If you want to hit the slopes when they’re covered with tons of fresh powder, an SUV (along with a set of winter tires and some careful driving), is the best way to improve the odds that you’ll make it safely. To help you decide which one is the best for your needs, we have created a list of the 10 Best SUVs for Skiing. Including a wide array of vehicles at various price points, from compact crossover SUVs to large truck-based vehicles, there should be something on our list to satisfy everyone.
10 Best SUVs for Skiing
Photo Credit: Toyota
2018 Toyota Land Cruiser
While the eight-passenger 2018 Toyota Land Cruiser is probably most often associated with hot desert situations, it’s equally adept at driving through deep snow in the bitter cold. The full-size SUV comes standard with a full-time four-wheel drive system with a Torsen limited-slip center differential that can be locked to provide a 50/50 power distribution. There's also a Multi-terrain Select system (though with no dedicated snow mode) to maximize traction and skid plates to protect crucial areas such as the front suspension, radiator, fuel tank and transfer case. Four-zone automatic climate control, a heated steering wheel, heated and ventilated front seats and heated second-row seats are all standard.
Photo Credit: Mazda USA
2017 Mazda CX-5
The 2017 Mazda CX-5 is a compact five-passenger SUV that, like most of the brand’s models, is remarkably fun to drive. It also inspires confidence when the weather turns sour, thanks to the available Predictive i-ACTIV all-wheel-drive system that monitors everything from the outside temperature to throttle and braking patterns to optimize torque distribution. Radar Cruise Control and Lane-Keep Assist are available, as is the Active Driving Display HUD that projects vital information onto the windshield in your line of sight. Heated front seats are an option, and even the rear of the CX-5 can be loaded with features: available heated rear seats that recline, rear air conditioning vents and USB ports in the rear center armrest.
Photo Credit: BMW
2018 BMW X5
The mid-size 2018 BMW X5 is available with seating for up to seven passengers in both sDrive rear-wheel drive and xDrive all-wheel-drive configurations (we’d choose the latter for it’s increased traction on those steep mountain roads). Engine choices range from mild, to up to 567 horsepower in the X5 M, and a plug-in hybrid with a total of 308 horsepower available. Options we’d recommend for cold-weather enthusiasts include the four-zone automatic climate control system, a heated steering wheel, and heated rear seats. Also available is the Lighting Package which adds LED headlights that turn to follow the curves in the road as well as automatic high beams, both of which are welcome when driving during long, dark and stormy winter nights.
Photo Credit: Honda
2018 Honda CR-V
The compact five-passenger 2018 Honda CR-V is perfectly suited for the snow-covered roads that you’ll encounter on the way to the mountains when equipped with the available Real Time all-wheel drive with Intelligent Control System. It’s also available with everything you need to carry your gear, like roof rails and crossbars with a lockable ski attachment that can carry up to four sets of skis or two snowboards. Options that would be nice to have after a day on the slopes include heated front seats, a heated steering wheel, rear seat covers (to help protect the rear seats from wear and tear,) and a first-aid kit to take care of any of the possible wipeouts while skiing.
Photo Credit: Volvo
2018 Volvo XC90
The 2018 Volvo XC90 is a mid-size SUV with seating for seven that is available in both front-wheel and all-wheel-drive models. Obviously, all-wheel-drive is the way to go in most wintery situations, where the XC90 is quite capable thanks to lots of ground clearance and an off-road mode that helps facilitate driving in poor conditions. Available options that would be nice to have on a mountainous road include Headlight High-Pressure Cleaning that uses high-pressure jets to clean the headlights, heated windshield washer nozzles that let you wash the windshield in even the worst conditions, heated front seats and a heated steering wheel. The Pilot Assist Semi-Autonomous Drive System with Adaptive Cruise Control is standard and can take over most driving duties.
Photo Credit: Subaru
2018 Subaru Outback
While the mid-size five-passenger 2018 Subaru Outback might initially seem out of place on our list of the 10 Best SUVs for Skiing, it has 8.7-inches of ground clearance (which is more than some truck-based SUVs) and comes standard with a sophisticated Symmetrical All-Wheel-Drive system that has an X-MODE for maximum traction on slippery surfaces. Available features that we’d choose if we spent lots of time on the mountain (or on the way to it at least,) include remote engine start, dual-zone climate control, heated front and rear seats, a heated steering wheel, and a Thule ski and snowboard carrier. It’s also available with just about every safety system, including Adaptive Cruise Control and Lane Keep Assist.
Photo Credit: FCA Media
2018 Jeep Grand Cherokee
The five-passenger 2018 Jeep Grand Cherokee does a great job of blending the extreme off-road capability found in the traditional open-top jeeps with the comforts expected in a modern mid-size upscale SUV. Jeep offers a wide range of engine options, from an economical diesel up to an incredible 707 horsepower in the Trackhawk, and various drivetrains, including rear-wheel drive and various four-wheel drive variations. The most capable model in the rough stuff is the Trailhawk, featuring the Quadra-Drive II system that’s always engaged and can transfer 100% of engine torque to a single wheel, a Quadra-Lift Air Suspension and a Selec-Terrain Traction Management System with a snow mode that all but guarantees that you’ll make it to the slopes.
Photo Credit: Mercedes-Benz
2018 Mercedes-Benz GLS-Class
If your focus is on luxury, then the full-size seven-passenger 2018 Mercedes-Benz GLS-Class is the SUV to choose for your trips to the slopes. Just about every feature you could want is standard, though available options include a rear-seat entertainment system with two screens, a heated steering wheel, heated second-row seats, and heated and cooled front cupholders. With up to 577 horsepower available on tap, the GLS is a straight-line monster, and the 4MATIC all-wheel-drive system can send power to the wheel with the most traction. The available Off-Road Package dramatically increases the GLS’ off-road capability with a two-speed transfer case, a front skid plate and off-road programs that also automatically increase the ride height of the AIRMATIC suspension.
Photo Credit: Porsche
2018 Porsche Cayenne
The chances are that the majority of the roads to the ski mountains will be bare, or at least well plowed, most of the time. In those types of conditions, the mid-size five-seat 2018 Porsche Cayenne shines, with some of the best handling this side of a sports car, and up to 550 horsepower on tap (a plug-in hybrid with 416 horsepower is also available.) The Cayenne can also handle itself when the going gets rough thanks to all-wheel drive, an available air suspension with Porsche Active Suspension Management that allows ground clearance to be adjusted using a rocker switch in the center console, and Porsche Torque Vectoring Plus that allows you to fully lock the rear differential for extra traction.
Photo Credit: Land Rover
2018 Land Rover Range Rover
If you care most about off-road prowess, and your trek to the ski hill regularly takes you through deep snow, then it would be hard to go wrong with the full-size 2018 Land Rover Range Rover. Its all-wheel-drive system features a twin-speed transfer box, the Terrain Response system with a Grass/Gravel/Snow mode, and Low Traction Launch that helps you get moving on slippery surfaces. Up to 557 horsepower is available, or if you can wait until next ski season, the 2019 model will bring a plug-in hybrid model with 398 horsepower. The top-of-the-line Range Rover Autobiography version is loaded with every luxury feature you can imagine.