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Crossover cavalcade: 12 roomy rides for your summer road trip (pictures)

Forget the airport, there's nothing like the freedom of the wide-open road for a summer vacation, and these 12 cars will add comfort, practicality and even efficiency for any roadside attraction tour.

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Wayne Cunningham
Subaru Outback
1 of 12 Wayne Cunningham/CNET

Subaru Outback

The car: Subaru's reputation for capable crossovers makes it a shoo-in for road trip consideration. The latest Outback offers more room than previous generations, and includes seating for five plus 35 cubic feet of cargo. Standard all-wheel drive lends itself to adventure off the beaten track.

The destination: If you're in Australia, you could take the Outback to the actual Outback, but in the US why not try Dinosaur National Monument? This arid park in Utah and Colorado lets you explore where dinosaurs once roamed.

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2 of 12 Antuan Goodwin/CNET

Honda Pilot

The car: Honda made its name with comfort and reliability, so the newest Pilot shouldn't leave you stranded on the side of the road. Three-row seating means you can stuff a few extra people in, or use the space for cargo. The combination of 3.5-liter V-6 and nine-speed automatic transmission makes for easy power and good fuel economy.

The destination: Educate yourself and family about tropical sea life, including the Pilot Fish, at the Florida Aquarium in Tampa. More than walls of glass tanks, the aquarium offers educational outdoor exhibits.

Nissan Murano
3 of 12 Wayne Cunningham/CNET

Nissan Murano

The car: The new Murano may stand out for its styling, but it also makes for a comfortable and efficient ride. A five-seater, the Murano also boasts plenty of cargo space. The 3.5-liter V-6 can send power to all four wheels, and its continuously variable transmission delivers power efficiently.

The destination: Instead of a family wagon, Nissan designed the new Murano to be a lounge for adults, so Napa Valley's wine country would make the perfect destination. You can drive down a scenic country road and enjoy some of the best wines in the world.

Ford Explorer
4 of 12 Antuan Goodwin/CNET

Ford Explorer

The car: The Ford Explorer has a long history as a capable family hauler, and the latest generation completely modernizes the concept. Its 2.3-liter engine achieves good fuel economy and a surprising amount of power. It can also work as a tow vehicle for extra equipment or cargo.

The destination: Follow the route of early American explorers on the Lewis and Clark Trail. This tour takes you all the way from Missouri, up the Mississippi, to the Pacific ocean shores of Oregon and Washington. In this case, the route is the destination.

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5 of 12 Wayne Cunningham/CNET

Jeep Grand Cherokee EcoDiesel

The car: The Jeep Grand Cherokee is comfortable and far more capable than most crossovers or SUVs, but add the diesel engine and you also get superior fuel economy for those long runs across the states.

The destination: Utah's Canyonlands not only shows off fascinatingly rugged country, it also offers offroad trails where the Grand Cherokee can prove its mettle, affording you views not seen from the highway.

Toyota Highlander Hybrid
6 of 12 Antuan Goodwin/CNET

Toyota Highlander Hybrid

The car: V-6 engines are common among crossovers, but the Highlander Hybrid adds an electric motor, increasing power and fuel economy. It does as well in the city as on the highway, boasting an average of 28 mpg.

The destination: Given the Highlander Hybrid's solid urban fuel economy, take a trip to our nation's capital. You can start your tour at the Washington Monument, see the Mall and check out the Smithsonian.

Land Rover Discovery Sport
7 of 12 Wayne Cunningham/CNET

Land Rover Discovery Sport

The car: Land Rover just came out with the Discovery Sport, a completely new model designed to hit a lower price point but still provide Land Rover's legendary offroad capability. With seating for five and cargo capacity, you can take your clan out on the dusty trail.

The destination: See the remnants of the last ice age, and get a sense of how much of this country was shaped, at Glacier National Park. The Discovery Sport will handle the Going-to-the-sun road easily, giving you a unique travel experience.

GMC Canyon
8 of 12 Antuan Goodwin/CNET

GMC Canyon

The car: Into bicycling, dirt bikes or water craft? Take a look at the GMC Canyon as your vacation transportation, able to fit four in its cabin and plenty of cargo in the bed. Compact and available with a four-cylinder or V-6 and four-wheel drive, the Canyon meets a lot of needs.

The destination: Arizona's Lake Havasu makes a great recreational spot for just about anything you can haul with the GMC Canyon. You've got water for jet skis, trails for mountain bikes and nearby offroading areas.

Porsche Macan
9 of 12 Josh Miller/CNET

Porsche Macan

The car: Forget the family, just you and a partner can take the Macan out for a thrilling ride without having to slow for sick kids in the back seats. Plenty of cargo room here and Porsche packs all its sports car know-how into this this little SUV.

The destination: Head over to Monterey and Carmel on the California coast and enjoy fabulous scenery, but also work in a track day at the Mazda Laguna Seca Raceway, where you can master the corkscrew in the Macan.

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10 of 12 Wayne Cunningham/CNET

BMW X5

The car: Comfortable and confident on the road, the BMW X5 does it all. It easily makes room for five with cargo room to spare and manages an EPA-rated 27 mpg highway with its wealth of efficiency technologies.

The destination: "If you're fond of sand dunes and salty air, quaint little villages here and there," then a tour around Cape Code in the BMW X5 would make a perfect getaway. The X5 is nimble enough for narrow roads and its clearance and all-wheel drive will help it in the sand.

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11 of 12 Antuan Goodwin/CNET

Volvo XC90

The car: Extraordinarily comfortable and modern, the latest XC90 is so good you might not want to get out of it to see the sights. All-wheel drive, three-row seating, advanced safety systems and an economical turbocharged four-cylinder engine make it extremely versatile.

The destination: Given Volvo's history of station wagon production, the real-life Wally World would be a classic destination. Take in the Magic Castle at Disneyland or, if you live on the other side of the country, Walt Disney World magically beckons.

Cadillac Escalade
12 of 12 Tim Stevens/CNET

Cadillac Escalade

The car: There's no doubt you're traveling in style and comfort in the latest Escalade. Toning down the ostentation, this traditional SUV smooths its lines and adds modern touches, but a thirsty engine may limit your range.

The destination: If there's anything that can dwarf the size of the Escalade, it's the Titanic. You don't have to get wet to visit this sunken ocean liner, just head to Tennessee's Titanic Museum, claimed to be world's largest museum attraction.

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