When you're planning a road trip in Europe, choosing the best road trip rental car can be a difficult undertaking. Sure, you could just leave it up to chance, and hope for the best, but when you're straddling luggage between your legs, 4 people deep in a 2-door car, you're going to wish that you had given the car rental process a bit more thought. Road trips are a highly personalized experience, and the best road trip cars cater specifically to your travel needs - whether you prefer the excessively accommodating luggage capacity of a Volvo XC90, the fierce acceleration and poise of a BMW 3 Series, or opt for the agility and quintessential cuteness of a Mini Cooper S. In an effort to help you better identify the best car for a road trip, we've compiled a short list of Auto Europe's Best Road Trip Cars, providing you the opportunity to compare the many viable options, and determine which vehicle best suits your upcoming road trip itinerary.
Leading the pack for our best road trip cars list is the painfully precious Mini Cooper S. Ever since BMW's reinvention of the Mini Brand in 2001, the rally-bred Mini Cooper S has seen much success, and for good reason - not only is it fuel-efficient, but a complete blast to drive. The Mini Coop's lackluster luggage capacity belies the cars spacious interior, and drivers and passengers alike will be happily surprised by the smooth ride - a trait rarely found in small hatchbacks. Though the Mini Cooper S might not be a good road trip car for families, couples or solo travelers will find the Mini to be a highly capable and exceptionally fun car for road trips. So as long as you pack light, and value go-kart like drivability over utility, the Mini Cooper S is the one of the best road trip vehicles.
Agile, Sporty, Fun to Drive
If the Mini Cooper, exciting handling notwithstanding, lacked the utility to fit into your road trip plans, Ford's increasingly popular Focus may be the perfect alternative for you. Lauded as one of the world's best hatchbacks, the Ford Focus is beyond just a good car for road trips, it's one of the best cars for road trips. Luggage capacity, though modest, is enough to comfortably fit a few carry-ons and a checked bag or two, and the interior is surprisingly spacious and comfortable. With enough horse-power to get you through the bends and up the hills without sacrificing ride comfort, the Ford Focus breathes balance - equal parts power, comfort, safety, utility, and drivability. If you're traveling with 4 people or fewer and you're looking for a fuel efficient, utility-oriented vehicle for your next road trip through Europe, the Ford Focus should be your top choice.
Practical, Balanced, Comfortable
Moving away from utility once again, may we direct your attention to the sporty-styling of the BMW 1 Series. Despite being the smallest vehicle series in BMW's exhaustive range, the baby-Beemer finds its balance somewhere between focused driver's car and efficiency-oriented people transporter. With only slightly better luggage capacity than a Mini Cooper S (slightly less than a Ford Focus), the BMW 1 Series caters to those willing to sacrifice a bit of practicality for sportiness, and driver experience. The biggest advantage to the BMW 1 Series, in comparison to other recommend road trip vehicles, is that it's a BMW, so expect a visually striking, spacious interior cabin, immaculate steering response, and a heart-warming engine growl as you accelerate through the turns. For parties of 4 or fewer, the BMW 1 Series is an excellent road trip car, and a wildly exciting drive at that!
Sporty, Luxurious, Fun to Drive
Celebrated as one of Volkswagen's most iconic vehicle silhouettes, the Passat Wagon has proven time and time again its usefulness as a family transporter, and if you're planning a family road trip through Europe, the Passat Wagon should be an obvious top choice. Part of the Passat Wagon's appeal is in its flexibility, and generous luggage capacity, as it's much easier to use than most other vehicles in terms of adapting the rear seats for additional cargo storage, or passengers depending upon your needs. When it comes to performance, the Passat Wagon maintains a good balance of fuel efficiency, and power, allowing you to cruise modestly without burning unnecessary petrol, with the knowledge that you can access the cars top-end horsepower when you want to have a little fun. Overall, the Passat Wagon is one of the best cars to road trip in, affording you not only comfort and utility, but an enjoyable drive as well.
Ultimate Family Road Trip Car
The BMW 3 Series is the quintessential sports car. Its modest appearance belies its true ferocity, and anyone who has ever had the good fortune to drive a BMW 3 Series will tell you - it's an absolutely fantastic driver's car, if not the best. If the family-friendly interior cabin and increased luggage capacity of the VW Passat Wagon was alluring, but you are interested in something with a bit more oomph, the BMW 3 Series is the perfect road trip car for you. Not only do you get a vehicle that caters to the needs of a traveling family, with a spacious and refined interior, but you get a vehicle that has bestial power and acceleration, affording you a racecar driving experience. Eager to get behind the wheel of your car rental, and take it to V-Max on the Autobahn during a road trip through Germany? Then the BMW 3 Series is the best road trip car for you.
Luxurious, Comfortable, Ultimate Driver's Car
As the popular choice among the social elite around the world, the Mercedes Benz S Class is dripping with indulgence and luxury. In contrast to other vehicles on this list, the S Class wasn't designed to provide an engaging driving experience; in fact, Mercedes Benz designed the S Class to be the exact opposite - the pinnacle of elegance and grace. Regarding the car's interior, venerable motoring publication, Top Gear, said of the S Class Benz insides: "Most ergonomics are just-so. We can't think of a comfier interior, front or rear." What the Benz lacks in racecar-like drivability, it makes up for in droves with creature comforts. Luggage capacity is liberal to say the least, and rear-seated passengers will enjoy the increased leg room. If your ultimate road trip car is all about comfort, convenience, and luxury, the Mercedes Benz S Class is the perfect car for you.
Spacious, Luxurious, Smoothest Ride
Renowned as one of the safest vehicles on the road, the Volvo XC90 is a good road trip car for traveling families. With adaptable 3rd row seats affording you additional luggage or passenger space as needed, the XC90 is a highly versatile road trip vehicle, perfect for long journeys. Drive-wise, the Volvo XC90 is no slouch, its turbocharged 4-cylinder capable of decent top-end acceleration for opportunistic overtakes, or bouts of lead-foot. What makes the Volvo XC90 stand out the most is its commitment to doing the simplest things right. Techy-gadgets, space-age materials, and massive spoilers are all really exciting, but without the basics done right - an accommodating interior, top-notch safety standards, user-friendly controls, and ease of drivability - all those futuristic technologies seem more gimmicky than brilliant. The Volvo XC90 is far and away the most well-rounded road trip vehicle, great for both family vacations, and adventurous expeditions alike.
Utilitarian, Family-Friendly, Comfortable
For the final installment of our Best Road Trip Cars list, we've chosen to include one of the most extreme cars ever built, the Ferrari 458 Italia. Sure, you have to make some hefty sacrifices to utility and comfort when you rent a Ferrari for a road trip, but on the other hand, you get to be one of lucky few to experience the thrills of driving an Italian supercar through some of the world's most demanding roadways, mashing through gears at light speed like a Formula 1 driver. Beyond the necessities like passenger capacity and trunk space, selecting the best car for a road trip really comes down to personal preference. If you're the type of traveler who is most excited by the driving portion of the road trip, more intrigued by horsepower and torque than ancient architecture and tourist amenities, a Ferrari 458 Italia is the perfect road trip car to quench your thirst for speed and power.
Lightning Fast, Driver-Oriented, Luxurious
Now that you've had some time to check out Auto Europe's top rental car recommendations for road trips, it's time for you to pick the vehicle that best suits your needs, and head out on a road trip adventure through Europe. Whether you're looking for something with some serious power to make the driving fun, or something with space for the whole family, Auto Europe can set you up with any of the best road trip cars for a fraction of the price of our competitors. Auto Europe understands that choosing the proper road trip vehicle is an important part of the vacation planning process and we will go out of our way, every time, to provide you with an exceptionally smooth reservation process, making sure to look out for all your travel needs and take care of them accordingly.