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Published April 27, 2023

Get packed, Houstonians: We’re taking a road trip

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A composite image showing a Jeep Wrangler, Jeep Grand Cherokee, Ram 1500, and Mercedes GLC in outdoor environments.

We get it. Houston has a lot to offer, including a low cost of living, a thriving job market, rich, multi-cultural history, bustling food scene and lots of pro sports teams just to name a few awesome things.

But when you want to get away from the hustle and bustle, you’ve got options like small towns with loads of charm, Texas Wine Country, beautiful lakes, renowned state and national parks filled with unique wildlife and natural beauty and other awesome cities near and far to explore. There are also the 10 waterways that wind their way through the area, helping give Houston the nickname, the Bayou City.

So where are you headed, Houstonians, and what’s the perfect road-trip car to take you there? We have some ideas.

What makes a good road-trip car?

Start by thinking about what you need out of your road-trip chariot and where you’ll want to go. Will you literally be taking the road less traveled and heading off road? Need extra passenger room for friends and family? Will you need towing power for a boat and take in that lake lifestyle?

Here are some of the features you’ll need for various types of road trips.

Interior must-haves

Comfortable seating for everyone

Extra cargo room to take everyone’s stuff

Extra cubbies and cupholders for those essential on-the-road snacks and refreshments

A good infotainment system, with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, wireless charging and extra USB ports, to keep everyone’s devices charged and your favorite playlist streaming

Multi-zone climate control to keep bickering about whether it’s too hot or too cold in the car at bay.

For off-roading

Good ground clearance

All-terrain tires

Locking differentials and skid plates

For towing a boat, camper or livestock trailer

High towing capacity

Extras like Ford's handy Pro Trailer Back-Up Assist feature or GMC’s Transparent Trailer technology that ease some of the anxiety of towing.

Ready to hit the road? Let’s take a look at some great road trip companions.

Barton Springs: Jeep Wrangler

Shop used Jeep Wrangler

Image is of a red Jeep Wrangler with four doors and black trim, on a paved trail bordered by fields and tall trees.

Take the top off your Jeep Wrangler and soak up the sun on the way to Barton Springs in Austin, a roughly 2.5-hour drive.

Cool off at Barton Springs, a clear and cool spring-fed municipal pool open year-round at Zilker Park. Water temp is usually around 68 degrees. No food, glass, alcohol or pets allowed. A small admission fee is charged during warmer-weather months.

The Wrangler is customizable to your hobbies and engine options are plenty. In 2021, the all-new Wrangler 4xe debuted, along with a 470-horsepower Hemi V8 engine. The 4xe is the first-ever plug-in-hybrid Jeep Wrangler, and it features a 375-horsepower powertrain with a turbo-four engine, two electric motors and an eight-speed automatic transmission. Other engines include: the base 285-horsepower Pentastar V6; optional 270-horsepower turbocharged 4-cylinder; a 470-horsepower Hemi V8; and a V6 diesel powertrain.

Load up a Jeep Wrangler Unlimited, the 4-door body style, with friends for the ride to Austin. Entertain your crew on the drive with an 8.4-inch touch screen, navigation, a Wi-Fi hot spot, HD Radio and a nine-speaker stereo. Pop the top and remove the doors from this iconic road-tripper to enjoy the views and the breeze as you cruise the highway. After your refreshing dip at Barton Springs, you can take in the laid-back vibe, live music and food scene Austin is known for.

Brazos Bend State Park: Ram 1500

Shop used RAM 1500

Image shows a silver Ram 1500 pickup truck in a desert landscape at sunset. There are mountains in the background.

Hitch up your horse trailer to a rugged yet refined Ram 1500 and head to Brazos Bend State Park, just 45 minutes from downtown Houston.

Ram’s base engine is a 305-horsepower V6. Several engines are available: a 260-horsepower V6 diesel, two 395-horsepower V8s (one of which is a mild-hybrid), and a 702-horsepower supercharged V8 that powers the Ram TRX, which debuted in 2021.

The Ram 1500’s 5.7-liter HEMI V8 with eTorque, a mild hybrid system, is capable of towing up 12,750 pounds and hauling a payload of up to 2,320 pounds, so it’s more than ready to transport your steeds for weekend trail riding on Brazos Bend’s 13 miles of multi-use trails. The park boasts a total of 37 miles of trails for hiking and biking as well.

Load up the Ram’s bed, available in 6-foot-4-inch and 5-foot-7-inch lengths, with your camping gear and stay overnight. Call ahead to reserve a campsite, screened shelter or cabin.

Ram bests competitors like Ford F-150 and Chevrolet Silverado for its interior, with Car and Driver calling it “lavish,” and U.S. News describing it as “elegant and spacious.”

Take the whole family to Brazos Bend for the weekend. Fishing, birding and geocaching are all part of the fun. Standard infotainment includes a 5-inch touch screen, Bluetooth, USB ports, a six- speaker stereo, and a Wi-Fi hot spot, so you can Instagram your weekend adventure and stay charged even in the wilderness.

Big Bend National Park: Jeep Grand Cherokee

Shop used Jeep Grand Cherokee

Image shows a dark gray Jeep Grand Cherokee driving on a highway, overlooking a valley with fog in the background.

It’s a long haul from Houston to Big Bend National Park, about 10 hours, but the comfort and utility of the Jeep Grand Cherokee makes for a good road trip.

The base engine is a 293-horsepower, 3.6-liter V-6, allowing for passing on the highway with ease. The 357-horsepower, 5.7-liter Hemi V-8 is an option for the top three trim levels and comes with four-wheel drive standard. Standard infotainment features like an 8.4-inch touch screen, a six-speaker stereo, USB ports, Bluetooth, a Wi-Fi hot spot, Android Auto, and Apple CarPlay will keep playlists and podcasts going to pass the time on the road. The Grand Cherokee, redesigned in 2022, also includes loads of standard safety features, including forward collision warning, pedestrian detection, adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning, blind spot monitor, rear parking sensors and a rearview camera.

Take in gorgeous rock formations and canyons along 100 miles of paved roads within the park. The Grand Cherokee features a comfortable ride on the highway and an upscale interior in higher trims that rival some luxury SUVs to make that vista viewing all the more enjoyable. Thanks to its off-road chops, the Grand Cherokee can take on unimproved dirt roads leading to abandoned settlements, cemeteries, a yucca forest and primitive roadside campsites and access to hiking trails. Do some stargazing through the dual-pane panoramic sunroof available in the Limited trim and higher.

Fredericksburg: Mercedes-Benz GLC

Shop used Mercedes-Benz GLC

Image shows a white Mercedes-Benz GLC driving on a curved mountain roadway with a valley of hills and trees in the background.

Let’s head to the Texas Hill Country of Fredericksburg, about 240 miles west of Houston. The Mercedes-Benz GLC will get you there in style.

The GLC’s base engine, a 255-horsepower turbocharged four-cylinder, is brisk in town and quick to get you up to speed on the highway and remains remains stable and composed around bends in the road.

Enjoy the ride in this compact SUV’s quiet and plush interior, one of the nicest in the luxury compact segment. The exterior is sleek, with the four-door coupe version looking especially sporty with its sloped roofline. Take in the brilliant graphics on the 10.25-inch touchscreen as you head toward your destination. Other road-trip friendly infotainment includes Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, Bluetooth, HD Radio, two front USB ports, and rear USB ports. augmented-reality navigation, a 13-speaker Burmester surround-sound stereo, wireless device charging, infotainment gesture control and satellite radio.

Fredericksburg has been described as an antiques and vintage mecca, and the GLC’s 56.5 cubic feet of cargo space behind the front seats means plenty of room for your retail finds. Hands-free park assist became standard for this Mercedes SUV in 2021 so you’ll have no trouble maneuvering in and out of parking spots in town.

After your shopping trip, visit a winery or two. There are dozens of wineries and weingartens in Fredericksburg’s Gillespie County, specializing in grapes that grow well in the Mediterranean – Viognier, Albarino, Sangiovese and Tempranillo.

Make EchoPark your next destination

Your old ride not giving you as much road-trip inspo as it used to? Take a quick road trip to our Houston North and South locations for a used car, truck or SUV you’ll love exploring new places with. Our Experience Guides can’t wait to help you get your road-trip plans rolling, so come in for a test drive today.

Want to learn more?

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