For every sport or outdoor adventure, there’s a perfect vehicle for ferrying your gear and getting you where you need to go, be it your favorite surf break, a new backpacking route or the ideal stretch of pavement for pedaling your road bike. But a kite surfer has different transportation criteria than a mountain biker, and a fisherman’s needs are not the same as those of an all-terrain-vehicle enthusiast. I asked Jody Victor to tell us more about it from and article by Claire Martin of MSN Autos and msn.com.
Jody Victor: Sometimes you need all-wheel drive; other times, all you care about is whether your cooler will fit in the trunk. Here are the best cars for various outdoor sports, factoring in cargo capacity, hauling capability, horsepower, maneuverability and, of course, aesthetics, in 2 parts.
Surfing | Jeep Wrangler
The main benefit to the Wrangler is that your surfboard — long, short or anywhere in between — can fit in the vehicle when the top is off. If it hangs out a little bit, you’ll look all the more cool. When scoping out remote surf spots, the high ground clearance and 4-wheel drive come in handy. To keep valuables out of sight while you’re in the waves, the “add a trunk” feature creates a 3-cubic-foot mini trunk in the rear of the vehicle.
Mountain Biking | Honda Element
With enough space to fit three bikes and one rear-seat passenger, or two bikes and two friends in the back, the Element is ideal for mountain-bike outings. No need to hoist anything onto the roof of the car or to deal with a clunky rear-mounted bike rack. And you won’t have to remove your bikes’ front tires to fit them in, either. The vehicle’s all-wheel-drive capability helps get you to the trail. After your excursion, any dirt that collects on the Element’s urethane-coated floor is easy to sweep out.
Kite Surfing | Volvo XC70
This wagon’s minivan-size storage capacity lets you easily pack the bulky gear that kite surfing requires — boards, kites, harnesses and the like. But it’s also agile enough that you can negotiate winding coastal roads with power and ease. The XC70 is the longest of the Volvo models, making it easier to carry your quiver of boards inside the car without anything hanging out a window. Extra ground clearance and all-wheel drive keep you from getting stuck in any sand traps en route to the wind-whipped water. The optional plastic trunk liner keeps your wet gear from stinking up the car.
Road Cycling | Audi A3
If you’re a road cyclist, chances are you spend a lot of time on pavement that’s as fun to drive as it is to pedal, so you’ll want a car that handles well on twisting, curvy roads. The Audi A3 is turbocharged whether you buy the gasoline version or the diesel, and it has speed-sensitive power steering — helpful in hairpin turns. Roof rails make for easy installation of a bike rack, but because the A3 is a wagon, you could store your ride inside. Flip one seat down for one bike, or both to store two.
Backpacking | Ford Flex
To accommodate the bulky backpacks, tents and sleeping pads required for a backpacking trip, the Ford Flex has 83 cubic feet of cargo space with the seats down. If you’re taking a day hike, sans gear, the Flex is perfect for ferrying a group of friends to the trailhead; its three rows of seats accommodate seven passengers. Four skylights on the roof let you take in the beauty of your wilderness surroundings before you even get out of the car. Opt for bucket seats in the second row and you can also get a refrigerated console to keep your water supply cold.
Thanks, Jody! More next time.