From Volvo to Porsche, seven perfect cars to take on a ski trip
30 Oct 2017 - 22:30
By Hannah Elliott / Bloomberg
In North America, an epic ski season is coming; you’ll soon need some sort of transportation to snow.
Whether it’s trekking up to your local ski hill, venturing off-piste in Alaska, or doing a group snowboard trip in Switzerland, the kind of car you use matters.
It’s got to be rugged enough to handle ice, sleet, and sludge—but comfortable enough to cosset you after a long cold day on the mountain. And it’s got to have plenty of room—ski boots and coats and hats and scarves don’t store themselves.
So here is a rundown of this year’s best cars, in each key segment, for a ski trip. They’re each steady enough to carry on through January’s worst storm, and then some. You may even find one or two that do it in real style. Happy trails.
Small SUV: Porsche Macan GTS
There’s a reason why the Macan is Porsche’s bestseller, outselling even the bigger Cayenne and more iconic 911. It combines a plucky 360hp engine with nimble sport steering and an AWD on adaptive “traction management” suspension well-suited for inclement weather.
It also combines the luxuries of a sedan (three-zone climate control; ambient lighting; tinted privacy glass) with the ride height and space (53 cubic feet of space with the seats folded flat; panoramic sunroof) of a proper SUV. And, with a starting price of $68,900, it does all this at a fair price within its small luxury SUV segment.
Official Porsche roof rails ($640), seat heating in the front and rear ($530), and a heated steering wheel ($260) add to its all-around snow capability. There’s also a special “entry and drive” system that minimizes finger exposure to cold air: Simply get the key close to the door, touch the door handle, and the door will unlock. No key fumbling involved.
Large SUV: Bentley Bentayga
Here is the primo* big rig you want to cosset you in wood-and-leather warmth as you traverse the most precarious inclines. It has a massive 600-horsepower W12 engine on an all-wheel-drive and eight speeds for expertly parsing the exact gear needed as you cross through snow and ice.
The real appeal for skiiers, though, is in the back seat, where quilted leather, thick carpeting, heated seats, rear entertainment, and surround sound will make it better than a ski lodge as a haven from the cold. Between the tall side windows, large sunroof, and high ride-height, the Bentayga affords what can be spectacular views when you take the scenic route.
What’s more, if you do want to experience the crisp air, a so-called Event Seat (trimmed in diamond-quilted leather) slides and folds out of the rear, allowing for seating with the trunk open. It’s even illuminated by stage lighting at night. Sit there while you drink hot cocoa and drink in the satisfaction that comes with owning a $229,100 family car.
Sports Car: Porsche 911
Nope, this is not a joke. Porsche 911s are great in the snow; the brand even offers snow-driving courses in its most iconic model. If you can splurge, choose the $162,000 911 Turbo, which comes with all-wheel-drive, sport-chrono paddle shifting, and driving systems such as active suspension management and torque vectoring, which allow for maximum grip and control on slick roads.
What’s more, Porsche offers highly technical winter wheel and tire sets, snow chains, and skiboard and snowboard racks. They’re not cheap, but they’re good: The $7,350 wheels for the 911 Turbo, for instance, are forged alloy with 10 double spokes and two-tone look with 5-bolt wheel connection. They have a titanium-colored paint finish with gloss-lathed front face. Pair those with the heated steering wheel, heated front and rear seats, and the Porsche official ski/snowboard holder designed exactly to fit the car ($320), and you’re set.
Sedan: BMW M760i
This $156,495 sedan combines the sport performance of BMW’s superior M line with the largess and comfort of a true town car. It has a V12 engine that beats even the V8 in the athletic BMW B7 Alpina. Combined with an eight-speed AWD and a spacious and well-appointed back seat big enough to accommodate tired skiers with bulky boots, coats, and scarves, the M760i in fact beats pretty much every other car out there. It is preferred even, as noted in this review, to the segment-dominant Mercedes-Benz S Class based on money savings alone. While the S65 AMG costs $226,900, the M760i costs $70,000 less. It’s also two inches shorter than the S65 and feels much sleeker to drive than that small distance would suggest.
The heated front and rear seats, panoramic moon roof (for watching flakes fall), and ground-illuminating lights in exterior door handles—all the better for dark cold nights in the Alps—come standard.
Wagon: Volvo V90 Cross Country
For the money, the value, performance, safety features, and reliability of a Volvo is difficult to beat. That principal applies to cold-weather driving as well. The $55,300 has a massive back seat and trunk space over AWD and a suspension well-suited to driving down treacherous roads.
The inline four-cylinder engine comes turbocharged and supercharged for 316 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque on the V90 Cross Country T6 model. Plus, this version offers several inches' worth of additional ground clearance over the standard V90—perfect for snow clearance—and lots of handy extras that help in dark, snowy climes, such as full heated leather seats and LED headlights that bend around curves as the car moves forward. With uncanny good handling and contact with the road, the V90 Cross Country makes other luxury wagons seem superfluous and full-size SUVs feel bloated. It’s the practical medium between a Subaru and a Mercedes that can feel posh without breaking the budget.
Gran Tourer: Ferrari GTC4Lusso
This is the four-seat grand tourer from Ferrari. But you already knew that—it’s the one that looks weird at first glance. The thing is, it’s surprisingly functional; Ferrari made it specifically as an answer to its devoted owners who own several other Ferraris but need one to take to their winter homes. It has a massive V12 engine that gets 680 horsepower, but the really brilliant thing about it is how it controls that power: All-wheel drive, a perfectly balanced weight ration, and four-wheel steering allow it to navigate squirrely conditions gripping the road like a vice. This is not the Ferrari for drifting.
Instead, use its fantastic four-wheel-drive with rear-wheel steering, plus torque vectoring that delivers power and traction to specific wheels, to navigate the toughest winding alpine roads. If you want something that will smooth the roughest road into a study of Italian excellence and simultaneously wraps its occupants in handcrafted Italian luxury as only Ferrari can, opt for the GTC4Lusso. (And yes, you can put a ski rack on it.)
Fantasy Mobile: Lamborghini Aventador
OK, this one is a long shot. But it should be noted that the Lamborghini that did all the stunt scenes on the ice lake in Fast and the Furious: Fate of the Furious actually did do those stunts. Credit Lamborghini’s complex system of rear-wheel steering and dynamic suspension and steering with helping the $425,000 supercar manage that slick terrain.
There’s no guarantee you won’t slip all over the place if you get this on some ice of your own—and it’s likely to get stuck in a snowbank the moment you try to edge your way off road. But if you find yourself needing an exotic ride on a frozen pond in Iceland like the gang in Fast and Furious, you’ll be set.