The Best Vehicle for a Summer Family Road Trip?

The open roads of America are hard to ignore this time of year. Millions of people heed their call and embark on trips throughout this grand country. Whether you’re the kind of road-tripper who lackadaisically putts down quiet 2-lane roads in search of lost American culture or blasts through states at 75 mph on the nation’s Interstate system, the vehicle you choose for your adventure will play a vital role in your trip’s success.

Choose a car that’s too small and you’ll drown in stuff. Choose one that’s too big and you’ll spend more money than necessary on fuel. Choose one that doesn’t offer the perfect seating position and your back may never recover.

I’ve been on my fair share of road trips over the years and am currently in the middle of the biggest one yet, an 8,000-mile jaunt that’s taken us from Washington state, over through Chicago, down to Ohio, back up to Buffalo and Toronto, over to Montreal, then down through New England, New York, Washington D.C., the Carolinas, Georgia, Florida, Louisiana, Tennessee, and Kansas before heading back to the Pacific Northwest.

Needless to say, the perfect vehicle was essential for this trip, but we didn’t own the one we needed. Our Land Cruiser, which had a lot of space, was too old with too many miles and poor fuel economy. The Subaru Legacy would be a reliable choice but couldn’t handle the amount of stuff four people need on a 3-week cross-country jaunt.

The solution?

A 2006 Dodge Ram 3500 diesel 4×4 Mega Cab. We sold the Land Cruiser and located the perfect truck, then found a used canopy which basically turned the truck into the mother of all SUVs. We loaded the weather-proof bed with tents, sleeping bags, suitcases, lacrosse sticks (to carry on a tradition of playing lacrosse on the lawns of state capitols), food, a massive cooler, and more.

The diesel has provided reliability and peace of mind while delivering fuel economy of around 15-16 miles per gallon. Not bad! The 4-wheel drive makes easy work of muddy back roads, and the Mega Cab turns the truck into a hotel on wheels should exhaustion set in before we locate a satisfactory camping spot.

The drawback has been navigating the big rig through Manhattan and parking in tight garages. That’s a price we’re willing to pay, though, for a vehicle perfect for this trip that will be even better for future towing and hauling needs.

The massive 3500 certainly isn’t for everyone, so we wonder: What would be your perfect vehicle for the ultimate road trip? 


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