Spring and summer in the Rockies — is there any better time for a road trip? I can already hear the groaning from the backseat. “Are we there yet?” To make your next road trip the talk of the family and the envy of your friends, let’s take a look at some vehicles made for the open road.
Up on deck are the Toyota Highlander Limited AWD, Subaru Outback 3.6R Limited, 2015 Toyota Sienna SE, and Chrysler 200C AWD.
I selected a variety vehicles because, like personalities, different vehicles appeal or deter people almost immediately. Starting with the most unlikely suspect, the minivan, the 2015 Toyota Sienna SE might surprise you if you haven’t been around the minivan market lately. The Sienna SE adds a cool factor to the outside (sportier appearance front and rear), while allowing you to option up the leather-appointed interior with a wide split- screen rear Blu-ray equipped entertainment system. Sync that with the middle row captains’ chairs and three-zone climate control and this ain’t your 80s minivan. The ride is good and the power more than adequate with fuel economy at 25 mpg highway. For just under $41K as tested, you and six of your friends can comfortably hit the road while watching Big Bang Theory and SpongeBob at the same time.
Minivans aren’t your thing? Try the recently redesigned Toyota Highlander. The Highlander is quite the vehicle with available rear entertainment and Driver Easy Speak (also available in the 2015 Sienna). Easy Speak routes the driver’s voice through the handsfree mics and through the rear speakers so your rear passengers can hear you more clearly and easily. With the refined and more sculpted exterior, the Highlander has really come up in the world. The changes aren’t all visual; the driving experience is more engaging and exciting with a better AWD system and improved road holding. With highway fuel economy of 24 mpg and an as-tested price of just under $48K, the Highlander also carries six people comfortably while keeping them entertained and away from the stigma of the minivan.
Now for a real Colorado vehicle, the 2015 Subaru Outback 3.6R Limited. This vehicle is totally redesigned for 2015. No kidding, the rep at Subaru even said the engine block is a different part number. The big thing you need to know is that this wagon has extra ground clearance for those of you planning to take your road trip off the beaten path. The upgrades to the AWD system, including the torque vectoring capability, and added X-Mode for more off-road capability and control make the Outback a great vehicle for the adventurer. While it’s really only comfortable for four people on a road trip, it manages 27 mpg highway with the 3.6-liter Boxer flat six cylinder. And it will only set you back just under $37K as tested.
Finally, we have another complete redesign for 2015, the Chrysler 200C. This car will surprise you, especially if you’re used to the previous generation’s Sebring-based vehicle. The 200C brings refinements found in more expensive luxury cars: high-quality interior finishes, 8”+ touchscreen radio and navigation system, and heated and cooled front seats. It even has a trunk that seems to devour luggage. With four people onboard, the V6 Pentastar engine seems racy and still achieves 29 mpg on the freeway. Add the incredibly improved, and frankly pretty, exterior and interior attention to design and detail, and this vehicle is a bargain at just under $36K as tested.
So what’re you waiting on? Let’s hit the road!