Whenever we go back east, my wife, daughter, and I cover a few miles. That’s because family is spread between New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Connecticut. Thankfully, my job allows me the ability to snag vehicles a fair bit better than what’s available at the local rental lots. And I did just that on a recent trip to the other side of the country. Of course, we don’t consider these trips vacation as we’re not relaxing on a beach, drinking fine beverages by a fire, or generally just unchecking from the wider world around us. It’s still a trip, though, and the vehicles we use to cover the miles can help make or break it all.
First, in New England, the 2022 Mercedes-Benz GLS 450 proved a perfect starting point for our journey. It has three rows, plenty of room, and more than enough power. There’s a 3.0-liter turbocharged inline-six sitting under the hood. Here, it’s good for 362 horsepower and the ability to run from 0-60 mph in the mid-five-second range. More importantly, for our needs on this trip, it can swallow luggage, hold coffee cups and juice in the myriad cupholders, and comfortably move a handful of people.
Inside, the tech allows me to play our family playlist on an endless loop. Yes, we share a playlist on a Spotify account and can all add songs to it. Then, if we’re playing the playlist, no one is allowed to skip a song that isn’t their own choice. So I may be forced to listen to some Disney tunes while my daughter learns about Pearl Jam, Bob Marley, Pink Floyd, and more. And no matter what is playing, it all sounds pretty darn good through the 13-speaker Burmester sound system.
As for the style of this thing, I appreciate the curves on the exterior, which help hide a bit of the heft of this thing visually. Additionally, those multi-spoke wheels look pretty great. And the good news is that I didn’t scratch this one up, which I can’t say about the far-more expensive Maybach version of this truck.
On the other end of the trip, however, we got a chance to experience a bit of vacation. We said goodbye to our families, the New England area, and the Benz to pop down to rural Virginia and some friends. And a different car; this time, we swapped into the Audi S5 Sportback. A more engaging ride for a more entertaining portion of the trip.
Our friends built a house to escape their daily life in Washington DC. On a river in rural Virginia, we had a view of the water, an actual bald eagle nesting ground, and …quiet. It was serene and wonderful. But even more fun may have been had in the drive to their house. The roads in this area are excellent. Perfectly maintained twisting ribbons of tarmac stretch through bright green patches of land. And the S5 rips through it all composed, quickly, and comfortably.
We’ve ditched the inline-6 of the Benz for a turbocharged V6 with nearly similar power. The S5 Sportback sees 349 horsepower from its engine, and an 8-speed automatic sends it out to all four corners, with torque moving around as needed. The car’s tone change matched the trip’s tone change, and we switched from a formulaic family visit to a true vacation mode.
That’s not to say we don’t appreciate and enjoy the family portion. Much like I enjoyed my time with the Benz, I unwind more with the Audi. Not every trip may be a vacation, but you can still enjoy it. And when you do hit the actual vacation portion of your trip, it can make it that much more fun.