Driving long distance
When picking out a long-distance cruiser that will mostly be used for covering long distances on motorways, there are a few things to think about.
Comfort is obviously the main priority. British motorways use both concrete and tarmac for surfaces, and there are also expansion joints on bridges that can interrupt the smooth progress of a car – so a comfortable ride is key.
You should test-drive your next car on a section of the motorway to ensure that it can cope with all these and suits you as a driver.
Practicality is also important – if you’re travelling long distances, chances are you’ll need some luggage for overnight stays. Not all boots in large cars are big enough for what you need, so consider whether you can fit in all your cases, bags, golf clubs, or samples for work.
Finally, technology is increasingly important. If you’re covering long distances, you’ll want to make sure that there are options such as adaptive cruise control, as well as blind spot and lane departure warnings.
These driver assistance systems are fitted to do just that – assist the driver. They can be very useful in taking a lot of the strain of long-distance driving away, but you still have to stay alert and take a break regularly.
So, without further ado, here are our top picks for long-distance cruisers:
Best for comfort: Skoda Superb
Another brand that consistently makes impressive cars is Skoda. The Superb, for example, is a large car that offers practicality that's, well, superb.
The rear legroom is unbeaten by any rival of a similar size, and if you choose an estate, you’ll also have an even larger boot.
The Superb is incredibly comfortable, soaking up the worst that British roads can throw at it, including broken surfaces, potholes, speed humps and motorway expansion joints.Everyone inside the car will feel relaxed and unruffled – just what you need on long journeys.
The cherry on top is that the Superb isn’t an expensive car, relatively speaking. Look for used Skoda models and you'll be greeted with plenty of deals to snatch one for much less.
Best motorway car: Volvo XC90
Volvo makes the most comfortable cars. This is because it has nailed the art of making the most comfortable car seats. At the end of a long journey, your body feels as if it has just been sitting for a matter of minutes – and we really do mean it.
You could pick any medium or large Volvo as the best motorway car, but we’ll go for the XC90 large SUV, because of its high seating position that gives you a better view of the road ahead.
It's also fitted with all the latest in safety technology. This used Volvo is equipped with Pilot Assist – a semi-autonomous driving technology that keeps the car a safe distance from the one in front and in the middle of the lane.
It’s a real help on long journeys, taking some of the strain off the driver. It doesn't mean you can completely relax, however, but it certainly makes for a more enjoyable ride.
Best executive car: BMW 5 Series
There’s a good reason why the BMW 5 Series continues to be lauded by critics and snapped up by executive buyers – it’s very, very good.
The 5 Series is big, but it has all the agility we’ve come to expect from BMW and it's great to drive. You feel fully engaged at all times, especially when you leave the motorway and head on to more challenging rural roads.
This used BMW feels at home on the motorway, eating up the miles in complete comfort.
It helps that the cabin is beautifully put-together, with the best quality materials and the latest tech, including satellite navigation with real-time traffic information that routes you around congestion hotspots.
It’s also surprisingly economical, with the 520d diesel version capable of more than 60mpg.
It's not really that cheap to buy new, but on the used market you can get them for as little as half the price of a new one.
Best GT: Porsche Panamera
If you want to spend a bit more for a car with a seriously sporty pedigree, you’ll be wanting a Porsche Panamera.
The Panamera is a four-door saloon, but that's just half the story. It’s a Porsche, so it shares the engineering that has made the 911 the sports car to own.
It’s a fantastically rewarding car to drive – sporty and quick, with either a V6 or V8 engine helping it cover ground at serious pace.
Motorway miles are dispatched with ease, and at the same time, its firm ride still manages to be comfortable.
Then there’s the cabin. This is a really special place to spend time, with all the latest tech and cosseting seats. Yes, it's expensive, but quality costs.
Best road trip car: Mercedes-Benz S-Class Convertible
The Mercedes-Benz S-Class Convertible is a car that majors in luxury and then throws in open-air driving thrills as a bonus.
With a choice of V8 or V12 engines, the performance is fearsome for a car this big. At the same time, however, you can drive it down a motorway at a steady pace and it's supremely quiet.
The boot isn’t massive, but it’s fine for a trip for two people. You may want to rethink things if you want more than one passenger – while there are two rear seats, they don’t offer enough legroom, so you'd be better off using them for extra storage.
Moving inside, the cabin is a joy to be in, festooned in plush leather and wooden trim.
The seats in this used Mercedes are wonderfully supportive and comfortable, and they can even blow warm air on your neck when the roof’s down.