By Mark G. McLaughlin

“Road trip!” should be a call for adventure, not a cry of impending anguish. Traveling long distances in the right automobile can make a road trip something to be anticipated, not dreaded. Deciding on the right ride means weighing issues of cost, comfort and cargo space, along with safety, reliability and ease of handling. Most of all, road trippers want a car that will get them there and back again without hassle or worry. Here are five such vehicles, each of which can be found at the 2017 Chicago Auto Show.

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2017 Chicago Auto Show
McCormick Place
2301 South Lake Shore Drive
Chicago, IL  60616
(630) 495-2282

Date: February 11—20, 2017

Honda Odyssey – Is There a Vehicle More Aptly Named for a Road Trip?

Kelley Blue Book named the 2016 version of this minivan the best buy of the year for its type, and the 2017 model lives up to the standard set by its elder sibling. Honda claims this is and has been America’s “most popular minivan,” in part because a significant number of those purchased since it debuted in 1994 are still on the road. It seats eight, which makes it ideal for big families, and for smaller groups it offers a good deal of room – up to 148 cubic feet – to spread out or pack in luggage, camping gear or just “stuff.”  The 3.5 liter V6 has plenty of power and gets a respectable if not impressive 27 mpg on the highway.

Land Rover Discovery – For the All-Terrain, “Wading” Road Trip

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Not all road trips stay on the road, and for those that involve some off-road exploring, the presciently named Land Rover Discovery is the ideal vehicle. Land Rover made its reputation doing what its name implies, and as the carmaker declares with pride, this seven-passenger model is especially designed for “all-terrain, towing and wading.” With its powerful Supercharged V6 or 3 liter turbocharged diesel, it can pull a four-ton load. An optional Terrain Response 2 system continually monitors the road (or not road) conditions to automatically choose the best driving mode.

2018 GMC Terrain – A Compact Crossover for the Long Ride

The 2 liter turbocharged four-cylinder that produces 252 hp is one of several gasoline and diesel engines available for GMC’s smallish— but bullish—compact crossover Terrain. The traction select system offers the driver four travel modes suited for various road surfaces and conditions, and there are a variety of levels of safety features available depending on the exact model. The vehicle offers a comfortable ride and expansive infotainment system.

KIA Niro – A 50 MPG Guilt-Free Road Trip Car for the Cost-Conscious

Road trips can be tiresome or they can be fun, but are almost always expensive. With its 50 mpg rating, however, the KIA Niro hybrid can at least take a little bit of the strain off the wallet for those on a tight budget. The little hatchback is surprisingly comfortable and roomy, with a good deal of headroom, fairly spacious cargo area and a storage tray hidden under the floor.  KIA’s suite of DriveWise driver-assist technologies and smart cruise control is designed with the long-distance driver in mind, and the 10-position memory driver’s seat with built-in lumbar support is something anyone on a long road trip will come to appreciate.

Cadillac CTS-V – For Taking a Road Trip in Style

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Long road trips by definition tend to be wearying, but in the 2017 Cadillac CTS V the driver and their passengers can travel in the kind of comfort and style for which this brand was once famed. The CTS V is also a high-precision, high-performance machine, with lots of power and an ease of handling that makes it a pleasure to drive. The V is the sportier, upgraded version of the classic CTS sedan, and has an eight-speed automatic transmission with manual override and choice of driving mode that is ideal for bad road conditions or worse weather.  The interior is as comfortable and as luxurious as anyone familiar with Cadillacs of old would expect, and with its combination of comfort and performance, the CTS-V is the kind of car that makes people actually want to take a long road trip.