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Best Cars for Road-Tripping in the Southwest

The Southwest is a premiere road-tripping destination. With its warm and sunny days, clear skies, unique desert scenery and wide open roads, it’s no surprise that each year thousands of people embark upon the drive of a lifetime and tour the great American Southwest.

Part of the beauty of the Southwest region is its tough and desolate wilderness. Unfortunately, this is also the part that makes planning your road trip very important. To really get the most out of your road trip to this area and stay safe while doing so, you’re going to need to find the perfect vehicle for your trip.

  • Something with great gas mileage, because gas stations aren’t so readily available on long stretches of desert highway.

  • Something with good climate control to counter the blazingly hot days and freezing nights.

  • Something with a lot of storage space so you can pack food, water, camping supplies and everything else you’ll need while out on the road.

Here are a few options for vehicles that will keep you safe and comfortable as you discover the stunning Southwest.

Toyota RAV4 Hybrid

This full-sized SUV gets more than 30 mpg with its hybrid technology. With capacity for 15 to 16 gallons of fuel, you won’t have to worry about filling up once you hit the road. You’ll get all-wheel drive to keep you driving straight on sandy, rocky roads. With seating room for five people and more than 70 feet of cargo space, you’ll never run out of room. Some models even have towing capacity of about 1,500 pounds so you can take along a trailer. Bring along some motorcycles and feel that desert wind on your skin! Dual climate control options and heated seats will keep you comfortable no matter what nature throws at you.

Ford Flex

The Ford Flex is an affordable and highly-customizable SUV. Some Ford Flex models come with all-wheel drive as an option, as well as dual-zone automatic temperature control. A rear cooling and heating system helps keep all of your passengers comfortable in the hottest and coldest weather. A navigation system will keep you on track, while the average 23 mpg is rather impressive for a vehicle of this size. Little touches like reading lamps for second- and third-row seats will keep you and your passengers riding in simple luxury no matter where the Southwest spirit takes you.

Hyundai Santa Fe

We didn’t pick this one because it’s named after a Southwestern city, but it definitely is telling of why this SUV is so perfect for a road trip in the region. This stylish SUV has room for six to seven passengers, rear seat ventilation with HVAC vents to keep things cool during the day and a dual front automatic temperature control system that actually cleans and ionizes your air. You can opt for ventilated front seats, heated front and rear seats, and other comfort options too. The Santa Fe comes standard with electrical outlets, underfloor storage and interior lights to help you stay connected and equipped all day and night while on the road. With about 23 mpg, you’ll get a lot of miles for your gas money with this impressive and comfortable vehicle.

Jeep Grand Cherokee FWD Limited

With 31 mpg on the highway, optional air-conditioned seats, 4×4 and seating for five, the Jeep Grand Cherokee FWD Limited is a superb choice for a road trip anywhere, including the Southwest. With the rugged but stylish design you come to expect from a Jeep, you’ll want to take this thing from the back roads to the towns to show it off. High ground clearance and a reinforced body will have you safe in any terrain and keep you from getting stuck or stranded, even if it’s somewhere beautiful where you wouldn’t mind spending a night or two.

Honda Ridgeline

A 4×4 pickup truck like the Honda Ridgeline is an excellent choice for a desert road trip. This truck is a 2017 IIHS Top Safety Pick. Not only does the Ridgeline have lots of space for all of your passengers with its roomy four-door cab, but you’ll also get the benefit of the truck bed. Whether you use it with a truck cover to store cargo or have some fun in the sun with it by adding a truck-bed pool, you’ll be happy to have the space. The Ridgeline gets an impressive 26 mpg on the highway.

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