Roadshow’s favorite all-wheel-drive wintertime sleighs – Roadshow

AWD sleighs promo

Just a few of our picks.


Roadshow

Happy holidays, Roadshow readers. We decided to do something a little lighthearted this time around, listing our favorite vehicles for wintertime weather that also serve as pretty good holiday sleds. These cars, trucks and SUVs are great in all weather conditions and are especially fun for a romp in the snow. Of course, they’re also super-functional — perfect for hauling gifts and goodies.

The luxury SUV with what has got to be the longest name in all of autodom does so many things so well that it’s my no. 1 choice for a posh sled this holiday season. Priced from just over $90,000, the SVAutobiography DE commands a serious premium over the standard Velar, but thanks to its gorgeous interior and scintillating performance, it manages to feel worth it.

The Velar has long been among my very favorite premium SUVs. I love the way it combines its arrestingly pared-back, reductivist styling with genuine off-road ability, all bundled in a package that includes a comfortable ride and a finely crafted interior. No, I still don’t love Jaguar Land Rover’s infotainment, but I’ll forgive that foible in exchange for its countless other virtues. New for 2020, this top-flight trim adds V8 snarl and serious shove to an already winning package. With 550 horsepower and 502 pound-feet of torque, the 0-to-60-mph dash is dispatched in 4.3 seconds and top speed is unleashed to a heady 170 mph.

Since we’ve cancelled our family’s traditional holiday gatherings due to the pandemic, I can’t make any quips about the Velar’s ability to save the day when we’re inevitably running late. That said, some massive rooster tails on quiet, snowy backroads would still make this a December to remember. With up to 70.1 cubic feet of cargo space, there’s plenty of room for the dog, firewood and some big, goofy parkas to hole up at a cabin in the woods, too. 

— Chris Paukert

The Audi RS6 Avant is one of the coolest cars on sale today. It’s all angular and chunky and bulgy and brash. And it’s got a 591-hp V8 under the hood. What’s not to love?

Americans had been begging Audi to bring its hot RS6 Avant stateside for years, so when the company finally delivered, it did so with a really big bang. This car doesn’t just look great, it drives great, too. Quattro all-wheel drive, a torque-vectoring rear differential and rear-axle steering give the RS6 Avant some seriously sharp reflexes. It’s not just a fun wagon, it’s a fun sports car, period.

It’s a car you could totally live with every day, too. The interior is super comfy, there’s infotainment and driver-assistance tech for days and when it comes time to haul more than just ass, fold the rear seats flat and you’ve got SUV-rivaling cargo space. The RS6 Avant does everything well. Fit it with snow tires and it’d be a formidable foul-weather companion.

— Steven Ewing

OK, listen, the Porsche Panamera Turbo S E-Hybrid Sport Turismo will always hold a very special place in my heart as my ultimate single car, and it would do wonderfully in this category. But in the interest of being slightly more budget-conscious this year, I’m going for Volvo’s V60 T8 Polestar. A starting price a little over $65,000 flies far above properly “affordable” territory, but it is at least a little closer to “attainable.” And, with 20-odd miles of all-electric range, and an EPA-rated 69 miles per gallon equivalent, it’s economical, too. Or, economical for a 415-hp sport wagon, anyway.

The suspension from Ohlins means the V60 Polestar handles better than it should at its weight and, though the bulk of its power goes through the front wheels, the electric motors at the rear will ensure that you’ll have no problems in the winter months — especially if you mount up a set of winter tires. There’s plenty of room out back for all the presents you can muster, and it’s got one of the most potent heated steering wheels on the market.

Impressively, though, it’s still a Volvo, meaning you’re wrapped in a stellar interior and entertained by a superb Bowers & Wilkins sound system. And, since it is a Volvo, it’s unlikely to spark any uncomfortable discussions around the fire about how much money you put towards your new sleigh this year. This is the ultimate sleeper, one so good you can literally pull out of the driveway and clear your neighborhood without making a sound. You know, just in case you need to make an emergency 2 a.m. eggnog run. 

— Tim Stevens

A twin-turbo V6 and all-wheel drive? And there’s a liftback giving you more cargo space than you’d imagine? Sign me up. The Kia Stinger is a wonderful, if perhaps obscure, choice for winter-weather driving. With power flowing to all four wheels and a good set of winter tires, this Korean four-door will really go places.

Considering one of the criteria for this list is ample room for gifts in the back, the Stinger’s uniquely positioned in this respect with 41 cubic feet of space with the seats folded down. We need more cars with liftbacks; there’s no denying a standard trunk just doesn’t get the job done when it comes time to pack in the presents.

Plus, when you hit the road, the driver and front passenger can flick on heated seats and enjoy a kickin’ Harman Kardon sound system as the sedan plows through snow like it’s nobody’s business. I owned a Stinger and I’ve done it; this sedan is like a swanky tank in the snow, and that’s why it’s a sweet sleigh.

— Sean Szymkowski

Seriously, is there a better vehicle to make socially distanced, non-denominational, end-of-year holiday deliveries with than a Ford Raptor? Not only can this beast of a truck haul loads of gifts in its cabin and bulky items in the bed, the Raptor can also tackle just about any terrain you throw at it, from the mountain two-tracks to waist-deep snow drifts to parking-lot congestion at your local big-box store. Out of my way, I’ve got five bucks in Kohl’s Cash to spend!

With a beefy turbocharger strapped to each cylinder head, the Raptor’s 3.5-liter EcoBoost V6 cranks out an impressive 450 hp and 510 pound-feet of torque — ample figures, indeed. This Ford should have no trouble plastering a grin across your face as you dash from stop to stop, dodging wayward carolers along the way and jumping it over the nativity scene at your local church to prove Santa isn’t the only one that can fly. With nearly 14 inches of rear suspension travel, you’ll have no trouble sticking the landing, either, all without knocking off a single wise man’s hat.

But it’s not just brute power that makes the Raptor great. Its seats are comfortable and the ride quality is suitably coddling, thanks to its Baja-tested underpinnings. Of course, standard four-wheel drive and a locking rear differential means there’s no shortage of traction for total driver confidence. The Raptor is a little bit of naughty and a whole lot of nice, a perfect gift-delivery machine.

— Craig Cole

I take Mr. Cole’s choice of a Raptor and offer up the Jeep Gladiator. Certainly it won’t get you over the river and through the woods as quickly, but you’ll be able to climb every mountain with a bit more prowess. And for that full sleigh experience, take off those doors and the top, bundle up in your favorite sweater and grab some hot chocolate.

The Gladiator has a 5-foot bed that can haul up to a 1,700-pound payload. That is a lot of toys for many tots. Further, it’s a Jeep that can tow. You can drag up to 7,650 pounds behind a Gladiator, so Santa, please load up another Jeep on a trailer and deliver it to my house, tout suite. I’ll take the Mojave trim with it’s upgraded front suspension for high-speed desert running, but a Rubicon with front and rear locking differentials would be OK, too.

And since Santa delivers far and wide, the Gladiator can be had with a 3.0-liter V6 EcoDiesel engine, good for 24 mpg combined and a potential range of around 500 miles. Of course, that diesel engine also puts out massive amounts of torque, 442 lb.-ft. of twist to be exact. Go ahead and take the hard way to Grandma’s house. 

— Emme Hall

The Cayenne has always been a surprisingly fast all-weather machine, and the GTS, for many, has always been the sweet spot in the lineup. The GTS has plenty of room for gifts, plenty of clearance for an aggressive set of snow tires and more than enough power to get very silly and very sideways.

Add in the fact that Porsche’s notoriously granular configurator means that you can spec your Cayenne exactly for winter sleigh duty and you’re totally ready to rock. I’d have mine in Carmine Red with black leather, all the performance add-ons and the Burmester sound system, because even Santa needs road music.

— Kyle Hyatt

Santa’s sleigh can fit the entire universe’s gifts into one bag, so what better vehicle to represent a sleigh than a full-size SUV with a positively cavernous amount of storage capacity?

In addition to having more than enough room for presents, the 2021 Tahoe is endlessly comfortable when equipped with its optional air suspension, turning even gnarly roads into something far more pleasant.

Since Santa has to take his sleigh, well, literally everywhere across the planet, range is important. Thankfully, the Tahoe can be fitted with a 3.0-liter Duramax diesel I6 that can propel the Tahoe for hundreds of miles before requiring a stop to refuel. 

— Andrew Krok

Living in Michigan where we contend with long winters and usually a fair amount of snow, my pick for a winter sleigh focuses mostly on fun over the practicality of a wagon or SUV. For that, I’d saddle up in a Subaru WRX STI with a quality of set of winter tires.

A Subaru with a manual transmission and a 310-hp engine is fun in normal, dry conditions, but I’d argue it’s even more entertaining when it’s going through the white stuff. Controlled drifts and donuts are always fun (in a safe environment, of course), but normal commuting is also a little more enjoyable when you have grip and power controlled with an old-fashioned manual gearbox.

And that’s not to say there isn’t some practicality afforded by the WRX STI. It’s a sedan with a serviceable backseat and a trunk that’s capable of carrying a decent amount of cargo. You won’t be able to move the amount of stuff the other vehicles on this list can, but I’d like to think that I just might have the most involving drive experience blasting through the snow in this Subaru.

— Jon Wong

This should come as no surprise: The Mercedes-AMG E63 S made the list of my top 5 rides two years in a row — first as a sedan, then as an updated, facelifted wagon. This year, the E63 got chassis refinements that make it more comfortable around town, the newest generation of Benz’s cabin tech suite and a mild visual refresh inside and out.

Aside from benefiting from the 2021 model year updates, the wagon also has the advantage of, well, being a wagon. That means a lot more space for hauling without the dynamic compromises you’d get from an SUV. Its ride height sits equal to that of the sedan, but its 35 cubic-feet of stowage is more than double that of its sibling and just a few cubes shy of the GLE SUV before you lower the rear seats.

I could have picked the new E450 All-Terrain wagon with its slightly taller ride height providing better clearance for snow and mud, but I reckon the AMG’s 4Matic all-wheel-drive system is good enough to handle most on-road weather — with a swap to winter rubber, of course. Plus, the more potent E-Class is a ton more fun during the dry months, when you can take advantage of its rear-drive Drift Mode. It’s a shame there aren’t more wagons to choose from, but this is one of the best.

— Antuan Goodwin

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *