Choosing the right car for the beach is an exciting venture. While it’s true, you can take virtually any car to the beach, not all of them are built for that kind of environment. Going to the beach in California sometimes requires a lot of wading through traffic, traveling through hills and fog to get to the coast, and even parking at the beach can be plagued with some light off-roading. Whatever car you choose, be sure it’s right for what you’re going to be doing at the beach.
If you’re going to the beach with the intention of doing something more on the low key side, like a picnic accompanied by some light marshmallow roasting late into the night, you probably want to look into an AWD car that’s comfortable and has plenty of space. While something like a convertible 335xi would be fine for a couple, but for the family on a Sunday trip to catch some sun, a Honda Pilot might be in order. It’s a big car with three rows, which means if you put the back row down you can still fit a family of five, along with a couple coolers, a fire pit for later and plenty of picnic supplies. If you want to bring a canopy or large umbrella, then a roof rack is available and always a solid practical option.
Are you going to the beach with the intent of something more rigorous, like surfing or riding a jet ski? You may want to consider a truck. You’ll need something with a little more power that can handle towing a jet ski. The Toyota Tacoma is a solid choice for this kind of venture. It can tow as much as 5,000 pounds which is plenty for a couple of jet skis, and it’s long enough to accommodate a 14-ft longboard. To boot, you can find a used Toyota Tacoma for sale for about $6,000, which is a whole lot less than a brand new Ford F-150.
Maybe you’re just going to the beach with a couple mates just for a few hours, in which case you don’t need anything bigger than a hatchback. Enter the Subaru Impreza. It’s AWD, spacious enough to fit a cooler and some sports equipment like paddle boards and a volleyball, and still have enough room to fit a few friends. It also has decent MPG, making it a great option for the casual beach-goer.
For whatever reason you’re going to the beach, be sure to include some staples in your car search. Get some tires with wide tread, All Wheel Drive, and remember to keep some extra sunblock in your trunk.
Avid Formula 1 fan and motorcyclist, I enjoy chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream and long rides to the beach.