Ready to hit the road for a girls’ weekend? Skip town and leave your responsibilities behind with some Instagram-worthy off-road adventures you won’t forget anytime soon. Whether you’re in the mood to tear up the asphalt or savor the ride, these cars are sure to leave a smile on your face well into Monday. Buckle up, and let the bonding begin!
If you feel like rolling up your sleeves and getting dirty, the Lexus LX, the largest of the brand’s four SUVs, is the ideal off-road ride for an extreme weekend trip. Not only does it bring you to your destination in supreme luxury, the LX is the rare SUV that makes terrifying terrain, from mountains to sand dunes, feel both safe and comfortable. Think of it as your trusty mountainside Sherpa, helping you conquer rocks and master dusty trails.
We drove the LX 570 through the desert brush at the otherworldly Brasada Ranch in Powell Butte, Oregon, as part of a Heels & Wheels program for female automotive journalists and bloggers. Once we threw the SUV into crawl control, we sat back, whooping and hollering, as the LX did most of the off-road driving for us. Looking out the window from our plush perch, we felt our stomachs drop and adrenaline rise as the car crept over sharp rocks, gingerly descended steep drop-offs and navigated narrow makeshift paths.
The LX has been fully redesigned for 2016 and starts at $89,380. You can rent one through certain services, such as Turo or Ultimate Exotic Car Rental. Now, go find your terrain; we promise you’ll feel on top of the world.
If you’re craving the ultimate escape, try something a little unusual, like some track time behind the wheel of a high-performance Audi R8. The Audi Forum at Sonoma Raceway offers driving lessons and track time in the R8. Fasten your seat belt and make it a trip to remember.
Built for speed, the R8 is the LX’s race car equivalent, fast and furious at full throttle. We had the chance to do something similar to the Audi experience at the world-famous Monticello Motor Club, 90 minutes outside of New York City.
True, the Audi R8 is a $162,900 car, but after a brief chalk talk about the track’s layout, we jumped into the pit and climbed into the row of colorful R8s awaiting us. Unsurprisingly, the R8 packs impressive numbers. The standard R8 packs a 5.2-liter V10, a high-revving engine that produces 540 horsepower. It reaches 60 miles per hour in 3.5 seconds and boasts a burly top track speed of 199 mph. Your ride in the more powerful V10 Plus version will be even more white-knuckled. It shaves three-tenths of a second off its 0-to-60 acceleration and can reach a maximum speed of 205 mph, at least three times faster than your work commute in your daily driver.
Still, you don’t have to be a seasoned driver to enjoy the Audi experience. Audi’s professional drivers will help you get the most of the car and your day. Even if you’ve never been to the racetrack, the R8 will make you feel like a pro by your second lap. Its sharp handling and simple dashboard layout make it user-friendly, even for track newbies. It feels stable and controlled when whipping around tight corners, while bucket seats tuck you in and stabilize your body, so you can focus on what’s important: speed.
Wine train in Napa and shopping in San Francisco. Sure, those are fun activities for a girls’ weekend, but imagine the stories you can tell once you return from an off-road adventure or some serious track time in a 500-hp super car.