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What are the best ski cars?

post #1 of 643
Thread Starter 

Hey all.  My Cherokee has been my ski car for a long time, but is getting pretty old and I might get something new this winter.  I though it'd be interesting to discuss the pros and cons of different cars, and what makes the best ski car.

 

Here is a list of the qualities I think make a good ski-car....

 

-Good mpg.  Gotta keep the skiing affordable when gas is expensive.

-Must be good in the snow.  Decent clearance...good ABS and stability control programs...probably AWD

-Must be comfortable and keep you fresh and alert on long, late, boring drives.  This means great seats, great headlights, quiet with decent sound system, etc.  Nice ride

-Must be good at hustling up mountain roads in a hurry.  Nice flat cornering...sufficient power to pass the slow poke goin 15 under up-hill on a 2-lane at high altitude.  A turbo is nice for this.

-Must be RELIABLE.  Nothing will ruin a trip faster than a check engine light that prevents you from getting to the ski area, or worse, strands you on the side of the road in the middle of nowhere in a blizzard.

-Must be able to hold all the gear, preferable inside where it'll stay clean and secure

-Great crash safety.  Driving long distances at night, in inclement weather, while tired greatly increases the chance of an accident.

-Extra credit: must be able to hold a fully assembled mountain bike inside.

 

The old Cheorkee was pretty good at these things besides comfort, mpg, and crash safety (due to being a very old design).

 

I'd like to keep it somwhere around the average sticker price in the US: About $30k, but less is better.  This thing will be racking up miles, get battered by gravel, and be at risk of winding up in the ditch, so nothing too fancy.

 

I was thinking the Subaru Outback probably offers the best balance of these qualities, except the 4-cyl is pretty weak and the 6-cyl could get better mpg.  They don't handle very well, either...very mushy.  They newest ones also have this steering-wheel shimmy issue that isn't quite sorted out yet.

 

The upcoming Mazda CX-5 looks like it'll be a fantastic option, although could be a little bigger and more powerful.  The RAV4 does pretty well, but is an old design.  Could be a bit safer...slighlty better mpg...better awd system.

 

Any other thoughts on what qualities make a good ski car, and which car is best?


Edited by carve - 9/7/11 at 1:45pm
post #2 of 643
For me, it would be a Subaru. I have a Legacy and it's a great car. I only have the non turbo engine but the turbo should give you all the power you need. I drove the outback also and liked it. Not sure where you get mushy and doesn't handle the best unless your expecting Ferrari handling from a station wagon.

Had the car with zero repairs or break downs. Get like 26 mpg city/hwy and more on highway.
post #3 of 643

I just turned 100,000 miles on my 4th Subaru since 1980.  Never any real problems.

 

JF

post #4 of 643

My favorite ski car so far has been my current one, a 2004 Land Cruiser. Don't know if you are looking for used or not, though, since obviously a new one costs more than $30K.  It does not get good mpg, but aces everything else on your list. (I get 15 to 17 depending on whether the box is up top.) But the thing is a tank, hauls ass uphill at altitude, is very comfy and big enough to carry lots of stuff, but not enormous --  and nothing ever breaks. I've done nothing but routine maintenance and basic things like brakes and tires (it has 114K miles).  I hope/expect to drive it to 200K, as we have two kids entering college in the next several years....

 

My husband has an Audi Allroad -- also a great ski car in many ways, but I cannot brag about reliability, and it gets about the same gas mileage as the Land Cruiser. eek.gif

post #5 of 643

i love my 1996 honda accord 4 cylinder. vroom vrrrrrooooom. oh wait, thats mazda.

 

Just slap some blizzacks on that there and it climbs like a mountain goat, even the drive up and down to pow mow.

 

Though in all reality, rental cars including the subaru imprezza and nissan rogue drove a tad nicer -- could be related to them being 12 years newer.

 

post #6 of 643

You'll also find some very comprehensive info on this exact topic using the Search function.

post #7 of 643

Quite frankly, on long boring drives you are probably better off with a seat that is a bit less comfy.

 

I had a 96 Explorer I got from my neighbor.  His kids tore it up so I got if for cheap but the seats were so comfy with all kinds of pneumatic adjustments.  But then it was almost too comfy.

 

Volvo XC does well in snow.

 

So much is in the tires in how well something pulls or .... doesn't pull.

post #8 of 643

 

Quote:Shoal007
Just slap some blizzacks on that there and it climbs like a mountain goat

 

Yup... any car with Blizzacks will do !

post #9 of 643

Our '08 RAV4 (6 cyl / all wheel/four wheel drive) may have been the best winter vehicle I have ever owned.  We has a set of Pirelli off road tires on it in the winter that rode surprising well on the highway.   We got around 24 mpg with all the storage we needed and in a stretch I could sack out in the back.

 

We are making the switch to a VW Jetta Sportwagen diesel this season and crossing our fingers it does what we need it to do.

post #10 of 643

I've often wondered if a Humvee would be too brash.......


Edited by Gunnerbob - 9/9/11 at 9:47am
post #11 of 643

I've been thinking a lot about this and wish a car mag would do a definitive test.

 

Blizzacks are a must.  They transform any car.

 

Best in snow imho is a range rover.  Doesn't meet your reliability or gas mileage but best is best.  Heated door locks, heated front windscreen, a computer assisted snow mode, the ability to raise the car if it is high centered, etc. etc.  You could plow a road for the snow plow. $30K would buy a 2008 or so.

 

Audi's are also quite good with the quattro system and stability control system but unless you go suv you may not have the ground clearance you want (unless you go allroad or SUV).  Allroad is cool because you can raise and lower it.  If you get a turbo you should look into a software upgrade, it makes a huge difference.

 

Volvo XC SUV is excellent and like the Range Rover it has an electronic snow-mode that works.

 

One you may not have thought of is a 2008 BMW 535xi.  $30K will buy a low mileage 2008 model.  Good mileage, good power (especially with some software upgrades), and one of the nicest drivers in your price range.  Ground clearance again may be an issue.   http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GWCuUAr7JP0&feature=player_embedded

 

 

 

 

post #12 of 643

Our Pilot and CRV are great ski cars, but our S2000 isn't (all are Honda). Nokian WRG2 tires work great on the SUVs all year too

post #13 of 643

Honda Pilot. Great traction - cruised up a 9% grade on week old pack, felt like driving on dry pavement. Plenty of power, gas milage sucks (those sorta go together, somehow). Safety? Got hit on the nose by cross traffic. The end of my frame broke his rear axle, I needed a new bumper. I think it has nine air bags in various places. Very comfortable for long drives, 90 feels same as 60. Probably due to the 4500# curb weight which also doesn't help gas milage. Reliability is great, We've put on 90,000 miles in six years, took the first set of tires and brakes at 78,000 miles. Haven't replaced a headlight yet. Not a long vehicle, if more than three riders you'll need a roof top box.

post #14 of 643

......I want a vehicle that requires no effort or money from me ever.... And it should do everything I want it to do for a long time. ............Oh  Vehicles are just so Stupid !


Edited by skimalibu - 9/7/11 at 7:15pm
post #15 of 643

How about:

30+mpg hwy

Plenty of torque for passing, turbo

Really comfortable for long trips, great stereo

All the electronic bells, abs, stability, full time awd

Good ground clearance, adjustable ride height

Handles ok, not a sports car.

Plenty of gear room

Top notch safety

 

07/08 ML 320 CDI

Used with 30k-40k miles around $30k in perfect condition

post #16 of 643

snow3.jpg

post #17 of 643

No ground clearance on the "Limber Weenie" in the snow.

post #18 of 643

Good point, but I think Jon Olsson likes his.

 

video_jon_olssons_lamborghini_lp6704_sv_in_action.jpg

 

Here is one with a box.

 

lamborghini_gallardo_angle_side_ski_box.jpg

 

as_cars_jonolsson_800.jpg

post #19 of 643

I don't think you'll find one car that meets all of those criteria.

 

MPG friendly - Ford Escape Hybrid (also ok in the snow, but generally handles like shit)

Safety - Volvo, Subie

AWD - Volvo, Audi, VW, Saab and 2 GM models all use the same AWD system

Comfort - Volvo, Nissan, Audi

Turbo - Volvo, Audi, VW

Reliable - Honda, Toyota, Mazda

 

I test drove the CX5 last year.  Fun car, low clearance in the back, I thought the CX7 was overall more useful for my needs.  Volvo XC has no issues driving through 1+ foot snow for extended period of time.  Heated windshield washer fluid nozzles are amazing while driving through a snow storm.  You use a ton of fluid, but it beats banging the ice off your wiper blades.  Highly recommended.

 

post #20 of 643

Wow Jon Olssen has a Limber Weenie!. To bad he wasted so much money on a poorly built and engineered car. He should have spent the money on a doctor for his real problem. How sad for him.

post #21 of 643

This:

 

2005-Volvo-XC70-AT-Concept-SA-1280x960.jpg

post #22 of 643

I just bought a Honda Pilot specifically for ski trips.  Only thing that sucks is the gas mileage, although highway it's not too bad considering how big it is (around 20 mpg).  Otherwise I love it so far and it can hold 185cm skis with plenty of room to spare.

post #23 of 643

Late model Ford Explorer with RSC handling package.  My 2006 won't even let me do donuts in the icy parking lot; it's that good.  And the driver's seat is so uncomfortable, you'll never fall asleep at the wheel.

post #24 of 643

Hopefully a Volvo XC60 is up to the task, as mine should be delivered in 2 weeks time biggrin.gif

 

Important factors in choosing the car:

 

- AWD (pluss studded tires on 17" winter rims - hehe cool.gif)

- decent clearance

- no less baggage space than our Avensis wagon (most of the small SUVs have less - RAV4, Kuga, Tiguan etc.)

- great family car when not on ski duty

- looks kickass - R-Design in Passion Red with silver roof rails for maximum bling

 

Ticks all the boxes for modern bells, whistles and safety equipment. R-Design has stiffer suspension, but 18" rims keep it real.

 

Couldn't care less about MPG, as long as its not horrible. Chose the D3 (2.4l/163hp/420Nm) engine with a manual box.

 

 


Edited by Squawker - 9/8/11 at 12:47am
post #25 of 643

Probably going to be the black dog in this convorsation but the right model diesel truck makes a great ski car.

Plenty of room for all your gear

Good mileage (27+possible)

Lots of options for comfortable models with good interiors

4wd

Turbo

 

Not the best option but a good one if you need a vehicle for boat pulling or work.

May be hard to start at -20, have to carry an extra fuel filter all the time, keep diesel treat in the tanks, keep plugged in at night

Cornering definantly isnt nice and flat but you can get some on the straights.

No stability control, youve gotta know how to drive and take it easy on the right foot when its slick, they will send you 7 ways of sideways in a hurry

 

Ive been using my gasser sierra as a ski car for a while, handles great in the snow but is lacking a little in the power dept at high altitude, other than that 17hwy 12 city, which sucks when its just you in the car but its great when you have a boatload of passengers who are willing to pay for gas

post #26 of 643
Quote:
Originally Posted by Squawker View Post

Hopefully a Volvo XC60 is up to the task, as mine should be delivered in 2 weeks time biggrin.gif

 

Important factors in choosing the car:

 

- AWD (pluss studded tires on 17" winter rims - hehe cool.gif)

- decent clearance

- no less baggage space than our Avensis wagon (most of the small SUVs have less - RAV4, Kuga, Tiguan etc.)

- great family car when not on ski duty

- looks kickass - R-Design in Passion Red with silver roof rails for maximum bling

 

Ticks all the boxes for modern bells, whistles and safety equipment. R-Design has stiffer suspension, but 18" rims keep it real.

 

Couldn't care less about MPG, as long as its not horrible. Chose the D3 (2.4l/163hp/420Nm) engine with a manual box.

 

 

I have over 30K miles on my XC60 T6 now.  It still takes off like it did on day 1.  Solid ski car, really does a superb job driving in the snow.

 


 

 

post #27 of 643

I liked my Cherokee so I picked up a used Grand Cherokee.  I'm very pleased with it.

 

 

post #28 of 643
Quote:
Originally Posted by RootDKJ View Post

I don't think you'll find one car that meets all of those criteria.

 

MPG friendly - Ford Escape Hybrid (also ok in the snow, but generally handles like shit)

Safety - Volvo, Subie

AWD - Volvo, Audi, VW, Saab and 2 GM models all use the same AWD system

Comfort - Volvo, Nissan, Audi

Turbo - Volvo, Audi, VW

Reliable - Honda, Toyota, Mazda

 

I test drove the CX5 last year.  Fun car, low clearance in the back, I thought the CX7 was overall more useful for my needs.  Volvo XC has no issues driving through 1+ foot snow for extended period of time.  Heated windshield washer fluid nozzles are amazing while driving through a snow storm.  You use a ton of fluid, but it beats banging the ice off your wiper blades.  Highly recommended.

 

 

RE: AWD, Audi uses the inferior Swedish Haldex system in its A3 an TT but not the other Quattro models.  Haldex is more reactive than preventive.

 

Safety & Comfort: I would add Land Rover, Mercedes and BMW, Subaru cars are not heavy enough to win the safety battle.

 

 

post #29 of 643
Quote:
Originally Posted by Squawker View Post

Hopefully a Volvo XC60 is up to the task, as mine should be delivered in 2 weeks time biggrin.gif

 

Important factors in choosing the car:

 

- AWD (pluss studded tires on 17" winter rims - hehe cool.gif)

- decent clearance

- no less baggage space than our Avensis wagon (most of the small SUVs have less - RAV4, Kuga, Tiguan etc.)

- great family car when not on ski duty

- looks kickass - R-Design in Passion Red with silver roof rails for maximum bling

 

Ticks all the boxes for modern bells, whistles and safety equipment. R-Design has stiffer suspension, but 18" rims keep it real.

 

Couldn't care less about MPG, as long as its not horrible. Chose the D3 (2.4l/163hp/420Nm) engine with a manual box.

 

 


163hp at sea level and a 4300lb car isn't sufficient power at elevation.  That little 2.4L will be gasping trying to pull you up the hill.  Don't plan on any passing.

 

post #30 of 643
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lemming View Post

This:

 

2005-Volvo-XC70-AT-Concept-SA-1280x960.jpg



Oh sweet jello jesus what IS that amazing piece of machinery?!???  DO WANT!

 

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