Best Cars for Long Distance Driving in India

It’s true that flights and train are still popular options for long distance travel in India. But with the pandemic highlighting the importance of personal transportation, a lot of people now prefer to go road-tripping in their cars instead. This not only allows them to reduce their exposure to the outside world, but it also allows for meaningful time with friends and family.

Now road-tripping can be fun, but you do need the right car to make it work. This means you need a vehicle that is safe, comfortable, convenient, durable, and lastly, one that doesn’t cost much to run and maintain. With these factors in mind, we have picked the 15 best cars for long distance driving in India, all south of Rs 20 lakh (ex-showroom prices). To make things easier, we have split the list of best car for long distance driving into hatchbacks, sedans and SUVS, so you can pick according to the body style of your preference.

Table of Contents

List of Cars for Long Distance Driving

Best Cars for Long Distance Driving: Hatchback

Model

Fuel Type

Mileage

Ex-Showroom Price

Maruti Baleno

Petrol

22.3 - 22.9 kmpl

Rs. 6.49 - 9.71 lakh

Hyundai i20

Petrol

Diesel

19.6-20.3 kmpl (Petrol)

25.2 kmpl (Diesel)

Rs. 7.07 - 11.62 lakh

Tata Altroz

Petrol

Diesel

18.34 - 18.43 kmpl (Petrol)

23 kmpl (Diesel)

Rs. 6.30 - 10.25 lakh

Best Cars for Long Distance Driving: Sedan

Model

Fuel Type

Mileage

Ex-Showroom Price

Maruti Ciaz

Petrol

20-20.6 kmpl

Rs. 8.99 - 11.98 lakh

Petrol Hybrid

26.5 kmpl

Rs. 19.89 lakh

Hyundai Verna

Petrol

Diesel

17.7 - 19.2 kmpl (Petrol)

21.3 - 25 kmpl (Diesel)

Rs. 9.44 - 15.53 lakh

Best Cars for Long Distance Driving: MUV

Model

Fuel Type

Mileage

Ex-Showroom Price

Maruti Ertiga

Petrol

CNG

20.30 - 20.51 kmpl (Petrol)

26.11 km/kg (CNG)

Rs. 8.41 - 12.79 lakh

Kia Carens

Petrol

Diesel

15.7 -16.5 kmpl (Petrol)

18.4 - 21.3 kmpl (Diesel)

Rs. 9.60 - 17.70 lakh

Toyota Innova Crysta

Petrol

Diesel

10.2 - 13.9 kmpl (Petrol)

15.6 kmpl (Diesel)

Rs. 18.09 - 23.83 lakh

Best Cars for Long Distance Driving: SUV

Model

Fuel Type

Mileage

Ex-Showroom Price

Petro

Diesel

16.3 - 17.5 kmpl (Petrol)

21.1 - 22 kmpl (Diesel)

Rs. 7.60 - 14.08 lakh

Petrol

17.2-19.2 kmpl

Rs. 11.29 - 19.49 lakh

Volkswagen Taigun

Petrol

17.2-19.2 kmpl

Rs. 11.56 - 18.71 lakh

Petrol

Diesel

17 kmpl (Petrol)

19 - 21 kmpl (Diesel)

Rs. 10.44 - 18.24 lakh

Tata Harrier

Diesel

14.6 - 16.3 kmpl

Rs. 14.70 - 22.20 lakh

Mahindra XUV700

Petrol

Diesel

12 kmpl (Petrol)

12 kmpl (Diesel)

Rs. 13.45 - 24.95 lakh

Best Cars for Long Distance Driving: Hatchbacks

Maruti Baleno (2022)

Maruti Suzuki Baleno
Maruti Baleno 2022

The Maruti Baleno is a petrol-only model, so that might deter some people from going after it. However, it is quite fuel efficient and going by its ARAI claimed efficiency of 22.35 km/l for the manual and 22.94 km/l for the automatic, and you can easily eke out 20km/l with a steady foot in the real world, irrespective of the transmission you choose. It’s also got comfortable seats for four people and a large-enough boot to take in all their luggage for a three-to-four-day trip – making it one of the best cars for long distance driving in India. The Baleno, being a Maruti, is also durable and affordable to run and maintain, but as far as safety rating goes, the new Baleno is yet to be tested by the Global NCAP. Nevertheless, it packs in ABS with EBD, dual front airbags, front seat belts with pre-tensioner and ISOFIX mounting points in all its variants. The higher variants add side and curtain airbags, and ESP with hill hold on the automatic variants as well. Overall, refinement, convenience, and low running-costs are the biggest advantages of picking the Baleno.

Hyundai i20 (2020)

Spinny Assured Hyundai i20 with sunroof
Spinny Assured Hyundai i20

When it comes to powertrain options, the Hyundai i20 is like a buffet. You have two petrol engines to choose from (one is naturally aspirated while the other is turbocharged), and you get the option of either a manual, or an automatic with both of them. Among the i20’s petrol and diesel engines, the diesel is the winner as far as fuel efficiency goes: it is a true mile-muncher, making it on of the best cars for long distance driving in India. Now, the diesel is only available with a manual transmission, but the silver lining here is that it’s a very easy manual to drive. The clutch action is light and the gear shifts slot in smoothly. The i20 is also a feature-rich offering, and vows to keep the most enthusiastic technophiles hooked with its list of premium features. In the Global NCAP crash test, it secured a 3-star safety rating. In terms of safety kit, you get the protection of six airbags on the top variants, along with ESC and hill-hold, and ISOFIX mounting points. The i20 is overall a good option if you are looking for performance, refinement and an extensive feature list.

Tata Altroz (2020)

Spinny Assured Tata Altroz

Homegrown carmaker Tata Motors also makes a case for itself in the hatchback segment, with its premium hatchback Altroz. It’s offered with regular petrol and diesel engines, and a turbo-petrol engine as well. All three can be had with a manual transmission, but if you want an automatic, then you will be limited to the regular petrol motor. In all fairness, the Baleno is ahead of the Altroz in terms of refinement, and the i20 does deliver more outright power. It, however, claws back a lot of ground with its stellar 5-star safety rating conferred upon it by Global NCAP. The Altroz packs in dual airbags and ISOFIX mounting points as well. The cabin experience of the Altroz is also superb as you get loads of overall space and the seats are supportive and angled quite well. Overall, you should consider the Altroz if safety is number one on your list of priorities along with a roomy cabin.

Best Cars for Long Distance Driving: Sedans

Maruti Ciaz (2018)

Spinny Assured Maruti Suzuki Ciaz

Next in our list of best cars for long distance driving in India in the Maruti Ciaz. Keeping its competition in mind, the Ciaz has been around for a while. The design may seem familiar, you get one engine option, and in terms of features, its rivals do offer more. But, that’s where the downsides end. It’s a comfortable car to drive, there is loads and loads of cabin space (the rear cabin space is humongous), a 510-litre boot allows you to take in quite a bit of luggage, and the 1.5-litre petrol engine might be the solitary offering, but it’s super-refined and likes to rev its guts out. The manual too is very easy to drive and it is the better pick for those who like to have a little bit of fun. The Ciaz automatic could go to those who like a calmer driving experience. The best bit? Both powertrains have an ARAI rated efficiency of over 20km/l, which means the fuel bills won’t start stacking up either!

Honda City e:HEV (2022)

honda-city-eHEV-hybrid-cars
Honda City e:HEV

The Honda City e:HEV is the new kid on the block, but still makes it to the list of best cars for long distance driving in India for a different reason. We have put it on the list because it is a hybrid, and an excellent one at that. It has a 40-litre petrol tank and if you pair that with its 26.5km/l efficiency (claimed by ARAI), you have a whopping range of 1060kms. Safety too has been covered rather generously, as you get six airbags, ISOFIX mounting points, hill-hold, an electronic parking brake, TPMS, and even ADAS features. The City’s refinement levels are also top notch, although your choice is limited to a single variant, and a single powertrain (automatic only as it’s a hybrid). Where the City e:HEV loses out is on boot space. It is limited to 306 litres due to the Li-ion battery pack for the hybrid system protruding into the boot, so keep in mind that you won’t be able to pack too generously, if you pick the City e:HEV. 

Hyundai Verna (2020)

Hyundai Verna
Spinny Assured Hyundai Verna

The Verna, like the Ciaz, has enjoyed a long run on Indian roads. Its design has stayed unaltered, and its cabin space isn’t too generous, especially in the back seat. But being a Hyundai, the Verna is stuffed with features, there are a multitude of powertrain options all of which are decent to drive, if not extraordinary. Out of the three engine options (one naturally-aspirated petrol, one diesel and one turbo-petrol), you get both automatic and manual options with the first two, but only an automatic with the turbo-petrol. The fuel efficiency of the diesel is also highly rated (25km/l for the manual and 21.3km/l for the manual). You also get six airbags on the top two variants of the sedan. At 480 litres, the Verna’s boot space may seem low on paper, but the gap is marginal in the real world. The car’s NCAP scores aren’t as good as the newer cars’ but overall Verna is a loaded and refined package, no matter which variant and powertrain you pick. A worthy entrant in the list of best cars for long distance driving in India, we think.

Best Cars for Long Distance Driving: MPVs

Maruti Ertiga (2022)

Spinny Assured Maruti Ertiga

When it comes to taking everyone in, there are few cars in our price range that do it better than the Ertiga. An obvious choice among the best cars for long distance driving in India, Ertiga has all three rows offering adequate space, and you even get a separate A/C unit for the rear passengers, meaning that the rear half of the cabins stays as cool as the front. The last row also gets its own cupholders. When it comes to features, the Ertiga is moderately loaded, as it gets everything you would require on your drive. However, being pampered lavishly is another thing. For engines you get a petrol motor, with the option of a manual or an automatic. The Ertiga however also gets a CNG variant, and while the tank does eat into your boot space, it makes up with its 26.11km/kg fuel efficiency figure (ARAI). That means that day road trips where you don’t really need to haul in a lot of luggage will prove to be the Ertiga’s forte. As far as safety goes, the Ertiga scored a 3-star safety rating in a crash test conducted by Global NCAP back in 2019. The Ertiga has received a facelift since then, but structurally, it’s the same vehicle. You get dual airbags standard on all variants, and front side airbags on the top variant. There is ESP with hill hold as well, and ISOFIX mounting points too. Overall, the Ertiga is a value-for-money offering.

Also Read: Best 7 Seater MUV Cars in India 2022

Kia Carens (2022)

Spinny Assured Kia Carens
Spinny Assured Kia Carens

An impromptu road trip often means impromptu additions to the passenger list, and it is moments like these that the Carens really helps out. It’s a six- or seven-seater depending on the configuration you pick, and a genuine one at that. The last-row experience is not business-class like, but compared to everything also on the market, you have a lot of space and don’t feel claustrophobic because of the huge glass area. The features list is also impressive, and you get multiple engine and transmission options as well. It’s well-tuned for all kinds of terrain and the engine is quite efficient as well. Now obviously, with all rows of seating up, you won’t have a lot of luggage space left, but with the third-row down, the Carens has the ability to swallow a lot of luggage. Kia also offers six airbags (among other safety features) as standard on all variants of the Carens, but the 3-star safety is not the best in its price bracket.

Toyota Innova Crysta (2020)

Spinny Assured Toyota Innova Crysta

The Innova Crysta is the quintessential people-carrier of India, and rightly so. Seeing Innovas with over 5 lakh kilometres on the odometer is a common sight. It offers a proper “captain-seat” experience in its 7-seater avatar, but an 8-seat version is available as well. This is keeping in mind that the third row can take in three passengers, but honestly, unless these are all small kids, you are better off packing a maximum of two adults in there. You have the option of a diesel engine, and a petrol as well, and both can be had with manual or automatic transmissions. Feature-wise, the Innova Crysta has started facing stiff competition all these years, with cars with way more features available for a lot less these days. But, the Innova Crysta more than makes up for it with its comfortable seating, relatively large boot (with the third row seats down), and bulletproof reliability. On top of it, Toyota’s service costs are bare minimum and it doesn’t take a lot to keep the Innova Crysta running beautifully for years. On the safety front, the Innova packs in three airbags on the lower variants and seven on the higher variants. It also gets Vehicle Stability Management and hill-start assist.

PS: The Innova Crysta hits our upper-limit when it comes to the price tag, but its lower variants are priced under Rs 20 lakh.

Best Cars for Long Distance Driving: SUVs

Tata Nexon (2020)

Spinny Assured Tata Nexon with sunroof
Spinny Assured Tata Nexon

There are times the Tata Nexon has been the most sold car in India for a particular month, and that should tell you all you need to know about the popularity of this sub-4 metre SUV. You have petrol and diesel engine options (both powerful ones) and they get manual and automatic transmission options. So the Nexon does offer a lot of versatility in this department. And while its powertrains don’t offer the most refined experience, the Nexon more than makes it up with a roomy cabin, a wide cushy backseat that can easily take in three, loads of features, a plush ride quality, and most importantly, an unbeatable five-star safety rating from Global NCAP. On the safety front, Tata offers most of the safety features right from the base variant. They include dual front airbags, ESP with hill-hold, ISOFIX mounting points and even roll-over mitigation.

Skoda Kushaq (2021)

Spinny Assured Skoda Kushaq
Spinny Assured Skoda Kushaq

Think you’re a spirited driver? Then this one’s for you. Skoda is known to make cars that appeal to enthusiasts, and the Kushaq is no exception. Like previous Skodas, the Kushaq boasts of solid build quality and safety features such as ESP and hill-hold to compliment. Then there are the six airbags. The highlight of the entire package are the engines – you get two. Both are turbocharged, both are petrol, and both can be had with manual and automatic transmissions. But if power is what you seek, then the larger 1.5-litre motor with the fabled DSG transmission may appeal to you better. Space-wise, the Kushaq may feel like a four-seater. That’s not to say you can’t seat five. In the Kushaq, the seats for the four outer passengers are sculpted, which makes them comfortable on long journeys, but that means packing in five may just be a slight squeeze. The boot space is a step back, but the Kushaq is also down in size compared to its rivals, so it makes up for it with its compact footprint in tight spaces.

Volkswagen Taigun (2021)

Spinny Assured Volkswagen Taigun
Spinny Assured Volkswagen Taigun

The Volkswagen Taigun is a different version of the Kushaq. Underneath, it has all the same (good) bits such as the chassis, engines and gearboxes, and in terms of space and safety, it is similar as well. Where the Taigun differs is in its interior and exterior design, and on that front, it has a more understated personality than its sibling, the Kushaq. It’s bound to appeal to you if you prefer a more classic design, instead of the more sharp-edged funky ones that seem to be trending in the car world.

Hyundai Creta

Spinny Assured Hyundai Creta
Spinny Assured Hyundai Creta

The Creta is widely loved by Indians. It, basically, popularised the midsize SUV space, and in its latest iteration, it’s evolved into one of the most all-rounded cars in the market. The design of it can be a bit polarising, but take into account that you have three engine and five transmission options, a feature-list that runs for pages (we love that huge panoramic sunroof), a 433-litre boot (the boot space of SUVs is generally less than similarly priced sedans) and a super-comfortable cabin, and you can now understand why we had to put the Creta on the list. In terms of safety, it packs in a lot of features but in its crash-test rating, the Creta could only muster a 3-star rating. Its fuel efficiency numbers are also not the best, but that has to be expected given that it is a bigger car, meaning that the engine has to lug around more weight. The Creta, then, is a very well-rounded package and will definitely impress all members of the family in one aspect or the other.

Tata Harrier (2020)

Spinny Assured Tata Harrier
Spinny Assured Tata Harrier

If a 5-star safety rating is the first filter you apply when picking a car, then the Tata Harrier should be on your short list. Tata has built an inherent knack of making 5-star rated cars, and that has also pushed other carmakers to strive for better safety ratings. The Harrier also has cabin space, boot space (425 litres of space to be precise but as it is a square boot, you can make the most of it), and a punchy diesel engine on offer. You do not have a petrol option, but with the Harrier being a big SUV, most people won’t miss it. Some may not like the sound of the engine at higher rpms, but you have the option to choose between a manual and an automatic. A special mention for the automatic here – it’s a well-tuned unit and is quite instinctive in shifting gears. The Harrier also packs in a lot of features, and might we say, that panoramic sunroof can turn the night sky into a majestic view. Tata also offers quite few special edition models, so you have the option for a more customized look.

PS: The top variants of the Harrier are priced beyond the Rs 20 lakh mark, but you can get one that has a decent number of features for less than that. 

Mahindra XUV700 (2021)

Mahindra XUV700
Spinny Assured Mahindra XUV700

The XUV700 won the ICOTY (Indian Car of the Year) award last year, so it’s safe to say it deserves to be on the list. It’s got a lot going for it. Its looks are the hottest thing on the market, it’s available in both five- and seven-seater configurations, there are powerful petrol and diesel engines on offer, there’s manual as well as automatic transmission to choose from, the cabin feels luxurious, and it’s packed with features. Safety kit is pretty robust, and you get an ADAS system as well. Additionally, it has a five-star safety rating from Global NCAP. The boot space in the five-seater version will fulfill all your road trip needs, and with the seven-seater version, you can just pull the third-row seats down. That’s quite a lot, but that’s not to say that the XUV700 doesn’t have its downsides. The petrol engine can be thirsty, impacting its fuel efficiency numbers. The diesel is relatively better, but as the XUV700 is a big car, you will have to make more room for fuel in your budget. And lastly, the XUV700 commands a long waiting period, so if you book one now, chances are you won’t be road-tripping anytime soon. But if a used XUV700 is what you’re looking for, then you can go ahead and check out our listings in your city right here.

PS: The XUV700 also goes beyond the Rs 20 lakh mark. The most notable feature you get post Rs 20 lakh is the ADAS system in the top trim, and AWD.

FAQs about Long Distance Driving

What factors should you consider while buying a car for long distance driving?

The most important factors when looking to buy a car for long distance driving are space, fuel efficiency, reliability and safety.

Why is safety important for long distance travelling?

Long distance driving generally means you will be travelling at higher than city speeds, and therefore safety should be an important aspect for long distance travelling.

Why is durability important for long distance travelling?

Long distance travelling could take you places where service centres are few and far in between, and therefore, reliability is important in such situations.

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