Cars of Winter: Top 10

Falling leaves will soon give way to falling snow, and whether you celebrate the season or loathe it, you need a reliable winter car.

To help you ponder the possibilities, we’ve put together a list of our Top 10 Winter Driving Vehicles. Although this purposefully diverse roster includes a full spectrum of highly capable alternatives, all share one common trait: Each boasts some type of user-friendly all-wheel drive system that can help keep you on the road – figuratively and literally – as you head off to your destination.

No. 10 – Subaru Outback
Classy, comfortable and capable, the 2012 Subaru Outback is a superb year-round travelmate that truly rises to the occasion whenever Mother Nature does go on a rampage. Even the base Outback 2.5i with its economical 2.5-liter flat-four engine packs an impressive feature set, highlighted by Subaru’s excellent Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive and a comprehensive Vehicle Dynamics Control system. The more potent 6-cylinder Outback 3.6R as well as the Premium and Limited variations available for each respective Outback model make it easy to find the best match to up the creature comforts ante even further.

No. 9 – Toyota Sienna AWD
If only a minivan can really meet your basic transportation needs, there’s just one choice to be made: the 2012 Toyota Sienna with optional On-demand All-wheel Drive System with Active Torque Control. Available on V6-powered Sienna LE, XLE and LTD models, this totally transparent upgrade adds a new level of sure-footed confidence to Toyota’s well-appointed space ship.

No. 8 – Acura MDX
Well-mannered, richly appointed and offering room for seven, the 2012 Acura MDX makes a strong case for its spot on our list by matching a refined 300-horsepower V6 engine with a smooth-shifting six-speed automatic transmission and Acura’s stellar Super Handling All-Wheel Drive system. Couple the MDX’s dynamic prowess with standards like power heated leather seats, a premium audio package, tri-zone climate control and a power rear liftgate, plus available Technology, Advance and Entertainment Package upgrades, and this well-rounded Acura takes on all the charm of a safe and secure mobile living room.

No. 7 – Ford F-150 4WD
Perennial best-seller in the full-size pickup segment, the 2012 Ford F-150 in 4WD configuration won our votes for its smart blend of style, comfort and, yes, even fuel economy, thanks to the available 365-horsepower EcoBoost V6 – which has become the most popular engine in the entire F-150 lineup. Like the base V6 and two optional V8s, the EcoBoost/4WD combo can be had in Regular, SuperCab and SuperCrew body styles and multiple trim levels.  All F-150 4WD models boast Hill Start Assist for 2012 and upline versions add a new 4×4 “auto mode” to the existing 4Hi/4Lo setup.

No. 6 – Honda CR-V AWD
A generational makeover brings a more contemporary appearance as well as many welcome new features to the 2012 Honda CR-V, not the least of which is the introduction of Honda’s Real Time AWD with Intelligent Control System. Optional on all models of the automaker’s compact, crossover-style SUV, this smaller, lighter and quicker-responding upgrade of the previous Real Time AWD setup helps the latest CR-V cope with challenging traction conditions even more effectively. The people side of the CR-V package benefits from a similarly well-measured upgrade regimen that includes a quieter, more stylish cabin, better ride comfort and a new rear-seat entertainment system option plus significantly improved fuel economy from its 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine and five-speed automatic transmission.

No. 5 – Audi A6 3.0T Quattro
Bigger, better and even more engaging than its highly-regarded predecessor, the all-new 2012 Audi A6 3.0T Quattro sedan brings its own special touch of Teutonic class to this contingent of AWD all-stars. A 310-horsepower supercharged V6 and legendary Quattro all-wheel drive system provide the grunt and the grip to keep to keep this luxury sedan pressing on regardless, with or without the benefit of the A6’s optional Cold Weather Package.

No. 4 – Chevrolet Traverse AWD
A popular choice anytime of the year for anyone needing a full-size crossover with style, space and a bounty of features, the 2012 Chevrolet Traverse with optional all-wheel drive really shines when the sun doesn’t. Fitted with a torquey 3.6-liter direct-injected V6 that makes 281-288 horsepower and a six-speed automatic transmission, the Traverse integrates its torque-managing intelligent AWD with the standard StabiliTrak dynamic control system and anti-lock brakes plus hill-start assist to help reduce driver stress under less-than-ideal road conditions.

No. 3 – Jeep Grand Cherokee
An iconic name in off-roading, the 2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee combines comfort and confidence in a handsomely styled, five-passenger luxury SUV that also excels in on-pavement maneuvers. Motivated by a standard 290-horsepower/3.6-liter Pentastar V6 and available with either a 360-horse/5.7-liter or 470-horse/6.4-liter Hemi V8, the Grand Cherokee offers three different four-wheel drive systems — two with high/low ranges — as well as its trick Selec-Terrain torque management system and Quadra-Lift Air suspension, all designed to keep it forging ahead under any conditions.

No. 2 – 2012 Subaru Impreza
All-new, the fourth-generation 2012 Subaru Impreza has grown in size and desirability. Available in sedan or five-door form and offering multiple trim levels, all versions share the same outstanding all-season core competence that’s become a Subaru hallmark as well as a new 2.0-liter/148-horsepower flat-four engine that can be backed by either a five-speed manual transmission or Lineartonic CVT automatic, each matched with a dedicated version of  Subaru’s Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive system.

No. 1 – Land Rover Range Rover Evoque
Smallest, lightest and most fuel-efficient model to ever grace the Land Rover lineup, the 2012 Range Rover Evoque also represents the most dramatic visual departure from its conventional kin. Based on the LRX concept vehicle, this super-styled 5-passenger SUV is available in 3- and 5-door body configurations plus three unique design-themed trims, all fitted with a 240-horsepower/2.4-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine and six-speed automatic transmission. To ensure it maintains Land Rover’s legendary all-access capability, the Evoque’s standard intelligent all-wheel drive system incorporates the marque’s signature Terrain Response feature as well a comprehensive suite of traction/stability assists and offers optional tri-mode Adaptive Dynamics suspension that uses MagneRide dampers to instantly optimize ride and handling characteristics under all driving situations.

We might have all of those models on hand, but we do offer a free, no obligation and confidential CarFinder tool. Allowing you to specify your desired car, truck or SUV and submit the vehicle configuration to us. Once we locate matching automobiles, you automatically receive details of those models, with photographs included. Let us handle the task of finding your next dream car!

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Midlife Crises, New Wheels

Don’t fret age spots and frown lines. Instead of going under the knife, take that money and buy a new car. It’s less invasive and loads more fun!

But honestly, as long as you’re going all out, why not buy a new car? Nothing can pump up your looks like a brand new shiny piece of metal or aluminum that fits the proportions of your personality.

VroomGirls.com picked six new luxury vehicles that run the gamut from sedan to SUV. Driving these head turners made us feel younger, happier, more energetic and beautiful. We realize that not everybody can spin for the latest model but a girl can dream, right?

2013 LX570 5 DR SUV

First of all, this SUV has room for seven. In other words, it will go to Costco, tow your speedboat and heft your brood of kids…in fine style. Step up to the illuminated running board that leads into a leather and wood trimmed cabin with that calm Lexus interior that speaks good taste. For the back seat there’s dual-screen rear seat entertainment. For the driver—expect plenty of oomph behind the hefty V8 engine with 383-hp. and 403 lb.-ft. of torque. We’re talking big, brawny and beautiful.

2013 VOLVO S60 T6 AWD

Think Scandinavian—feminine, feisty and well designed. Volvo’s new generation sedan has AWD so that it holds up in any weather. Plus, it kicks it up mountains with a turbocharged engine that sips 18 mpg in the city and 25 on the highway. Yes, you are a competent Mom and value the safety that Volvo stand for. However, even the guys at Motor Trend say that that the Volvo S60 “looks damn sexy.” Of course we care about that. To note, this Volvo looks good coming and going. The back end sprouts dual polished exhaust pipes.

2012 JAGUAR XJ SUPERSPORT

OMG, this sedan moves like silk and feels like money. A quiet cabin, lit with pools of phosphorescent blue light, has stitched leather seats, touches of carbon fiber and a vast glass roof. With the JaguarDriveSelector (a knob that rises up when you start the engine) one chooses the drive function by rotating the control with fingertips. (BTW, the inspiration for the rotating button was the grip on a Leica camera lens.) The 510 hp supercharged V8 kicks 0-60 in 4.7 seconds and tops out at 174 miles per hour. Our test model added in a luscious purple felt lined glove box and center console.

2013 INFINITI G37 CONVERTIBLE

What a surprise! This is the vehicle that racecar enthusiasts buy for the fun of it. Talk about turning heads! This convertible is all about slim lines—even the three-piece retractable hard top is seamless. A Bose adaptive audio system automatically adjusts when the top is down so you can sing along to your favorites. The cabin is embellished with silk aluminum or maple trim. We liked the Pacific Sky Light Blue with a wheat leather and maple interior. Anchored by a V6 325 horsepower engine, this convertible kept us way ahead of the pack.

2012 RANGE ROVER EVOQUE

BAM! This is the smallest, lightest, most fuel-efficient Range Rover ever produced and it comes in a coupe or five-door. All we can say is, whether you plan to ford wide streams or just tool around the city, the turbo-charged Evoque is adorable, quick on its feet and made us feel like a kid again. We loved the panoramic glass roof! The Evoque can be ordered up in standout colors including Colima Lime Metallic, Havana Metallic (brown) and Mauritius Metallic (Blue).

2013 CADILLAC XTS

This new sedan looks like it just came off the drawing board of the future. Cadillac’s newest incarnation breathes seduction with satin chrome exterior appointments, 20-inch aluminum wheels, illuminated door handles and sharp lines. The cabin has a choice of interior colors that range from caramel to light platinum with wood trim and leather seats. Sound comes from a 14-speaker Bose surround system and a heads-up display appears in color on the windshield. When you order an XTS, you get an iPad to learn about how to use CUE. That’s Cadillac’s touch-screen entertainment/navigation system that has all kinds of whizz technology.

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