Winter is finally here, so it’s time to stop dreaming about heading to the slopes and time to make it happen. For starters, how will you get there safely, comfortably and fashionably? If you’re an avid skier and shopping for a new car, here are five small luxury SUVs that will help you get up the mountain in style.
The beauty of these five upscale crossover SUVs is that they are practical for urban living but can also handle snow and ice beautifully thanks to 4- or all-wheel drive, electronic stability control, a low center of gravity and adequate ground clearance. Utility and style collide to create an ideal wintertime vehicle.
Thanks to its all-wheel drive system and 7.9 inches of ground clearance, the Q5 won’t easily get stuck in snowdrifts. Plus, its anti-slip regulation (ASR) and all-speed traction control help minimize wheel spin on ice. The Q5 comes standard with a roof rack. It can be used for snowboarding in the winter or surfing in the summer. While the Q5 seats five, the rear seats can fold down to offer additional storage for gear if you opt to carry snow shoes rather than friends. Also, when temperatures dip, you’ll enjoy the luxurious details inside and out, including the heated front seats and heated windshield washer nozzles.
The 2012 X3 has a new premium interior, which matches BMW’s current emphasis on luxury throughout its line. Luxury doesn’t trump practicality, however, as the X3 has one of the largest cargo capacities in its class (19.4 cubic feet behind the second-row seat) and fold-down center or side seats. There’s an optional roof rack with ski or snowboard holder if you don’t carry your gear inside. With more than eight inches of ground clearance, standard stability control and the xDrive all-wheel drive system, this capable car handles well all the way up to the ski park.
The 2012 SRX can handle slick conditions thanks to advanced all-wheel drive and electronic limited-slip differential that enables weight and power distribution to the wheels to maintain traction. Its eight inches of ground clearance is an added plus for driving in the snow. The SRX also appeals to a variety of drivers thanks to its powerful 3.6-liter direct injection V6 engine. There’s also an ECO mode, which can improve fuel economy. The pass-through area can accommodate skis and boards, or you can buy a hitch-mounted ski carrier or roof-mounted ski carrier. Inside, passengers will enjoy the tri-zone climate control, optional ultra view sunroof and rear heated seats.
The EX35 is a rear-wheel drive car that automatically senses when you need all-wheel drive and portions torque where you need it, which keeps it firmly planted on the road. Keep in mind that the ground clearance isn’t as generous (about six inches) as the other models listed here, so it won’t handle deep snowdrifts as well larger SUVs. If you have gear to carry and no passengers in the back, the second row can fold down with the push of a button at the front control panel. However, if you have passengers in the car, you can store gear on the roof rack. Thankfully, you can order optional cross bars. Everything in this Infiniti feels luxurious, from the leather and maple interior to the specially designed seats that cradle the body for a comfortable trip, even if your favorite mountain is hours away.
One of the best things about the newest model in the Range Rover family is the versatility it offers. The Evoque is a small, luxury SUV that’s equally suited to running around the city or tackling off-road terrain. With generous amounts of ground clearance, (8.3 inches in front and 9.4 in the rear), this Rover can handle difficult terrain and deep snow with ease. The adaptive dynamic system (which senses road conditions and adapts), along with the hill descent control system, can aid even the most inexperienced driver in conquering slick ascents or descents. Surprisingly, the panorama roof doesn’t prevent the use of a full roof rack system that’s available for the Evoque. But even more surprising than that is its gas mileage: this luxury SUV gets 18 mpg city and 28 on the highway.