Best Cars for the Summer

Best Cars for the Summer

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The summer, with its road trips and vacations, is definitely the most popular time to be on the road. Unfortunately being in some cars for those long trips is not fun. Cramped cabins and poor gas mileage can make the trip less of a dream vacation and more of a waking nightmare.

Don’t miss out on all the fun of road trips (snacks! sing-alongs! sight seeing!) by taking a look at suggestions for your next chariot. And check out John Gilbert’s comprehensive list, broken down by body style and price. There’s a perfect summer car for every budget.

Hyundai Elantra Hyundai Elevates Elantra to Head of Compact Class

“As seems to be the case in recent Hyundai philosophy, why stay with competitive when superlatives can be attained? For 2011, the totally renovated Elantra is, in a word, superlative.”

Toyota Camry New-generation Camry Surprisingly Sporty

“It’s not often anyone mentions “Camry” and “sporty” in the same story, let alone the same sentence, but the newest generation of Toyota’s iconic sedan comes close to offering all things to all buyers — including a major advancement in real-world sportiness.”

Chrysler 300 Chrysler Gains Four SRT8 Hot Rods
“This car was the biggest surprise to me, because the luxurious leather and wood interior convinces you it’s a luxury car, but the performance kick and excellent handling — even on the race track.”

2012 Audi A6 review Audi’s Stylish A6 Offers Character, Identity
“The 2012 Audi A6 is just about everything a luxury sport sedan should be.”

Honda Odyssey featured 2011 Honda Odyssey

“As Honda improved the Odyssey over the years, critics concluded that it delivered the best combination of ride, handling and amenities, despite the fact that the Chrysler (including Dodge) minivans perennially topped the sales charts.”

Mazda CX-5 exterior

Mazda CX-5 Sets Crossover Bar to Skyactiv Heights

“Mazda may have outdone even its own standards — and the analogy of hitting a home run is noteworthy when competitors are settling for doubles and triples.”

All of the best new cars, trucks, vans and SUVs for summer, arranged in alphabetical order by price.


  • Acura TL (Loaded with technology; AWD available)   *
  • Audi A6  (Base form with turbo 2.0 or 3.0 V6 supercharged)  *
  • BMW 328 (Base, 4-cylinder turbo; if more size needed, try base 528)  *
  • Cadillac CTS (Sedan is neat, wagon is sensational; get 3.6 V6)   *
  • Mercedes C-Class (New turbo-4 cylinder for top mileage)   *
  • Hyundai Genesis  (Strong V6, or available V8, with direct-injection version)
  • Infiniti G37  (Smooth and stylish, with AWD available)
  • Lexus ES 350  (All new 2013 adds style; hybrid model available)
  • Lincoln MKS (Stylish upgrade of Fusion; heftier MKS also an option)


  • Acura TSX (4 cylinder; sedan good, wagon great)
  • Acura ILX  (All-new for 2013, priced under TSX with 4, or hybrid)
  • Audi A4 (base model keeps price down; S4 upgrade is hot)  *
  • Buick Regal GS (Turbo 4-cylinder has adequate power, fuel economy)
  • Chrysler 300 (or Dodge Charger; same V6 drivetrain, optional AWD)  *
  • Ford Taurus (2013 model preferred)
  • Hyundai Azera  (New model out as 2013)  *
  • Volvo S60  (Either T5 or T6, FWD or AWD)   *
  • Volkswagen CC   *
  • Buick LaCrosse (Larger sedan, in case Regal isn’t big enough)
  • Nissan Maxima  (Smooth and sporty power)


  • Volkswagen Passat (TDI turbo diesel can go 800 miles on a tankful)  *
  • Volkswagen Jetta (TDI turbo diesel high 40-mpg, or sporty GLI)   *
  • Hyundai Sonata or Kia Optima (Same drivetrains, different style, excellent fuel economy; hybrid and turbo models too)   *
  • Buick Verano (Turbo model is upgrade from Chevy Cruze)  *
  • Toyota Camry (4-cylinder plenty adequate; try the paddle shift)  *
  • Nissan Altima (New for 2013; bargains on remaining 2012s)
  • Ford Fusion (Excellent deals on 2012; 2013 coming this fall — a knockout!)   *
  • Honda Accord (New model 2013 end of summer; closeout deals on 2012)
  • Mazda CX-5 (Just out, new for 2013 — small, high-tech SUV, sedan handling)

Under $20,000:

  • Dodge Dart (New for 2013; smooth, economical, great look)  *
  • Hyundai Elantra (Sedan and just-released Elantra GT; The sedan is 2012 North American Car of the Year — under $20,000, 40 mpg, and style)  *


Over $35,000:

  • Acura RDX   (All new; turbo 4 replaced by V6 with 6-speed automatic)  *
  • Acura MDX   (Has become standard of useful luxury SUV, if RDX is too small)
  • BMW X3 (With new 4-cylinder turbo, compact Beemer SUV is hot)  *
  • Lexus RX  (Still among most stylish midsize SUVs)  *
  • Volvo XC-60  (More compact, fuel-efficient than XC-90)
  • Ford Explorer (EcoBoost 4 really moves larger, 3-row-seat SUV)  *
  • Buick Enclave (or Chevrolet Traverse; share components, pick your style)
  • Honda Odyssey  (Strong performing van, loaded with features)  *
  • Nissan Quest  (Stylish upgrade does everything well as FWD minivan)
  • Toyota Sienna  (Established minivan with all the features)
  • Chrysler Town & Country  (Fancy upgrade from Caravan; stowable seats)

Under $35,000:

  • Range Rover Evoque  (Most affordable Range Rover; North American Truck of the Year using Ford EcoBoost 4-cylinder)  *
  • Jeep Grand Cherokee (Pentastar V6; refined and polished even in base form)  *
  • Dodge Grand Caravan (Same V6 as costlier Town & Country; connectivity and cooler in under-floor stowage bin)   *
  • Mazda CX-5 (Skyactive engine, 30-plus mpg, outperforms many compact sedans)  *
  • Ford Escape (EcoBoost 4 powers completely redone version of top-selling SUV)  *
  • Honda CR-V  (All-new style, and same old engine still works well)
  • Kia Sorento of Hyundai Santa Fe (Same drivetrain; direct-injection 4 cylinder)  *
  • Chevrolet Equinox  (Improved driveability boosts Chevy compact-SUV sales)  *
  • Hyundai Tucson or Kia Sportage (Highly efficient South Korean twin compact SUVs get engine variances)
  • Dodge Journey (Very efficient and flexible crossover)

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