These are the 30 best cars for summer road trips

The Ferrari 488 Spider.

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The Ferrari 488 Spider.
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Matthew DeBord/BI

  • When it comes to summer road trips, there are a ridiculous number of vehicle options.
  • We rounded up a variety of wheels, from sporty roadsters to hulking SUVs.
  • Many of these vehicles have actually been road tested on actual road trips by BI’s crack team of car reviewers.
  • So trust us!

Nothing says summer more than a summer road trip.

Over the next few months, many of us will take to the road, individually, as families, and in festive groups. There will be playlists. There will be stops in strange and exotic places. There will be nights spent in cheap motels. The culmination will be unexplored destinations, beaches, lakefronts, and all manner of additional curiosities.

Clearly, the car matters. My memories of childhood road trips in summertime are as much about a Buick station wagon as as where the family was going

Fortunately, at Business Insider we drive just about everything from minivans to Rolls-Royces. So we’ve put together a list of amazing summer road-trip rides, from the basic and utilitarian to the absurdly luxurious.

I’ll be the first to admit that practicality wasn’t always our guide. In numerous cases, the hot car won out over the ones that handle simple A-B duty.

So yes, some of these machines will get you to where you’re going with more style than luggage space. So be it!

Read on to see what we recommend.


Mazda Miata MX-5

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Matthew DeBord/BI

For straightforward, joyful motoring in the open air, few cars can match the pure spirit of the great roadster of all time, the Mazda Miata MX-5, now in its fourth generation. This is my personal favorite Miata since the first-gen, a car that I owned and took on several road trips.

Yes, your luggage will be limited. But you wanted to travel light anyway. And yes, you’ll be limited to one passenger. But didn’t you want only the best company?


Mazda Miata MX-5 RF

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Matthew DeBord/BI

If a drop-top coupé Miata is more your speed, the MX-5 RF is just as much fun.


Ford Mustang EcoBoost Convertible

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Matthew DeBord/BI

Obviously, we’re working through red convertibles here. The EcoBoost Mustang ragtop is tremendous fun and should be available in rental fleets. But don’t let that stigma put you off this four-banger – it’s all pony car.


Ferrari 488 Spider

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Matthew DeBord/BI

Enough with the red! I took this Avorio (means “ivory”) Ferrari cabrio on a jaunt to Lime Rock Park to watch a bit of racing. It’s the ultimate cruising vehicle from Maranello – but this horse can do more than prance, powered by a 660-horsepower twin-turbo V8.


MINI Cooper S Convertible

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Matthew DeBord/BI

The ‘Stang has a back seat, sort of. The MINI Cooper S drop-top does a bit better. Four adults could undertake a short journey in relative comfort. I took one of these in a run to Jersey Shore a few summers back and it was brilliant.


Porsche 911 Targa

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Matthew DeBord/BI

This is a 911 with a rectangle roof that folds away, mechanically. It has always been my favorite Porsche, probably always will be. As with other rides on our list, the Targa was my chariot on a run to Lime Rock Park, a racetrack in Connecticut.


Corvette Grand Sport Convertible

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Matthew DeBord/BI

The Grand Sport is the greatest Vette ever, and the convertible option simply pushes it over the edge into rhapsody.


Lamborghini Huracán Spyder

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Matthew DeBord/BI

The wild edges of Lambos of old have been sanded off with the Huracán, which is more of an everyman’s supercar.

Throw in the Spyder option, however, and the domesticated beast put the wind back in your hair.


BMW M4 Convertible

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Matthew DeBord/BI

This drop-top German muscle car was the ticket for a dash from Manhattan to the East End of Long Island a few years back.

A very provocative and pleasurable take on the ultimate driving machine, with room for four in its 2+2 configuration.


Porsche 911 GTS

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Hollis Johnson

Priced at $129,000 and all Porsche, the 450-horsepower 911 GTS is the road-tripper I’d choose if I wanted to rip up some road.


BMW i8

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Benjamin Zhang/Business Insider

Business Insider’s Ben Zhang spent a few days with BMW’s hybrid supercar, taking it in a 750-miles road trip through scenic New England.

“During my journey, I subjected the i8 to everything from gridlock city traffic and highway cruising to spirited jaunts through twisty country roads,” he reported. “The BMW tackled every situation with poise and more than a little flair.”


Toyota Prius

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Matthew DeBord/Business Insider

The latest-generation of the Great Hybrid Ever was a car I checked out in 2016. I own an example of the previous gen and would take this sub-$30,000 fuel-sipper just about anywhere.


BMW i3

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Matthew DeBord/Business Insider

The i3 isn’t purely electric. It has a range-extender gas motor that kicks in after the battery is drained. The total range is about 15o miles. But you don’t have to recharge if it’s inconvenient. You can instead just stop every 50 miles and splash in some more gas.


Tesla Model S

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Matthew DeBord/Business Insider

The Model S is a different story. It can achieve over 300 miles on a charge, depending on battery-pack configuration.

Tesla’s widespread Supercharger network also makes a coast-to-coast all-electric road trip a possibility.

And the Model S has so much cargo capacity that you can use it almost like and SUV.


Tesla Model X

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Matthew DeBord/BI

Of course, if you must have an all-electric SUV for your summer road trip, Tesla has you covered with the Model X.

It can easily carry up to seven people and all their gear (the third row might be a bit snug for two passengers).


Tesla Roadster

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Matthew DeBord/Business Insider

If you’d prefer your Tesla to be more stripped down, then seek out the far more rudimentary Roadster. The original is no longer on sale, but you can pick one up used. And a new Roadster will arrive in the next few years.


Ford F-150 Raptor

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Matthew DeBord/BI

The Raptor is the baddest pickup in all the land. It’s optimized by Ford’s Performance Division for maximum offroad enjoyment, but I took it on a 400-mile round-trip run to New York’s Catskills and thought it was remarkably pleasant.


Buick Envision

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Matthew DeBord/BI

The Envision is made-in-China, but it’s become a bestseller for Buick. I drove it all the way to Detroit and back from my home base in the New York area.

Of note is the Envisions superb infotainment system, among the easiest to use in the auto industry.


Cadillac CT6 with Super Cruise

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Matthew DeBord/BI

The CT6 is Caddy’s flagship sedan and for now the only vehicle in the lineup that has the hand-free freeway driving feature, Super Cruise.

I Super Cruised from New York to Washington, DC and was extremely impressed by the system.


Toyota Sienna

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Matthew DeBord/BI

Not the coolest ride in the world. But when I had to pick up four kids and all their gear after two weeks at summer camp, I was grateful for how much carrying capacity the Sienna had.


Lincoln Navigator

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Hollis Johnson/Business Insider

The redesign of the original luxury SUV is flying off dealer’s lots.

If you want to road trip with a big crew of folks, the Navigator will enable you to do it in style.


Jaguar F-PACE

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Hollis Johnson

If you’d like to take a road trip in the most beautiful SUV ever made by human hands on planet Earth, the glorious F-PACE is you’re set of wheels.


Audi Q7

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Hollis Johnson

The title of finest luxury SUV on Earth has to go to the magnificent, technologically advanced Audi Q7.


Porsche Panamera Sport Turismo

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Hollis Johnson/Business Insider

The Porsche Panamera was our Business Insider 2017 Car of the Year. But it wasn’t a wagon!

Now we have one: the Sport Turismo gives you just a little more party in the back, with all the awesome performance the Panamera is known for.


Kis Stinger GT2

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Matthew DeBord/BI

The outstanding Stinger is the best Kia ever – and our personal favorite among all the cars we’ve driven so far this year.

I spent several days driving this amazing sports sedan around the Bay Area and was blown away.


Jeep Wrangler

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Matthew DeBord/BI

The Wrangler is old school, but in a good way. If you want to rough it on your summer road trip, there are few better choices.


Rolls-Royce Phantom

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Hollis Johnson

If you absolutely, positively do not want to rough it, the Rolls-Royce Phantom is the most expensive car we’ve ever tested ($500,000 plus, if you were wondering).


Bentley Continental Supersports

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Benjamin Zhang/Business Insider

Business Insider’s Ben Zhang took this $328,000, 700-horsepower grand-touring beast on a lovely jaunt through Northern California wine country.

“The car I drove was dripping with soul and certainly echoed the style and performance,” he concluded.


Lexus LC 500h

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Hollis Johnson

A high-performance coupé that’s also good for the environment? Say hello to the remarkable Lexus LC 500h, a hybrid version of the LC 500.

Possibly the most fun-to-drive hybrid on the road – a Prius turned up to 11.


Mercedes-Benz G-Wagon

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Hollis Johnson/Business Insider

Finally, if your summer road trip might take you through the zombie apocalypse, the legendary G-Wagon will make sure that you can get to the other side.