What Car Could You Drive for 24 Hours?
From June 19–22, over 150 cars and hundreds of drivers will race the ADAC Zurich Nürburgring 24 Hours endurance race on the Nordschleife (north loop) of the Nürburgring in central Germany. The Nürburgring, with a lap length of over 20 km, allows a driver to race in 150-minute intervals before being required to take a 2-hour break. A driver’s teammate then takes over and does the same. This lasts for an entire day.
Now, our question is: In what car could you possibly spend the duration of your day? Or, well, any significant amount of time without the fatigue of being in a car taking a toll. One hundred fifty minutes is a pretty long period of time for one go, and with most cars being driven by a team of 2 or 3 people, those 150-minute driving shifts will certainly add up.
Comfort is key. We’ve come up with a list of good candidates that would allow you to do nothing but drive for hours on end, even if you don’t plan to participate in a 24-hour endurance race. We hope you like our picks, but feel free to add your favorite alternative(s) in a comment.
10. We’ll start small. The Mazda3 perhaps offers the most comfort for its size. As long as you aren’t expecting a ton of space in the back or cargo space in a compact, the Mazda3 offers plenty of comfort for those in the front seat. The Mazda3 also offers unexpected quality: It has materials that feel much more high quality than what you might expect at its price. As a small car, the back can feel a little cramped, but you can’t beat its front-seat comfort given its size.
9. Now let’s get a little bigger. The Ford Fusion is the definition of big and comfortable affordability. Spacious, comfy, firm and supportive seats cradle the car’s passengers and allow for extensive driving times. Even the trunk is more spacious than that of most midsize cars (in case you were planning on spending a prolonged period of time in there). The handling of the Fusion is agile and nimble, making even the most windy road easy to traverse. With such a smooth ride, your driving endurance is sure to last for hours and hours. The Fusion’s size and comfort have contributed to its immense popularity in the American car market, and, well, the comfort it offers for the price is impressive.
8. The Chevrolet Silverado 1500 is as comfortable as you can get with a pickup, offering a fantastic ride and a very roomy interior. Precise steering and strong brakes make for the smoothest driving in its class, and the Silverado comes with a highly functional interior with many storage spaces and roomy seats. The Silverado also comes with an abundance of tech, including Chevy’s MyLink system and as many USB ports as you could want. For smooth towing, hauling or transporting, the Silverado is the way to go. And if you had to spend the day in a pickup (which happens often), spending it in the Silverado will make your day a bit better.
7. The Toyota Camry has been drilled into our minds as being the most placid thing you can drive, and there is good reason for that. Quiet, smooth and comfortable, the Camry drives in a manner that is not easily beaten by other affordable midsize cars. The Camry’s comfort has made it an extremely popular choice in the U.S. The interior’s comfort matches the comfort of the ride, providing its passengers spacious seats and ample space. A 6.1-inch touchscreen display comes standard, allowing for easy interaction with the electronic console. The Camry is easy to drive and easy to be a passenger in, and it’s hard not to think of it as one of the most comfortable cars on the consumer market.
6. As far as affordable large cars go, the Buick Lacrosse is the way to go for comfort. To put it simply, the Lacrosse has a sweet, quiet and comfortable ride. The driving itself benefits from immaculate handling and strong, smooth braking. The LaCrosse has premium materials and roomy seats, especially in the back. The front offers tons of firm support for the driver, meaning your back issues won’t act up during this drive. On the tech side of things, Buick’s Intellilink electronic control and its large touchscreen allow for easy interaction with the entertainment/information systems, giving the LaCrosse an ease of use and entertainment value not often available in affordable cars.
5. If you’re looking to stay comfortable in whatever weather Mother Nature can throw at you, the Subaru Legacy is your ride. With 5.9 inches of ground clearance and standard all-wheel drive, the Legacy has no problem tackling the worst road conditions. Where the Legacy really shines, though, is on the inside. Open up the doors and you’re treated to one of the most comfortable and well-designed interiors of any family sedan today. Subaru spent a lot of time on the Legacy’s interior, and it shows. The seats are comfortable and supportive, and controls are exactly where you’d expect them.
4. In the large SUV category, there’s not much around we’d rather spend a lot of time in than the Mercedes-Benz GL-Class. The GL-Class made its debut in 2007 and has been shuttling kids to soccer practice in style ever since. However, the car isn’t just for kids. With a (relatively) spacious third-row seat, the GL-Class can easily fit 7 adults. Add that to its exceedingly smooth ride, and we say Stuttgart came up with a winner.
3. Let’s be honest: 24 Hours Nürburgring is a race, and the cars we’ve chosen so far aren’t very likely to take down competitors like the Audi R8 and Mercedes-Benz SLS-Class. The McLaren MP4-12C sure is, though. Our pick from Surrey is a gutsy yet quite comfortable supercar. Producing 592 hp and capable of speeds up to 207 mph, the McLaren sounds like the kind of car drivers tire of after a few hours. Thankfully, that is not the case. The 12C is, by many accounts, the most comfortable supercar on the road today. Sure, it won’t afford you all the amenities of some of our other picks, but for its dreamy ride, well-designed interior and blistering performance, we say the 12C is the most comfortable car for those who also like to win.
2. In the runner-up spot is a giant: the Chrysler 300. Weighing in at over 2 tons, the 300 affords owners the luxury of space. Chrysler has upped its game in the last few years, and in no car is this more evident than the 300. With a sturdy, well-built and well-equipped interior, the 300 is the best pick for those who want exceeding comfort without breaking the bank. Starting at $30,895 (used prices are even lower), the 300 offers a lot of bang for your buck. With leather seats standard and various iterations of Chrysler’s awesome Uconnect system available, it’s hard to look past this offering from Detroit. Upgrade to the SRT8 version, and the 6.4-liter 8-cylinder pushing out 470 hp will scoot you from 0 to 60 in 4.3 seconds. It may just be possible to have your cake and eat it, too.
1. Claiming our top spot is an industry legend: the Rolls-Royce Phantom. Tipping the scales at 2.9 tons, the Phantom is the best choice for anyone who can’t stand tiny cars like Chrysler’s 300. While our other picks are all more than comfortable and capable, none compare to the Phantom—it is simply sublime. The Phantom doesn’t so much drive as glide, offering occupants a cabin in which the faintest of whispers can be heard clearly. Powered by a 6.7-liter 12-cylinder engine, the Phantom can reach a top speed of 155 mph. It won’t win at Nürburgring, but after you sink into its plush leather seats, it really won’t matter.
And while we’re on the subject of comfort and speed, take a look at CarGurus’ mobile app, a tool that lets you check prices, find deals and research cars from your smartphone.
What car would you most like to drive for 24 hours straight?
-jharrington and zwaller
Used Mazda Mazda3
Used Ford Fusion
Used Chevrolet Silverado 1500
Used Toyota Camry
Used Buick LaCrosse
Used Subaru Legacy
Used Mercedes-Benz GL-Class
Used McLaren MP4-12C
Used Chrysler 300
Used Rolls-Royce Phantom