Summer is finally hitting its stride, and warm weather activities are back in full swing. Dads are fishing, hippies are hiking, and campers are, well, camping. If you enjoy the great outdoors (the stuff outside your house, not the classic John Candy and Dan Aykroyd movie), then you might already be planning some summer adventures. If you’re lucky enough to be replacing an old or used car this summer, there are a few options for replacements that may complement whatever excursion you have in mind.
Land Rover Range Rover
This one feels like a no-brainer, seeing as the Range Rover’s reputation is very closely tied to it’s off-road capabilities. It checks all the necessary boxes for a perfect camping vehicle, with four-wheel-drive, excellent shock absorption and suspension, and high ground clearance. It’s got folding rear seating for a hearty boost in cargo space, so much so that you could probably sleep there comfortably if you’re not a fan of tents. The coolest feature, though, is its Terrain Response system, which can change the way the car drives to accommodate nearly any terrain you may encounter. With settings for mud, sand, gravel, snow, grass, traversing down steep hills and even climbing over rocks, there won’t be much to get in the way of you and your camping destination.
The Forester is a bit smaller than the other cars on this list, but while this car only seats the usual five, it’s cargo capacity is not to be underestimated. It’s got over 34 cubic feet of space for storage inside, and the roof rack can be loaded up with all kinds of things — as long as you follow the cardinal “don’t be a dumbass” rule. Buy a roof box, grab some bungee cords, heck, if you need to, find a local boy scout and put him on payroll tying knots for you, whatever you need to do to keep things secure up there. The Forester’s mileage is well above everything else on this list, getting MPG up to 26 in the city and 32 on highways. Couple that with the versatility of its cargo capabilities but more limited passenger capacity, and it’s clear that the Forester is a perfect choice for adventurers who have yet to settle down.
While the Suburban takes a heavy hit when it comes to gas prices and mileage, the amount of space for either cargo or additional passengers can potentially be too good to pass up, especially for larger families. With a maximum capacity of nine, the Suburban could have easily carried the Fellowship of the Ring right to Sauron’s gate, making it effectively more reliable transportation than giant eagles. It could be argued that if the Fellowship had access to its powerful engine, high clearance, and extreme versatility, then Boromir would not have met his end. If you judge your prospective vehicles by their potential to save Middle Earth, then the Chevrolet Suburban is a pretty decent bet. It can also carry kids or family if you’re one of those people who hasn’t formed an alliance in order to destroy magic jewelry.
The Expedition is great for long drives or road trips, as one could probably assume from its name. Its seating is spacious and comfortable from front to back; even its third-row seats have room to stretch your legs. Newer models feature screens for the rear passengers to stare at while the splendor of our world passes by at sixty miles per hour, which is perfect if you’d prefer not to be asked “Are we there yet?” a hundred times by a kid that never even saw the movie. The storage space comes equipped with an “advanced cargo manager,” which is a pretty expensive way to say “shelf,” but hey, it’s genuinely useful so I’m not complaining. In addition to that layered cargo space, the Expedition is also capable of towing up to 9,3000 lbs, and comes with a free yo mamma joke as a bonus to use at your discretion.
The Pathfinder is a favorite of mine, solely because it immediately calls to mind a certain tabletop game of the same name that I enjoy. Much like that Dungeons & Dragons style roleplaying game, Nissan’s Pathfinder also has hidden trap doors, though in this case they’re for storage rather than killing intruders. In addition to the under-floor storage compartment, both rows of rear seating can be folded forward with ease, creating a flat floor and opening up almost eighty cubic feet of space for whatever you may need to bring on your journey. Nissan also offers optional crossbars for the roof rails, even further expanding your carrying capabilities. In terms of off-road functionality, the Pathfinder is not the most impressive on this list, but it’s perfectly capable of traveling on rough terrain thanks to its automatic traction system, hill start assist system, and hill descent control. All things considered, I think the Pathfinder is an excellent example of why the term “jack of all trades, master of none” isn’t necessarily a negative thing.
Whether you’re entertaining your kids or you’re spending time with friends, getting out during the summer is a great opportunity to stay healthy and shake up the monotony of life’s endless routine in a fun and adventurous way. Owning a car that makes that much easier to do is a pretty good way of guaranteeing more fun in the future, but it definitely isn’t the most important part of the equation. There isn’t really a non-cheesy way to tell you that the most important part is friendship, but it’s totally friendship. Because every experience is more fun when you’re sharing it with the people you care about, and nature is spooky when it’s dark and you’re all by yourself. Mostly the second one.