Off-Roading

2020 Mazda CX-30's all-wheel drive makes confident off-road adventuring possible

Mazda has employed an all-wheel drive system in the CX-30 that makes off-roading possible.

Photo courtesy of Mazda

At first glance, the 2020 Mazda CX-30 doesn't look like a vehicle you'd take off the beaten path. Its features are that of a city-focused crossover designed for strong fuel economy and chic style, not a vehicle that an owner would take it camping or fishing. Yet, the 2020 CX-30 is designed to do just that, thanks to a new setup for the vehicle's all-wheel drive system.

Under normal situations, the all-wheel drive system works as you'd expect it to. Power is shifted to the front or rear of the vehicle depending on conditions and driver input. Traction control maintains full alert, and the driver's aids are on standby in case they need to intervene. It's pretty normal stuff.

When the driver activates the off-road setting from the dash, the computer changes the parameters of the vehicle to make better use of the all-wheel drive for the non-road conditions.

To begin, the computer automatically sends 90-percent of power to the rear wheels. From there, it'll shift power forward if necessary. Additionally, the all-wheel drive system has a brake-based torque vectoring system that can apply the brakes to a spinning wheel to send power to the wheel that has traction. This prevents freewheeling off road.

Additionally, when on two wheels, power ends up going to the two wheels without traction – often the opposite corner of one wheel without traction – so the system will grab the brakes on those wheels to help regain power.

The traction control system stays active in the off-road setting, but the system doesn't intervene is quickly as it would on normal pavement. In sand and mud, a little traction is actually desired in order to keep the vehicle's momentum up. Understanding this, the engineers programmed in some slip to compensate.

While it's not as sophisticated as the all-wheel drive systems on some dedicated off-roaders, the system is there to make sure that the driver doesn't get stuck on the way to a campsite or can't get back up a hill that they found themselves down.

This is important because Mazda expects buyers of the CX-30 to be folks who want to go kayaking or mountain biking on the weekends. They may have a favorite campsite they want to visit. Because off road conditions can change, they want a vehicle that can adapt with it.

It's not a dedicated off-roader, like a Jeep Wrangler, but it should be able to handle most of what the typical customer will throw at it.

AutomotiveMap's team of writers has picked their favorite cars for road tripping.

Photo courtesy of Bentley Motors

If you're one of the type who just can't wait to get on the road again, you know that there are some vehicles that are better than others for making travel great. While some may argue that cars with pointed steering and agile handling make the best road trip warriors, there's a strong voice among consumers that says it's better to be in a balanced ride with plush seats.

The vehicles that AutomotiveMap's writers have chosen walk the line between the two preferences. Take a look.

2020 Hyundai Sonata

Photo courtesy of Hyundai Motors America

Sue Mead: The Hyundai Sonata has been updated for 2020. The family-friendly five-seater features a stunning exterior presence; premium and comfortable cabin; upgrades to body structure, safety, and technology; and smooth ride. its nifty remote parking assist feature maneuvers the vehcile in/out of parking spaces and garages to load passengers or luggage hands-free.

​2019 Volvo V60 T5 R Design

Photo courtesy of Volvo Cars USA

Harvey Briggs: Long live the long roof! Wagons are the ultimate road trip cars, especially this one. Sedan-like handling and the room to take everything with you, including a few friends if you must. I love the 2019 Volvo V60's Scandinavian design ethos and the understated beauty of this car.

2020 Bentley Continental GT

Photo courtesy of Bentley Motors

Chad Kirchner: Though the 2020 Bentley Continental GT eats the miles as quickly as it'll eat the fuel, it has more tech and features than a comparable Aston Martin or Rolls-Royce two-door.

2019 Mazda Mazda6

Photo courtesy of Mazda North America

Jesus Garcia: The 2019 Mazda Mazda6 offers trunk space that could rival a Lincoln Town Car, and a stylish interior that makes miles fly by without fatigue. The Mazda6 was one of the most comfortable vehicles ever I've driven across Texas, a route I take often.

2020 Nissan Altima

Photo courtesy of Nissan North America

Perry Stern, AutoNXT: Nissan's Zero Gravity seats stay comfortable for the duration of the drive, while the new variable-combustion turbo engine delivers great power and fuel efficiency in the 2020 Nissan Altima.

2020 Nissan Maxima

Photo courtesy of Nissan North America

Nicole Wakelin: The 2020 Nissan Maxima delivers a smooth ride and it has a comfortable interior. It's fun to drive and has good cargo room in its trunk.

2020 Porsche Panamera

Photo courtesy of Dr. Ing. h.c. F. Porsche AG

Eileen Falkenberg-Hull: The Porsche Panamera is the best of both worlds - precise Porsche drivability and a high-tech cabin. It has a PHEV variant, which can save gas money on a trip. The Panamera also has plenty of passenger and cargo space in most grades.

Photo courtesy of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles N.V.

There are some SUVs that are great for carrying a large amount of cargo. Others that you can practically fit your entire extended family into. Some are great for easing down the road in style. The trucks and SUVs that made this list are proficient off-roaders that are also great for families.

To find the best ones, AutomotiveMap's writers have spent thousands of hours behind the wheel, in what some (those of us that like to get vehicles muddy and don't mind jostling around) may call "ideal circumstances". Here are our picks.

​2020 Subaru Outback

Photo courtesy of Subaru of America, Inc.

Jesus Garcia: The redesigned 2020 Subaru Outback is an all-wheel drive wagon that can do everything an off-road crossover can without looking like one. It serves as a great off-road adventure vehicle and alternative to anyone looking to avoid buying CUV.

​2020 Jeep Cherokee Trailhawk

Photo courtesy of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles N.V.

Nicole Wakelin: The 2020 Jeep Cherokee Trailhawk is comfortable with room for the family and their stuff during the week and the capability to have fun on the weekends.

2020 Jeep Gladiator

Photo courtesy of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles N.V.

Harvey Briggs: Room for five, legendary jeep capability, and I can bring my dirt bikes with me? Sounds like my kind of family off-road adventure. The 2020 Jeep Gladiator is an easy choice for off-roading families.

2020 Jeep Wrangler

Photo courtesy of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles N.V.

Sue Mead: The 2020 Jeep Wrangler is a true off-road chops with iconic styling and 4WD hardware. It's also a modern-day road ride. The Rubicon model is available for extreme adventurers, but other trim levels can handle some pretty extreme off-roading. The new 3.0-liter EcoDiesel engine has better fuel economy than the previous edition and potent torque.

Perry Stern, AutoNXT: The Wrangler is unmatched for off-road prowess, and the Unlimited offers room for the whole family with added thrill of removing the roof and doors.

Rolls-Royce Cullinan

Photo courtesy of Rolls-Royce Motor Cars

Eileen Falkenberg-Hull: Families deserve to go off-roading in style and the Cullinan is up to the task. I drove a version of the half-million dollar car up the face of Snow King Mountain and on the bumpy dirt roads of Grand Teton National Park during a full day of testing and was suitably impressed. Plus, it's the only Rolls-Royce model that seats five.