Skiers and snowboarders are unique in that they love powder dumps from a winter storm.
Snow storm conditions may keep most people off the road but will draw advanced skiers to the mountains for first tracks sometimes requiring them to drive in less than optimal (actually terrible) conditions.
The vehicles designed for these winter conditions have four (all) wheel drive, aggressive tread patterns (off road or snow tires) and accessories to help in emergency conditions (eg. chains, shovel, ...) and often roof or hitch racks to supplement the vehicle's storage capacity.
The best ski vehicles are not necessarily the most pragmatic for daily commuting. A daily commuter typically takes a single driver and little else. A ski vehicle typically takes as many as will fit plus all of the gear.
The daily commuter vehicle for most is on the road only when driving conditions are safe and optimal or the trip is delayed till it is. The powder hound is not bound by the same logic or premise.
Here is a sampling of some ski vehicles:
This rig carries lots of people and gear.
A 1989 Chevy Suburban 4x4 with the following mountain features:
- Front: Detroit lockers, Warn axle hubs.
- Rear: Eaton positrack (traction aid)
- Lift: 2.5 inches (to go through deep snow)
- Wheels and Tires: 33"x12.5" BFG All Terrain tires on Alcoa forged aluminum rims. (improved grip on snow)
- Rhino axle trusses, Smittybuilt front and rear tubular bumpers.
- Engine: Chevy 350, Mallory ignition, Flowmaster exhaust.
This is why tubular steel bumpers are superior to the stock stamped bumper.
[photo of non-approved use]
Ford 4x4 conversion van (conversion to add 4x4 capability to a van). Lots of space for people and gear.
Chevy Tahoe 4x4 (you will see lots of these in the parking lot).
Ford Excursion 4x4. While not optimal for carrying a single commuter to work, it must be remembered that it was optimized for hauling lots of skiers, boarders and gear. The roof cargo carriers are great for boards and other gear.
Subaru "all wheel drive". More economical than its big brethren.