Toyota Lost to Honda in Carfax’s Roundup of the Best Cars for Road Trips

Summer is upon us, which is a great time for some road trips. It’s important to pick the right vehicle, or your road trip might not be as fun as you hoped. So, if you aren’t sure what the best vehicle for road tripping is, Carfax has you covered. Their top choice this year is the Honda Odyssey. Additionally, in a somewhat surprising turn of events, only one Toyota model, usually the king of road trip vehicles, made the top 10 list, while Honda actually had two contenders. So, what other cars made the list? Let’s find out.

The best cars and SUVs for road trips in 2021

A gray 2022 Honda Odyssey minivan driving past a movie theater
2022 Honda Odyssey | American Honda Motor Co., Inc

While the Honda Odyssey took the top spot, Carfax’s list of the 10 best road trip cars and SUVs for 2021 had nine other vehicles to choose from. The other Honda on the list was the Ridgeline, which was number eight on the list. Interestingly, both Honda models are technically not cars or SUVs. As Carfax actually specifically points out, the Odyssey is a minivan, and the Ridgeline is a truck.

The Mazda CX-9 and the Hyundai Sonata took spots two and three, respectively, with the CX-9 edging out the Sonata due to the extra seating. The rest of the top five are the Kia Telluride at number four and the Toyota Highlander at number five. Excluding the Ridgeline placement, the bottom half of the list includes the Volkswagen Atlas, the Subaru Outback, the Mercedes-Benz E-Class, and the Ford Mustang GT Convertible in the number 10 spot.

The Honda Odyssey and the Honda Ridgeline

The 2021 Odyssey has a V6 engine with a 10-speed automatic transmission that puts out 280 hp and can tow up to 3,500 pounds. It gets fairly decent gas mileage for the minivan class with an EPA estimated 28 mpg highway rating. The base trim has seats for seven, but the other trims have seats for eight and come with the Honda Magic Slide feature, which allows you to slide the second-row seats forward, backward, and sideways. The Odyssey also has tons of cargo space and an optional rear-seat entertainment system, which are great features for road trips.

The 2021 Ridgeline has a 3.5-liter V6 engine that puts out 280 hp, with a nine-speed automatic transmission and the ability to tow up to 5,000 pounds. The EPA estimated gas mileage is 24 mpg highway, which is pretty good for a V6 pickup truck. It only seats five people, but it does it with tons of legroom to stretch out and comfortable, supportive seating. The Ridgeline has 2.9 cubic feet of storage underneath the rear seats and a 7.3 cubic feet trunk underneath the truck’s bed, which is five feet by four feet. One of the nice things about this truck is that it handles more like an SUV, which is why it made Carfax’s list.

The Toyota Highlander


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Even though it came in number five, the 2021 Highlander is still an excellent SUV for road trips. It comes standard with a V6 engine, paired with an eight-speed automatic transmission that puts out 295 hp, tow up to 5,000 pounds, and has decent gas mileage with an EPA estimated 29 mpg highway. The Highlander has three rows and seats up to eight people, but one reason it was a little lower on the list was that the third row is fairly cramped. However, it has ample cargo space, particularly if you fold down the third row. 

If you want to go on a road trip this summer and need a new vehicle to hit the road, the Odyssey, the Ridgeline, and the Highlander are all excellent choices, and all three have a starting price under $37,000. They also have great safety features and will provide a comfortable ride, which can factor into whether you have a fun road trip or a road trip that makes you wish you had never hit the road in the first place.