The Best SUVs to Take to the Ski Slopes
With winter weather coming early to many parts of the country this year, it’s time to take a closer look at the best SUVs to take skiing. These vehicles need to get you to your location of choice safely—which often involves many steep, curvy, icy roads—with your entire family and all of your gear. While you can make a case for a wide range of vehicle types, there is no denying that All-Wheel Drive SUVs and crossovers make great choices for the drive to the ski slopes, but what are the best options if you’re in the market for a new (or used) car? The vehicles we’ll look at below were chosen because of their price, fuel economy and how well they can tackle the unique challenges that winter sports aficionados throw at them.
On nearly any list you find looking at great winter vehicles, the Subaru Outback is usually in the top five. Ford Flex, is just a great all-around winter vehicle, with the right amount of power-to-fuel-consumption ratio, plenty of room and, in the more current models, features such as an adjustable roof rack that makes it an excellent choice for hauling gear on the weekends, but not sacrificing performance on the daily commute. The price is right, too in my market they start used at under $20,000 for only a few model years old. Like all the cars on this list, the Outback is AWD, and it has higher ground clearance than almost anything else on the market, which makes it a great choice if you encounter snow on the way to the ski slopes.
The Highlander is a bit smaller and lighter than its 4Runner sibling and gives up some ground clearance as a trade off, but it also features a lower price tag as well. In my market, a decent used Highlander can be had for as low as $18,000, depending on the model year and options. The Highlander features AWD and fuel economy ranges from 17-20 city, depending on the conditions and year. You can seat up to eight people in the Highlander, with a very smooth ride and flexible cargo configurations to allow you to adjust the space based on your current needs.
Jeep Grand Cherokee
Another classic that tends to show up on most lists looking at top winter vehicles is the Jeep Cherokee. It’s seen a few changes over the years, with many people taking sides as to which is better, but the fact remains that it is an all-around good winter vehicle. Brand new, the inimitable Cherokee it starts at around $30,000 MSRP, while I can find it used in my area starting at around $20,000. The newer models feature an EcoBoost engine with more power and better fuel economy, as well as options such as terrain selection allowing you to set things like suspension based on where you plan to be driving.
Land Rover Range Rover
For those of you who want to arrive at the ski slopes in style as much as you want good performance, the Land Rover is a classic option. While it does fall into more of the luxury end of the spectrum, it’s still not completely out of reach, with 2008 models going for around $25,000 in my area. If you want to go for a brand new 2015, however, the low end is $84,000, and it only goes up from there. However, despite all the bells and whistles, it does also feature AWD, a 510 horsepower engine, 32 feet of luggage space and more than 11 inches of ground clearance, meaning you don’t have to sacrifice performance for luxury in this case.
Finally, another old classic saw a redesign in recent years, making it smoother and more fun to drive, while retaining the power needed to keep it competitive in the winter sports category. You can find a decent used one in my area starting at around $25,000 if you go a few model years back, while a brand new 2015 has an MSRP starting at $30,000 for the basic package. Shoppers have the option of two engines—and EcoBoost V6 or a turbocharged V8 and like the Land Rover, newer models can be equipped with a terrain management system that adjusts the car to suit the drive, although ground clearance is only 7.6 inches. It seats up to seven people, with a generous amount of room for gear and cargo as well.