Nothing says summer like spending time in the great outdoors. To do so, however, one needs the correct companion vehicle — for example, something along the lines of a 2015 Nissan Xterra built for traversing nature. Its got rugged body-on-frame construction with a long wheelbase providing a smooth ride over varied terrain, optional 4×4 drivetrain, and a locking electronic rear differential to tackle challenging driving environments, not to mention an Easy Clean Surface interior at the back to house well-used bikes or wakeboards. We flesh out this model in further detail and throw in a few additional suggestions as well below.

2017 Subaru Legacy

Need a vehicle perfect for city commuting and the occasional jaunt into the mountains? The Subaru Legacy sedan just might be the ticket. The sixth generation was launched in 2014 and refreshed two years ago receiving a sporty makeover including a fresh dark gray painted grille, new smoked foglight housings, and contrast-color split spoke alloys. At 38.1 inches of second row legroom, no one has to be left behind on road trips fearing lack of passenger comfort.

The brand’s legendary Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive system is active full time, meaning torque is always distributed to each corner of the sedan, guaranteeing optimal traction rain or shine.

2015 Nissan Xterra

As opposed to many of the unibody crossovers on the market now that are more passenger car than SUV, the Xterra is built for exploring nature. Already looking the part boasting a high ride height, wide boxy fenders and stout roof rack, rest assured the vehicle isn’t all form and no function. A steel double-wishbone front and solid axle leaf rear suspension setup can take a lot of abuse, as can the equipped 265/70R16 BFGoodrich Long Trail tires mounted on either steel or aluminum wheels.

All Xterras are powered by a 261 horsepower 4.0-liter V6 mated to either a five-speed automatic or — manual enthusiasts rejoice — fun-to-shift a six-speed standard transmission delivering 17 miles per gallon in combined city and highway operation.

2014 Volkswagen Jetta Sportwagen

Take all the great qualities of the Jetta and add on a ton of storage capability, and what results is the Sportwagen. Ideal for recreational warm weather drives due to VW’s famous handling characteristics, available expansive panoramic sunroof, and 10-speaker RCD 310 stereo featuring built-in SiriusXM satellite radio, the maximum 66.9 cubic-feet of cargo space is plenty to fit stuff such as camping gear and cooler boxes.

Consumers have a choice of two engines, the more popular being a 2.0-liter four-cylinder turbocharged diesel TDI paired with a six-speed DSG dual-clutch automatic gearbox. Making a total of 140 horsepower and a robust 236 lb-ft of torque at a low 1,750 rpm, perhaps the most astonishing thing is the 42 mpg fuel economy achieved during highway motoring.

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