Autotrader: The best cars for your holiday road trip

Autotrader: The best cars for your holiday road trip

23 Nov    Finance News

The Toyota RAV4


As we approach the end of the year, our thoughts turn to the holidays. While things are a bit different this autumn, there are safe ways to visit loved ones for the holidays. Which vehicles are the best ways to get across town or cross-country? Here is our list of the best vehicles for your fall and winter travels, whether you’re seeing family or venturing out to a socially distanced setting.

1. 2021 Toyota Sienna

The Toyota Sienna is an ideal people-hauler.


The priority of a minivan is to provide room for eight people and their stuff. Because of that, the minivan is still the ideal people-hauler, and there are plenty of great ones to choose from. However, when it comes to traveling in winter weather, a minivan that offers all-wheel drive is a huge advantage. The 2021 Toyota TM, +0.85% Sienna, which is just getting to dealerships now, is one of very few minivans that are available with AWD. This family-friendly model has 33.5 cubic feet of cargo space behind the third row, plenty of room for luggage and gifts. For 2021, the Sienna comes standard with a hybrid powertrain, which means it’s EPA rated for up to 36 MPG on the highway. 

Be sure to read: 8 easy tasks to make your car safer for winter

2. 2021 Kia Telluride

The Kia Telluride


Maybe a minivan doesn’t float your boat. If that’s the case, consider the Kia Telluride. As is the case with a minivan, Kia’s 000270, +2.06% midsize SUV can seat up to eight people. It has a spacious, luxurious cabin and offers a quiet, comfortable ride, which is always nice for a long road trip. It also comes with a wide array of tech, connectivity, advanced driver assists, and safety features, many of which are standard. The Telluride has 8 inches of ground clearance, an available self-leveling rear suspension, and can tow up to 5,000 pounds. 

3. 2021 Honda Odyssey

The Honda Odyssey


If your goal is to stay away from places where all-wheel drive is a must-have (think sunny skies and swaying palm trees), a stellar minivan choice is the Honda HMC, +1.16% Odyssey. Wonderfully family-friendly, the 7- or 8-passenger Odyssey’s interior contains a variety of helpful features. Its Magic Slide second-row seats slide forward and back or side to side – so bickering siblings can stay farther apart. This feature also opens up easy access to the third row. The Hondavac is an optional onboard vacuum that makes it easy to clean up crumbs. There are also plenty of clever storage spaces throughout the cabin, making it easy for each person to stow his or her drinks and phones for the big trip. 

4. 2020 Toyota Highlander

While the Toyota Highlander name is not new, this SUV is all-new for 2020. It continues the Highlander’s established reputation as a roomy, capable, reliable family vehicle. The Highlander seats up to eight and comes standard with a suite of active safety features and smartphone connectivity. You can choose between the V6-powered Highlander or the Highlander Hybrid. Both are available with all-wheel drive, but the Hybrid achieves up to 35 MPG combined — 12 MPG better than the regular Highlander. 

5. 2021 Hyundai Palisade

While the Hyundai Palisade is related to the Kia Telluride, Hyundai’s HYMTF, +1.08% interpretation of the three-row midsize SUV is different. The exterior styling is so different from its Kia sibling that you would never know the two were related. Inside, the Palisade has high-quality materials plus upscale amenities at a reasonable price. If you’re planning on driving with an SUV full of people, everyone will appreciate the standard one-touch sliding second row and the available power-operated third row. There’s even an in-car intercom, so you can tell the kids to stop throwing things at each other without having to raise your voice.

More: Five perfect cars for five great American road trips

6. 2021 Ford Expedition

Perhaps your ideal family trip for the holidays means the last trip to the lake for the season, with boat in tow. Or maybe you want to take your horse to an equestrian center another town over. The 8-passenger Ford F, -0.90% Expedition will let you tow 9,000 pounds in comfort. The Expedition is a tough, capable body-on-frame full-size SUV that’s surprisingly luxurious. Its turbocharged EcoBoost engine provides better-than-expected fuel economy and loads of power. Need even more space? There’s a long-wheelbase Expedition Max. 

7. 2021 Subaru Outback

The Subaru Outback


Up for some outdoor adventure? You and four others can take the Subaru Outback into the backwoods, if the urge strikes. The Outback’s standard all-wheel drive and 8.7 inches of ground clearance can make the road less traveled a tempting alternative to the highway. Its X-Mode optimizes AWD when you’re on slippery roads, and Hill Descent Control keeps the Outback under control going down muddy hills. Despite its off-road leanings, the Outback’s interior is elegant, with available options such as Nappa leather and seat heaters and coolers. The EyeSight suite of driver assists comes standard. You don’t have to take the Outback off-road to enjoy what this Subaru FUJHY, +1.94% has to offer. But if you ever feel like trying, it’s ready. 

Related: How do the Subaru Outback and the Volvo V60 Cross Country compare?

8. 2020 Hyundai Santa Fe

The Hyundai Santa Fe is a five-passenger SUV that has more interior space than a compact SUV. Upscale inside, with plenty of space for people and luggage, the Santa Fe offers a lot of value while looking and feeling like a more expensive vehicle. Safety is a top priority, with features like lane-keeping assist and forward collision avoidance standard, and Safe Exit Assist, rear cross-traffic collision avoidance, and blind-spot avoidance assist available. On the road, you and your family can take turns picking playlists, as Android Auto and Apple AAPL, -1.09% CarPlay connectivity come standard. 

9. 2021 Ford F-150

The Ford F 150


There are times when you can’t stay in the house with extended family, and you may not be comfortable with the idea of staying in a hotel. Why not bring your shelter with you? The Ford F-150, which is all-new for 2021, can tow 14,000 pounds, which would easily get a large, nicely equipped trailer to your destination. The F-150’s cabin is spacious, with SuperCrew models boasting a luxury-car-like amount of rear-seat legroom and a completely flat floor. Better yet, as these trucks arrive at dealerships, there will be an option called Pro Power Onboard. This feature allows you to use your truck as a generator. That could come in especially handy if there is a power outage at the in-law’s and you need to power appliances like a mini-fridge, heater, blender, battery charger, and TV – all at the same time. Pro Power Onboard will have even more capability with the upcoming F-150 Hybrid.

10. 2021 Toyota RAV4

The Toyota RAV4


When it comes to finding the right model to fit your needs, it’s hard to beat the Toyota RAV4. This compact SUV offers the most trim levels, powertrain choices, and personalities. Families that are into some off-roading can choose the TRD Off-Road or Adventure. The Limited trim prioritizes luxury. Value-minded buyers can look to the LE or XLE. If you want the most performance, you may prefer the XSE Hybrid, which is both powerful and fuel-efficient. And if you want to save on gas, there are multiple Hybrid models, as well as the upcoming Prime plug-in hybrid. The RAV’s upscale interior, generous cargo area, easy connectivity, and standard safety features will be appealing to every family. 

See: These are your best bets for used midsize luxury SUVs under $40k

11. 2021 Honda CR-V

Another compelling compact SUV is the Honda CR-V. It’s reliable and fuel-efficient, and boasts one of the largest cargo areas in the segment. The interior is just as roomy, with plenty of space for five and a lot of well-designed storage nooks. This highly practical Honda and has a comfortable ride without feeling mushy. When it comes to fuel economy, the efficient gas engine is only outdone by the hybrid. All trim levels come standard with Honda Sensing, the company’s suite of advanced safety features and driver assists, as well as Android Auto and Apple CarPlay connectivity. 

12. 2021 Toyota Avalon

If touring the country in a Lexus is your goal but a Lexus is out of your price range, there’s the Toyota Avalon. The Avalon is a full-size sedan, larger than a Camry or Honda Accord, meaning you and your family will have loads of space to stretch out. The Avalon also boasts a huge trunk. Upper trim levels have added luxury touches like quilted leather, heated and cooled seats, and 14-speaker audio. You don’t have to be concerned about encountering roads covered in mud and ice, as the Avalon is available with all-wheel drive. There’s also an excellent hybrid option. 

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