Santa’s trip from the North Pole this week has me thinking. If Santa’s aging sleigh were to break down, what would he replace it with?
It would have to be transportation that is winter capable, comfortably fit both Santa and Mrs. Claus and large enough to carry loads of cargo and elves.
Considering Santa’s transport and hauling needs, my recommendation is a crossover utility vehicle.
Virtually all major automotive manufacturers have a crossover vehicle in their product line. Some start in the low $20,000 price bracket.
At year’s end, more than 3 million crossover units have been built, offered with all-wheel drive capability for adverse weather conditions, an abundance of rear cargo capacity and with such interior comforts as heated seats and a heated steering wheel.
Some models are available with three rows of seats to carry seven passengers.
Engine choices range from turbo-powered four cylinders to supercharged V6s teamed with front- or all-wheel drive.
Recently, I tested three 2014 crossover models.
The 2014 Nissan Rogue offers sleek exterior styling with signature LED daytime running lamp and tail light treatments.
Rogue’s cabin design provides spacious comfort with premium materials and "Zero-Gravity" heated seats.
Offered in three-row seven-passenger seating configuration, the rear cargo area provides 18 cargo storage setups for a variety of hauling needs.
Nissan Rogue’s powertrain combines a 2.5 liter in-line four cylinder motor rated at 170 horsepower with front-wheel drive and Continuously Variable Timing Control system for fuel economy of 26 miles per gallon/city and 33 mpg/highway priced at $22,490.
The 2014 Nissan Rogue with all-wheel drive model achieves 25/28 mpg respectively and starts at $23,840.
Hyundai’s Santa Fe crossover offers seven passenger seating with sliding second row captain chairs that eases access to the third row.
Santa Fe is powered by a 290 hp. 3.3L V6 motor coupled with a 6-speed automatic transmission for fuel economy rated at 18 mpg/city and 25 mpg/highway.
The 2014 Hyundai Santa Fe with front-wheel drive and seven passenger seating carries a base price of $29,800. All-wheel drive raises the cost to $31,550.
I tested the five passenger 2014 Honda CR-V 5-door EX-L equipped with all-wheel drive and navigation system across wintry road conditions through the Blue Ridge Mountains in North Carolina.
The all-wheel drive system performed flawlessly in snow paired to a 2.4-liter 4-cylinder engine rated at 185 hp with the 5-speed automatic transmission.
Fuel economy of 23 miles per gallon/city and 30 mpg/highway is achievable under usual driving conditions.
Leather seats, moon roof and audio with connectivity technology are part of this 2014 Honda CR-V priced at $31,275 including destination.
Through November, the Honda CR-V was the top-selling Crossover Utility Vehicle in the U.S.