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Road Tripping the Overseas Highway to Key West is Always a Good Idea

March 20, 2014 at 11:22 AM | by | ()

There's a good chance that, if you're reading this, you're well aware of the seemingly endless winter weather impacting much of the United States. And you're probably also wishing for some sun and warmth right about now. An easy remedy comes in two words: Key West.

We recently made the popular drive along the Keys in a new 2014 Subaru XV Crosstrek Hybrid, and discovered a few things along way, aside from the fact that fresh air and sunlight does a previously snowed-in traveler a world of good.

The Overseas Highway (part of US 1) runs from Key West to Miami and allows access to the Keys in between. Consisting mainly of leftover bridges and road sections from the original railroad system constructed by Henry Flagler, the completed highway opened to traffic in 1938. It is a destination of its own, and allows vacationers easy access to the sandier beaches south of the state's continental limit.

One of our top recommended rest stops is the Bahia Honda State Park. Located between Ohio Key and Spanish Harbor Key, it provides a panoramic view of the long-abandoned bridge, which once was an integral piece of US 1, but which runs now parallel to the newer US 1. The park around the bridge is also an ideal place for snorkeling, as the waters simply teem with colorful sea life. ($8.50 per vehicle entrance fee to the park)

On the northern end of the famous Seven Mile Bridge, visitors can access pedestrian and fishing portions of the old bridge. This is a great place to stop and admire the scenery, or to simply Instagram- or Facebook-brag back to your friends.

Despite the fact that the Overseas Highway is incredibly straight and flat, it still ranks as one of the best drives in the United States. Make sure to give the drive at least half a day and appreciate the scenery with multiple stops; taking your time is to your credit anyway, since the route is peppered with police speed traps.

How Was the Car?

Although the XV Crosstrek is Subaru’s first big step into the already matured hybrid market, the car itself is designed to get you to work during the week but still manage to make you smile on weekend getaways. The electric motor is integrated between the engine and transmission, allowing it to use a similar Symmetrical All-Wheel-Drive system offered in other Subaru models. In layman's terms, it is able to maintain its off-road capabilities, something with which other hybrids struggle.

For an SUV, it was surprisingly car-like during the drive. A few downsides are the smaller gas tank (to accommodate batteries) which provides slightly less range (424 miles vs about 445 miles in the non-hybrid) and the higher cost, even though you do receive better trim and wheels as standard.

How Was the Road Trip?

This wasn’t our first time to the Florida Keys, but time and time again we find it's worth the flight, worth the drive, and worth the money to experience the southeasterly frontier of the United States. Think all the simplicity and happiness of island life, but still with the cell phone signal and ease of staying within the US. The Overseas Highway’s only downside is that there are some sections where the view is obstructed, which is when you turn up the radio and have a sing-a-long to pass the boring stretches.

We traveled the Florida Keys as a guest of Subaru, but all photos and opinions are completely our own.

[Photos: Steven D/Jaunted]

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