Whether you call him Saint Nicholas, Father Christmas, or a breaking-and-entering philanthropist, Santa Claus is scheduled to visit millions of children and adults on December 25. While popular accounts hold that Mr. Claus uses a wooden sleigh and nine reindeer to criss-cross the world with gifts in tow, we bet Saint Nick would prefer the heated cabin of a car to his open-air ride. If he were to choose a vehicle for his annual trek, Santa would need a car that was powerful enough to travel around the world in a single night, capable of driving in snow, able to haul or tow plenty of toys, and efficient enough to make long jaunts without stopping to refuel. Here are the top ten vehicles we'd recommend, listed in alphabetical order.
2014 Audi A7 TDI, $67,795 (including destination)
Our 2012 Automobile of the Year
is now available with a fuel-sipping 3.0-liter V-6 turbodiesel engine that hits 38 mpg highway
, which will potentially allow Santa to travel 722 miles before refilling the 19.0-gallon tank. While it's not quite as capacious as the Audi Q7 TDI, this diesel-fueled Audi is a hatchback and can still tote a commendable 24.5 cubic feet of cargo beneath its glass rear hatch -- plus, the A7 is both quicker and more stylish than the Q7 TDI. For snowy climes, Santa will enjoy the A7's standard all-wheel drive. To deliver gifts as rapidly as possible, he'll be grateful for the car's claimed 5.5-second 0-to-60-mph time.
2015 Chevrolet Suburban / 2015 GMC Yukon XL / 2015 Cadillac Escalade ESV, $TBA
General Motors' trio of full-size SUVs
is certainly a wise choice for Santa. First, he'll impress his elves and reindeer with the modern sheetmetal gracing the Suburban, Yukon XL, and Escalade ESV
. Second, Santa will be able to drive to children in snowy regions thanks to available four-wheel drive. And above all, Santa will be able to haul more than enough gifts for all the nice children, thanks the 121.1 cubic feet of cargo room available with the second and third rows of seats lowered. (The Escalade only offers 120.5 cubic feet.) On top of that, the four-wheel-drive Suburban and Yukon XL can tow trailers weighed down with 8000 pounds of presents, while the Escalade ESV can tow 7700 pounds with four-wheel drive. For their combination of style, size, and ability, the Suburban, Yukon XL, and Escalade ESV easily earn themselves a place in the Claus garage.
2014 Ford Flex Limited EcoBoost, $45,495
The Ford Flex has 83.2 cubic feet of cargo space with the second and third row of seats lowered, and it can tow 4500 pounds of gifts (or coal). All-wheel drive is standard with the EcoBoost engine, which is good for snow. But the main appeal of this ride is that it packs Ford's 3.5-liter twin-turbo EcoBoost V-6, giving Santa a 365-hp punch that will accelerate his sled like no number of reindeer can. Santa will also be able to check out the Northern Lights through the Ford Flex's optional panoramic sunroof, and if he springs for the second-row refrigerator, he'll even be able to chill any glasses of milk left out by children. But above all, the Flex's EcoBoost engine means Santa will be able to hustle from one Christmas tree to the next as quickly as possible.
2015 Ford Transit, $TBA
When it comes to hauling as much stuff as possible, a cargo van just makes sense. If they buy the long-wheelbase, high-roof edition, Santa's elves will be able to stuff 487.0 cubic feet of goodies into the 2015 Ford Transit
, allowing Mr. Claus to visit scores of children before reloading his van. Although the 2015 Ford Transit is not yet on sale, it will be offered with three different engines, comprising a 3.7-liter V-6, a 3.5-liter EcoBoost twin-turbo V-6, and a 3.2-liter turbodiesel inline-five. It certainly isn't flashy, but for transporting large items (or lots of smaller items), it's tough to be a full-size cargo van like the Transit.
2014 Honda Accord Hybrid, $29,945
The Accord Hybrid
looks like an odd choice for Santa. It has front-wheel drive, so it won't necessarily excel in snow without a proper set of snow tires, and its trunk holds just 12.7 cubic feet of gifts. But what the 2014 Honda Accord Hybrid lacks in those areas, it makes up for with a stellar driving range, lofty fuel-economy ratings, and a reasonable price. For a hair under the $30,000 mark, buyers get a car that is rated for 50 mpg in the city and 45 mpg highway. With its 15.8-gallon fuel tank full, Santa could potentially drive this Accord Hybrid for 711 miles before refueling, allowing him to focus on gift delivery and cut down on side trips to the gas station. Even with that level of efficiency, the Hybrid is the most affordable car on this list. The $40,570 2014 Honda Accord plug-in hybrid might be less useful for Santa, as recharging its 6.7-kWh lithium-ion battery pack means waiting at a charging station for at least an hour.
2014 Land Rover Range Rover, $84,195
The elves at the North Pole have their work cut out for them picking which version of the new Range Rover
is perfect for Santa. They can choose from a 3.0-liter supercharged V-6 engine with 340 hp and a 5.0-liter supercharged V-8 with 510 hp, and from the new Autobiography and long-wheelbase versions
of the Range Rover. Regardless of which model is chosen, Santa Claus will be able to enjoy four-wheel drive, air suspension, and Land Rover's renowned Terrain Response electronics to deliver gifts to kids and adults in any locale -- whether he has to ford a stream, scale a hill, or plow through mud to get there. It helps, too, that the luxurious Range Rover will keep Saint Nick comfortable with heated leather seats, a surround-sound audio system, and more high-end options. As for actually transporting presents, the Range Rover boasts 71.7 cubic feet of cargo room with the seats folded and the ability to tow up to 7716 pounds.
Mercedes-Benz G63 AMG 6x6, $511,000 (approx.)
In many parts of the world, Santa can deliver gifts by freshly paved roads and highways. In others, he'll need the extreme ground clearance and grip offered by the Mercedes-Benz G63 AMG 6x6
. The wild, limited-edition vehicle is essentially an elongated version of the standard G63 AMG SUV, but with 50 percent more wheels and three times the price tag. Power comes from a twin-turbo 5.5-liter V-8 rated for 550 hp, and though there's no word yet on fuel economy, we suspect Santa will need to bring along a sled full of high-octane just to complete his round-the-world journey. At least he'll be able to traverse any sort of terrain during said journey. Reports suggest only about 30 examples of the G63 AMG 6x6 will be built, and with that six-digit price tag
, it's possible Santa will have to scrimp on how many gifts he buys for others so he can procure this ride for himself.
2014 Porsche Cayenne Turbo S, $146,995
When you're spending 24 hours traveling all over the world, luxury and comfort is high on your list of vehicular preferences. And to hit all of the world's nations in such a short amount of time, clearly Santa would want a fast, powerful, capable vehicle. Enter the Porsche Cayenne Turbo S, the beefiest version yet of the company's SUV. With a 4.8-liter twin-turbo V-8 pumping 550 hp to all four wheels, Porsche says the Cayenne Turbo S will hit 60 mph in just 4.3 seconds. Better still, the Porsche can hold up to 60.2 cubic feet of cargo, or tow up to 7716 pounds of sled behind it. It's perfect for delivering gifts anywhere at up to the Cayenne Turbo S's 175-mph top speed.
2014 Ram 3500 ST/Tradesman, $31,735
If Santa picks a Ram 3500, he'll be able to tow 30,000 pounds
behind him -- and that's quite a lot of new iPhones or laptops for lucky kids and adults worldwide. That feat is possible only with the 2014 Ram 3500 ST/Tradesman 4x2 when equipped with dual rear wheels and a 6.7-liter turbodiesel engine. Even if Santa decides not to buy a heavy-duty pickup truck, the Ram 1500 can tow as much as 10,450 pounds in certain configurations. Regardless of which exact model he picks, Santa will have a pickup truck that's able to tow a huge number of toys -- providing he has a large enough trailer and the appropriate licensing.
2015 Volvo V60, $TBA
It may not be as fast or as glamorous as some of the entries on this list, but the 2015 Volvo V60
station wagon will serve Mr. Claus well with its spacious cargo area. Fold down the seats, and Santa's elves will be able to fit lengthy gifts inside the V60, which is new to the U.S. market for the 2015 model year. While the base 240-hp, 2.0-liter turbo-four V60 will have front-wheel drive, the 250- and 325-hp variants come with standard all-wheel drive that will help this winter sled escape the icy North Pole.