Road trip update: What would you drive across the country?

I am not allowed to show you any pictures of our 2007 Honda Accord.

But imagine, if you will, what a high-mileage vehicle that regularly shuttles three high-energy kids between school, music lessons and play dates looks like, and you’ll have a good idea.

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If Mater from the Pixar film Cars comes to mind … well, you’re not that far off.

Our car has been loved to death. There are candy wrappers and empty water bottles strewn across the back seat, and I can’t remember the last time it was washed. Right now, it looks like it survived a riot in London. It’s embarrassing. Which is why Kari won’t let me show you the car.

But that’s not what really concerns me.

We’ll be lucky if it makes it up to Canada next week. Our October itinerary in Florida — sure. Texas and New Mexico? I don’t know. I wouldn’t want to scale a mountain road in a blizzard with this set of wheels.

Question is, what are we going to do about it? We’ve had some very informal discussions with car manufacturers who are watching this project with interest. It would be nice to have a car company sponsor our trip, of course. But they’d give us what they want us to drive. And that doesn’t really answer the question of what we should drive.

What would you take on a cross-country trip?

Here are the candidates, as I see it.

The RV.
Ahh, think of all the room! In one of these road-yachts, we wouldn’t have to worry about finding accommodations every night. We’d just pull out our beds and — voila! — we’re good to go. But wait! The gas bills would kill us. And it wouldn’t eliminate the need for a smaller car to get us around once we’re at our destination. Still, I wouldn’t mind it.

The minivan
You can’t sleep in one of these, but the fuel bills are more manageable. On the downside, it’s a minivan, which every parent I know drives. A minvan symbolizes conformity, which is the last thing we want to be. But still, if we found the right minivan, we might feel differently.

The SUV.
We’re not really SUV types, either. But you never know.

The hatchback.
After our third child was born, we seriously considered buying a hatchback. But alas, on a writer’s salary, even that kind of upgrade wasn’t possible. I’ve traveled across America in a station wagon with my family (I have four siblings) and although it was crowded, it worked. It would be more fuel-efficient than a minivan or RV, but still give us enough horses to get over the mountain.

The sedan.
This is our default choice: Keeping the Accord and hoping for the best. And also, making sure our AAA dues are paid, which, I can assure you, they will be. I have to say, I love driving a sedan. You feel the road. You make frequent stops and get a chance to see the country. You’re not wasting precious fossil fuel. Downside? (Other than our trusty Honda breaking down?) Not enough room, insufficient power, and mild claustrophobia.

So these are the decisions we’re faced with. What would you drive across the country? Are there any particular car manufacturers we should talk to about a sponsorship, or should we just stick with what we have?

Full disclosure: I’ve driven a Honda since 1992, and before that, a Ford. Loved them both. My switch to Honda was made largely for price reasons, and not because I disliked my Ford. I’ve had the privilege of renting a lot of other cars in the meantime, and the two standouts are a Jaguar I rented from Hertz a few years ago (oh, that was fun!) and a Ford Explorer, which was a pleasure to drive but guzzled gas like there was no tomorrow.

Most of all, we don’t want to get lost in the crowd on this trip. We’re looking for something unique, not generic. On a road trip, a car is the sixth member of the family, so this decision is almost like adopting a new baby.

(Photo: Nick K/Flickr)

76 thoughts on “Road trip update: What would you drive across the country?

  1. How about going for a hybrid SUV. You have the HP, the room, and you save on gas with the hybrid option. I had a Ford Escape, it was nice sized on the inside, especially since your kids are small, and enough room behind the seats for luggage. They do have it in a hybrid option. Just a thought.

    1. Hi – My Academy classmate has a hybrid SUV and he stated that he gets better gas milage with local driving then he gets on the highway. He drives locally about 85% of the milage but I travel highway about 85% of my travels. I purchased a new Toyota Highlander as we drive to Florida from New York. It is big enough to hold four months luggage etc and I am happy with the 23.2 miles per gallon. It all depends on how and where you drive.

      Have a wonderful day – Cliff

    2. Yeah, but at $35K+ for this thing you’re paying $5k-$8k premium for the hybrid part alone. Amortize that difference across how long you will be owning the vehicle against the savings in fuel and this premium cost for a hybrid just doesn’t make sense! This is especially true if you drive mainly highway miles.
      No, If you’re looking at an SUV, You’ld be better served in a GMC Terrain. Better Highway miles than the hybrid and more room too! Plus, this thing just looks cool!

  2. Everybody knows that hybrids are not designed for highway trips.
    And specifically, the Ford Escape… the cheapo regular model starts at $21k and gets 28mpg while the hybrid cheapo starts at $30k and gets 31mpg. Rough numbers… 100,000 miles, $3.50 gallon gas, the hybrid would burn $1200 less but costs $9000 more. How does that make sense Sammy????

    1.  Like guest said. You’re not just buying a car for one single road trip. You’re going to have it for a while. So yes, it’s worth it to me. Take proper care of your car and you can drive one for 10+ years. I know people personally who have gotten more than 300,000 miles on their cars with proper maintenance. I owned a KIA Sephia, that was supposed to be a “throw away” car for 10 years. Not everyone trades in their cars every three years.

      And how long is gas going to stay as a “measly” $3.50 a gallon? It just keeps going up and up and up and up. Here in Vegas we have at points gotten dang close to $5.00 a gallon. The only way we lose our dependence on OPEC is to lose out dependence on carbon based fuels so much. That make MUCH more sense to me for the long run view for the world.

  3. If you need All Wheel Drive, and with 3 kids, a Subaru Outback  is hard to beat. I have the current 2011 4 cyl. model with the continuously variable transmission (CVT). It gets pretty good fuel economy especially on the highway; although nowhere near my Toyota Prius tor city driving. I would not take the Prius for a cross-country ride.

    1. Tony A,you stole my thunder! I was thinking Outback as well. (I need to wake up earlier!)

      In addition to the points you made it would give you the room of a station wagon and all wheel drive…’cause you never know!

      My first choice would be minivan, but I sense Chris is looking for something different.

      1. An Outback is an excellent choice. However, get the 6 cyl if you do. Going up mountain passes ad merging into traffic would be terrible in the 4 cyl version. We live in the mountains outside of Denver. We tested them both and ruled the 4 cyl out immediately…

    2. I originally voted minivan, but I think a “station wagon” type might actually be the best.  I had a subaru for the first car I owned, kept it 7 or 8 years, my next car might be another subaru.  

    3. I too have an ’11 Outback which I like a lot.  I got the 6-speed instead of the automatic–mileage is slightly less but I did a calculation similar to t m above and concluded that the automatic would take 75,000 miles to pay for itself.

      We did do a 4-week trip with our old Chevy pickup and popup camper a few years ago, which was very enjoyable.  Mileage not great but we had our home with us, also our bikes and inflatable kayak, and the 4WD pickup can get into places an ordinary RV would fear to tread.

        1. I still have my old Chevy Tahoe and it is now my airport, Costco and
          Home Depot car (because it can hold so much luggage). If gas wasn’t 4
          bucks, I’d take it cross-country any time. We are about the junk our
          Chrysler Town and Country mini-van. It was a great concept in the 90s – mom’s taxi. But when the price of gas went up, the Prius became the taxi. If I needed to buy a minivan today I’d get the new Honda Odyssey.
          It is important for people to know that the 2011 Subaru Outback is much
          larger than its older siblings. It’s not too small to drive
          cross-country. Take that from someone (me) who still drives a Tahoe
          around town.

  4. As the oldest of 3 children, I am convinced that exceedingly cramped family road trips with no air conditioning and Dad smoking for hundreds of miles each summer were the reason my sister and I barely spoke until our 20s. Save your children years of therapy bills and get something at least a bit bigger than a sedan. 🙂

  5. I say mini-van.  I understand you want the car to be an extension of your family, but in a cross-country trip – comfort & ease of use should be top considerations.

  6. Mini vans are ubiquitous because they are practical — with three kids, it might be good to get an extra row of seats so that they don’t have to share just one row (unless you’re kids are perfect, which I’m sure they are, there’s the bickering that can go on when they sit three across). Friends of mine with young kids have a Toyota mini-van and it’s downright luxurious. Comfort and space (and half-decent mileage), those are the things I’d go for. Or find an old used Volkswagen bus!

  7. We recently drove just over 2,000 miles from Atlanta through Cincinnati, Louisville, St. Louis and Indianapolis in a Ford Edge.  Spent right about $350 in gas over 11 days.  There’s plenty of room in the back for suitcases, etc. and has a very roomy back seat for the kiddos. 

    1. I am not a huge fan of American cars by any means, but I rented a Ford Edge from Hertz about a month ago and was duly impressed.  It’s in that relatively new category called ‘Crossover’, which is basically a combination of a sedan and SUV.  It’s got more of a car ride feel than a truck, but you have the hatch as well which is very convenient.  Great interior room, good handling, decent mileage, etc.  Definitely worth checking out, and you can rent one for an upcoming trip from Hertz, so you can try it out on a road trip before making any commitments.

      1. I put about 500 miles on a rented Ford Edge several months ago on a business trip, and I loved it. Roomy, powerful, and comfortable. Of course, seeing that I averaged 21 mpg in mostly highway driving just about stopped my heart since my car and my wife’s car get almost double that. But if that size vehicle appeals to you, then I’d echo AutoSlash and Melissa and recommend the Edge. (I’m not generally a fan of American cars, either, though I think they’ve gotten a lot better in the past few years).

  8. I’m not a conformist either but lately have been coveting a minivan after we rented one on a recent trip. I have driven most of the way across country with 2 kids in an SUV without issue. But a minivan is more fuel efficient, has more space and with 3 kids is A LOT easier to get into and out of. Each kid can have more elbow room and you can place them so none can touch each other, which at some point on a long car trip will be a good thing.

  9. I have a  Nissan Murano and love it.  It has good storage in the back like my previous Jeep but drives like a car.  Get good highway mileage.  I am currently at 36 mpg highway.

    1. Hi Jack.  I have narrowed down my next purchase to a Nissan Rogue, Murano, or a Ford Edge. Can you tell me a little about your experience?    How many miles does your Murano have and does it have any mechanical issues?  I hate buying something that keeps having issues. 

  10. I thought I’d be traumatized when the arrival of kids plus sports, trips, bicycles, big dog made it necessary for us to choose something other than our Accord.  The swap to the Odyssey was EASY. It drives very similarly, hugs the road, does great in the mountains, and is wonderful for both long trips and around town.  The gas mileage is similar.  We ride bikes locally when possible.

    Circumstances required us to sell our 10-year-old Odyssey and purchase a used Sienna.  I can’t wait to get back into a Honda.  The Sienna is okay, and some people prefer it, but I bet they haven’t spent a lot of time in the Honda.  

  11. Minivan.  Sure they’re considered to be embarrassing (for reasons that are hard to comprehend), but there’s so much room compared to a sedan, SUV, or wagon.  Three kids in a sedan or wagon means that they sit together in the back seat.  Three kids in a minivan allows you to split them up between the second and third row, and still have plenty of room in the back for your stuff.  With many SUV’s, you have to choose between using the third row seats, or putting the seat down to have enough room for luggage, ect.

  12. A Subaru Outback is a great vehicle as stated by several people here and they hall quite a bit. Then consider a pop-up, there are many options, from frugal to fully equipped and you can leave it parked when you are exploring.

  13. Kia has some great options in hatchbacks and mid-size SUVs.  Our’s have made several trips across country and we’ve all lived to tell about it.  Mileage is pretty decent for vehicles you can get in States.

  14. If you are considering an RV, look for a good price on a used Roadtrek SS Agile (short sprinter).  it gets 22 mpg w/ diesel.  As a totally self-contained RV, it has a sofa that converts to a king bed in the back, twin beds up front, a kitchenette w/ frige, microwave, stovetop, and toilet/sink/shower combo, furnace, a/c, and generator.  Its 19 feet long, which you can park anywhere, no need to tow a car behind, tho it can tow up to 5,000 lbs. 

  15. We have a Mercedes R-350 that we’ve driven all over in. It is roomy, comfy, and gets decent gas mileage. On its “maiden voyage” from Cleveland Ohio to western North Dakota–four days each way–we didn’t get tired of driving until the last day.

  16. Whatever you decide on, if you are considering a TV for the back seat, I want to share a story. While TV’s can be a great distraction during a long journey and keep some sanity in the car…the kids miss so much while watching TV.

    My daughter is 10. When she was 4 we drove halfway acrosss the country and back. We had a portable DVD player that she watched a few times during the trip. When asked about the trip now, she has no memory of the DVD’s…but she does remember seeing an elk in a field and singing “America the Beautiful” that she had just learned in pre-school. (She had the words wrong, something my wife and I remember fondly.) She also remembers stopping in the mountains at a scenic overlook and seeing a moutain goat on a ledge just below us.

    We don’t have a built in TV’s in our minivan, but we do have a portable unit. It still rarely gets used because she had learned to enjoy watching the scenery.

  17. Like you, I’m an “anti-minivan” person.  I think there’s a place for them, but I refuse to age 15 years overnight.

    I recently drove just over 4500 miles through the Rockies and back.  I did it in my 2006 Jeep Liberty with one other person.  We had room to do whatever we needed but we didn’t have kids.

    We had our suitcases in the back, coolers, laptop bags and purses in the middle and us, comfortable us, in the front.

    While I voted for an SUV in the poll, for you guys, definitely a minivan – sans TV as DavidS said.  Given you will be driving through some mountainous terrain, you’ll want to know your mode of transportation can handle it.

    I look forward to reading about the trip and I hope a can manufacturer steps up to sponsor your vehicle.

  18. You should look at the new Toyota Venza.  They’re calling it a wagon, I think.  It’s a hatchback/crossover/tall stationwagon.  It’s a gorgeous car; not too pricey; good gas mileage.  Definitely won’t blend in.  You can even get it with a roof rack!  Another gorgeous option is the Mazda CX-9 three-row car.  Again, reasonably priced, gorgeous, good gas mileage.  Toyota might be more willing to sponsor such a trip though.  Their whole ad campaign for the Venza is about getting out and enjoying life rather than staying home and being a dud.

  19. My limit is 4 hours on the road – longer than that I fly.  Unless you make it a road trip, stopping for extended periods along the way.

    We’re looking for a vintage Airstream trailer for these trips. 

  20. We have done many long driving trips over the years, including one we just returned from that was over 4,000 miles.  I want space in the car so the kids can’t kill each other too easily.  I want room for an ice chest so we are not stuck to dealing with restaurants for each meal.  We like stopping at parks so the kids could run off their pent up energy.  So a SUV, wagon or a truck with club cab has worked well for us.   RV’s work for shorter trips with many people inside. They are loud with things rattling and get lower gas mileage. 

  21. Chris, I drove a Honda Fit across the whole country and more. You really feel every bump in the road with a smaller car like that.

    You said you want something unique..I don’t even see a crossover vehicle mentioned here.  I have a Ford Flex and I love it.  You missed a whole class of vehicle – the crossover.  I have a Ford Flex and I love it.  I have the all wheel drive that is all decked out.  The only thing I didn’t like about it was the OEM tires.   I have Bridgestone Duellers in the spring/summer/fall and Bridgestone Blizzaks in the winter (yes,use winter tires in the winter).  Ford is trying to get more publicity for this vehicle, so go talk to them.

  22. Don’t count the Honda out just yet!   In early 2007 my spouse and I moved across country in a 1995 Honda Civic sedan.  We wanted to do some traveling and I had a job that allowed us to move every 3 months to any location we chose.   It made it just fine driving the long distances between locations and just around the cities we were living in.   Later that year, that car was involved in a wreck THEN stolen and involved in a high speed chase (it won btw). The car was found a week later, still drivable even with all the rear damage. Did I mention it had 198,000 miles on it. Thankfully the insurance company totaled it out and we bought a 1999 Honda Accord.  We still have it.  That car has been driven all around the country multiple times.  I guarantee we abuse the inside more than your 3 kids do to your Honda and the upholstery is still intact. 

    Now that being said.  If you plan on visiting cities, the RV is not the way to go.   You need something you can park.   And to be honest you will probably have a lot less tantrums if you can spread your kids out so don’t knock out the minivan yet.  You will also feel less stressed with more storage room too.  Don’t worry about conformity.   The minivan was successful because it works.  What ever car/minivan/crossover/SUV you chose, bring a tent and sleeping bags to use in the places you would use an RV. 

  23. Chris, you forgot one!  We own a 26 ft travel trailer and we love it.  It allows us to save money on hotels, restaurants, etc. and we still have a vehicle to drive when we get where we’re going. 
    The money spent on gas should be offset by the money saved on hotels and restaurants (it was for us!)

  24. Mini-van…. it’s not just soccer mom anymore.   The kids are in their late 30s & 40s, the grandkids are 8 hours away, but we find the mini-van gives the height that some SUV drivers like… and in our Dodge Caravan XLT (longer body and larger engine), after I fold down the seats, it doubles as a pick-up truck (can handle 4×8 sheets of plywood)… and added a hitch for pulling whatever we need to (took a U-haul from Orlando to LA once).

  25. I have a Toyota Matrix that I recently drove from Massachusetts to Virginia. I know Toyotas have gotten a bad rap recently but I love mine. Excellent gas mileage, lots of storage space, and the back seats have good leg room. And with snow tires it handle very well in the snow, my area was hit with several bad snow storms this winter and I able to get to my work and back thru the worst of it every time without getting stuck or spinning out.

  26. I would think convincing a manufacturer to give you a one year lease on a minivan would be the perfect advertisement. If you end up liking it, that manufacturer could say that their minivan proved to beat the stereotype that its not for a man. If you end up not liking it, they could easily say “oh, well, he didn’t like minivans anyway”

  27. On our year long trip around the US, we took a 19′ class
    B motorhome. We got 14 MPG – gas was only our 4th largest expense on the trip.
    I say don’t give up comfort for a few hundred dollars of gas – which you make
    up by savings in lodging costs, food onboard rather than eating out, free
    campground activities and more. You would want a bit more room and the
    Sprinter-based RVs mentioned earlier would be a good choice. We got 21 MPG on
    the RoadTrek 22″ that we drove on a media tour – no need for a tow car.


    Carol White

  28. Look into a conversion van, perhaps.  Google “conversion vans” and you’ll get to .  A place to start.

    Gas will be less expensive than a RV or full-size SUV, and it’s far more maneuverable than an RV.  

  29. I remember when I was 12 or 13, and we went on a four (six?) week trip from Ohio to Washington state (where my sister was living), and then back through Denver (more family) and finally back home.  We took the family sedan, which was fine with the V8 and good air-conditioner, and me being the only kid, only to have to sit out a day in Illinois because my dad had to rebuild the carburetor. No other car conditions occurred, though, no flats, nothing like that.

    I wouldn’t hesitate to take my 2006 Hyundai.  Then again, MY kids were just about out of high school when we bought it new, and the only major thing we’ve had go wrong with it was the fuel pump (for which it is in the garage for right now. Grrrr…  My own fault for letting the gas drop too low).

  30. If someone is going to sponsor your trip, go for the RV. I have always thought a road trip in an RV would be a blast. Once, I traveled across country with three women in a 1979 Pinto. THAT was fun.

  31. You might want to look at the 2012 Ford Focus 5-door hatchback.  Gets about 36 highway and 26 city.  Seats 5 with good storage.

  32. Here goes!! I LOVE our 2010 GMC Terrain.  It is extremely safe with 6 airbags; great on mileage; handles like a sedan and has all wheel drive.  Safety is a big feature for me as I raised and traveled with 4 children and now have 2 granchildren .  The Onstar is so great and you have immediate help if needed and can call anywhere with the satellite .  Should you have an accident; they call for help and it is immediate.  SOoooooo- that is what I would recommend you to consider as your next car.  No, I do not sell cars nor do I get a kick back for this information!! HA!

  33. I might spoil your dreams, but what if you started with a good car wash and see what the car look like ??? 2007 is not that old !…
    I’ve got a Toyota Rav4 from 2002 and I would still consider driving it long distance !…

  34. The best choice for driving cross country is a bit different than a vehicle for every day local use.

    Your best bet for a cross country trek is a European s
    edan, as large as you can afford or fathom. It will be the MOST comfortable for a LONG trip.

  35. Heh CE, none of those would be my choice but then again I have grandkids almost as old as your car lol.

    If I was staying on good roads & not going into the dirt, & I didn’t need to carry much luggage for my wife & I, there is no doubt I’d take my Vette.

    It’s comfortable & gets 25mpg on the freeway & is of course, fast.

    If off road is in the offing, I’d take my Alaska cadillac, one of my 4×4 pickups with 4 doors.  Still gets 19 on the freeway & 15 in town but will go anywhere I need to go.

    Those rice burners are to small & hard on my bad back.

    Have fun.

  36. If you want to talk atrocious gas mileage. As a kid, we had a decked out full sized Dodge van, circa 1979/1980 model bought new. The inside was set up for camping, back bench seat pulled out into a bed, storage in the back for gear, pump sink, icebox, small closet. There was padding under the carpet where I slept. Two adults, one child, a dog, a cat, and about five cross country trips over the years.

    I still treasure the memories of the places we went and what I saw. Family road trips like that aren’t taken very much any more. One year we left CO, traveled east through KS, MO (stopped in Hannibal), IN, WV, PA (saw Gettysburg and Hershey), NY (Finger Lakes region, Niagara Falls), into Canada, came back down through MI, the headed back to CO. I know I missed a lot of states in there, but can’t name them all LOL. But I think those trips instilled my love of traveling, learning, and of history.

  37. For the ENJOYMENT of all in the vehicle, go with a minivan! This is not about your image, it is about the journey and those on the trip with you. So, go for the most room, the best views for ALL passengers and the milage so that you can do more things (museums etc)

  38. 2007? I don’t care how many miles you’ve put on it, that Accord is just a baby and can run reliably for many more years. 🙂 I’m sure it’s a tight fit traveling in it as a family of five, though.

    Personally, fuel economy is the primary consideration for my wife and me. Her car is a 2007 Toyota Yaris which cost $15,000 new and averages 39-40 mpg on road trips with primarily highway driving (and not at 55 mph, either). Of course, we have the luxury of not worrying much about space…pretty much any car is big enough for the two of us and our luggage. (It’s a comfortable road trip car, too, with the exception of the lack of cruise control – but that was our choice not to pay extra for an option package that included it).

    From a reliability standpoint, I still heavily favor Toyotas and Hondas, but I think Ford and GM have caught up quite a bit in the last few years, so if I was looking for a brand-new car, I wouldn’t rule them out.

  39. I have driven my Ford Escape with 3 kids all over the US, from WI to Salem, MA to Seattle, WA to Ft Myers Beach FL , to Las Vegas a few times, and multiple trips to Savannah GA and back.  I never had any issues with it and it was a wonderful car for the trip.  I first fell in love with that style when I rented one for our trip to Yellowstone, and within a year had bought my first one.  Now, that first one is my daughter’s car now as she traverses back and forth from college and many other road trips, and I have upgraded my self to the new FlexFuel version.  It is perfect!

  40. I would suggest you look at the Dodge Durango. I have a 2006 with the 5.7L Hemi. Actually gets about 20MPG on trips to Florida. Plenty of room for luggage and passengers. And you can’t beat the Hemi to get you up the mountains and for passing.
    Plus it just sounds cool to say “It’s got a Hemi.”

  41. Wow! a 2007 Honda! That’s newer than anything I own…My latest acquisition is a 97 Chrysler Sebring convertible. I love convertibles! It’s a change up from my Jeep collection (I’ve had 3 Jeeps at one time…now down to 2)
    I don’t believe in buying new cars. Older cars run just as good and cost you less in the long run! This is especially true if you have a good mechanic you can trust. My family has been using a local mechanic for the last 30 years and I trust them with every car I’ve ever owned!

  42. Wow – wish I’d read this yesterday – myself being a self-proclaimed roadtrip expert as a veteran of at least two dozen cross-country jaunts over my life so far 🙂

    My parents have an Odyssey, and I’ve driven them from Texas to both Florida and Memphis and back a few times.  It’s a nice ride, but fully loaded with people and cargo, isn’t great with the gas.  About 23 is the best we could do, and that’s with the cruise set between 70 and 75 on the interstate.  If you like Honda but just can’t do the minivan, try the CR-V.  Slightly smaller, but better gas mileage (about 26-27 on the highway).  And you can get it with 4WD.  Or if you’d rather stick with a sedan, maybe try the Ford Fusion.  It’s big, and the V-6 can bring it, but you can still get close to 30 on the highway.

    But, I have to admit, I’m a little curious why you’re worried about an ’07 Accord making the trip.  Hondas are built like tanks.  My wife had a ’97 CR-V that just recently kicked the bucket.  You should be able to get another 5-6 years easy in that thing.

  43. I love my Suburban, three comfortable seats, good view of your surroundings, easy to drive and plenty of luggage space. Also really like the fact that it weighs a ton and is solid so I’am more apt to “walk away”. I knew it’s loved gas when I bought it, but was willing to accept it for all the pros involved.

  44. Rental.  There is nothing better than putting tons and tons of miles on a rental.  If the pony gets sick along the way, call them and they will deliver a fresh one.  Excellent opportunity to “road test” a car you might want to buy in the future.
    There are deals to be had on a rental.  Whether it is a corporate discount code, and Entertainment book discount, a Frequent Flyer discount code, Association code, there are deals to be had.  A little research can find you something real reasonable.
    You think a rental for 3 weeks is expensive, try having the wheel bearings repacked in “Wide Spot in the Road, Rural, America”.  Now, that can be expensive!
    Old story coming up: My buddy Steve wanted to drive from Illinois to the wild west with his two teenage children.  His Merc wasn’t going to make the trip.  I suggested a rental.  He got a Lincoln Towncar back when Budget was loaded to the gills with them.  Real Cheap.  And had a coupon good for a better deal. 
    Illinois to Denver, Salt Lake City, Reno, San Fran, San Diego, Las Vegas.  OH – the low oil light came on.  He bought 2 quarts – one went in and the other on hand in the trunk.  Onward to Phoenix and then through Saint Louis back to Springfield.  5244 miles. 
    That was the way to go!

  45. Unless you have over 200k miles, have been in multiple accidents or just have a lemon (not likely) the ’07 Accord should do just fine, mountains and all. After all the thing is 5 years old, tops. And it’s a Honda.

    I’ve driven my 150k+ 2000 Nissan Xterra on long road trips with absolutely no worries.

    Now, if you had a ’97 Accord or an ’07 Chevy, I’d understand your worry.

  46. We just got our new MB Sprinter 12 passenger van with a low top and rear a/c package.  Perfect for traveling with our six kids.  We’ve put 3200 miles on in the last month and a half.  Highly recommend for comfort while traveling.  Oh, and we did add in after market gps and 24 inch dvd screen.

    1. Sprinter van is the bomb.I Have some friends (a couple and two dogs last time I heard)and they call their crew “Sprinter life. If you log on to and you will hear so many good things about the sprinter van. They have been to 13 countries as of last post. Very cool trip and very good vehicle. They have a solar coversion for power and all kinds of x-tras 

  47. Minivan or RV.  We don’t have kids yet – just dogs, but when my husband’s father retired he bought out his work vehicle, a Dodge Grand Caravan, and gave it to us, and wow, we’re hooked!  The room in them is unbelievable.  (I don’t know how we ever fit everything in to my Honda Civic before we got the minivan.)  There are three rows of seats but when we are home we just have the front row in and use the entire back for storage and dog crates.  When we road trip with family we can add a row or two of seats as needed and everyone has plenty of space plus still a ton of room for storage.  The gas isn’t too bad – about 20mpg.  My Civic gets about 35mpg, but there’s just not enough room for road trips with the two of us and three dogs, plus stuff.

    The other option is an RV.  You lose MPG, but, you gain on the fact that you don’t have to find/pay for hotels.  You don’t have to spend as much eating out because you’ll have a kitchen and fridge.  You don’t have to pack and unpack as you move from hotel room to hotel room.  You don’t have to worry about hotel rooms being booked, or dirty, etc.  You can either dry camp (rest stops in some states allow you to do that, many Walmarts allow you to stay in their parking lots, etc) or pay to stay in an RV park, but it’s still way cheaper then hotels.  And the people you get to meet while RV’ing are amazing too!

    Another option is a tow-behind trailer, although that would still require a new vehicle as your sedan isn’t going to be able to tow much of anything.  But that would give you the flexibility to drop the trailer at the RV park and drive just the tow vehicle around wherever you need to go at the time.

    We just bought a pop-up to use with our mini-van a few weeks ago and it’s great!

  48. I have and will continue to drive old Bob the Van across the country with my four boys. Like your Honda, old Bob has been loved to death and has seen this great country right along beside us. I took the boys on a 50 day camping trip across the Southwest last year, and this year we will be traversing the Northwest with Bob and our new to us Pop-up camper, which the boys have aptly names Pops for 70 days! Regardless of what you choose, make sure it is a vehicle your whole family can come to love.

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