Labor Day weekend typically signals the end to the summer, and for many it’s the last chance to soak up the sun before shorter days, cooler weather and the inevitable return to school (albeit in online form for many). Travelers considering a road trip are not alone. AAA reports that cars are the travel mode of choice this summer for family excursions.
With fewer available flights and the fear of coronavirus keeping people out of airports, the road is the predominate method for getting to vacation destinations. According to AAA, road trips accounted for 97% of travel this summer. That’s up from an average of 87% over the last five years.
Lucky for consumers, the new vehicle market is filled with options ideal for long stints on the road. Many SUVs and trucks offer spacious, well-appointed cabins equipped with advanced infotainment systems and built-in Wi-Fi hotspots to keep passengers entertained and connected to friends (or work) while on the go. Ample cargo space in roomy SUVs also eliminates the stress of the cost of checkingluggage or packing within rigid weight limits.
Here are 7 SUVs and 1 pickup that slay on the open road.
2020 Chevrolet Traverse
A true people mover, the 2020 Chevrolet Traverse midsize SUV offers a cavernous interior that seats up to eight people in its three rows (or seven when configured with optional second-row captain’s chairs). The Traverse slots in between the Chevrolet Equinox five-seater and the venerable Tahoe full-size SUV. With 23 cubic-feet of cargo space behind the third row and 57.8 with the third-row seats folded flat, the Traverse’s flexible cabin configurations easily fits kids, pets and luggage.
Cabin tech includes either a 7-or 8-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility and a Wi-Fi hotspot (subscription required) that can connect up to seven devices on the 4G LTE network. The Traverse is powered by a 310-horsepower 3.6-liter V6 engine paired with a nine-speed automatic that achieves up to 27 mpg on the highway (21 mpg in combined city and highway driving). The family hauler comes configured with a front-wheel drivetrain and available all-wheel drive. It can tow up to 5,000 pounds when properly equipped, which makes it an extra capable weekend warrior.
2020 Honda Pilot
The 2020 Pilot is Honda’s largest SUV and its most capable weekend adventurer. The three-row midsize SUV is equipped with a 280-horsepower 3.5-liter six-cylinder engine paired with either a six- or nine-speed automatic. Although it’s comes standard with FWD, it can be outfitted with AWD and a traction management system, which gives the eight-seater extra confidence in in a range of challenging terrains. Behind the third row is 16.5 cubic-feet of cargo space, which expands to 46.8 with the rear seats folded flat.
The Pilot can achieve up to 27 mpg on the highway (22 mpg in combined highway and city driving) and has a ton of standard advanced driver assistance features, including adaptive cruise control and lane keep assist. There are a lot of good reasons to hit the road in a Pilot, and when the miles start to add up after myriad road trips, rest assured that Hondas are renowned for their longevity and high residual value.
2020 Ford Explorer
The Ford Explorer is all new for the 2020 model year and now sits on a rear-wheel drivetrain for enhanced capability. The midsize SUV has standard seating for seven passengers (or six when outfitted with two second-row captain’s chairs). The Explorer is available with a powerful 300-horsepower 2.3-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine a 3-liter hybrid powertrain with a total output of up to 318 horsepower or a 3-liter turbocharged V6 that produces up to 400 horsepower. All engines are paired with a 10-speed automatic transmission, and a four-wheel drivetrain is available. Depending on its powertrain, the Explorer achieves up to 29 mpg on the highway (up to 28 mpg in combined city and highway driving).
If weekend getaways include hauling watercraft or other heavy sporting gear, the Explorer is capable of towing up to 5,600 pounds when properly equipped. An optional terrain management system also makes it ideal for road trips off the beaten path. Inside the cabin is an available 10.1-inch LCD running Ford’s Sync 3 infotainment system with Waze compatibility and a Wi-Fi hotspot (subscription required) that connects up to 10 devices. The rear cargo area offers 18.2 cubic-feet of storage space behind the third row, and up to 47.9 cubic-feet with the third-row seats folded flat.
2020 Nissan Rogue
With an all-new model due in the next few months, bargains for the already affordable 2020 Nissan Rogue will be easy to find. Larger than the compact Kicks but smaller than the three-row Pathfinder, Nissan’s top-selling Rogue compact crossover offers sleek design and a sporty driving experience from its 170-horsepower 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine paired with a variable transmission. Equipped with FWD and available with AWD, the Rogue features standard advanced driver-assistance safety tech such as emergency braking with pedestrian detection and lane keep assist.
Inside the cabin is two rows with comfortable seating for five. An available sliding panoramic moonroof brings in fresh air and daylight to brighten long drives. The Rogue’s back row slides and reclines for passenger comfort, and the cargo area features an adjustable floor with dividers and shelves to make the most of the segment-topping 39.3 cubic-feet of storage capacity. For travelers that don’t need third row, the Rogue provides more than enough space for a quick getaway out of town.
2020 Kia Telluride
Kia’s new flagship SUV hits all the sweet spots. With three rows that seat up to eight passengers, the 2020 Kia Telluride is a perfect ride for exploring the open road with the family.
The midsize SUV is powered by a 3.8-liter V6 engine paired and to an eight-speed automatic transmission that delivers 291 horsepower and 262 pound-feet of torque. It’s also rated to tow up to 5,000 pounds. The Telluride boasts a slew of standard advanced driver-assistance safety tech including front and rear automatic emergency braking, blind spot monitoring, lane keep assist and adaptive cruise control. It makes ample use of technology to help with long trips such as the available “driver talk” intercom to communicate with passengers in the rear, an optional quiet mode that limits audio to the front row and the available Rear Occupant Alert feature included with UVO subscription to give parents traveling with small children peace of mind.
2020 Jeep Grand Cherokee
The Jeep Grand Cherokee is the original family-hauling SUV with legitimate off-roading credentials and is the largest of the brand’s line of rugged activity vehicles. This two-row, five-seater is available with four engine options that range from the standard 3.6-liter V-6 engine with 295 horsepower and 260 pound feet of torque to a 6.4-liter turbocharged V8 engine with an output of 475 horsepower and 470 pound feet of torque. It offers offers best-in-class towing capacity of up to 7,200 pounds when properly equipped. All engine options are paired with an eight-speed automatic transmission.
The Grand Cherokee is offered in seven trims, including the trail-rated Trailhawk that has drive modes preconfigured for Sport, Track, Snow and Tow settings. It’s known for its tried-and-true off road capability, but it’s equally renowned for cozy cabin comfort that can be equipped with an 8.4-inch Uconnect infotainment system, heated front and rear seats, an available dual panel sunroof that brings the outdoors in on long drives. There interior also can be dressed in a wide selection of luxurious leather and wood finishes to turn any road trip into a premium vacation experience. Though it doesn’t offer a third row for larger families, it boasts segment-topping cargo space behind the back seat, which features a 60/40 split for flexible cargo loading. Adventurers can take advantage of its 36.3 cubic-feet of storage hold, a measurement bested in only by Toyota’s utilitarian 4Runner that has 47.2 cubic-feet of storage in the rear.
2020 Hyundai Palisade
Hyundai hit it out of the park with its new affordable three-row midsize SUV. The 2020 Hyundai Palisade offers a host of technology features and high-end touches such as quilted Napa leather interior materials that level-set it with luxury competitors that cost thousands dollars more. This seven-seater is powered by a 3.8-liter V6 engine that produces 291 horsepower and 262 pound-feet of torque and is paired with an eight-speed transmission.
Inside the cabin are many technology features to keep connected on the road, including a 10.25-inch navigation display mounted above the center stack, optional wireless charging, seven USB outlets and the ability to connect two Bluetooth devices at the same time (one for a mobile connection and the other for audio streaming). Designed with road-tripping in mind, the Palisade features 16 cup holders, an optional intercom system to communicate with rear passengers and a roof vent diffuser that improves airflow to pets or kids in the third row. To store cargo and gear, the Palisade offers 18 cubic-feet of storage with the third row up and 45.8 when folded flat.
2020 GMC Sierra AT4
Not all road trips end where the pavement does. The GMC Sierra AT4 full-size pickup is ideal mode of travel when adventuring means heading off road without sacrificing comfort and style. The available Off Road Performance Package matches a 6.2-liter V8 engine with a 10-speed automatic transmission and a custom cold air intake and performance exhaust system that delivers 435 horsepower and 469 pound feet of torque. The Sierra AT4 also offers a 9,800-pound tow rating when properly equipped. Four-wheel drive is standard on the Sierra AT4 and the suspension is raised 2-inches for additional ground clearance.
The luxe pickup also includes the new Traction Select System and a camera mounted low in the front that displays what the driver can’t see—both are helpful aids for navigating difficult terrain. Hidden compartments behind and under the rear seats maximize storage inside the cabin that offers roomy seating for five. The standard MultiPro Tailgate is capable of six configurations to help load and access different shapes and sizes of gear into the bed, and a 120-volt outlet in the cargo box makes it easy power up tools and equipment even when far off the grid.
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