One round trip covering all the National Parks- 14,498 miles (23,333 km) of road and will take roughly 2 months if you’re traveling at a breakneck pace. Assumptions-

  • you your spouse and 1 or 2 kids.You and your spouse will switch driving so think of that.
  • Can be any new or old car. Any price.
  • Consider all the conditions- Needs to be comfortable but not boring, Lots of highway miles so needs tech and safety features to keep you sane and safe.
  • Decently fuel efficient (Take 87 octane which is more widely available perhaps), Quite and Good ride and ground clearance that will do well across all roads including unpaved ones.
  • Assume trip timing in Fall so needs to be good in any weather from 90F in the South to rain and snow in the North, I would say preferably AWD because you can’t be a set of carrying snow tires unless you take a huge SUV.
  • From sea level to 12,000 Feet up so something that doesn’t lose a lot of power.
  • Reliable, possibly with spare tire and even if something happens should be able to fix it almost anywhere so think carefully about that expensive German car idea.

I thought of GT cars, wagons, even SUVs but top practical choice is a compact crossover- 2019 Mazda CX5 Turbo. It’s got the dynamics, space, tech, safety and that sweet 310 Lb/ft of torque. 227HP even with 87 Octane. Apple Carplay and Android Auto so you cant complain about the infotainment. Not boring to drive, decently efficient. Here’s some other options I considered.


My 2nd choice would be the unreleased 2019 Rav4 Hybrid

EPA-estimated 41 mpg city, 37 highway, 39 combined,


What are your choices?