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What Car Would Santa Claus Drive?

Ever wonder what car Santa Claus might choose over his sleigh? Our writers weighed in on what vehicle would fit him best! Who are you siding with?

A Sleigh Won’t Cut It – Santa Needs a Vehicle

Santa in a car
Santa in a car

Did you know St. Nick didn’t always have a sleigh? The guy used to just walk from door to door with a bag full of toys. He eventually decided that using modern technology was a good idea in the 19th century, but he hasn’t changed it up since then. While that Christmas sleigh pulled by reindeer may be the status quo, we think it’s time for Santa Claus to catch up with the times. Sure, that archaic mode of transportation is magical and has worked for hundreds of years, but Santa deserves to experience some true horsepower (err… reindeerpower?) and luxury amenities by now. I mean, he’s relying on a mutated reindeer to light the way. Some basic automotive headlights would be a better choice, Santa.

So, that’s what the Carsforsale.com writers set out to do, find a vehicle for Santa Claus. We’ve argued plenty about which off-roader is better or what car should have an electric powertrain swapped in, but this time it’s about saving Christmas with the help of some car listings we’ve found on our platform. Take a look at what we think Santa Claus should upgrade to this year!

Jesse Batson – 2021 Ford Expedition

Short List:
2022 RAM 1500
2021 Ford Bronco
2022 GMC Sierra 1500 Limited

2021 Ford Expedition - carsforsale.com
2021 Ford Expedition - carsforsale.com

I already had some must-have criteria while searching Carsforsale.com for a replacement to Santa’s sleigh. The color? It has to be red! Cargo space? Yep, that’s essential. Now, which vehicle? After using all the helpful filters and going through several pages of search results, I went with a 2021 Ford Expedition. Why? The main reason is versatility.

I’ll start with the cargo. Christmas is about much more than gifts, but, for me, that’s a big part of it. I enjoy gift giving. It’s a way to express gratitude and cheer to those I care about. So, my choice for Santa’s vehicle is going to need some good cargo space. The three-row 2021 Ford Expedition has 20.9 cu-ft of space to pack up all Santa’s goodies. In fact, there’s probably a bicycle in there. Santa gives a lot of bikes away, so the seats need to fold down. If the third row is folded (power folding, of course!), there’s 63.6 cu-ft of space for storing gifts. When the second row is folded as well, the space expands to 104.6 cu-ft of space.

2021 Ford Expedition - carsforsale.com
2021 Ford Expedition - carsforsale.com

Let’s say there are some really good people this year and that’s still not enough room for all the gifts. The 2021 Ford Expedition can tow a maximum of 6,500 lbs. The elves can load up a trailer with even more presents, and hook it up to be hauled. This particular vehicle comes with Ford’s Heavy-Duty Trailer Tow Package, which includes a trailer backup assist, a blind spot warning system, and an integrated trailer-brake controller.

With an attached trailer full of gifts, the seats can go back up and fit six adults (or helpful elves) comfortably. Those passengers will be sitting on heated seats, which is needed up at the North Pole. Second row passengers can settle into leather-trimmed Captain’s Chairs. Meanwhile, Santa has a leather-trimmed, heated and ventilated, 10-way adjustable driver’s seat. A Wi-Fi hotspot and four USB ports in the back rows should keep any elves or any other passengers happy. Everyone can bob their heads to Jingle Bell Rock with 12 speakers and SiriusXM satellite radio. Music choices are increased with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, too.

2021 Ford Expedition - carsforsale.com
2021 Ford Expedition - carsforsale.com

Rudolph won’t be needed to guide this vehicle. The 2021 Expedition has a voice-activated navigation system. If that fails, the vehicle also has a built-in compass. Santa won’t need Rudolph’s bright, red nose to light up the sky either. Instead, he’s got automatic LED high-beams and fog lights. Santa checks his list, and checks it twice, so he may need to pull over to do just that. If he does, he can use the overhead console mounted map lights. The elves in the back can use the second and third-row dome lights. There’s a light in the cargo area for loading and unloading purposes, too.

Now, Santa does have to travel a long distance, so what does gas mileage look like on this vehicle? In the city, the Expedition gets 17 mpg. While on the highway, it comes in at 22 mpg. There’s enough power to get going (and plow through some snow) with the 3.5L V6 that is mated to a 10-speed automatic transmission. It puts out 375 hp with 470 lb-ft of torque. RWD is standard on 2021 Ford Expedition Limited models, but this particular Expedition Limited has 4WD. This SUV also comes with traction control and 4-wheel disc brakes. That should all be useful in all types of weather conditions.

2021 Ford Expedition - carsforsale.com
2021 Ford Expedition - carsforsale.com

When most of us picture snow during Christmas, we imagine light, fluffy snowflakes falling from the sky, almost like a snow globe. Unfortunately, winter weather isn’t always that pleasant. For the more extreme conditions Santa and his crew may encounter along their route, the 2021 Ford Expedition has rain sensing, speed-sensitive wipers. The side mirrors are heated, so any precipitation should melt away while driving. Other driver assists and safety features on this Expedition include: brake assist, electronic stability control, an overhead airbag, and a 360-degree camera with an overhead view.

If Santa Claus is moving away from his traditional sleigh, this Ford is the vehicle he needs to choose. Safety, infotainment, cargo room, hauling, and driving capability all in one vehicle. With the versatility it offers, Jolly Old St. Nicholas won’t be disappointed.

Chris Kaiser – 1960 Cadillac Eldorado

Short List:
1990 BMW M3
1966 Porsche 911
2015 Ferrari LaFerrari

1960 Cadillac El Dorado - carsforsale.com
1960 Cadillac El Dorado - carsforsale.com

When searching for the best non-sleigh conveyance for St. Nick, I wanted to consider what cars looked best in red and then work backward from there. Now, some basic assumptions for Santa’s ride. First, like Santa’s old sleigh, the new automotive replacement would also be pulled by flying reindeer. Next, like Santa’s bag, the car’s trunk is by definition magical and therefore cargo capacity is moot. And third, due to the time constraints that Santa works under, reindeer-supplied lightspeed is implied.

My first consideration for Santa’s car was a 1990 BMW M3. Again, the primary criterion being what cars look best in red. The M3 immediately sprang to mind. The German connection to pre-Christian paganism’s Wodan (Odin) as perhaps another layer of influence on the creation of the modern Santa Claus adds a bit more to the M3’s argument. But as good as the M3 looks, there’s another German car that looks even better in red, the 1966 Porsche 911. Sure, it’s small, but with a magic frunk full of toys for good boys and girls, the 911 could be just the ticket for Santa. For better aerodynamics and equally good looks, I also considered the Ferrari LaFerrari. But then, I’d bet Santa would have a heck of a time trying to figure out how to hitch up the reindeer and not damage that front splitter.

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1960 Cadillac El Dorado - carsforsale.com
1960 Cadillac El Dorado - carsforsale.com

Then it came to me, like a trio of ghosts on Christmas Eve, an answer so obvious and perfect that I had to throw open the shutters and proclaim to the world Santa’s ideal car. “The 1960 Cadillac Eldorado!” I shouted. I tossed down a satchel of cash (kept for just such emergencies) to the nearest street urchin and told him to procure the vintage red Eldorado I found on Carsforsale.com and have it shipped posthaste to the North Pole, crossing my fingers it would arrive in time for Santa’s flight.

But what makes the 1960 Cadillac Eldorado Biarritz the perfect car for Santa Claus? The color first and foremost. The bold red paint job with subtle white accenting and white interior match Santa’s preferred color scheme. The Biarritz is a convertible, just like Santa’s sleigh, and naturally the old Saint will want the wind blowing through his beard. The Eldorado already comes with a trunk so capacious that it appears magical even before Santa’s elves make their modifications.

1960 Cadillac El Dorado - carsforsale.com
1960 Cadillac El Dorado - carsforsale.com

Just as in Santa’s workshop, the details matter on the intricately wrought Eldorado. In addition to a beautiful deep red paint job, the rest of the exterior of the Eldorado is equally exceptional. It sports nine-foot quarter panels, a curved windshield, rear fins, and chrome, chrome, and more chrome. Notably, the Cadillac name doesn’t appear on the 1960 Eldorado’s exterior, instead just an elegant “Eldorado” adorns the rear deck and front quarter panels. For this specific example, note the front bucket seats. Just 97 1960 Eldorado were built with bucket front seats. Under the hood is a 390 CID V8 with three two-barrel carburetors making 345 horsepower. This Eldorado also comes with power windows, power trunk release, and air conditioning among its many luxury conveniences.

And lastly, the 1960 Cadillac Eldorado is a particularly festive car for this season. The Eldorado speaks to a distinctly American Christmas that celebrates conspicuous consumption as perhaps its purest form. It’s only natural then that the embodiment of this season, the generous and jocular Santa Claus, would drive a car defined by American extravagance.

Jesse McGraw – 2020 Dodge Challenger

Shortlist:
1968 Dodge Charger
2021 Dodge Durango
1971 Plymouth Roadrunner

2020 Dodge Challenger - carsforsale.com
2020 Dodge Challenger - carsforsale.com

After all the research I’ve done on Christmas Movie Cars and Holiday Car Gifts, I’ve come to one conclusion. Santa Claus is a Mopar guy. Dodge famously featured Old St. Nick, portrayed by Goldberg, as a high horsepower loving, muscle car guy in one of their holiday commercials. It even featured a Challenger SRT Hellcat converted into one of his sleighs. That’s not the only instance of Santa choosing the Challenger though, he also “borrowed” one in The Christmas Chronicles movie. So, the guy wants a Dodge, it’s as simple as that.

I looked at some classics like the Roadrunner and the Charger, I even looked at newer stuff like the Durango. In the end, all signs pointed to this lovely example I found on Carsforsale.com, a 2020 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat Redeye Widebody in F8 Green paint. Now, why diverge from the typical red color like my colleagues went with? I mean we’re moving on from a sleigh here, so why not move on from the color scheme too? Green is still festive and Santa would want to update his wardrobe to feature a red leather jacket and some shades to match this cool ride anyways.

2020 Dodge Challenger - carsforsale.com
2020 Dodge Challenger - carsforsale.com

This 2020 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat Redeye Widebody (say that five times fast) features a supercharged 6.2L HEMI V8 under the hood that makes 797 horsepower and 707 lb-ft of torque. All that power is sent straight the rear wheels, just like any good muscle car should. This ludicrous setup is enough to shoot this green demon to 60 mph from a dead stop in under four seconds. Can’t do that with a SUV or old Caddy…

That widebody kit adorning the outside looks pretty awesome, but it also helps with aerodynamics and allows access to wider tires for more grip and even better handling. Those wider tires make for more rubber to burn, because why wouldn’t Santa have a bit of wheel spinning fun for once? Other performance features include the Air-Catcher headlamps that allow air to pass through to the engine better and some Brembo disc brakes that help braking performance while also adding a festive red color contrast.

2020 Dodge Challenger - carsforsale.com
2020 Dodge Challenger - carsforsale.com

Inside, Santa is going to be much more comfortable than he had been in that old sleigh. While the example I found only features the cloth upholstery option, those comfortable buckets seats are heated along with the steering wheel. The infotainment system isn’t the largest on the market or anything, but Uconnect is one of the better options out there for functionality and the added SRT Performance Pages will help Santa shave some seconds off his time when delivering presents. This Challenger even features a premium Alpine sound system, so all the greatest Christmas hits can be heard with quality sound (and some extra bass). There’s even 4G LTE Wi-Fi, so Santa’s helper can stay connected to provide weather updates or online toy deals while out and about.

While this Dodge Challenger may not be the most fuel efficient at a 15 mpg combined EPA rating, nor does it offer the most cargo capacity at 16.2 cu-ft, it is the most fun of the bunch. Plus, the elves could always make some magical adjustments like those other two suggested and make this truly the best option for St. Nick. And obviously “Mopar or No Car” am I right?

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Chris Kaiser

With two decades of writing experience and five years of creating advertising materials for car dealerships across the U.S., Chris Kaiser explores and documents the car world’s latest innovations, unique subcultures, and era-defining classics. Armed with a Master's Degree in English from the University of South Dakota, Chris left an academic career to return to writing full-time. He is passionate about covering all aspects of the continuing evolution of personal transportation, but he specializes in automotive history, industry news, and car buying advice.

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