Road Trip: A vacation isn’t always a vacation

Whenever we go back east, my wife, daughter, and I cover a few miles. That’s because family is spread between New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Connecticut. Thankfully, my job allows me the ability to snag vehicles a fair bit better than what’s available at the local rental lots. And I did just that on a recent trip to the other side of the country. Of course, we don’t consider these trips vacation as we’re not relaxing on a beach, drinking fine beverages by a fire, or generally just unchecking from the wider world around us. It’s still a trip, though, and the vehicles we use to cover the miles can help make or break it all.

First, in New England, the 2022 Mercedes-Benz GLS 450 proved a perfect starting point for our journey. It has three rows, plenty of room, and more than enough power. There’s a 3.0-liter turbocharged inline-six sitting under the hood. Here, it’s good for 362 horsepower and the ability to run from 0-60 mph in the mid-five-second range. More importantly, for our needs on this trip, it can swallow luggage, hold coffee cups and juice in the myriad cupholders, and comfortably move a handful of people.

Inside, the tech allows me to play our family playlist on an endless loop. Yes, we share a playlist on a Spotify account and can all add songs to it. Then, if we’re playing the playlist, no one is allowed to skip a song that isn’t their own choice. So I may be forced to listen to some Disney tunes while my daughter learns about Pearl Jam, Bob Marley, Pink Floyd, and more. And no matter what is playing, it all sounds pretty darn good through the 13-speaker Burmester sound system.

As for the style of this thing, I appreciate the curves on the exterior, which help hide a bit of the heft of this thing visually. Additionally, those multi-spoke wheels look pretty great. And the good news is that I didn’t scratch this one up, which I can’t say about the far-more expensive Maybach version of this truck.

On the other end of the trip, however, we got a chance to experience a bit of vacation. We said goodbye to our families, the New England area, and the Benz to pop down to rural Virginia and some friends. And a different car; this time, we swapped into the Audi S5 Sportback. A more engaging ride for a more entertaining portion of the trip.

Our friends built a house to escape their daily life in Washington DC. On a river in rural Virginia, we had a view of the water, an actual bald eagle nesting ground, and …quiet. It was serene and wonderful. But even more fun may have been had in the drive to their house. The roads in this area are excellent. Perfectly maintained twisting ribbons of tarmac stretch through bright green patches of land. And the S5 rips through it all composed, quickly, and comfortably.

We’ve ditched the inline-6 of the Benz for a turbocharged V6 with nearly similar power. The S5 Sportback sees 349 horsepower from its engine, and an 8-speed automatic sends it out to all four corners, with torque moving around as needed. The car’s tone change matched the trip’s tone change, and we switched from a formulaic family visit to a true vacation mode.

That’s not to say we don’t appreciate and enjoy the family portion. Much like I enjoyed my time with the Benz, I unwind more with the Audi. Not every trip may be a vacation, but you can still enjoy it. And when you do hit the actual vacation portion of your trip, it can make it that much more fun.

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8 responses to “Road Trip: A vacation isn’t always a vacation”

  1. Sjalacation Avatar

    I might just snatch the idea of a family playlist. What a great way to share music in the car. We don’t allow “screens” in the car, so driving with the kids is usually one of the closest moments we get. Chatting away for hours, with nothing to catch but an eventual destination.

    We’re about to leave for Germany. After bulking speeding tickets in a shitty rental earlier this year, we’ve bought…train tickets. This is going to be something else entirely.

    1. GTXcellent Avatar

      Nah, it’s better to just control the music from the get-go and brain wash them from the start. I’m guessing I have one of the few 9 year olds who think For Whom the Bell Tolls is the greatest song ever written.

      1. Jeff Glucker Avatar
        Jeff Glucker

        My daughter likes a song of Pearl Jam’s latest album so clearly I have to work backwards to the even better stuff…

      2. Sjalabais Avatar

        Haha, fair enough! I only recently realized the brainwash-ability of kids – my son is determined to never sell the Centennial, a car I presented as the coolest thing ever. Now that this has turned into a slightly tangled mess, his opposition to selling might be the main reason to keep the car…

        1. Jeff Glucker Avatar
          Jeff Glucker

          My daughter wants the Jag… which I tell her is a terrible idea, and she originally wanted the Montero which is a much better bad idea.

          1. Sjalabais Avatar

            How do you handle that? Is she very much connected to the Jaguar? From your videos, she seems like a funny girl that could totally make the Jag work for her in a handful of years. I’m quite honestly concerned about that, as my boy gets easily attached to things, but just mentioning that I consider selling the Centennial was a big emotional ordeal. Surprisingly so, and much more serious than I expected.

          2. OA5599 Avatar

            You never really clicked with the Jag, but that doesn’t make it a bad choice for her. It is awesome that she’s got an interest in a car as a statement, and not an appliance. So many kids these days don’t even care about getting a license when they are old enough, and I suppose that will get even worse by the time she comes of age.

            Of course, then you’ll be stuck with a car you don’t like, for as long as it takes for her to be ready for the car.

            Do note that when I was 7, my dad bought an old (well, it was the same age as me, so I thought it was old) convertible as a fun toy to supplement the family daily drivers. He said it would be my car when I got old enough to drive. The afternoon that he brought it home, we took it out to get ice cream–how fun! Then a day or two later we didn’t have the car anymore; Dad gave it back. What a meanie! Dad must really hate me to give away MY car. So what if the seller didn’t have the title? DAD MUST REALLY HATE ME TO GIVE AWAY MY CAR!!!

            Good luck with that.

  2. Andy Evans Avatar

    Comfort and efficiency are the two factors that matter the most to the roadsters who are kickstarting their weekend by hitting the roads for the countryside. This is for the rental facilities or broadly ANY CAR OWNER – to walk the radar of the ANPR you need clean, appropriate and 100% road legal number plates from the DVLA certified number plate maker. Make every drive in/fro England safe and legal.