Snow Driver: Luxe Trucks

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

If your mental image of a pickup is a rusted-out work truck with a faded Killington sticker on the rear window and a couple of dogs in the back, it’s time to bring you up to speed.

Manufacturers are in an arms race to see who can build the biggest and most audacious family-hauling, winter-hardy light-duty trucks with leathery, gentleman-rancher appeal.

Ford probably has the most experience in the deluxe truck category. You and your ski buddies will not be left wanting for much in the nearly $53,000 F-150 Limited, a massive 4x4 with Lincolnesque power running boards and buttery leather seats, plus the fuel-efficient 3.5-liter V-6 EcoBoost engine. The extended cab means a huge rear seat; the extendable bed, complete with easy-access ladder/step system, is also big enough for your Völkls.

The Ram 1500 Laramie Longhorn, acclaimed as the 2013 North American truck of the year, is like a Chrysler 300 with a lift kit. Behind its incredibly imposing nose growls a 5.7-liter, 395-horsepower Hemi V-8 (still good for 22 mpg with the optional eight-speed transmission). The interior features walnut trim and sumptuous leather seats. Air suspension smooths out your ride to the lifts considerably.

We weren’t sure if Americans would go for a full-size Japanese pickup truck, but the Texas-built Toyota Tundra has become such a hit that it too enjoys the over-the-top treatment in its 2014 makeover. The ridiculously macho-looking, chrome-laden 1794 model gets every option available, from 20-inch wheels to a special wood-and-leather interior, plus the full-size comfort of the CrewMax cab. In a publicity stunt, the Tundra’s 5.7-liter V-8 and optional 4x4 system helped tow the Space Shuttle in Los Angeles; chances are it will get you and your gang up the hill.

General Motors makes its debut in the luxe market with the 2014 Chevy Silverado High Country. In addition to new, cleaned-up lines and its own variation on the 20-inch wheels/pudding-colored leather seats/seven tons of chrome routine, the High Country can also be fitted with either a 5.3-liter V-8 or a very burly 6.2-liter V-8, both with cylinder deactivation.

» Ford F-150 Ltd 4x4 SuperCrew (shown)

Base price » $52,455

Highway mpg » 21

Ski-trip nicety » Super-easy shift-on-the-go 4x4

» Toyota Tundra CrewMax 1794 edition

Base price » $44,490

Highway mpg » 18

Ski-trip nicety » Clear your own way with an aftermarket plow

» Ram 1500 Laramie Longhorn 4x4 Crew Cab

Base price » $47,940

Highway mpg » 22

Ski-trip nicety » Available Ram Box in bed rails for storing gear

» Chevrolet Silverado High Country 4x4 Double Cab

Base price » TBA by GM

Highway mpg » 23

Ski-trip nicety » Toasty heated leather seats

Diesel Lives…and Beats the Hybrids

» While it’s great to get excited about hybrids, winter drivers should also give diesel a look. A new generation of ultra-low-emission diesel cars and trucks (plus newer, federally mandated low-sulfur fuel) have radically updated the old diesel engine into a much quieter, more efficient option with virtually no diesel smell. You’ll also enjoy hybridlike fuel economy (45 mpg and up) without any drafting or hypermiling. Diesel engines are nearly imperceptible—except with regard to fuel economy—in cars ranging from the Chevy Cruze and the all-wheel-drive BMW 328d to the 38-mpg Audi A6. Old standbys, including the American-assembled Volkswagen Passat, also provide outstandingly smooth diesel sailing. On the truck end, Ram’s new EcoDiesel 3.0-liter engine for light trucks will tow 8,200 pounds without the big-rig clatter and smokestack exhaust.


Driver Jan. tout

Snow Driver: Euro Thrash

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


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.

Sept Snow Driver | Thumbnail

Snow Driver: SUV Classics, Aging Gracefully

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

Ford Flex: Snow Driver 2014 tout

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.

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.


Crossover Is King

Downsized SUVs offer the capacity of their beefy predecessors, but with less truck-inspired rides and better mileage. And meet Jeep’s new Italian cousin while you’re at it.

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.