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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.

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.

Snow Driver: Luxe Trucks

A generation of ultra-leathery, winter-ready 4x4s has replaced the rough-and-ready pickup. And they’re not cheap.

If your mental image of a pickup is a rusted-out work truck with a faded Killington sticker on the rear window and a couple of dogs in the back, it’s time to bring you up to speed.

Manufacturers are in an arms race to see who can build the biggest and most audacious family-hauling, winter-hardy light-duty trucks with leathery, gentleman-rancher appeal.

Snow Driver: Keeping It Weird

Snow Driver: Keeping It Weird
Subaru Crosstrek
Subaru down-shifts back to its off-beat roots with the affordable mountain-ready Crosstrek

While the rugged and reliable Subaru brand has become positively ubiquitous in snowy lands since the 1970s, there’s been one alarming trend: The cars have become less and less weird in recent years, much to the dismay of iconoclastic tweakers with their Mad River Glen bumper stickers.

Snow Driver: SUV Classics, Aging Gracefully

Only the names remain the same when it comes to the newest SUV models.

Besides old Glen Plake videos, nothing captures the ski-trip vibe of the mid- to late ’80s like that first generation of box-on-frame SUVs—slab-sided classics like the Nissan Pathfinder, Toyota 4Runner, and Jeep Cherokee, followed in 1991 by the Ford Explorer. Just about everybody owned one—or wanted to. Back when nobody worried about gas mileage (or ride quality) they were must-haves for winter road trips.

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