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Guest Posting: Looking To Get Away? The 5 Best Cars For The Perfect Family Road Trip

Edited by: Beth Bellor 

Hey guys, It’s the summer travel season and many of you may be getting behind the wheel as you head over the river and  through the woods to.. oh well, you-know-who’s house. So I  asked my good buddy, Kelly Murphy, Creative Director at Automobile Magazine, which is the best car to get the job done. In style, because yes, baby, you must look good too, even with screaming kids in the back seat. So what follows are his picks for the 5 best cars for the family road trip.

You’re ready for a well deserved getaway… including getting away from that Cheerio-crusted car you spend so many hours in.

To choose one perfect road trip car is all but impossible, so these are my 5 best vehicles for your summer road trip getaway, whether you’re renting for the occasion or adding to the family fleet.


This baby can perform like a sports car on the open road as well as it can run the sand dunes of Africa. The BMW X5 is stylish and dignified.

By far and away one of my favorite cars period, it can haul all you have. It excels in driving in sub-par conditions, with Xenon lights that illuminate everything clearly, even in torrential rain. The size offers easy height access for passengers and cargo, yet not so large it can’t navigate urban challenges of parking/driving. Peekaboo cameras up front show you what’s around the corner.

Inside you will find a sliding panorama glass roof and individual climate controls for all passengers. Front passengers can opt for telescoping and ventilated seats, probably the best in the industry. BMW claims a capacity for 7, but the third-row seat option is a bit of a waste; keep it to 5 and use that space for souvenirs. An extensive entertainment system allows you to fully integrate your iPhone and ensures the family is happy no matter where they are seated.

The Details: From $48,395. Easily doubled with packages and options. M5 nearly $90,000 plus.

AWD, 16/23mpg, 6-Cyl, Twin Turbo, 3.0 Liter, Automatic, 8-Spd Adaptive w/Sport & Steptronic Modes. Max Seating Capacity 7 (Realistically 5), Doors 4. Basic Warranty 4 years or 50,000 miles. The X5 can tow a substantial 6,000 lbs.

Minivan: Honda Odyssey

I think minivans are some of the most eye-hurting rolling sculptures on the road, but if you must forgo style for functionality, I have to guide you toward the Honda Odyssey. The van is especially geared toward families with younger children, with room for 7, their gear and everyone’s cups. It also can accommodate three car seats across. Beware, fully loaded with 7 you are going to need some sort of roof rack for luggage.

Parents can control rear entertainment and climate from the front to help referee the battling kids. More impressive is that with all this utility, the Odyssey still achieves 28 mpg. I’m disappointed, though, that Honda only provides a basic 3-year/36,000-mile warranty.

The Details: From $42,160. FWD, 19/28mpg, V6, i-VTEC, 3.5 Liter, Automatic, 6-Spd, Max Seating Capacity 8 … Really. Doors 4. Basic warranty 3 years or 36,000 miles. Towing Capacity 3,500 lbs.

Wagon: Cadillac CTS-V Wagon

You may look like a family enjoying vacay in a wagon, but you are secretly a lead-footed performance family incognito. CTS created a new era for Cadillac and the CTS-V version will give the neighbor’s sports cars a run for their money.

Inside you will find a very modern car. Sleek lines of dash buttons give way to seats that caress you like a couture glove. Unfortunately, American luxury cars are missing the boat on in-car entertainment and information systems, and the CTS-V is no exception; there is no rear passenger entertainment system available. Make sure your mobile devices are properly loaded with content to pass the time before leaving.

The design will limit what you will tow and a roof rack system may be needed. Another problem I had with this car is that it has some rather large blind spots.

The Details: CTS Wagon from $41,810.

Mine was $49,935. CTS-V from $65,410 (adds V8, adrenaline, RWD and drops MPG).

AWD, 18/26mpg, V6, 3.0 Liter, Automatic, 6-Spd w/Overdrive, Max Seating Capacity 5. Basic Warranty 4 years or 50,000 miles. Towing Capacity 1,000 lbs.

Sedan: Audi A7

This is the perfect fit for the more mature family with a teen or two. The WiFi hotspots enable you to use your own laptop or iPad to stream or watch downloaded content. The MMI system provides intelligent integration with the iPod and iPhone, and allows connection of a USB flash drive or a conventional auxiliary audio input.

The advanced nav system displays 3D topographical maps and satellite imagery, and spending extra $5,900 will spoil your ears with the Bang & Olufsen 15-speaker sound system. Beyond the artful technology this car contains, every detail has been thought out down to the high-textured wood grain accents.

Night driving is a pleasure with ambient illumination on the doorsill, center console and door bags. On the exterior your path is illuminated by xenon adaptive headlights that pivot up to 15 degrees to light up corners more effectively. Under the hatch you will find 24.5 cubic feet of cargo.

The Details: From $60,125. 5-door Base Premium. Fully outfit an Audi A7 with Prestige trim and the price swells above $80,000.

AWD, 18/28mpg, 6-Cyl, Supercharged, 3.0 Liter, Automatic, 8-Spd w/Overdrive & Tiptronic. Max Seating Capacity 5, Basic Warranty 4 years or 50,000 miles. Towing Capacity 1,650 lbs.

EXXXcess: Ferrari FF

Be honest, you spend 24/7 with those rugrats! Grandma always says she would like to see them more, so use the four seats to shuttle them to her house.

Unwind, let go and hightail it across the Blue Ridge Parkway in the East or the PCH in the west! Come on, it’s a Ferrari and you don’t have to take care of the kids. Just don’t let the sexiness of this libido machine create the need to trade it in for more room in 9 months! Road trip tip: Pick up the kids and grandma some surprises to compensate for the guilt factor.

The Details:

Estimated Base Price: $300,000.

AWD, 11/17mpg, V12, 6.3 Liter, Automatic, 3-door Hatchback , Max Seating Capacity 4.

What do you look for in a road trip car? Are you practical or indulgent?

More from GEM:

Life Lessons: Kelly Ryan Murphy

Surving Road Trips: Good Enough Mother Style!

Our Story Begins: Hang On! Can’t Dad Be Nurturing Too?

Kelly Ryan Murphy is the award winning Creative Director for “Automobile Magazine.” in his career he has achieved 19 national design awards. In the little are time he has, he loves riding his super spore bikes, traveling, home remodeling and in the last five years, has started bodybuilding and hopes to compete one day. He has an amazing partner, Jim, who pushes him in his success and together, they have two children of the four-legged variety, cats Tango and Buster.


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