I, like most car enthusiasts, enjoy a good road trip, mainly to get away from ordinary things, such as watching back-to-back episodes of Parks and Recreation on Netflix, playing with Hot Wheels cars, composing a post on why the XC90 V8 is the best Volvo ever made, and most importantly, looking for a job.
With me being from the SF Bay Area, you may think this involves a jaunt down the Pacific Coast Highway in a powerful convertible with a Sports Illustrated swimsuit model riding shotgun while dueling with Miatas. Unfortunately...no.
Usually, it's more like me in my Jetta driving down I-5 praying from a half-a-mile away that the Highlander with the roof-mounted cargo box doesn't get in the left lane to overtake a semi within the next 10 seconds. (For any CHP officers reading this and attempting the distance/time formula, well...don't.)
But one day, in between bursts of Parks and Rec, I wondered if there were some cars I flat-out wouldn't consider. In effect, this led to a list. SUVs and pickups used to contend for this list, but manufacturers have realized their trucks are considered family vehicles and consequently their ride quality has improved from "I keep on coloring outside the lines!" to "Be quiet mom! I can't hear this Miley Cyrus song!"
So today, as the list will show, the vehicles not to consider will once again be cars.
Author's Note: Anything with two doors was left off the list because that would be too easy. Imagine a Lamborghini anything, Lotus Evora, Porsche 911 GT3, Mercedes SLS Black Series and a Smart fortwo on the list. It would've been way too easy.
Subaru WRX STI/Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution X (with the big rear wing)
You are a target for any police officer, plain and simple. That rear wing, while helping downforce tremendously, makes others think you're attempting to live out some Vin Diesel fantasy. They won't care if a Smart fortwo passed you, you're still getting that ticket. Mainly because they won't believe a Smart passed you.
And beyond being ticket bait, these two cars won't be the most comfortable in the world. The front seats might be somewhat comfortable, but anyone in the back seat will get sick of them. Especially since the lack of sound deadening will make noise-canceling headphones a necessity. But the ride quality on choppy highways won't let the headphones stay on your ears.
Any Electric/Hydrogen/CNG Cars (And that includes the Tesla Model S)
Yes. I know Elon Musk has proposed a cross-country road trip in his Model S. But I have to bring up the question of electric car range anxiety. For instance (Mr. Musk, you will go through this), you'll be driving on Interstate 80 and one of your five kids sees a sign saying "American Museum of Yo-Yos at the next exit!" Because he will be yelling at the top of his lungs, you'll eventually give in and drive 50 miles off the highway, adding an extra 100 miles in between filling stations. At that point, getting to the next Supercharger will be in jeopardy. Or they'd better make nice with the museum and use their plug.
The question of range anxiety also falls to hydrogen and CNG cars such as the Honda FCX Clarity and the Honda Civic GX. CNG and hydrogen filling stations are in some cases over 400 miles apart, and those cars have nowhere near that range. People might think you're an alien because your car doesn't take good old gasoline, or at least plug in to something. And then those people will call the Feds. Who promptly won't show up for reasons known to everyone.
I admit both the G550 and G63 will be comfortable to ride in. There is plenty of space to stretch and room for cargo. And they can hold their own against Porsches at a stoplight drag race. But don't expect cars to move to the right for you. And expect people to snap photos of you while driving, thinking you're a Kardashian.
But the G-Class is only a good road trip car at speeds up to 80 mph. After that, the truck feels unstable and feels as if it wants you to venture off-road, because darn it, that's what I was made for! On road trips, you'd like to relax and let the vehicle eat up the miles. Not so with a G550 or G63. This thing needs an unusual amount of driver involvement especially when turning. And the G-Class may be the only vehicle where you have to plan ahead of time for panic stops. You have to be very on edge when driving the G-Class; otherwise, you may end up on Wrecked Exotics.
The Mirage just does not have enough power (and enough weight) for today's American roads. For one, the three-cylinder engine makes 74 hp, which will make overtaking trucks harder than it needs to be. The car weighs under 2,000 pounds, meaning windy situations or a GL63 overtaking it at 100 mph may wreak some havoc.
On top of that, if anything goes wrong, Mitsubishi's paltry dealer network will take plenty of time to fix the car. And expect people tailgating you when you attempt to overtake a semi. It's good as a city car with excellent mileage, but the Mirage just isn't your best bet for driving from Phoenix to Austin. You're better off renting a Chrysler 200, as much as the thought brings tears to your eyes.
Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG
Let me make this clear. I LOVE the C63. It makes excellent noises and can find a way to go sideways everywhere, whether in a parking lot or a furniture warehouse. It's also comfortable. In fact, I'll buy a new Edition 507 once I have the money. (As an unemployed millennial, expect that not to happen anytime soon.)
However, on a road trip, it'll provoke range anxiety of a different kind. Mainly the result of having such a small fuel tank while having an incredibly thirsty engine. Getting 300 miles out of a tank will be difficult. You're compelled to be easy on the go pedal, because one race with a sports car will kill your range. This means that Miata guy can brag about that time he beat a C63 at the next autocross session. As a result of a thirsty engine, you'll be looking for a gas station half the time. That's no way to have fun on a road trip.
What four-door cars do you think are horrible for road trips?
Satish Kondapavulur runs Clunkerture, named because "Clunker.com" was $82 at auction and would've taken 30% out of the balance of his Eagle Vision for LeMons fund. In between contemplating cross-country runs, he spends much of his time attempting to convince others that his MkV Jetta 2.0T Wolfsburg is indeed a sports sedan.
All images per the respective manufacturers.