The Best Vehicles to Buy for a Visit to America

So you’re a tourist and thinking of buying a car in America for a road trip - great choice!  But which one is right for your tour?  The following vehicles are our favorites for a visit in three categories:

  • Reliability - you don’t want to be saddled with a broken-down car

  • Resale value - If you’re buying and selling a car, you’ll want one that retains its value over time

  • Abundance - Abundance means ease of resale.  It will probably take longer to sell a Fiat Spider than a Honda Accord.

Want help buying one of these vehicles?  We're here to help.

And yes, because this is America, we're going to start off with pick up trucks.

Full-Size Pickup Truck

Ford F-150

1993 Ford F-150

1993 Ford F-150

2009 Ford F-150

2009 Ford F-150

2015 Ford F-150

2015 Ford F-150

You will never not fit in driving a Ford F-150.  You’ll see these everywhere, from Seattle to South Carolina.  The Ford F-150 has been the top-selling vehicle in the United States since 1981, and for good reason: they’re tough, cheap to maintain, and they run forever.  This truck tops checks all the boxes - the F-150 is dependable, it holds its value, and there’s more of them on the road than any other vehicle in America.

Why not to buy:

If you haven’t driven a larger vehicle before, the F-150 will seem massive.  They are tall, they are wide, and they are long.  Managing one in a tight environment may prove stressful.

Mid-Size Pickup

Toyota Tacoma

2001 Toyota Tacoma

2001 Toyota Tacoma

2009 Toyota Tacoma

2009 Toyota Tacoma

2016 Toyota Tacoma

2016 Toyota Tacoma

The Toyota Tacoma is another extremely reliable pickup - it’s a Toyota, after all!  You may recognize this truck by the name of its overseas cousin, the Hilux.  The Tacoma drives more like car than a truck.  If you’re interested in a pickup for your visit, but don’t want something as big as an F-150, the Taco could be right truck for you.

Why not to buy:

If you’re looking for a pickup to haul a camper or trailer, you’ll need the Tacoma’s optional V6 towing package.  With this, you’ll be able to haul up to 6,500 pounds.  Bigger trailers need a bigger truck.

Full-Size Sedan

Toyota Corolla

2013 Toyota Corolla

2013 Toyota Corolla

2014 Toyota Corolla

2014 Toyota Corolla

Some car models are good in one year, rubbish the next.  The Corolla is not one of those cars.  It has achieved top marks in US best-seller lists, resale value lists and reliability reports throughout the 1990’s, 2000’s, and 2010’s, so it's a great car for travelers.  The Corolla and its smaller cousin, the Camry, are the standard bearers for dependability in America, and as such, there are several hundred squillion of them on the roads today.

Why not to buy:

Despite attempts at flair in later models, this car has all the sex appeal of a middle-aged accountant.  It gets you where you need to go, but it won’t turn any heads on the way.

Think this guide is helpful? Wait till you talk to our knowledgable staff!

Compact Sedan

Honda Civic

1995 Honda Civic

1995 Honda Civic

2006 Honda Civic

2006 Honda Civic

2016 Honda Civic

2016 Honda Civic

If you listen closely, you can actually hear European eyebrows raising at the idea of calling a Honda Civic a compact car.  But for us Americans, it is.  It’s a great city car that will fit into just about any parking spot (in the US) and, like its larger cousin, the Accord, it’ll run forever and ever.  But you won’t pay through the nose for the Civic’s reliability - they are modestly priced and hold their value over time.

Why not to buy:

If you’re looking for a car that’ll pin you into your seat as you mash the accelerator, look elsewhere.  The Civic was built for reliability, not speed.

Station Wagon

Subaru Outback

1998 Subaru Outback

1998 Subaru Outback

2005 Subaru Outback

2005 Subaru Outback

2015 Subaru Outback

2015 Subaru Outback

I have to admit, I’ve got a soft spot for Subarus - my family had them throughout my childhood.  The Outback is a great mountain car: all-wheel drive is standard, making them great in icy weather.  They’ve also got higher ground clearance and a shorter wheelbase than most SUV’s, meaning that if a rutty dirt road calls your name, you can answer the call.

Why not to buy:

If you plan to spend most of your visit in Red states, you may feel a bit out of place in a Subaru.  Subarus tend to find themselves driven more by kombucha-drinkers and less by UN skeptics.

Have a question about a vehicle not listed here?

Full Sized SUV

Chevrolet Suburban

1997 Chevrolet Suburban

1997 Chevrolet Suburban

2007 Chevrolet Suburban

2007 Chevrolet Suburban

2015 Chevrolet Suburban

2015 Chevrolet Suburban

The Chevy Suburban is the last word in big vehicles.  Whether your travels involve ferrying an entire hockey team to practice or shuttling a diplomatic envoy, staff, and translators to a meeting, the Suburban will suit.  This load hauler can seat up to eight and still tow several tons worth of kit behind it.  

The Suburban also has an understated heritage.  The truck has been in production since 1935, making it the longest-running uninterrupted-production-vehicle ever made.  No one else quite makes a full-sized SUV like the Suburban, so you’ll always find a market when you’re ready to sell.

Why not to buy:

If you plan to spend most of your visit in the city, you’ll curse yourself for choosing the Suburban.  Don’t buy this truck unless you thoroughly enjoy liberating other cars of their wing mirrors.

Compact SUV

Honda CR-V

1999 Honda CR-V

1999 Honda CR-V

2009 Honda CR-V

2009 Honda CR-V

2017 Honda CR-V

2017 Honda CR-V

The Honda CR-V is a more compact SUV than the Suburban, but in certain European countries, might actually be considered a full-sized SUV.  With excellent crash safety ratings, decent gas mileage, and modest price point, this crossover has been a top seller since its introduction in 1995.  The CR-V, or Comfortable Runabout Vehicle (I'm fully serious, that's what it stands for), uses Honda’s bulletproof engine and gearbox, so it won't crap out on your road trip.

Why not to buy:

If your traveling party numbers 4 or more, you may want to look elsewhere.  You and your luggage may feel cramped in the CR-V, which is essentially a Honda Civic in another skin.

Van

Mercedes Sprinter

2015 Mercedes Sprinter

2015 Mercedes Sprinter

The Sprinter is at the top of the van heap, in our book.  Unlike the Eurovan, Mercedes' American touring van, the Sprinter will run hundreds of thousands of miles without major maintenance.  If you’ve ever owned an American type VW van, you’ll be familiar with repacking axles and you know which engine is a suitable replacement when the factory one quits (it’s the Subaru EJ series).  If you’ve ever owned a Sprinter, you have never given a second thought to your axles or your engine.  The Sprinter vans are built like a rock, and have therefore become the new standard for vanlife builds.

Why not to buy:

If you want one built to your specifications, you may have to wait a while.  Due to their explosion in popularity with the vanlife set, many fit-out companies are reporting wait times of a year or longer.

Bonus: Expedition Vehicle

EarthRoamer XV-HD

Credit: Earthroamer

Credit: Earthroamer

Credit: Earthroamer

Credit: Earthroamer

Credit: Earthroamer

Credit: Earthroamer

If you're looking for reliable wheels and are concerned about the zombie apocalypse hitting while you're visiting, the Earth-Roamer XV-HD is the vehicle for you.  This mobile command center comes standard with Ford's 6.7L V8 turbo diesel engine and marble countertops.  The XV-HD is also kitted out with a full electrical system supported by a 20-kWh battery bank and 2,100W of solar, 1,000 liters of water storage, and bedding for six.

Why not to buy:

All these amenities come at a cost.  US$1.5 million, to be exact.  But you'll be glad you paid up for the XV-HD when the zombies have eaten your neighbor's face.

There you have it!  The best vehicles for touring America.  We'd love to help you buy one of these for your visit. Get in touch today!

Matt Copenhaver