Live from Detroit, it’s the acronym challenged North American International Auto Show (NAIAS)! Here’s a look at the best new rides for your next family road trip, whether that’s to the beach this summer, to grandmom’s house during spring break or across the whole of the country before a new school year starts in the fall. These new SUVs and cars will get you there in comfort and in style, no matter where “there” happens to be, and because gas prices sit at 20-year-lows, there’s never been a better time to road trip in a big, beautiful car.
2016 Volvo XC90
For my money (not that I have enough to afford her — $50,000 to start, $68,000 for the plug-in hybrid variant), the classy XC90 from Volvo is the most startling example of form and function for families looking to get away in style and comfort. It’s no wonder it took home Motor Trend’s top prize for its segment. Give me one of these in a deep “Passion Red” and I’ll start packing immediately!
2017 Kia Sportage
This sporty small SUV just screams out fun and adventure! The Sportage is the Kia Sorento’s rock-n’-roll loving little brother, the kind of kid who colored outside the lines and continues to defy both the expectations of others and the status quo. You can fit your kids and your stuff nicely into a Sportage and set off for a road trip every bit as unique as your family.
2016 Buick Envision
Duncan Aldred, vice president of Buick said that “the all-new Buick Envision is a modern, confident and responsive luxury compact crossover [SUV]” and while he’s spot-on, what I like best is the emphasis on a supremely quiet cabin, because aside from other drivers making dangerous left turns from the right lane, road noise is my #1 pet peeve while behind the wheel.
2016 Toyota Prius Four Touring Edition
While we put one of Toyota’s Sienna minivans through the paces during our cross-country 3-week road trip last summer — from the snowy top of the Rockies to the dry 117-degree heat of Death Valley — and a big Toyota Highlander SUV to the test in the Pacific Northwest, we’ve also road tripped in a Prius, in the midst of a harsh Midwestern winter. The 2016 Prius, now available in six grades in a new graded system, is roomy enough for a family of four and delivers remarkable fuel economy to make a journey of any length and on any surface — highway or big city streets — an even more affordable one.
2017 Subaru Forester
The newest version of our own everyday family car hasn’t changed too much in the three years since we bought into our 2nd Forester (there is, however, a more robotic look up front on the bumper), but that’s not a bad thing at all. She still sports impressive hip and headspace for big and tall drivers like me, ample legroom for growing kids in the back and enough trunk space for plenty of luggage… and all the new things you’ll collect along your way!
2016 Chevy Trax
Maybe it was the clementine orange glaze, but I was immediately smitten with the Chevy Trax LTZ on display at the Detroit Auto Show, despite having never once heard of this vehicle beforehand. The small SUV hatchback starts at a hair over $20,000, making it an affordable entry point into the crossover market and the perfect car to gallivant over sand dunes.
2017 Chevy Equinox LTZ
Admittedly, I get wobbly-kneed upon spying a two-toned interior and so this inviting Equinox LTZ, with its warm and rich cappuccino and black coffee leather seats and dash, drew me in straightaway. There’s just something incredibly soothing about cruising inside a reading-room quality cabin.
2017 Mercedes-AMG GLS63
If you demand turbocharged V8 performance when exploring the Pacific Northwest or going coast to coast with your kids, this large and luxurious Mercedes-AMG SUV is going to turn heads as you blow into town.
Kia Telluride Concept
OK, so you’re not going to be going anywhere in a Kia Telluride this year and, while I shudder at the thought, you may never have the privilege of cruising between the slopes and the sea in this hi-tech luxury SUV concept from Kia. But if someday she goes into production, you’ll get health and wellness diagnostics on your door’s control panel and be able to nap fully horizontal in the second row seats. Now THAT’S a utopian road trip set-up!
— Jeff Bogle
Jeff Bogle is an at-home dad of two pre-tween daughters. He writes about parenthood, family travel and all things childhood on his site OutWithTheKids.com. He considers himself one of the luckiest guys in the world. Jeff also writes for PBS.