It’s winter, and that means a lot of people are heading up to the mountains for a little fun on the slopes. Driving up curvy mountain roads can be a nightmare if you don’t have the right vehicle to haul all your gear, so we’ve narrowed down some roomy and sporty rides (excluding trucks) to get you up that mountain in comfort, style, and in swift time.
Subaru Impreza WRX/STI
A Subaru just doesn’t look right without a ski/snowboard rack mounted on top, and the WRX STI is no exception. As long as you load your boards on the rack, there’ll be plenty of space for four passengers in the cabin, and all other equipment such as boots, puffy jackets, etc., will fit in the surprisingly large trunk that offers 12.0 cubic feet of space. The main reason the STI is on this list, though, is because you’re guaranteed to have a blast driving up the mountain with the STI’s playful nature and rally-car roots.
Range Rover Sport
Is there a blizzard in the forecast? No problem. The Range Rover Sport’s esteemed off-road capability will get you through the sketchiest roads without a hitch. Just make sure to turn the Terrain Response dial to the snow/ice feature, and you’ll be breezing by all the other cars slipping and struggling to get up those steep, snow-covered roads. The new Range Rover Sport SVR is shown here.
This was a no-brainer. The FF is essentially a revolutionary redesign of the 612 Scaglietti aimed at rich outdoor enthusiasts, and with its controversial wagon body style, four-passenger layout, and four-wheel drive, it’s sure to get the upper crust up to their ski chalets in true Italian style. You probably won’t need to worry about any critters suddenly jumping into the road, either, as they’re likely to hear the FF’s V-12 purr from miles away.
Jeep Grand Cherokee
Everyone knows Jeeps are perfect for exploring the outdoors. Although the Wrangler is meant to provide more of a rugged experience off the pavement, the Grand Cherokee aims to offer a more luxurious one, as well. With soft touch points and available features such as heated seats and in-vehicle Wi-Fi, the long drive will likely be more pleasant. With the EcoDiesel model, vacationers will be able to travel up and down the mountain and then some, without having to stop by the pump.
The resort parking lot might be full of compact crossovers such as the Honda CR-V, Ford Escape, and RAV4, but the CX-5 will stand out with its spunky Kodo-inspired appearance. And the journey up those squiggly roads will be enjoyable thanks to the crossover’s “zoom-zoom” DNA, though the trek might be slower since the most powerful Skyactiv engine puts out only 184 hp. More time to enjoy the scenery!
Volvo V60 Cross Country
The V60 Cross Country’s low-slung profile will allow it to take those turns up the mountain with ease, and even though it’s a wagon, it still has enough ground clearance to get it through some fresh snow. In addition, the Volvo‘s soft, supple leather seats will be perfect to lie on when you need to take a break from tearing it up on the slopes all morning. Turn the seat heaters on and you’ll feel as though you’re a hot knife melting into butter.
The Allroad is a packaging champ, nimble and easy to nip and tuck through urban traffic if you head up to the cabin on a Friday night. Although it feels like a small car, it’s impressively roomy on the inside. There’s a generous cargo floor in back, and with the flip of a few latches, the 60/40 split rear seats drop to produce a plentiful storage space (50.5 cubic feet) for skis or snowboards. For those who prefer to keep their snow equipment out of the car, the standard roof rack will come in handy, though the ski carriers are extra. But hey, it’s one less thing to have to worry about.
BMW 328d xDrive Sport Wagon
This 328D wagon is the ultimate snow driving machine for a number of reasons. With 280 lb-ft of torque, the D wagon has a strong midrange that will ascend steep inclines, and it has lots of cargo space with the seats folded down (53 cubic feet). It also maintains that sharp handling BMWs are known for and a capable all-wheel-drive system, which means you won’t have to pull over and put snow chains on.
Although the Sienna won’t provide the most exhilarating driving experience up the mountain, it will give you peace of mind since the kids won’t be asking, “Are we there yet?” every 15 minutes. That’s because they’ll be sitting back and enjoying all the features the “Swagger Wagon” has to offer, including the rear split-screen entertainment system that can play a DVD movie on one screen while playing a different movie or a video game on the other. In addition, the Sienna’s second row pops out and stows in the cargo area so that you can hang out in the van and barbeque in the parking lot if you want to tailgate at the resort.
Lexus NX 200t
The NX 200t’s luxurious cockpit will have you feeling like you’re getting up the mountain in a high-tech mini-spaceship. Its sporty handling will allow you to toss it around the curves, and even though you might have to squish everything into the smallish cargo space, at least the NX 200t will look pretty sitting in your cabin’s driveway.
When the entire family takes a winter vacation, the Tahoe offers up plenty of passenger space so everyone can ride in comfort. If the driver isn’t familiar with the windy roads, the Tahoe’s height presents a commanding view of the road and the excellent outward visibility to inspire confidence. Even though the Tahoe seems like a lot of mass to move around, it handles well with good chassis response and aggressive turn-in and grip.
It’s hard to imagine that a vehicle as luxurious as the Cayenne is also incredibly capable. It drives much better than anyone would expect of an SUV, and all that snow gear should be fairly easy to load since air suspension-equipped 2015 Cayenne models come with a new button in the cargo area that controls a kneeling function that drops the car’s liftover height by 2 inches to 27.2 inches. Opt for the Cayenne Turbo or Turbo S and you’ll fly by all those people stopped on the side of the road putting on their snow chains.
Mini Countryman All4
Rally up the mountain in the Countryman All4. Its go-kart-like handling will urge drivers to rip through the canyon, and if something crosses your path at the last minute, the Countryman’s quick reflexes will allow it to dart out of the way. Its rapid acceleration (181 hp) will be helpful when trying to pass slower cars heading up the mountain.