Snow Driver: Circling the Wagons - Ski Mag

Snow Driver: Circling the Wagons

Today’s full-size crossovers look to fill the traditional role of the family station wagon and can haul seven in total comfort. So much for the good ol’ days.
Ford Flex: Snow Driver 2014 tout

The ’70S-era Brady Bunch station wagon might be all but extinct, but families aren’t. And neither is the need to haul kids and gear. If you’re not interested in making the jump to an SUV, consider a variety of stylish crossovers—vehicles built on car rather than truck frames—that mix capacity with a smaller size.

With a slight nod to those old wagons, the Ford Flex has room for seven in a long and lean cabin, and the Flex’s more recent stylistic updates have put a tough-looking spin on the AWD version of the people hauler. And haul it does, with up to 365 horsepower of turbocharged oomph, though you’ll still get a passable 23 mpg in the process. Power folding seats, an optional second-row refrigerator, and the ever-improving MyFord Touch digital system round out the goods.

Not to be outdone, Dodge’s reinvented Durango has morphed into a sleek and sophisticated seven-passenger machine with some of the aggressive styling of its muscle-car cousins, the Challenger and Charger. But more than just tail-wide LED lamps and an optional slick paint job, the 2014 Durango also gets an eight-speed transmission that aids fuel economy. The Durango comes alive with an optional 5.7-liter Hemi V-8, which provides a 7,400-pound towing capacity but saves gas through cylinder deactivation. Optional second-row captain’s chairs and new behind-the-headrest DVD screens add extra comfort for your crew.

And while we mostly associate Mazda with smaller sports cars, the company has a successful track record of producing one of the sportiest full-size crossovers, the seven-passenger CX-9. Recently updated, this long-running import favorite features third-row seats that are surprisingly comfortable for full-size adults, and its array of elite finishes makes it the flagship of the Mazda line. The new CX-9 rides on massive 20-inch wheels, and with its 273-horsepower 3.7-liter V-6, it may be outgunned a bit by its larger peers but offers what is probably the sportiest ride of the bunch. The CX-9’s distinctive inverted prow of a nose is part of a contemporary design package that’s evident inside with luxurious leather and a booming Bose stereo.

For other intriguing options in this category, consider the unusual Subaru Tribeca, the low and long Infiniti QX60, or the Toyota Highlander.

2014 Ford Flex

Base price » $29,015

Highway mpg » 23 (AWD)

Ski-car perks » Curve control and torque vectoring

2014 Dodge Durango

Base price » $29,995

Highway mpg » 24 (AWD, V-6)

Ski-car perks » Low-range AWD with Hemi engine

2014 Mazda CX-9

Base price » $29,985

Highway mpg » 22 (AWD)

Ski-car perks » Gigantic panoramic sunroof



Snow Driver: Comfort Kings

Want to haul a family without the fuel penalty of a traditional SUV? New full-size AWD sedans look to smooth the way to the mountains.

Luxe Trucks tout

Snow Driver: Luxe Trucks

A generation of ultra-leathery, winter-ready 4x4s has replaced the rough-and-ready pickup. And they’re not cheap.

Driver Jan. tout

Snow Driver: Euro Thrash

A new wave of scaled-down SUVs takes Continental inspiration and turns it on its head.

Sept Snow Driver | Thumbnail

Snow Driver: SUV Classics, Aging Gracefully

Only the names remain the same when it comes to the newest SUV models.

Crosstrek Tout

Snow Driver: Keeping It Weird

Subaru down-shifts back to its off-beat roots with the affordable mountain-ready Crosstrek

driver thumb

Snow Driver: Let's Get Small

The future of ski cars might be the new range of tiny, hyper-stylish luxury crossovers.

Masters of the Curve, Volvo S60 tout

Masters of the Curve

Inspired by rally cars, some small and sporty rides turn the heat up on winter driving.

Snow Driver: Luxury SUVs Without Sticker Shock tout

Luxury SUVs Without the Sticker Shock

Family-friendly, all-season style doesn’t have to cost as much as a condo. Here’s a trio
of affordably stylish and thoroughly rugged alternatives.