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.
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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.

Grand and gracious full-size sedans come to mind for a night on the town, not a ski trip up to the slopes. But vehicular times they are a-changin’. Some of America’s most beloved four-door family brands now boast models with the winter-beating traction and agility of all-wheel drive, handling all but the deepest of blizzard-buried roads. And even the Koreans are getting into the game.

The Chrysler 300—often called “the baby Bentley”—manages to take its imposing street cred into winter’s worst when it’s equipped with the optional all-wheel-drive package. The result is reliable all-season mobility coupled with fuel savings (up to 27 mpg) in the non-winter months, when the 300 defers to two-wheel-drive mode. Chrysler does a great job of offering AWD 300s in every flavor. A 370-horsepower Hemi engine? Can do. (There’s probably an Eminem-approved ski rack on a designer’s computer screen.)

Ford’s versatile new Fusion can also be ordered up with intelligent AWD, paired to the 2.0-liter four-cylinder EcoBoost turbo engine, turning it into a 240-horsepower all-season pleasure craft that’s still rated for 31 mpg highway.

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Fusion’s Aston Martin–inspired nose, stylish lines, roomy interior, and innovative inflatable rear seat belts, which combine the attributes of belt restraints with airbags, make it a cushy choice for cruising safely through icy crud. Not spiffy enough for you? Check out the AWD version of the Lincoln MKZ, Fusion’s upscale sibling, which has a sumptuous leathery interior and the option of a 300-horsepower 3.7-liter V-6. The 19-inch wheels and the adjustable suspension and damping make it a fearsome four-season handler.

The second-generation 2015 Hyundai Genesis seems to blend the 300’s and Fusion’s aggressive looks and amp them up a tad to make the most boisterous Korean import we’ve seen yet. Genesis manages to capture Mercedes-styled sensibility and Lexus levels of luxury but is still available in snow-smashing guise for just over $40,000.

Its optional HTRAC AWD system electronically splits the torque from the 311-horsepower 3.8-liter V-6 to get you maximum grip in icy conditions and a more enthusiastic stance in the summer. Clean lines and a capacious interior are polished with high-tech flourishes such as automatic braking in emergencies, a hands-free trunk opener (the trunk senses your key fob), and even an in-cabin CO2 sensor, an industry first.

Ford Fusion AWD

Base price » $32,600

Highway mpg » 31

Ski-trip nicety » Heated steering wheel

Chrysler 300 AWD

Base price » $35,995

Highway mpg » 27

Ski-trip nicety » Virtually effortless navigation

Hyundai Genesis

Base price » $40,500

Highway mpg » 25

Ski-trip nicety » Rain- and snow-sensing wipers



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