Summer is a great time of the year.  Should you happen to live near the beach or somewhere where you can cool off, go there!  Enjoy summer!  That’s what I’ve been doing! Have fun!  Anyhow, I have compiled a list of the top twenty cars for summer.  Some of these cars are great for tearing up your favorite isolated canyon road.  Others are great for getting to that one remote spot that your Porsche 911 just can’t go.  Others are great for driving long distances.  Some of those cruisers have big, loud V8’s so you can take opportunity of every inch of open highway and tunnel.  Some of these cars are convertibles, others are, well, I shouldn’t spoil it for you!

  1. Jeep Wrangler:  The Jeep Wrangler is a staple of summer.  Should you live near a beach where you can drive on the beach, nothing beats driving a Jeep with the top down, the windows down, and listening to your favorite music.  Nothing, absolutely nothing can beat the feel of a Jeep in it’s environment.  The Wrangler can be ordered as a two-door Jeep, or a four-door Jeep, if you need that extra space.  It’s got truly staggering off-road capability, timeless looks, and a thriving aftermarket.  Plus, there are many models of the Wrangler with varying price ranges for everybody!  Plus, you can’t buy a Jeep and leave it stock.  It’s just not what the Wrangler was intended for.
  2. Buick Enclave/Chevy Traverse/GMC Acadia:  Either of these three GM Lambda-class crossovers is an amazing SUV for a family.  They get decent mileage considering their intended function, have plenty of space for everybody, have one of the best rides out there, and have powerful engines!  We own a 2013 Enclave, and, man, I LOVE it!  It’s got all of the bells and whistles that I could ever imagine, and then some!  It’s spectacular on long road trips or doing light off-roading.  It just soaks up the bumps and is unfazed by anything.  It’s got superb visibility, and a bunch of safety nannies like blind-spot monitoring for those times when you just can’t see in that one spot, and got plenty of space and gadgets for every single person inside it’s sumptuous cabin.  I just can’t say enough good things about the Enclave!  If you’re on more of a budget, look at the Chevy Traverse.  The Acadia has much more truck-like looks, and is thus more intimidating when it comes up on your six.  That’s not to say that the Enclave isn’t.  It’s got a big ol’ honkin’ chrome grille that looks like it’s itching to eat small animals.  The one caveat that my dad has about it so far is the fact that a panel on the door gets dented easily on long road trips.  Other than that, I couldn’t want anything more out of the Enclave.  A job well done, GM.
  3. Dodge Challenger/Dodge Charger/Chrysler 300:  Chrysler/Dodge’s fullsize sedans and coupe are big, cushy cars that have been substantially updated.  The Challenger is great for those who want classic American looks, and a bunch of street appeal.  The Charger is good for those who need the extra rear seat space.  The 300 is good for those who crave that extra bit of luxury.  If you opt for the Challenger, any of the available models are fun cars, but if you road trip a lot, get the Challenger R/T with the 5.7 liter HEMI V8 and the six-speed manual.  If you don’t drive stick, don’t worry – the superb 8-speed automatic is there for you!  With the Charger, get the Charger SRT8 – it’s a sleeper!  It does look intimidating, but the SRT8 model can scoot on the straightaways and the corners!  None of the Chrysler/Dodge cars are battleships in the corners, but the SRT8 models have a tweaked suspension and a potent 392 cubic-inch HEMI V8 (6.4 liters).  Get the Chrysler 300S for looks and comfort.  It gets rid of or blacks out most of the chrome that the 300 is known for, which makes it absolutely intimidating and beautiful. The white paint is the best option for the 300S – it makes the blacked-out chrome stand out!  Plus, it comes with the powerful 3.6-liter Pentastar V6 and the sweet 8-speed automatic.  Even the Challenger is able to swallow two large coolers, a duffel bag, and at least one small suitcase.  The backseat is large enough to take two full-size adults with ease, with three in a pinch.
  4. Ram 1500 EcoDiesel:  As if the Ram 1500 wasn’t a good enough truck to start off with, Ram decided to put a small diesel engine into the popular Ram 1500.  Not only is this a good idea, but it’s a good choice for those who haul or tow a lot, but don’t want to have to step up to a massive 2500-series pickup.  Plus, diesel engines are great for road tripping.  The Ram 1500 EcoDiesel is the only half-ton pickup on the market with a diesel engine.  There are plenty of options available for the Ram 1500, many of which can send the price rocketing up well past $50,000.  It only comes as a crew cab with a six-foot bed or a five-foot bed, with 2WD or 4WD.  It comes with an 8-speed automatic standard, so you never have to worry about surfing that tsunami of torque.  If all of that wasn’t good enough for you, think about this – the Ram 1500 EcoDiesel was Motor Trend’s 2014 Truck of the Year.  It’s a repeat winner, as it won the 2013 TOTY as well.
  5. Mercedes-Benz SL63 AMG:  AMG is and always has been known for making radically fast, fun cars with gobs of power.  With emissions regulations tightening every year, automakers are increasingly turning to turbochargers for performance and fuel economy.  The SL63 AMG has two massive turbochargers that make it an absolutely fun monster to drive, according to the grapevine.  Plus, who wouldn’t want to be swaddled in some of the finest leather on the market, along with the latest technology?  The SL63 looks absolutely evil and menacing in the triple black color, especially after sunset.  Even though it only seats two people, why not take a friend or the spouse, or even one of your kids (or your kid) out on a long, scenic drive.  The SL63 is great for high-speed cruising, but it can hold it’s own in the twisties.
  6. Ford F150 SVT Raptor:  If you’re an outdoorsy person who likes to take a lot of stuff with you when you go camping.  The Raptor is basically an off-road racing machine for the street.  It’s a big truck, though, but that doesn’t diminish the amount of fun you can have with this truck.  It’s the vehicle that I would take to get to my beach house right on the beach in Hawaii!  Or anywhere, for that matter.  It seats six, so it’s perfect to take the family or a few friends anywhere you want to go.  Think of it as a Jeep for those who need space.
  7. Chevrolet Corvette Stingray:  The Corvette Stingray is one of the most praised new sports cars out on the market.  It’s finally America’s sports car.  It’s also finally a true sports car.  It has a seven-speed manual, and for 2015, an 8-speed automatic.  It comes as either a convertible or a coupe with a targa top.  It may only seat two people, but that’s what a sports car is supposed to seat!  It’s got an engine note somewhere in between the thumping roar of a diesel V8 and the shriek of a NASCAR V8.  It’s beautiful sounding.  Plus, it comes in many beautiful colors, and the green color makes it look like it came from Italy.  It’s a good car to take a road trip in, especially with the comfortable sport seats.  You no longer are uncomfortable when you get out of a Corvette.
  8. Ram 2500 Power Wagon:  The Ram 2500 Power Wagon is basically the pickup that Jeep should have built.  It may be big, but that just means that you can take more stuff!  It’s got the burly 392 HEMI V8 (a slightly detuned version, but the same engine in all of the SRT products), 4WD, a beefy Aisin 6-speed automatic, and Dana-style locking axles front and rear.  Oh, and it’s got a pretty nice interior for a truck that is meant to take you dirty places.  This is the truck that I would use as a getaway truck when the apocalypse hits.  It also comes in some pretty cool colors like red with cool white graphics.  Think of it as a heavier-duty Ford F150 SVT Raptor.
  9. Jeep Grand Cherokee:  Any version of the Jeep Grand Cherokee is amazing, but the version with the EcoDiesel V6 or the 5.7-liter HEMI V8 is amazing.  Either of these engines are great for highway cruising, and both get decent, if not good fuel economy.  It’s got a bladder-busting 700+ miles of range with the diesel, which more than makes up for the high cost of diesel today.  The SRT8 version has the 392 HEMI V8, AWD, sport seats, and handles like a barrel full of fun.  It’s also passed Jeep’s rigorous off-road tests with flying colors, thanks to the standard air suspension.  Well, maybe not flying colors, but it passed.
  10. Cadillac CTS VSport:  It’s got an efficient, yet quick twin-turbocharged engine, a 6-speed automatic transmission, available AWD for those who need the grip in the snowbelt, heated/cooled/ventilated leather seats, amazing color choices, and, is, quite simply, one of the best cars that one can buy.  While it may be a couple of years before we see a 3rd-generation CTS-V, the CTS VSport will easily tide us over.  Plus, it looks absolutely gorgeous in any color or setting.
  11. Ford F350 Platinum:  This is probably one of the most luxurious trucks that one can go out and buy.  It comes standard with leather, navigation, heated front seats, mirrors, and even optional heated rear seats!  It comes with either a powerful 6.2-liter V8 or a thundering 6.7-liter “Scorpion” diesel V8 making 800 pound-feet of torque!  My dream F350 Platinum would be a 4X4 Crew Cab in red with the diesel, and just about every option available!  Why sacrifice for less luxury?  Plus, you can tow up to 30,000 pounds in sumptuous comfort!
  12. Ford Mustang Shelby GT500:  With a howling, screaming, yelling 662 horsepower out of an amazing-sounding 5.8-liter supercharged V8, the Shelby GT500 is the S197-generation Mustang to get.  Ford claims a top speed of 200+ mph, Motor Trend has seen 197 mph and still pulling, so I see no better way to find out the top speed than to take the GT500 to the Autobahn and see what it can really do!  Or, take it to legendary NASCAR superspeedways like Daytona International Speedway or Talladega International Superspeedway.  Or, take it to Indianapolis Motor Speedway and check it out there.  Better yet, take it to all three!  Or, you can simply tour Route 66 in it.
  13. Mercedes-Benz Sprinter:  I recently had the chance to drive a Sprinter, and, surprisingly, it was astonishingly easy and fun to drive!  It was a 12-seater van with a big air-conditioning unit on top, and the smaller 2.1-liter four-cylinder turbodiesel.  Truth be told, I’d get it the same way, as there really isn’t any need for the bigger 3.0-liter turbodiesel V6.  The four-cylinder engine gives it plenty of oomph, and according to the owner, it gets up to speed quickly, even with a bunch of people in the back.  The smaller engine gets up to 25 mpg on the highway, as well, so fill-ups are far and few between.  It’s got amazing visibility, thanks to the short, sloping hood and the gigantic greenhouse.  The one downside is that the sliding door is on the passenger side only, and looks like a guillotine coming towards you when it’s going downhill.
  14. Mazda MX-5 Miata:  The Mazda Miata is a cute little roadster meant to put the biggest smile ever on the driver and passenger!  It’s formula is simple and has been proven true for decades.  It’s got a manual transmission, light weight, a fuel-efficient, relatively powerful four-cylinder engine, two seats, and enough bells and whistles to keep you satisfied.  Plus it gives you and everybody who sees one a big, goofy grin.  You can’t beat that!  The Miata is just instantly likeable and fun.  It’s a hoot to drive on a track, but driving it hard on a road with a lot of straight areas will not get you up to 150 mph.  It’s the curvy parts of the road where the Miata will embarrass many cars triple it’s price.  Plus, it’s extremely affordable, comes with a lot of inexpensive options, and is reliable.  Why mess with that?  British roadsters from the 1960’s and 1970’s had that formula except for reliability in spades.  It’s what made them so popular.
  15. Cadillac ATS:  The Cadillac ATS isn’t Cadillac’s flagship.  It doesn’t need to be.  But, it was Cadillac’s second best-selling car last year to the Escalade.  It’s the most affordable new Cadillac, and to this day, driving a Cadillac means success.  It starts off at around $34,000, so it’s in reach of a lot of folks.  The model that I would want is a 2.0T with the Technology and Luxury packages.  That’s all that I would really need.  Should you want more, Cadillac is more than happy to sell you more expensive options.
  16. Ferrari FF:  It’s the first Ferrari ever with AWD, so you can travel in the snow, do light off-roading (gravel roads and the like), and take three passengers in comfort and beauty.  It’s got a V12 making 651 horsepower, a quick-shifting 7-speed dual clutch automatic transmission, and Ferrari’s Haldex-based AWD system.  One of the few downsides is that you are heading into unknown territory because of the AWD system.  Another downside is that the infotainment system is based off of an already-dated Chrysler system from circa 2011.  If you can live with the FF’s faults, it’s a great car.  But, that’s true about any car.
  17. Dodge Durango:  This midsize SUV is quite possibly one of the best vehicles ever for a road trip.  It simply pushes any road imperfection back down into the road.  It can seat up to 8 people comfortably and still carry a good deal of luggage.  It comes with two powerful engines; a 3.6-liter “Pentastar” V6 or a 5.7-liter HEMI V8.  Either of these engines are extremely good, reliable, economical engines, but I think that the best engine is the Pentastar V6, as it provides enough power for freeway driving, city driving, hilly driving, and towing.  If you tow a lot, go with the 5.7-liter HEMI V8, otherwise, stick with the Pentastar V6.
  18. Bentley Continental GT V8 S:  Bentley made a massive resurgence in 2006 with the new Continental GT.  Since then, it has morphed into the Toyota Camry of Beverly Hills.  It now has a powerful W12 engine or a powerful V8 engine.  The W12 engine is great, but it adds a lot of weight to the front, and drinks gas like beer on a Friday night.  The V8 is a fabulous engine that doesn’t sacrifice too much performance getting the 5,000+ pound Continental GT V8 S up to speed.  Plus, it comes with an amazing 8-speed automatic.  Since the V8 is far lighter than the W12, it makes the car handle much better.  It shaves almost 250 pounds from the engine difference alone.  Overall, weight savings are close to 500 pounds, so the Continental GT V8 S is obviously the weapon of choice for track days or windy roads.  It’s got a cushy ride when cruising, so you’ll get there in comfort.  Then, you can unleash the twin-turbocharged fury that is the GT V8 S.
  19. Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 Convertible:  This is the most powerful Chevrolet Camaro convertible ever.  It makes 580 horsepower from it’s supercharged LSA engine, which is just a detuned version of the 638-horsepower LS9 motor found in the beastly C6 Corvette ZR1.  It’s got either a six-speed manual or a six-speed automatic.  Getting the convertible eliminates the bunker-like visibility that the Camaro coupe is known for, plus you get a nice tan driving a convertible.  It has some pretty big, cool wheels, an exhaust note that sounds like it belongs to a Top Fuel Funny Car, and looks that are pretty amazing, if I say so myself.
  20. Honda Accord Hybrid:  This is Honda’s second attempt at building an Accord Hybrid.  So far, it seems to be more successful than Honda’s first attempt from 2005-2006.  It’s got decent power, plenty of inexpensive, good options, and a base price that is affordable to many.  I’m sure that it is a good interstate cruiser because it has a powerful four-cylinder engine with Honda’s VTEC technology, a CVT, and an electric motor that helps boost power when the gas pedal gets pushed in more than 50%.  I’m also positive that it’s good around town, because the gas engine doesn’t kick in until you’re going above 35 mph.  It’s got a range close to 650 miles, so you’ll have to go to the bathroom before the car needs to get filled up.

6 thoughts on “The Twenty Best Cars for Summer!

  1. Sierra is studying the list for her car, as she will be taking her driver test very soon. Unfortunately, her parents don’t see anything on this list that may be workable. Any thoughts for used cheap safe cars?

    1. Of course. I don’t know what your price range is, but any Subaru Outback, Volvo S60, Honda Accord, and Subaru Forester is a good choice for Sierra. Let me know what price range you are looking for, and I will be happy to assist you in finding a car for Sierra.

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