While on road trips, there are a few things you absolutely don’t want to hear. The following phrases are sure to engender a sense of bowel-clenching terror.
“Are we lost?”
“Are we being followed?”
“Did you remember to lock up before we left?”
… And other such utterances, but we’re sure you’ll agree when we say that nothing is scarier on a road trip than a crap car. After all, there’s more than a good chance you’ll be spending upwards of half a day in one, and the last thing you’ll want is a car you hate being in.
So to that end, we present to you some of our favourite road trip cars at (nearly) every price point. And while you're here, you might also want to check out the best performance cars below $400,000.
Volkswagen Golf Variant: $135,400 (605 litres boot space)
Objectively speaking, there’s very little not to like about the seventh-generation Volkswagen Golf, a car we called the Car of the Decade. And in station wagon form (a variant called the Variant, heh), there’s even more to love. It gets all the equipment you’ll find in the top-end Golf hatchback models and adds a racy R Line bodykit that also includes 18-inch alloy wheels. The only downside is its 1.4-litre engine with 125hp doesn’t exactly make it the zippiest thing around, though on the plus side, it absolutely sips fuel, with a consumption rating of just 5.5L/100km.
BMW X3 xDrive30i: $244,888 (550 litres boot space)
The mid-sized member of the BMW X family of SUVs certainly doesn’t suffer from middle child syndrome. It hits the sweet spot when it comes to practicality, power, agility and equipment, with enough of all the above to gamely tackle whatever task you might care to throw at it. It’s decently priced too, though if $244,888 is a little too rich for your blood, there’s an sDrive20i variant on offer. However, you’ll have to live with a little less power (184hp versus 252hp) and the all-weather surefootedness of all-wheel-drive.
Jaguar F-Pace 2.0 R-Sport: $273,999 (650 litres boot space)
The Jaguar F-Pace may not be the newest kid on the block anymore (it made its debut in 2016), but it still remains one of the finest handling SUVs on the market today. The entry-level model outfitted with a 250hp, 2-litre motor may pale in comparison to the 3-litre V6 motor with 340hp, but the former is certainly adequate, and it saves on running costs, too. This F-Pace’s relative lack of grunt also does little to diminish the fact that it has a generous 650 litre boot and roomy rear bench.
Audi RS4 Avant: $395,360 (505 litres boot space)
Making lunatic station wagons that think they’re sports cars has been Audi’s calling card for a good long while now, and the latest in that insane family tree is the fourth-generation RS4 Avant (the more practical cousin of the RS5). A new 2.9-litre twin-turbo V6 may have lost some of the charisma of its predecessor’s 4.2-litre naturally aspirated V8, but both cars have identical outputs—450hp, which along with its all-wheel-drive system is enough to catapult the new car from 0-100km/hr in 4.1 seconds. And it’ll also haul 505 litres of cargo with the rear seats up, making it a true everyday sports car.
Porsche Panamera 4 E-Hybrid Sport Turismo: $437,388 w/o COE (425 litres boot space)
The Porsche Panamera Sport Turismo is already the extra-practical member of the Panamera family, but in E-Hybrid form, it’s even more so. As a plug-in hybrid, it can run for a claimed 50km on electric power alone, which is more than enough to complete the daily commute without using a drop of fuel. It’s also pretty zippy, with combined output of 462hp from its 2.9-litre twin-turbo V6 engine and electric motor. It’s also the looker of the Panamera family, with its sleek shooting brake silhouette.
Lamborghini Urus: $798,000 w/o COE (616 litres boot space)
An SUV over 5m long, 2m wide, with a stonking 650hp on tap and costing over $800,000 (before COE and options) makes a statement, and that statement is “out of the way, peasant”. Lamborghini says the Urus is an SUV with the soul of a supercar, and we’re not inclined to disagree. It has a top speed of 305km/hr and if that isn’t enough to convince you, perhaps its uncanny deftness and agility will. The Urus truly is one of the finest SUVs money (a lot of money, actually) can buy.