What Would Santa Drive

Best New Sleighs for Santa
Hundreds of years after he started, old St. Nick still circles the globe in a reindeer-powered wooden sleigh. It's traditional, yes, but it's also a bit old-fashioned. We think he needs something a bit newer, a bit faster, a bit more exciting. If you had to carry gifts to all the world's children in one night, regardless of weather, what would you choose? Speed matters, but so do ground clearance, curb appeal and storage space. Here, we name the best vehicular alternatives for the man in red.

2011 Range Rover Sport Supercharged

There's a lot to be said for comfort, especially when it comes to high-speed transport, which is important to Santa's mission. The Range Rover Sport Supercharged specializes in just that — no one expects a wood-and-leather-lined truck to be this cosseting at speed. The Rover's supercharged V8 engine produces 510 horsepower, enough to haul a jolly old elf to 60 mph in 5.9 seconds. Not a bad ride on a cold winter's night.

2010 Aton Impulse Viking

The Aton Impulse Viking's spec sheet reads like a winterpocalypse shopping list: seven seats, a power take-off, locking differentials, amphibious capability, air suspension and a water-propulsion system. It was developed for government use and is road-legal in both Europe and the U.S. You could circle the globe in this, or you could use eight tiny and cantankerous reindeer, none of which has locking anything. Doesn't seem like much of a contest, does it?

2010 Local Motors Rally Fighter

This American-made Baja buggy was developed with the help of the Internet, which its creators used to canvass ordinary people for design input. It uses a BMW 335d diesel engine with 425 lb-ft of torque to achieve a claimed 35-plus mpg highway and 30 mpg on dirt. It's street-legal. It's highly customizable — big cargo needs, St. Nick? It sells for just under $60,000. And it will likely make the big man's belly shake like a bowlful of jelly while jumping late-night snowdrifts. That's reason enough.

2000 BMW X5 Le Mans

Ten years ago, BMW took a first-generation X5 and installed a 6.0-liter 700-horsepower V12 engine borrowed from one of its Le Mans racers. In addition to making grown men wet their pants, the one-off monster was capable of a 173-mph top speed. There are trucks that can haul more and are happier off-road, but none of them matches the X5 LM's speed-junkie absurdity. Don't forget to buckle that seat belt, St. Nick — you'll need it.

2010 AEV Jeep Wrangler Hemi

The answer, of course, is no, which is why the Montana company American Expedition Vehicles developed a Hemi V8 conversion for the current Jeep Wrangler. AEV removes the factory-installed 3.5-liter V6 engine and replaces it with either a 5.7-liter or 6.1-liter Chrysler V8. Suspension upgrades and terrain-gobbling tires are part of the package. Base price for the conversion is a steep $31,998, which doesn't include the cost of the Jeep. Still, think about it — a HEMI Wrangler. On Dasher, on Dancer, on Donner and Mopar!

2010 Critter Gitter

This machine is the size of a house. It sees you when you're sleeping. It knows when you're awake. It is called the Critter Gitter, and it was designed as a mobile hunting platform. And like Santa's famous sleigh, no winter storm will stop it. For a mere $340,000, Kris Kringle can have himself a 13,250-pound, Chevy V8-powered beast with 64-inch tires and 400 horsepower under the hood. Top speed is just 60 mph, but who cares about speed when you can haul all the world's gifts without reloading?

2006-2008 Volkswagen Touareg V10 TDI

From the people who brought you the mild-mannered VW Beetle, here is a V10-powered diesel SUV with more grunt than a North Pole stable. The V10 Touareg produced a whopping 553 lb-ft of torque, enough to launch its 5,800-plus pounds to 60 mph in only 7.5 seconds. Want to tear down Santa Claus Lane in luxury, with little more than a toe on the gas pedal? This is your ├╝bersleigh.

1986 Porsche 959 Rothman's Paris-Dakar

From 1986 to 1989, Porsche built an all-wheel-drive, turbocharged 444-horsepower w├╝ndercar based on its legendary 911. That machine, dubbed the 959, was sold for use on the street, but it was also the center of the German company's rally-racing campaign at the time. In 1986, a 959 with an adjustable ride height and competition suspension won the Paris-Dakar Rally, one of the most grueling off-road races in the world. If it is good enough for that, something tells us that dropping off little Timmy's train set won't be a problem.

1986-1993 Lamborghini LM002

This beast has a 5.2-liter 455-horsepower V12 engine from a Lamborghini Countach; monster tires and enough ground clearance to drive over the Eiffel Tower; and a face only a mother could love. Thanks to a high sticker price of more than $120,000 and build-quality issues when new, few LM002s were sold. No matter — at full throttle, the Lambo howls. Rudolf's braying can't hold a candle to the scream of an Italian V12.

Ken Block's 2009 Subaru WRX Trax STI

Last year, racing driver and YouTube sensation Ken Block decided to combine two of his long-time loves: back-country snowboarding and rally racing. The result, a 2009 Subaru WRX STI fitted with a rally-spec drivetrain and snow-cat tracks, is one of the coolest machines to ever tackle a ski slope. When the North Pole is snowed in and you want to have some powder-flinging, fishtailing fun on the way south, there's no better ride than this.