Think back to holiday road trips of yore: They probably included crying babies, antsy children, hungover adults and frequent bathrooms stops all around. Now, we're all at different life stages here at Autoblog, and the perfect car for one staffer might be as useful as a team of Budweiser Clydesdales to another. Some of us bounce from family event to family event with children and a labrador in tow, while others prefer a quieter, simpler holiday. But whatever the endeavor, we all need wheels. With that in mind, here is the unofficial Autoblog list of the ultimate cars in which to tackle the holiday season.
2015 Ferrari FF
To borrow a chestnut from Top Gear presenter James May, "As you'd expect, I've done this properly." That oddly voluptuous ruby bolide in the photo above? It's a 2015 Ferrari FF – all 652 all-wheel-driven horsepower of it.
What makes a Ferrari the ideal for holiday time in PaukertLand? My Midwestern winter breaks are wonderful, but they're typically frenetic and slushy, involving a lot of schlepping from house to house and even city to city, not to mention inevitable last-minute runs for forgotten presents and dinner ingredients. Needless to say, a powerful V12 is a welcome ally for such duties.
And this one isn't just a friend when the road is clear. The FF has been gifted Ferrari's novel 4RM AWD system, and despite sitting lower to the ground than, say, an SUV, it's a pretty effective tool for real winter driving, especially when outfitted with a set of snow tires.
Unlike other Ferraris, it's also a rather practical thing, with legitimate seating for four adults and 15.9 cubic feet of cargo space – that's precisely as much room as a Mercedes E-Class – and you can fold the rear chairs and cram 28.2 cubes-worth of holiday cheer in the back.
Okay, so it's far from cheap and fuel economy isn't that great, but who cares? Just drop a paddle-shifted gear or two, bury the throttle and Repeat The Sounding Joy.
Ain't the holidays grand?
2015 Chevrolet Tahoe
My Mom gives out more presents than any other human being I've ever encountered. If you're her coworker, her mailman, her college friend that still happens to live in the area or even just someone that happens to stop over to the house around Christmastime – you're going to get some kind of a gift.
Mom's proclivity for gifting taken as read then, one of my prerequisites for a perfect seasonal sled is having way more room than you'd think I'd need for stuff in the back.
I drove a Tahoe this past summer and was immediately struck with its gargantuan cargo hold, inside of that very accommodating square back. The Chevrolet SUV is also a really comfortable highway cruiser, meaning putting the cross-Michigan miles on it will be easy doings. Throw all that together with good tires and four-wheel-drive (Lake Effect snow was basically invented in western Michigan), and I'm set for a happy Yuletide.
2015 Audi RS7
I've always been thankful that my family doesn't do any crazy, Griswoldian, over-the-top stuff for the holidays. Christmas with the Ewings means a few of us getting together for dinner, maybe exchanging some gifts, laughing about funny moments from the past, and then all saying goodbye and heading to our respective homes when the evening has concluded. Don't get me wrong, we all like each other a whole lot. But when dinner's done and the coffee pot is empty, we'd all just rather get out of each other's hair.
As far as cars go, my family's ties to the auto industry run deep, so they're always super curious about what I'm driving. I vividly remember the year my mom went to serve dinner, and everyone was standing outside inspecting every last detail of the Mercedes-Benz G550 I had brought. Needless to say, like an Audi RS7 would easily impress the group – it's stunning to look at, makes a great noise and comes loaded with technology and gee-whiz features that never fail to make my relatives all googly eyed. Plus, for me, it means comfy accommodations, great road manners, all-wheel drive to trek through the snow and slop, room for people and things, and, well, something that turns heads on the road.
But my family time is maybe half of the story with my holiday plans. And if I'm choosing cars to drive over a winter break, I'm taking a sexy, loud, luxurious, super sweet Audi RS7. Merry Christmas to me.
2015 Ram 1500 EcoDiesel
My family doesn't really do anything for the holidays, which leaves my wife and I with a couple of options. We could barricade ourselves into our home, with the doors locked and the shades drawn, or we could get the heck out of Dodge. Well, maybe not Dodge (it'll always be a Dodge Ram in my head), perhaps we'll instead Ram our way out of the holiday season in a brand-new 1500 EcoDiesel 4x4.
Why an EcoDiesel Ram? Simple: Range. A full tank of diesel fuel in the 2015 Ram 1500 equals as much as 728 miles, and that's enough to get far, far away from home and into some seriously beautiful scenery. Plus, the pickup bed offers plenty of space for all the stuff we'd need for a week away, and the 4x4 drivetrain means we can get places other like-minded escapees can't.
Finally, I'll take my Ram EcoDiesel 4x4 in a hue that will allow it to blend into the scenery I'll be looking for. I'm thinking either Western Brown or Black Forest Green, perhaps with the lower bits in a two-tone White Gold for just a little bit of flair. Ah yes, campfires and star-filled Southwestern skies await, and we've even got room in the back seat for a pair of friends ... if they're smart enough to get the heck out of Dodge, too, come holiday time.
2015 Cadillac ATS Coupe
There's just something about Cadillacs that feels Christmasy to me. Sort of that old-fashioned, blinged-out way people used to get dressed up for the holiday parties of yore. Yore always sounded like a fun time to me. But the ATS Coupe is definitely not an old man's car or a relic of the past. In fact, it seems like the most youthful Cadillac out there. With edgy design punctuated by just enough chrome and shiny parts, the ATS makes a statement when you pull up, which my wife and I will be doing at no less than four different Christmas events in a 24-hour period.
I'd spec mine out in a bright shade called "Red Obsession" and go with a jet back interior. I'd also take the 2.0-liter turbo four-cylinder. Its 272-hp output would provide just enough pop to keep things interesting, but we wouldn't be wasting time at the gas station, either. Critically, you can get all-wheel-drive with this car, which would be fun, sporty, and capable if the snow flies. There's trunk space and room in the back seat for presents, and naturally, I'd want all of the heating and infotainment options to make our sleigh ride comfortable and engaging. A modern Cadillac coupe wrapped in red for an old-fashioned Christmas – that's what I'd want under my tree.
2015 Audi A8 4.2 TDI
The first car I can remember my dad driving was an Audi. And childhood memories can be a powerful thing, especially around the holidays. But that's not the reason I've picked the Audi A8 4.2 TDI as my fantasy ride of choice for the holiday season.
As you might have gleaned from my rather biblical name, come this time of year, I celebrate Chanukah. Regardless of which holiday you enjoy, you're probably aware that Chanukah celebrations revolve around an eight-armed, oil-burning candelabra. And the A8 is one of the only passenger cars still available with an eight-cylinder diesel. It's even got an eight-speed transmission. And though it may not be available in the US in this spec, well, I don't live in the States, so that's of little concern to Yours Truly.
Equipped with the 4.2-liter TDI, the diesel A8 may not be quite as quick as Audi's performance-oriented S8, but its 4.7-second 0-60 miles-per-hour time is pretty darn impressive, especially for a diesel. It is, after all, made by the same company that has dominated Le Mans under diesel power for eight out of the past nine years. And with Audi's trademark Quattro all-wheel drive for sure-footedness in all conditions, I'll be sure to get to the temple on time.
So I'd gladly drive from one latke or jelly donut to the next, burning oil in each of the big Audi's eight cylinders – just like a Menorah. The Maccabees and the Greeks can duke it out for their horse-drawn chariots as far as I'm concerned; I'll be riding in the height of luxury, with plenty of space for Mrs. Joseph, a couple of fortunate friends and a nice, big trunk for all the presents.
– Noah Joseph
2015 Audi Allroad
Not only is the Allroad a sweet wagon with the proper ground clearance and suspension for tackling terrible Michigan roads and weather, it comes with a quick 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine, making arrivals – and escapes – from relatives' homes fast operations.
The interior is roomy enough to house my three grown, carless siblings (the folly of my generation's rejection of the automobile means bumming rides is back in style) as well as any packages college-aged kids might get for Christmas, such as a dorm-worthy mini fridge.
The real icing on the Christmas cookie is that, as a foreign car, it will drive my Big Three-obsessed family members crazy. Should they make good on their threats of banishment, next Christmas will end up a much quieter holiday.
2015 Subaru Outback
My wife and I already own a 2012 Outback, and I have to pick the latest version as the ultimate vehicle for traveling during the holidays. They are fairly affordable, and ours is like an old pair of boots at this point – comfortable and ready to work.
Over the course of the holidays, we chart a course that mixes hours on the interstates and time on country back roads. Our Subaru handles it all with aplomb. All-wheel drive with a set of winter tires grants confidence if the snow starts falling, and the heated seats inside keep us toasty. I hook up the iPod, turn on a podcast and eat up the miles. Highway fuel economy in the low 30s is also plenty adequate for a vehicle that can swallow the leftovers from three diners – plus gifts and luggage – for the ride home.
The Outback certainly isn't the most luxurious or beautiful pick for this list, but the wagon just always seems eager to go wherever we need it to.
2015 Land Rover Range Rover Sport
Unlike many of my chums, I chose my ultimate Christmas vehicle based on actual experience. For the Christmas of 2013, I was fortunate enough to find myself behind the wheel of a Land Rover Range Rover Sport, which coincidentally, was finished in Santa's own shade of red. To say the experience was superlative is a monumental understatement.
With two families on opposite sides of metro Detroit to visit, presents to haul and Michigan's notorious winter weather to contend with, any Range Rover would be equal to the Christmas task. But with the 510-hp supercharged V8 of the Range Rover Sport, not only could we battle the elements and get about comfortably, but we could do so at what felt like the speed of sound.
Winter weather abilities and present-hauling aside, the bark of the Sport's V8 and the new model's handsome, refined looks also made quite an impression with both my family – which has become somewhat immune to my ever-changing schedule of press vehicles – and my girlfriend's family, which was still wrapping its head around the idea of reviewing cars for a living.
Simply put, there is no vehicle that offers the utility, capability, speed, luxury and character of the Range Rover Sport, and for those reasons, it's my ultimate Christmas vehicle.