and front.
  • Sport Mode: For when you need a little extra fun on the freeway.

21. Nissan Pathfinder – The Path Pioneer

2024 Nissan Pathfinder Rock Creek 4wd

2024 Nissan Pathfinder Rock Creek 4wd

  • Four-Wheel Drive: Take the road less traveled, with confidence.
  • EZ FLEX Seating System: Because getting to the third row shouldn’t require gymnastics.
  • Tri-Zone Entertainment System: Everyone gets their own screen. Silence is golden.
  • Motion Activated Liftgate: For when your hands are full of snacks, souvenirs, or sleepy toddlers.
  • Towing Capacity: Depending on which model you get, you can tow up to 6,000 lbs. 

Before you set off on your next epic journey, remember that the best vehicle for your family is one that fits your specific needs, budget, and style. Whether you’re navigating city streets or exploring rugged terrain, there’s a road trip champion out there for you. Just make sure it has enough cup holders – trust me on this one. Happy travels!

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Get Travel Insurance

Unfortunately, there are a lot of things that can go wrong on any trip. Be prepared for the worst with travel insurance. We use Travelex or Safety Wing (often cheaper).

Book Flights

I use Skyscanner to find flights. I use it so much, I wrote an entire guide to finding cheap flights with Skyscanner!

Book a Place to Stay

I recommend using Expedia.com or Hotels.com for most hotel bookings. I prefer to book directly with Marriott when I stay there because of their excellent military discount.

If you prefer staying in a vacation rental instead, I recommend VRBO.

Rent Clothes

Rent clothes for your trip with Travel Style Expert for only $50 a month! The first 30 days are free!

Choose Activities and Tours

To find great activities in any area I use Get Your Guide and Viator. If we are visiting a city with lots of popular attractions I always check CityPass and GoCard to see if they have discount cards available. Groupon also tends to have a lot of local travel deals.

When I want to book a full-on multi-day tour I use TourRadar. They’ve got fantastic weekly deals. If I am going somewhere in Mexico or the Caribbean I use Apple Vacations.

Rent a Car or Take a Lyft

More often than not Lyft is cheaper than Uber. Use my Lyft link for an $18 credit! For a car rental in any country, I recommend Hertz or Discover Cars.

Save Money on Gas

Upside, a free app gets you cash back on gas! Use promo code RV2Q2 to get an extra 15¢/gal bonus on your first purchase.

Get a Visa

I use iVisa to get all of my Visas.

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