Winter is coming. With it comes treacherous driving conditions. Snow, ice, slush and rain conspire to make driving in the winter months difficult at the best of times. If you live in an area that experiences winter for four-to-six months out of the year, then you have a vested interest in driving the right vehicle. One that can handle the awful conditions and get you where you need to go safely. While things like winter tires, snow brushes, and ice scrappers all help a bit, some cars are just manufactured with winter in mind. Here’s a list of the ten best vehicles for tackling winter driving that you can buy today.
Dodge Charger AWD
Admittedly, the Dodge Charger isn’t the first car that comes to mind when you think of snow and ice. Most people think of drag racing or hitting the beach. However, the truth is that the all-wheel drive capabilities of the Charger make it ideal for winter driving conditions. All-wheel drive, which only came about in the most recent edition of the Charger, has transformed this sedan from mighty muscle car to a year-round all-weather grinder.
There are two distinct Dodge Charger models available with all-wheel drive – the 292-horsepower SXT and the 300-horsepower GT. The all-wheel drive system supplies torque to the front wheels when conditions call for it, otherwise the car operates in rear-wheel drive. Given the Charger’s excellent handling and weight, the chassis is an ideal companion for this type of all-wheel drive system. The result is one of the very best snow driving cars.
The Audi Q5 has won awards all over the world for being one of the best compact SUVs available today. It’s also one of the best family vehicles you can buy. The five-passenger Q5’s patented quattro all-wheel-drive system also makes it one of the best vehicles for winter driving. The AWD on the Q5 gives it incredible stability and control. Drivers will be slicing through slush and gliding over ice with ease.
Audi has also added heated front and rear seats for the 2019 model, as well as a heated steering wheel. If that weren’t enough to sell you on this SUV, the Q5 also comes standard with Audi Pre Sense Basic and Audi Pre Sense City systems, which readies the car’s seatbelts and windows for an impending collision. Audi Pre Sense City system adds advanced features including automatic emergency braking and forward collision warning. Put it all together and you’ve got a great winter vehicle in the Audi Q5.
New for 2020, the eight-seater Kia Telluride is the automaker’s biggest ever vehicle. Despite its size, the Telluride is great in the snow. That’s because this three-row SUV houses a powerful 3.8-liter V6 engine, and is available with all-wheel drive. The Telluride was designed for off-road action. Many of the features that make it good on dirt and gravel also help it to perform well in the snow.
The Telluride comes standard with a long list of safety features, including a blind spot collision avoidance system, forward collision warning, and brake assist. Buyers can add rain-sensing windshield wipers and automatic high beams that would also be beneficial in winter conditions. Heated seats and a heated steering wheel are available options, to complement those extra chilly mornings.
Another big boy SUV is the much-loved Ford Expedition. One of the top-ranked large SUVs on the market today, the Expedition has a muscular engine and roomy interior. It’s great for bashing through snow drifts and stuffing kids clad in snowsuits into the back seats. Ford’s three-row SUV seats eight people comfortably and has ample cargo space for winter sporting equipment – from skis to hockey gear.
It also features 9.8 inches of ground clearance and a selectable drive mode to specifically handle snow. The Expedition comes standard with rear-wheel drive, but four-wheel drive is available too. All 2020 models come with the Ford Co-Pilot360 suite of safety features that include forward collision warning and automatic emergency braking.
Another full-size SUV makes our list, and this time it’s the CX-9 from Mazda. This is an SUV that is more than capable of handling winter weather, both mild and extreme. The CX-9 comes equipped with 8.8 inches of ground clearance, ridiculous torque, and an AWD system that is among the very best in the world.
This three-row SUV is powered by a turbocharged four-cylinder engine that feels more like a V6. The CX-9 also boasts strong safety scores, partly due to an impressive score of standard safety features. Throw in agile handling and you’ll be ready to scale a mountainside in the dead of winter. Did we mention that the CX-9 seats seven people, has massive cargo space, and comes with heated seats and a heated steering wheel? With the CX-9, you’re winter ready.
The Subaru Forester has long been an all-terrain beast. One of the best-known AWD vehicles, the Forester performs admirably in winter driving conditions. Newly redesigned for the 2019 model year, the latest Forester has racked up an impressive number of automotive industry awards recently. Those awards are partly owing to its superior handling in snow and the plethora of safety features available.
The Forester provides 8.7 inches of ground clearance and comes standard with all-wheel drive. That’s right, all-wheel drive is not an optional upgrade in the Forester. It comes standard on even the most basic trimline. As a bonus, the Forester’s optional “X-Mode” increases traction on slippery surfaces like snow and ice. Subaru’s standard “eyesight bundle” of advanced driver assistance features includes adaptive cruise control, pre-collision braking, and lane departure warning. There are few vehicles that can compete with the Forester in winter driving conditions.
Nissan Altima AWD
Here’s another vehicle that you wouldn’t intuitively think of when it comes to navigating winter road conditions. Make no mistake though, the Nissan Altima performs well under the harshest of lousy weather. The all-new design for 2019 provided the Altima with an AWD option. That feature has blown away the critics, some of whom have labeled the Nissan Altima as the “best car for driving in the snow.”
It’s important to note that the Altima has a part-time AWD system, only engaging the rear axle as needed — when wheelspin is detected or there is sufficient steering input. At all other times, it runs in front wheel drive. A smooth variable automatic transmission complements the AWD system and provides ample power delivery and stable wheel torque. Which is all a fancy way of saying the Altima makes driving in winter safe and secure.
Volvo V90 Cross Country
Sweden has some of the roughest winters in the world. So it makes sense that Swedish automaker Volvo would come out with a vehicle that is ideal for driving in subzero temperatures. We are talking about the Volvo V90 Cross Country edition. A powerful engine and AWD makes the Volvo V90 wagon a real trooper in the snow. The rugged Cross Country edition is a particular winter gem.
It offers 8.3 inches of ground clearance and is available with heated seats. Also, all V90 models come with adaptive headlights, rain-sensing windshield wipers, collision avoidance systems, road-sign recognition, and blind spot monitoring. No doubt that Volvo recognizes the V90 Cross Country as a stellar winter performer, marketing it as a car “designed for all roads and all weather.”
Ah, the classic Jeep Wrangler. This is a rough and tumble off-road vehicle built to handle all manner of tough terrain, including snow, ice, and whatever else winter brings with it. Its 9.7 inches of ground clearance and four-wheel-drive system are ideal for powering through the worst of the elements. The Wrangler can also be specifically adapted for winter conditions.
You can opt for heated seats and steering wheel, all models come with a rearview camera, and there’s an available upgrade to get advanced safety features such as forward collision warning and blind spot monitoring. Upgrade to the Rubicon trim to get 33-inch tires that will help you traverse nearly any obstacle Old Man Winter throws in your way. This car is perfect for getting to and from the ski slopes in winter. Or just driving directly up them, if you wanted.
The vehicle best suited to winter driving conditions is the Subaru Crosstrek. What sets this vehicle apart when it comes to winter driving? How exactly is it superior to the other vehicles on this list? The answer can be found in Subaru’s patented “Symmetrical AWD.” This all-wheel drive system is the very best and streets ahead of the other systems mentioned in this article.
Taking the best of the Impreza hatchback – its agility, responsiveness, and 8.7 inches of ground clearance – the Crosstrek is a dream on snow and ice. Plus, being a Subaru, safety comes standard, with brake assist a standard feature for all trims. If you have some serious winter driving to do, you would be best advised to get behind the wheel of a Subaru Crosstrek. It’s the ultimate winter vehicle.