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9 great road-trip cars

Peter Valdes-Dapena
June 5, 2012


If you're thinking of hitting the road this summer, here are some of the best cars to take.

Ford Mustang

Price: $27,310
Fuel economy: 19 City / 31 Hwy

Sure, the backseats might be a little snug but what if you don't really need back seats? It's hard to imagine a better car to take out on the open road than a Mustang V6 convertible, a car that's fuel efficient, fun and very, very cool.

As we head into the warmer months and the kids are out of school it's time to think "road trip." Here are some picks for great cars and SUVs to take you on the journey. With these cars, the emphasis is on fuel economy, interior comfort and sublime highway cruising.

Chevrolet Sonic

Price: $13,865
Fuel economy: 26 City / 35 Hwy

Not everyone needs tons of space, just enough to do the job. For those folks, I picked the Fiat 500 last year, -- it's actually plenty roomy up front -- but I think the Chevy Sonic makes an even better choice.

On the street, the Sonic is quick and fun to drive. On the highway, it's comfortable, quiet and easy going while still feeling very much under control. It also has ample storage space in back. (You can get it with a trunk, but Ihe hatch just looks so much better.)

Hyundai Azera

Price: $32,000
Fuel economy: 20 City / 29 Hwy

Hyundai's all-new Azera has a drop-dead gorgeous interior, comfortable seats and a nice ride. It looks pretty nice from the outside, too. It's also got Hyundai's handy BlueLink technology that allows you to send text messages hands-free. You still shouldn't read them while behind the wheel, though.

Buick LaCrosse eAssist

Price: $30,170
Fuel economy: 25 City / 36 Hwy

The LaCrosse's eAssist system provides a slight battery-powered assist that improves fuel economy and does so unobtrusively. The LaCrosse still drives smoothly and quietly as a Buick should.The only downside is that the battery pack takes away a bit of trunk space. There's still plenty left, as long as you're not packing for a non-stop cross-country trip.

Mazda CX-5

Price: $20,695
Fuel economy: 26 City / 35 Hwy

Mada's new compact SUV is a better-driving alternative to the Honda CR-V, especially on the highway. It's well-mannered and balanced, even at relatively high speeds. At the same time, it's small enough to be quick and nimble in town and it still has plenty of cargo space.

Ford Flex

Price: $30,885
Fuel economy: 18 City / 25 Hwy

The long, low Flex may not be the best-seller on Ford's lots, but it's not for lack of utility and style. Basically, it's like a minivan with a personality. Considering how much space there is inside, fuel economy is remarkably good. And with a turbocharged EcoBoost engine, there's plenty of passing power.

Infiniti JX35

Price: $40,450
Fuel economy: 18 City / 24 Hwy

If you think the JX is nice looking outside, you should see it inside. Besides looking good, this roomy crossover -- although it is perhaps a bit narrow side-to-side -- is loaded with available technology designed to make your trip easier. It has active cruise control so you can take your foot off the gas even in traffic, lane departure warning that even helps you steer back into line and, of course, backseat entertainment for the kids.

Mercedes-Benz E350 Cabriolet

Price: $57,720
Fuel economy: 18 City / 28 Hwy

Mercedes engineers have figured out how to take the downsides out of top-down driving. For starters, the AirCap system uses wind baffles to keep the wind out of your hair. If it's a little too cool out, the AirScarf system blows warm air around your neck. Finally, active cruise control makes it easy to keep up with traffic without juggling between the gas and brakes. On top of all that, it's an open-topped Mercedes-Benz. What more do you need?

McLaren MP4-12C

Price: $229,000
Fuel economy: 15 cty / 22 Hwy

A car that looks like that? On a road trip?

Oh, yes, please. Other than it's wonky name, the MP4-12C is one of the friendliest supercars around.

In addition to being fast and fun, It's s comfortable and easy to drive. Quickly switchable suspension and steering settings mean you can tailor the McLaren for easy highway cruising then, if you choose to take that exit heading to the race track, tune it up for track duty. The fuel economy's even pretty good... considering.