What Is The Best Vehicle For A Roadtrip?

Hey folks. I would like to purchase an used vehicle for under $10,000 that will be reliable for a cross-country road trip. I’d love to hear your feedback and opinions!

-Either a camper van of sorts, or a pick-up truck that I can put a camper on, but I’m open to other suggestions.
-Diesel (possible conversion to veggie oil system)
-Enough space for myself and my 2 dogs.


Hazel Hermit

I wouldn’t even consider one that was converted to run on veggie oil: Your supply will be very questionable as you travel.

Depending on the size of your animals, and whether or not they’ll be caged during the trip, almost any vehicle built as a wagon, van or pickup would do.

As to reliability, well, that will all depend on how well the vehicle was cared for during its lifetime. With that kind of money, though, you could get a year or two old Hyundai or Kia van, or look at slightly older US made vans/wagons/trucks. A Chevy 1500 (Silverado style, only a few years old) will be widely available, can be had with a V6 for slightly better mileage, and can get repaired just about anywhere if you don’t have the parts/tools with you, give you lots of storage space, and carry your animals without a problem.

A van with a toilet might be very convenient.

Best vehicle for a road trip? Someone else’s vehicle!

A van/camper type of thing will be about 100% more pleasant than a pickup truck kind of thing.

I would actually suggest you look at small (van-sized) RV rentals & not buy the thing at all. If not find an old hippie’s converted school bus.

I agree that an RV rental is worth looking into. It should cost well under $10,000. Consider what you will do with the vehicle after you take the long trip. If you want to use it, a pick-up with an camper insert would be a good idea. You can remover the camper and leave it in the driveway. If you don’t have a driveway or local rules prevent you from storing it at home, you need to find a place to store it. If you want the dogs up front with you, maybe a crew cab or extended cab truck might be best. The least expensive way is to drive the car you have now and use a tent. You can buy a very good tent for less than $1000.

Mini-van with the back seats removed.

The diesel/veggie oil conversion is a false economic choice. It is fraught with so many contradictions, it makes no economic sense for the average consumer. Yourself and two dogs, small wagon/minivan or 4cyl pick with a camper top. I also like “jt” option of any small 4 cyl compact and a tent. Personally, I have done it and it works…I’m just too lazy now to recommend it.

Just rent one and save the $10,000. Even coast to coast to coast will only take a week to drive at a slow pace. North to south even less. Renting even for a month or two will be much cheaper.

Veggie oil is just stupid. There isn’t enough used veggie oil to ever make it more than a tiny niche solution and that oil could be used to food, such as animal feed. I’m +1 on the tent idea, but maybe get a wagon to sleep in just in case. Or, as others have noted, just save the $10,000 and use it for hotels, planning your trip using a dog-friendly travel app.

Look for a used Pontiac Aztec. It was designed for just such a road trip. There is a tent that fits onto the raised liftgate to provide room for sleeping in the vehicle. The Aztec didn’t sell well, but if you can handle the looks it is pretty much a normal GM vehicle as far as mechanical and electrical systems. This means just about anyone can fix it if you have a problem during your travels.

I’ll tell you from personal experiance…Don’t drive cross country in a small compact car like mine! I drove cross country back in June in my 2010 Nissan Versa and the car handled great! But the seats in it were not easy on my back! And the car being a little 4 cylinder doesn’t like steep inclines. I was driving through Colorado at one point and my car was like the story The little engine that could when it came to climbing those mountains but once I went downhill, the little car was like a little rocket. If you plan on buying a used roomy vehicle I’d look into a Jeep Grand Cherokee, A ford explorer, A nissan Xterra.

I agree with the people who advise you to rent an RV. Start here:


Roadtreks are nice. They come in extended full-sized vans complete with bathroom and kitchen.

I’d forget diesel. The fuel’s more expensive most places so you won’t recognize much if any savings over gas, and you really only need the diesel’s grunt if you’re driving something large like a >30’ motor home.

How long will you be on the road? Will you sleep in the vehicle every night? Will this be during cold weather?

Too bad $10k is the limit…a new Scion xb looks ok to me. I can get you in debt if you listen to me though.

My vote is for renting something and not being in hock on something that could be a rolling hunk of junk.

Whatever your final decision, If you decide to buy, buy it a while before you take it cross country. Use it commuting to get a handle on any potential problems.

Small or large dogs? How long will you be away? What is your budget for gasoline and motels? Will you use this vehicle only for this trip and then sell it? Without knowing these things, I will not jump through this hoop.

If I could predict reliability, I would be a prophet and you would know my name; would ask me directly.

Feel free to post again, your participation here is certainly welcome. This site needs subject matter to chew on!

Lacking needed input, a small motorhome is the right way to travel. You will have room for everything. Having owned one, I can assure you that if you can get past the poor fuel mileage, you will love every minute of your time traveling in one of these. They are safe to drive and you can stay at night for no cost in a truck stop or a WM parking lot. At a truck stop, be polite and buy a fuel tank refill. Don’t forget to pack some heat as it is your home away from home. We have never felt unsafe while traveling in our motorhome. Many of these are owned by older people but the bad guys don’t know who is and who is not packing heat.

More about a motorhome. These have several systems that can and will give trouble but will not prevent your continuation down the highway as long as the drivetrain does as intended. These systems are as follows: 12v
water pump and plumbing, gas/electric refrigerator, 12v furnace, roof air conditioner, gas stove, gray water tank, black water tank, fresh water tank, propane tank, gas piping, 12 volt wiring and lighting fixtures, 120 volt wiring, circuit breaker center with aux battery charger, auxiliary battery, aux battery isolator. Most of these do not give trouble but you will pay plenty to repair people if you are not willing or able to learn to DIY.

Back in the 70’s I did a cross country trip with my wife, two kids and a tent. One of the high points was the local at a rest area in the desert who was talking to me and laughing at all the drivers who tried to make it across the desert with their air conditioner on. I did not have a heart to tell him that I just came the same way in comfort with the air on all the way. That Air cooled VW engine did not have any problem saying cool and keeping the family cool.