Only 1 Midsize SUV Is Best for Your 2022 Family Road Trip, Consumer Reports Says

For many families, there’s no vacation better than a road trip. However, to have the best experience possible, you must have all the right gear. That doesn’t just include the right kind of suitcase. It starts with the right kind of sedan or SUV. Because, if you’re going to be in your vehicle for hours at a time each day over a week or more, you need a comfortable, reliable, and practical ride. According to Consumer Reports, only one midsize SUV is ideal for your 2022 family road trip.

What are the best cars for your next road trip?

Chances are, your average auto dealer isn’t well-versed in the factors that make for an ideal road trip vehicle. However, publications like Consumer Reports specialize in evaluating vehicles by these kinds of niche criteria. CR recently published a “Best Cars for Your Road Trip” list, which can help you narrow down your alternatives.

CR reviewers used several criteria in their assessment of today’s vehicles. To start, they looked at those with an abundance of cargo space, comfort, fuel efficiency, and safety technology. Of course, any family will need ample space to stow luggage and gear, and comfort is also a key consideration. Many families these days opt for SUVs which are often less fuel-efficient than sedans. Still, no matter the preference, an ideal road trip vehicle needs to be able to get great gas mileage, or your vacation will be far more expensive than necessary.

You also want to keep your family safe. When you’re driving to new regions, you’ll find differences in the way motorists drive. In some regions, they may be more aggressive than you’re used to. You’ll also encounter different types of terrain, poorly maintained roads, and other driving hazards you may not be fully prepared for. So, an ideal road trip vehicle should be equipped with the best advanced safety features a manufacturer offers.

Which midsize SUV does Consumer Reports recommend for your next family road trip?

A silver gray 2022 Toyota Highlander XLE midsize SUV model parked near a marsh with water reeds
2022 Toyota Highlander XLE | Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., Inc.

Consumer Reports reviewers took the time to recommend a vehicle in multiple segments, from midsize sedan to midsize minivan. They also looked at three SUV types prospective buyers would be most likely to opt for if road trips were considered: the compact, luxury, and midsize SUV. The Hyundai Tucson took home the honors for the best compact SUV for a road trip. Meanwhile, the Lexus RX was recognized as the ideal luxury road trip vehicle.

When it came down to midsize SUVs, the 2022 Toyota Highlander was the clear standout. Given Toyota’s reputation for reliability and an affordable starting MSRP of $35,855, it’s not hard to see why. Additionally, those factors also helped propel another Toyota – the 2022 Sienna – to CR’s top midsized minivan for a road trip as well.

However, it’s not just reliability and affordability that convinced CR reviewers. What else about the Toyota Highlander made it the publication’s preferred pick?

An overview of the 2022 Toyota Highlander

When you buy a Toyota Highlander, you’re not only getting an affordable and dependable vehicle. You’re also getting impressive performance for a midsize SUV. The Highlander comes standard with a 3.5-liter V6 engine paired with an eight-speed automatic transmission. With this pairing, your Highlander will generate 295 horsepower and 263 lb-ft of torque while taking you from 0 to 60 mph in 7.3 seconds. It will also get you a competitive 22 mpg combined.

You also get plenty of space. Drivers can opt for an eight-seat configuration or a seven-seater with captain’s chairs in the second row. Still, whichever you pick, you’ll get 16 cubic feet of cargo space behind the third row, which increases to 48.4 cubic feet when it’s down. Put both back rows down, and you get 84.3 cubic feet, which is solid for a midsize SUV. The Highlander also sports generous headroom and legroom in the front and second seats. The third row is a little tighter, but it can comfortably seat children or, of course, be dropped down for more luggage and equipment space.

To keep passengers entertained, you can opt for an infotainment system with a standard 8-inch or upgraded 12.3-inch touchscreen. Compatibility with Amazon Alexa, Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, and Bluetooth are standard, while you can purchase built-in navigation for an additional charge. The Highlander really shines in its safety tech. Each trim comes with the Toyota Safety Sense 2.5+ suite of features, including auto emergency braking, road sign recognition, auto high beams, emergency steering assistance, adaptive cruise control, and lane-keeping assistance.

Given its fuel economy, space, comfort, and safety features, it’s clear why CR reviewers praised the Highlander as the best midsized SUV option for family road trips. So, if you’re thinking of summer family vacations that start and end on the interstate, a Highlander is likely your best bet.

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