There are few words in the English language which can conjure up as much meaning, and likely so many memories, as these: road trip. We've all been on them before; some are the highlights of your life and some... well, not so much. But having the right vehicle can make all the difference in the world. Thule, maker of "transportation accessories", has added its name to the ever-growing list of companies that have invented an "__ of the year" award. For this particular honor, Thule has broken the automotive landscape in half, dividing its choices for the best vehicle to take a road trip in at the $30 grand mark. Without further ado, the winners are:
  • Best road trip vehicle under $30,000: Subaru Outback 2.5i Limited
  • Best road trip vehicle over $30,000: Toyota Highlander Hybrid Limited
If you really want to read all of the reasons that Thule offers for choosing these vehicles, there's a whole press release pasted after the break. We're not going to argue with their choices, as both the Outback and the Highlander are fine vehicles, which would be suitable for a group of four people and their assorted belongings. Sure beats the old funny-smelling air-cooled VW van that had trouble keeping up with the slow-moving traffic that some of us can remember from our childhood.

Related Gallery2008 Subaru Legacy and Outback

Related GalleryHighlander Hybrid 2008

[Source: Thule]
Press Release:

Thule Announces Their 2008 Road Trip Vehicles of the Year


With the summer travel season quickly approaching, Thule, the world
leader in transportation accessories, is proud to announce the awards
for their inaugural Thule Road Trip vehicles of the year. This distinction
is reserved for automobiles above and below $30,000 that provide the perfect
combination of utility, gas mileage, safety, conveniences and excitement for
a family of four going on the great American road trip.

"We created a ranking system based on what a family of four would be
looking for in a vehicle to head out on the ultimate road trip. This
information was broken down into ten groups and given a point value. From
there the numbers helped to choose the winners," commented Karl Wiedemann,
Thule's PR and Communications Manager.

The ten unique criteria were styling, storage, gas mileage, size, cost,
number of cup holders and speakers, warranty, entertainment, safety and
comfort. Extra points were given to vehicles that were fun to drive and
offered four-wheel or all-wheel drive.

Under $30,000 2008 Thule Road Trip Vehicle of the Year -- Subaru
Outback 2.5i Limited

Thule is proud to announce that this years winner in the under $30,000
category is the Subaru Outback 2.5i Limited.

"The Subaru Outback 2.5i Limited combines the styling of a sport wagon
with great features such as leather interior with heated seats, all-wheel-
drive, four cup-holders, three 12v plugs and an mp3 player dock for around
$26,000," remarked Tripp Wyckoff, Thule's VP of Sales, Marketing and
Service.

In Thule's testing the Outback 2.5i Limited was a very capable
all-weather vehicle. With 8.4" of ground clearance the vehicle made it down
the roughest roads with small to medium obstacles. The sports wagon height
of the vehicle made for easy loading and unloading of bikes, skis, kayaks
and gear into a Thule cargo box.

Over $30,000 2008 Thule Road Trip Vehicle of the Year -- Toyota
Highlander Hybrid Limited

In the over $30,000 category, the 2008 distinction goes to the Toyota
Highlander Hybrid Limited.

"The Toyota Highlander Hybrid Limited is a capable and luxurious
vehicle for the family on the go. It features decent gas mileage, great
storage space and the convenience and safety of four-wheel drive," said
Wyckoff.

In Thule's testing the Highlander Hybrid Limited was an extremely
comfortable vehicle for an all day drive. The leather trimmed heated seats
and convenient layout of controls made the Highlander a great vehicle to
safely take to the mountains in the day and to the ballet at night. At a
rated 27mpg city / 25mpg highway the Highlander spent more time on the road
and less at the pump.

Both vehicles, as with most vehicles on the market, work seamlessly
with Thule's complete line of racks, cargo boxes, organizational solutions
and sport specific accessories. Thule's world-class products help to safely
and stylishly transport the gear a family needs to carry.

"Thule is proud that 80% of our products that are sold in North America
are designed, engineered and built in the United States. Thule employees
love good road trips and we understand the needs of the family on-the-go.
We are proud to be along for the ride on their adventures," concluded
Wiedemann
.