The Ute For You

May 2, 2004
Outside Magazine
Winter Travel Guide 1996

The Ute For You
By Lisa Twyman Bessone

Sure, that sea-level-loving sedan might get you to the slopes. But when you're heading for five-figure elevations full of ice or packed snow, you need a vehicle with postman-motto tenacity: Here are three four-wheel-drive sport utility vehicles (SUVs) that will get you there every time.

Chevrolet Suburban: The undisputed champion when it comes to wedding workhorse with luxury, the Suburban has become the darling of the well-heeled country-club set (the better to swallow the $27,000 price tag and the 18-miles-per-gallon gas consumption). But its 144.5 cubic feet of maximum cargo space and nine-passenger seating capacity mean you'll never have to leave anyone--or their gear--behind. Kiplinger's Personal Finance rated the Suburban first in utility-vehicle safety; the addition of daytime running lamps will only enhance its safety standing.

Suzuki Sidekick Sport: The good news for people who always wanted to drive an SUV but couldn't afford it is the activity in what's known as the compact SUV class. The Sidekick Sport starts at $17,699, gets up to 25 miles per gallon on the highway, and now has improved handling and responsiveness, along with a 25-percent-more-powerful engine. So while you won't get the bombproof feel of a three-quarter-ton vehicle, you won't have to sacrifice much in off-road performance and overall comfort.

Ford Expedition: The news flash in the SUV category is the brand-new Ford Expedition ($30,510), a pumped-up Explorer with all the same upscale accoutrements--and more. The short and long arm suspension, among the latest industry buzzwords, comes standard to make this vehicle ride more like a luxury car and less like a truck. But here's what we like best: With an overall length of 204.6 inches, the Expedition easily fits into standard-sized garages. Now there's something you don't always think about before buying a super-ute.

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