The Mazda5 starts at $19,625 for a manual transmission. For $1,200, you can add a seven-inch overhead monitor with a remote control and wireless headphones.
The redesigned Azera, which went on sale earlier this year, has the most head and leg room of any large sedan and an ample, 16-cubic-foot trunk. For comparison’s sake, that’s two more cubic feet than the Toyota Avalon, a close competitor.
Among the Azera’s standard features are a backup camera and heated front and rear seats. At 23 miles per gallon, fuel economy isn’t great, but it’s comparable to others in the segment.
The Azera starts at $32,000.
Champion’s hands-down favorite for a road trip is the Ford Flex, a seven-passenger wagon that was redesigned for the 2013 model year and went on sale earlier this year. According to Ford, the Flex has the most second- and third-floor leg room of any large utility vehicle, and there’s 43 cubic feet of cargo space if the third row is folded down.
It also has one feature exclusive to Ford: inflatable seat belts in the rear that give extra protection to kids in a crash. The Flex gets 23 miles per gallon.
It starts at $30,885, but many features cost extra, and they can add up in a hurry. The inflatable belts are a $195 option, for example, while an entertainment system with two 7-inch DVD monitors that can be installed for $658.
The ultimate family feature – a refrigerated center console in the back seat that can chill seven cans – is a $795 option in the $42,000 Flex Limited.
The sportier Ford Escape crossover, which arrives in dealerships this month, might also be a good road trip contender, but it hasn’t yet been tested by safety agencies.