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snow driver

Masters of the Curve

Masters of the Curve, Volvo S60
Masters of the Curve, Volvo S60
Inspired by rally cars, some small and sporty rides turn the heat up on winter driving.

If you are one of those people who enjoy driving in the snow—like, a whole lot—the automotive industry is sending you a big hug these days. Increasingly there are high-performance options that can make your trip to the lifts seem like a scene out of Fast & Furious, even in a foot of fresh.

Luxury SUVs Without the Sticker Shock

Luxury SUVs | Audi Q7
Snow Driver: Luxury SUVs Without Sticker Shock, Audi Q7
Family-friendly, all-season style doesn’t have to cost as much as a condo. Here’s a trio
of affordably stylish and thoroughly rugged alternatives.

It’s easy to spend big bucks on a winter-worthy, family-hauling SUV. But auto manufacturers have responded to the economic downturn, expanding the bottom end of the luxury utility niche as more people are looking for performance, comfort, and value when hitting the road for their outdoor adventures. These three vehicles each start at less than $50,000, loaded with style and power.

Crossover Is King

Downsized SUVs offer the capacity of their beefy predecessors, but with less truck-inspired rides and better mileage. And meet Jeep’s new Italian cousin while you’re at it.

The golden age of the big SUVs of the ’80s and ’90s feels practically Paleolithic when you compare it to an evolving generation of smaller crossover models, which drive less like trucks but still offer truck-like utility and surefootedness.

Snow Driver: Comfort Kings

Want to haul a family without the fuel penalty of a traditional SUV? New full-size AWD sedans look to smooth the way to the mountains.

Grand and gracious full-size sedans come to mind for a night on the town, not a ski trip up to the slopes. But vehicular times they are a-changin’. Some of America’s most beloved four-door family brands now boast models with the winter-beating traction and agility of all-wheel drive, handling all but the deepest of blizzard-buried roads. And even the Koreans are getting into the game. 

Snow Driver: Circling the Wagons

Snow Driver: Circling the Wagons
Ford Flex: Snow Driver 2014
Today’s full-size crossovers look to fill the traditional role of the family station wagon and can haul seven in total comfort. So much for the good ol’ days.

The ’70S-era Brady Bunch station wagon might be all but extinct, but families aren’t. And neither is the need to haul kids and gear. If you’re not interested in making the jump to an SUV, consider a variety of stylish crossovers—vehicles built on car rather than truck frames—that mix capacity with a smaller size.

German Luxury Meets 4WD

German Luxury Meets 4WD
Feb. Driver Main
These SUVs may seem distant from their racing and autobahn roots, but they’re surprisingly capable—and still plenty speedy.

There may have been a time when rolling up to the slopes in a beater SUV was fine for your hardcore cred—and budget. But now that you’ve achieved a new station in life, it’s time to represent with one of a growing stable of prestigious German luxury SUVs. Each is loaded with innovative safety and entertainment systems and luxurious leather. Each dashes through snow with confidence but would be equally at home on a racetrack. And they’re all available as diesel models, if extra torque (and mileage) turns you on.

Snow Driver: Euro Thrash

Snow Driver: Euro Thrash
Driver Jan.
A new wave of scaled-down SUVs takes Continental inspiration and turns it on its head.

When it comes to automotive role models, it’s hard not to want to craft your all-new ride in the style of those trendsetting Germans—dramatic looks, Autobahn power, and plenty of grip in the slippery stuff. 

That impulse has yielded striking new designs in a trio of once-bland small and midsize SUVs, one of which (Jeep’s Cherokee) returns to the market after a long absence.

Snow Driver: Let's Get Small

Snow Driver: Let's Get Small
driver dec.
The future of ski cars might be the new range of tiny, hyper-stylish luxury crossovers.

While there was a point, not so long ago, when it looked like GMC’s Yukon XL would be America’s ski car forever, rising gas prices and—oh, yes—an auto market that includes the rest of the planet have meant some new and very international AWD choices. Meet the small luxury crossover.

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