We've had ourselves a real New England winter, the type that provides driving conditions ranging from deep water to deep mud to deep snow to deep potholes and most everything in between, including long stretches of dry roads. Members of the New England Motor Press Association tested cars in all of those conditions, and once again they have cast their ballots for New England's official winter vehicle.
This year's winner is the Volvo XC70, a vehicle that continues Volvo's hallowed reputation for comfort and safety in taming all that a New England winter can throw its way. The XC70 is the all-wheel drive version of the V70 wagon, offering higher ground clearance and driving height. Voters called it "a silent slithering cruiser" with the space of an SUV and "an image anyone can love."
The auto press members also selected a variety of winners in other categories. Here are their selections, along with a sampling of comments from voters:
All-weather sedan (under $30,000):
All-weather sedan (over $30,000): Infiniti G35X. The "X" is the all-wheel drive version, and voters noted that it had separated itself from the pack as "a great car at its price point, swift, comfortable, and able to handle slippery roads."
All-weather wagon: Subaru Outback. The voters trotted out their traditional reasons for liking the Subaru: "It's a quintessential New England/Yankee wagon" and "A smart buyer's choice of versatility without excess."
All-weather sports car: Audi S4. The S4 provides performance on dry roads and safety on wet ones. "It makes for a quick trip to the mountains," wrote one voter; another said it had "a great interior, maybe the best there is." A third cited "elegant all-wheel drive with attitude."
All-weather pickup truck: Chevrolet Silverado. This is another example of General Motor's resurgence. "The Silverado is almost too comfortable to be a working truck, but it can work," one voter said. "This is one truck a valet would be happy to park," said another.
All-weather compact pickup truck:
All-weather SUV (under $25,000): Toyota RAV4. "Sets the standard for the small SUV," wrote one voter. "The clear leader in the segment, everything else is just second place," another said.
All-weather SUV ($25,000-$35,000): tie between the Buick Enclave and Hyundai Veracruz. Of the Buick, one voter noted its "awesome versatility." Another said of the Veracruz, "Hyundai keeps surprising with quality and good looks."
All-weather SUV (over $35,000): Cadillac SRX. "An SUV that thinks it's a CTS. Great handling and ride," a voter wrote.
Ultra luxury SUV: Range Rover Sport. "The Sport has no equal off the road. This is a fine-four-wheel drive vehicle," wrote one voter. Another liked its mix of luxury and leisure with what he called "lots of gizmos."
Extreme all-weather vehicle: Bentley Continental GTC. What goes here? A 12-cylinder turbocharged $193,000 winter vehicle? And a convertible to boot. Yup. It goes here, there and everywhere - with panache. "It will make a statement in any weather," wrote one voter.
Yankee Value award: Suzuki SX4. The lowest-priced all-wheel drive on the market was singled out for having "plenty of features at a great price" along with the warning that "Subaru needs to watch out."