My Favorite Vehicles for a Fall Colors Drive

2015 Jeep Renegade Trailhawk 4X4 - All Photos by Randy Stern
2015 Jeep Renegade Trailhawk 4X4 – All Photos by Randy Stern

November is here. The fall colors have already bloomed…or have fallen all over your yard. Pretty isn't it?

Fall also means a chance to get away from home and enjoy those colors. That means going far away to see what are still on those branches or not. In the northern climes, time is indeed running out. For those southerly, it is happening as we speak.

Since you need a getaway to enjoy the explosion of red, brown, orange, yellow and whatnot, perhaps you should consider the way to get to see these blooms.

Well…I have a few suggestions. These happen to be my favorite vehicles to take a drive to see some fall color.

There are some criteria to selecting these vehicles. First, they would have to be all-weather vehicles. They do not necessarily have to all-wheel drive, but at least to be able to handle any weather event this season could throw at you. It could be the early snow on the ground that would shock anyone in denial of the coming of winter. These vehicles also have to be comfortable to drive…or to ride along in. After all, it isn't just you that's going on this road trip. Not only should it be comfortable, but also fun to drive in any climate.

If there is more than you going, you might as well offer up enough trunk space for everyone's bags. Bags to fill a weekend's worth of fall foliage and frolic. Said vehicle should also have a huge glass area so you can see this foliage come alive. At least they should enough for the great view ahead. These vehicles should also be quiet enough not to disturb the environment – and they do mean being hybrids, either! Lastly, I will cap these vehicles with a sticker price of under $40,000. Why that much. Road travel should not be for certain income brackets – it should be for everyone!

My list may not be what you are thinking. I'll own that part. But, I’m sure they include some vehicles that may have forgotten on your list. Not to mention, I have driven them, enough to know they would the right vehicles for the task at hand.

2016 Buick Regal GS Track Day

BUICK REGAL GS: It is obvious this would come up. It is not about the fact that I love this car, but you can get this with all-wheel drive for maximum traction in the curves…wet curves, that is. Powering the Regal GS is a 259 horsepower 2.0 liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine. For 2016, the only transmission choice is the six-speed automatic, which has already upset the enthusiasts that loved the fact it originally came in the manual. You can get all-wheel drive, but front-wheel drive is standard. Either way, the traction is solid and its road manners are superb. The 2016 Buick Regal GS FWD is $38,620. AWD model is $41,045…over budget, I know…

VOLKSWAGEN GTI: The original hot hatch is a good choice for these drives. Its small footprint is great for winding roads. You can chuck a GTI through some good tarmac without hesitation, while viewing some great vistas at the same time. The turbocharged 2.0 liter turbocharged engine comes in either a 210 horsepower tune or an optional 220 horsepower version on certain packages. A choice of a manual or DSG transmission matches up with varying types of enthusiasts. It is strictly in front-drive only. No matter how you equip your GTI, it is guaranteed fun as you see the leaves turn over. The 2016 Volkswagen GTI SE with Performance Package is $35,330.

SCION iM: I love surprising people with this car. The hatchback design is great, especially when a fall colors drive may also include carrying other things requiring the rear seats to fold down to accommodate them. While it is based on the Corolla, the 137 horsepower version of the 1.8 liter Valvematic engine is nothing to sneeze at. It is fine for what you need to do, while sipping fuel all the way in doing so. It does drive nicely through the curves and is comfortable to accommodate everyone on board. Since Scion wants this to be the car you take for adventures on the road, why not take advantage of it – and it's pricing? The 2016 Scion iM is $21,748.

2016 Hyundai Tucson Media Drive

HYUNDAI TUCSON: Somehow, you figured that a crossover would pop up in this list. Consider the reality of today's car market – crossovers have taken the lead in sales growth. Families want crossovers – they want them small, nimble and affordable. They think they'll have the perfect all-weather vehicle when they get one. Picking the Tucson means piloting a lovely vehicle that offers great stability, a smooth ride, an agile all-wheel drive system and good comfort all around. Not to mention a larger cargo hold to bring more than enough stuff you might not need for a road trip. Did I forget to mention its 175 horsepower turbocharged 1.6 liter engine and its 7-speed dual clutch transmission? That is a great driveline, BTW. The 2016 Hyundai Tucson Limited 1.6T AWD is $34,945, however an AWD Eco model with the same engine costs only $26,445.

JEEP RENEGADE: Let's face it – crossovers and SUVs seem to make perfect fall color tour vehicles (you may argue for your Subarus, Mitsubishis and whatnot, but…this is my list. Sorry.). If one had to go smaller than the Tucson (or its fastest growing vehicle segment in the USA brethren), you might as well go with a Jeep. In this case, the Renegade Trailhawk, with its two-speed four-wheel drive system and traction assistance features will add an off-road component to your fall colors drive. You can see the leaves turn from the road, but sometimes it is best to see them up close and personal. The Renegade is small enough to get through tighter areas deep into the woods. It also has the power, with its 180 horsepower 2.4 liter engine and 9-speed automatic. That should be enough to get you out of trouble. The 2016 Jeep Renegade Trailhawk 4X4 is $31,465.

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