Things to Consider When Taking a Car On a Road Trip to the Hills

Here are some of the things you should consider when choosing a car to take to the hills.

Published24 Oct 2019, 12:10 PM IST
Car and Bike
4 min read

While the festive season is all about celebrations and gift exchanges there are some people who use this time to head out on a road trip (preferably to the hills). Away from the hustle-bustle of the city.

Truth be told, a good car makes for a memorable road trip, although that’s something that’s not in your hand always. What you can do on your part is to make sure your car has the essentials to handle any long journey.

I got a Nissan Kicks for a weekend drive to the hills and during my drive, I spotted some things that a car must-have if you’re considering taking it to higher altitudes.

So, here are things to consider when taking a car for a road trip to the hills.

Engine Type

Diesel is the king when it comes to high torque and that’s definitely an advantage for long drives. The torque is handy on especially on terrain that is steep. Turbo-charged petrol motors also work well in the hills to handle steep climbs, but diesel motors feel even better.

The Nissan Kick’s I was driving comes with a 1.5-litre, 4-cylinder inline diesel engine that offers 240 Nm of torque from fairly low revs. It offers 110 bhp of power, which always comes in handy on open highways.

The Nissan Kicks offers Hill Assist. 
The Nissan Kicks offers Hill Assist. 
(Photo: The Quint)

Plus you can always save some cash with a full tank of diesel as not only is it a cheaper fuel than petrol, but it also offers more mileage. The 50-litre tank of the Kicks ensured I didn’t have to make a lot of stops for fuel. For long hauls, diesel still rules.


Manual Transmission

My weekend journey to Shoghi was indeed a quick one, but I got there quickly not only because of the open roads but because I had an eager SUV.

In city traffic or even on long boring highways, you would perhaps want to be behind the wheels of an automatic variant, but when it comes to quick uphill drives you should always go for a manual transmission vehicle.

Steep corners are always tricky so you’d always want the option to shift through the transmission to a lower gear to get that instant extra power to climb.

I never felt comfortable doing that with an automatic car, but a manual transmission car always is a better option.

Defogger is a key feature to have in a car especially if you travel in places that have unpredictable weather.
Defogger is a key feature to have in a car especially if you travel in places that have unpredictable weather.
(Photo: The Quint)

The Kicks is available only with a six-speed manual on the diesel and five-speed manual on the petrol. However, the downside to this is that it doesn’t come in an automatic variant and that’s a big dealbreaker for people wanting an SUV for city driving.

Hill Assist

Hill assist is an essential car security feature to have when you’re up against steep terrain. The feature offers assistive braking to drivers in case they are on a steep slope and prevents the car from sliding back if the driver doesn’t have his/her foot on the brake.

Hill-start assist helps on inclines.
Hill-start assist helps on inclines.
(Photo: The Quint)

The hill assist activates and holds the car in the same position giving a few seconds to the driver to accelerate and gain momentum to go further. The hill-start assist feature was a boon at higher altitudes.

A Good Defogger

Temperatures in the hills can change in an instant and it’s always beneficial if you have a good defogging system in your car. Both for the front and rear windscreens.

I had to struggle while driving in the rains as there was a constant mist that was forming on the windshield. Despite activating the defogger the mist ceased to go. Turns out there were some oily smudges on the inside, which wasn’t coming off. I had to pop my head out of the window to see what was ahead of me.

Make sure the car has a good infotainment system. Always helps during long trips.
Make sure the car has a good infotainment system. Always helps during long trips.
(Photo: The Quint)

A big disadvantage with the Kicks is that it has a very wide A-pillar which blocks the view of oncoming traffic around turns and that can be a problem.

In a scenario like this, I’d recommend you thoroughly clean the windshield and make sure you have a clear view of the road before starting out.

That Extra Space

Though a weekend road trip doesn’t need a lot of luggage room, if you’re carrying extra passengers (4 extra in my case), then it always helps to have the extra boot space. The Nissan Kicks comes with 400-litres of boot space, which was more than enough to fit five to six small bags.

The Nissan Kicks offers a two-wheel drive system.
The Nissan Kicks offers a two-wheel drive system.
(Photo: The Quint)

Bigger luggage will require more space, but in any car 400-litres is about the right size. The cabin should be big enough to accommodate three in the rear seat. Trust me, you don’t want complaining passengers while you’re trying to focus on the road.

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