5 of the Best Compact Cars For Road Tripping

My 5 Favorite Compact Cars For Road Tripping
2017 Mustang Convertible. and I. Photo: Dawn Gibson-Thigpen

Just call me the “Road Trip Queen.”

I’ve been road tripping pretty much on a monthly basis since moving to South Florida. And I am totally having a blast. It was never really planned but life just sort of pushed me into that direction. One particular area that I seem to keep hot is Central Florida. In my opinion, it never gets old and I always find fun and exciting things to do in that neck of the woods.

During my road tripping shenanigans I have had the pleasure of experiencing different cars. And, some of them, surprisingly, are compact cars that are great for errands and commuting but also, great for hitting the road. There are a few that consistently stand out. These are the cars that were most memorable for both in-town driving and hitting the road.

Further Reading: 8 road trips for your next family adventure

Mazda MX-5 RF

My 5 Favorite Compact Cars For Road Tripping

2017 Mazda Miata and I.  Photo: Dawn Gibson-Thigpen

I love road tripping in the Mazda MX-5 RF not only because this modern roadster is simply gorgeous, but because the sass is definitely strong, making its spirited and fiery performance addictive.

It’s a joy to drive, takes bumps like a champ and gets great gas mileage. In addition to all of that goodness, I love the feeling of becoming one with the car. You can feel the road through the steering. It’s incredible!

Imagine typing the destination into the navigation, putting the top down, turning up the volume and hitting the freeway.

250 miles later, from my place to Orlando, I had reached my destination. Time flies when you’re having fun!  To be honest, I was sad the drive was over because I enjoy the road so much.

This stunner is obviously best suited for solo or two-person road trips. The trunk holds a single small suitcase or a couple of small soft bags, but not much more. Which is totally fine with me, because sometimes I want/need alone time to clear my head and other times a little company is just perfect.

Toyota Prius

My 5 Favorite Compact Cars For Road Tripping

2017 Toyota Prius Prime Advance. Photo: Dawn Gibson-Thigpen

Another one of my favorites is the 2017 Toyota Prius Prime Advance. When I told a few of my friends that this little cutie was one of my road trip top faves they were surprised. I am not sure why, because it is not only a cute ride, but it’s practical and has a spacious and spunky cabin that is excellent for tall people. It also comes equipped with a huge multimedia display (11.6-in. HD), an awesome sound system and has a Qi wireless smartphone charging pad.

This technology allows you to charge your various Qi-enabled battery operated electronic devices with a single charging station. To initiate the wireless charging, turn the charging station on, then place a compatible phone on the pad. One LED light will illuminate when charging is in progress and two when charging is complete. Not all devices are Qi-enabled. Smartphone brands including Apple, Samsung, Sony, Google, and LG all offer a selection of compatible devices.

Everything I mentioned above has a lot to do with why this car made my list. However, the feature that impressed me the most is its fuel efficiency. The Toyota Prius Prime Advance gets up to 58 mpg on the freeway and a total range of more than 600 miles. And that’s what makes this cutie the perfect road trip buddy.

Further reading: Our review of the Toyota Prius Prime plug in-hybrid 

Volkswagen Jetta

My 5 Favorite Compact Cars For Road Tripping

2019 VW Jetta. Photo: Dawn Gibson-Thigpen

I loved traveling in the snazzy all-new 2019 VW Jetta R-Line. When I first saw the commercial introducing this car I loved the Betta Getta Jetta theme – super catchy and brilliant. I loved the look of it when I saw and as you probably guessed, I had to get behind the wheel to see if I felt like I “betta getta Jetta.”

I tested out the 2016 model a few years back and I definitely can see and feel the upgrades. As soon as I hit the highway, I just knew that this one had made it to my best road tripping list.

I am totally obsessed with the new body style, love the comfortable interior, and it is extremely smooth and handles nicely. A couple of other things that tickled my fancy were the 8″ touchscreen navigation and the Fender premium audio system. You guys know I am big on a stellar sound system and the Fender system totally rocks.

Additionally, knowing that I had the VW Car-Net security and service package made me feel safe and very comfortable; I could call 911 with the touch of a button and with the phone app could locate the car when it’s parked, check that the doors are locked and get a diagnostics report.

For your next road trip you… Betta Getta Jetta!

Further Reading: Getting hungry? Our best road trip snacks for smooth sailing

Ford Mustang Convertible 

My 5 Favorite Compact Cars For Road Tripping

2017 Mustang Convertible. Photo: Dawn Gibson-Thigpen

Now, you guys already know that this post wouldn’t be complete if the classic and iconic American Ford Mustang Convertible wasn’t listed. I have been infatuated with this car since I was a little girl and to have actually experienced it, more than once I might add, was a complete dream come true.

My 5 Favorite Compact Cars For Road Tripping

Interior of the 2017 Mustang Convertible. Photo: Dawn Gibson-Thigpen 

The edgy and bold personality, insanely slick and roomy cabin design and bucket seats make this car excellent for road tripping, but to be honest, for me it goes deeper than that. The GROWL of the engine, the way it hugs the road at every turn, the WICKED exterior, the sound system and of course the wind blowing through my hair. This car spoils me in so many ways. And, with a medium-sized trunk and two seats in the back, I can bring more than just a co-pilot. Because if you’re road tripping in the Mustang Convertible, everyone wants to go with you.

Further Reading: Do you really need the big engine in the Mustang? We compared the Ecoboost and the GT and this is what we think.

My 5 Favorite Compact Cars For Road Tripping

2017 Mazda3 and I. Photo: Dawn Gibson-Thigpen

Mazda 3 Grand Touring

Last but not least, let’s talk about the fashionable and flirty Mazda 3. This compact cutie is an excellent road trip car because of its great handling, Bluetooth hands-free phone and audio streaming. The middle console area is set up so that the stereo system’s controller can be easily adjusted while driving. And worth noting: Once you’re use to using it, you won’t have to take your eyes off the road when changing the station, adjusting the volume, navigating from screen to screen and more. It becomes second nature.

Additionally, I love that it comes equipped with SMS text message auto delivery and voice reply, and a killer Bose 9 speaker surround sound system. No road trip is complete without a great sound system and this one does not disappoint.

My 5 Favorite Compact Cars For Road Tripping

2017 Mazda 3. Photo: Dawn Gibson-Thigpen

What makes a car great for road tripping? In my opinion, reliability, practicality, capability, leisure, comfort, exterior, awesome sound system, fuel efficient and latest technology.

All of the vehicles I listed above have several if not all of the features listed above, that is why they made the cut for my list. What are some of your favorite cars for road tripping and why? We would love to know!

Yes, You Can Road Trip In A Compact Car. Comfortably, Too! Our Faves Are Practical, Capable And Fun To Drive. Plus, They Look Good On You.

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Dawn is a sassy South Florida lifestyle influencer with a love for travel, music and stylish/sleek cars. Additionally, she... More about Dawn Thigpen