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Best Overall: Lincoln MKT

Price: $44,200 – $49,200

Gas mileage: 17 City / 23 Hwy

The Lincoln MkT’s appearance may be controversial — OK, so it looks like the happiest whale in the world — but if you’ve got three or more people and a long road ahead of you, there’s nothing better.

For starters, “roomy” doesn’t begin to describe the interior. Then you can add in options like a panoramic sunroof, refrigerator and active cruise control, which allows you to follow the car ahead without touching the gas or brake pedals. Then, when you get where you’re going, it parks itself.

Van: Chrysler Town & Country

Price: $25,175 – $35,875

Gas mileage: 17 City / 24 Hwy

Think of it as a machine for changing “Are we there yet?” to “Are we there already?” The simple fact is, no other minivan offers the flexibility and features of this one. You can rearrange the furniture, turning the back two rows toward one another with a game table in the middle. This year, Chrysler has also added Flo TV, which lets you watch 20 channels on the road. (One caveat: coverage can be spotty outside major metro areas.)

Luxury: BMW 7-Series

Price: $70,150 – $74,550

Gas mileage: 15 city / 22 hwy

The 7-series offers a wonderful mix of long-range cruising comfort and real driving fun (when the opportunity presents itself) with virtually no compromise. Back seat occupants can each select their own entertainment options presented on seatback screens, while getting a nice in-seat massage. The driver can get a rub-down, too, of course, while available super-intelligent four-wheel steering makes driving even more precise.

Fun: Chevrolet Camero

Price: $22,680 – $33,945

Gas mileage: 17 City / 29 Hwy

We wouldn’t recommend the back seats for an extended trip but if you want driving fun, on a budget (the V6 is fuel-efficient, too), with comfortable space for two and their luggage, it’s hard to beat the Camaro. It’s also available with OnStar which, as almost anyone who has it will tell you, can be your best friend in unfamiliar territory.

Versatile: Subaru Outback

Price: $22,995 – $30,995

Gas mileage: 19 City / 27 Hwy

If you think you might want to leave the pavement a little when you get where you’re going, the Outback is the one to take. It’s no Jeep Wrangler, but with its extra body clearance and all-wheel-drive it’s ready for some occasional rough stuff. Plus, the Outback is surprisingly fun to drive on the road, and the new version has more room inside than ever.

Small Sports: Nissan 370Z

Price: $28,492 – $37,848

Gas mileage: 18 City / 26 Hwy

If you’re heading cross country by yourself, toss your bags in the passenger seat and take the Nissan 370Z, available in coupe and roadster styles. The new Z is fun to drive while being easy on your back and legs over the long haul. You’ll be gazing at that interior for a long time, too, so it helps that it’s just as nice to look at as the exterior.

Zipper: VW Golf TDI

Price: $22,155

Gas mileage: 30 City / 41 Hwy

Hybrid cars are great on gas when you’re driving around town or get stuck in stop-and-crawl traffic. But on long highway stretches, diesels rule. The Golf TDI’s tiny diesel engine makes plenty of power while getting great fuel economy. And once you get off those boring highway stretches, it’s fun to drive, too.


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