Your Winter Vehicle Guide: Which Ones Handle the Best in Snow?
Best Vehicles for Snow
What are the best vehicles for snow? That’s a tricky question to answer, as individual tastes and preferences of each motorist are as different as the unique types of vehicles they have to choose from.
Crossovers and SUVs
Many shoppers prefer the crossover or SUV for driving in the wintertime, thanks to their availability with All-Wheel Drive (AWD) or four-wheel drive (4×4), depending on the vehicle in question. Whether using AWD or 4×4, crossovers and SUV’s power all four of their wheels, which adds traction and grip when accelerating on slippery surfaces. This can make driving on snow and ice safer and easier for the driver.
A crossover or SUV, like a Ford Escape or Chevy Tahoe, sit higher from the ground than a conventional sedan or coupe, giving drivers a more commanding view of the road ahead, as well as an increased clearance beneath the vehicle that’s handy when deep snow or frozen highway slush-boulders might pass beneath.
Top Crossovers to Consider
So, by their very design, the crossover or SUV lends itself nicely to getting around in the snow for many drivers. Some examples of crossovers include the Mitsubishi Outlander, Hyundai Kona, Chevrolet Blazer and Kia Sorento. Crossovers come in a wide range of shapes and sizes, with up to three rows of seating.
Top SUVs to Consider
Some popular SUVs include the GMC Yukon, Cadillac Escalade, Toyota 4Runner and Ford Expedition. Where a crossover is typically built like a car, SUVs like these are typically more rugged and tough, since they’re built like pickup trucks instead.
An SUV might be the right choice for you if you need solid towing capacity, if you’ll frequently work your vehicle hard, or if you frequently partake in off-road activities or towing. Like a crossover, an SUV’s engine usually powers all four of its wheels, helping its driver get around confidently in the snow.
Sedans, Hatchbacks or Wagons
Some shoppers prefer the driving experience and fuel efficiency of a sedan, hatchback, or wagon. These tend to sit lower to the ground than a crossover or SUV and aren’t as large—though a sedan is typically livelier to drive and easier to maneuver.
Topic Sedans to Check Out
Sedans come in front, rear, or All-Wheel Drive (AWD), depending on the model you’re considering. Lately, as more shoppers choose AWD-equipped vehicles, more manufacturers are offering affordable sedans with AWD.
Some examples include the Mazda 3, Nissan Altima and Toyota Camry. Each of these sedans has recently become available with AWD for the first time, expanding their appeal to the shopper and giving them a high-traction alternative to a larger crossover or SUV.
The Subaru Legacy is another AWD-equipped sedan, which has offered AWD technology for many years. All but one of Subaru’s vehicles are standard with AWD, and that includes a line of crossovers, the Legacy sedan, and it’s little sibling, the AWD-equipped Impreza.
Though a sedan doesn’t provide the clearance or driving position some crossover and SUV drivers love, they tend to handle more confidently, stop more quickly, and feel more agile and easy to control on slippery surfaces. Your tastes and preferences may vary—so be sure to test drive the vehicle you’re considering in the snow if possible, and ideally, more than once.
Make Sure Your Vehicle Is Winter Equipped
The single best way to improve the wintertime drive of any vehicle is to install appropriate winter tires for the conditions you’ll regularly face in the colder months. An expert from a reputable tire retailer can help set you up with the best winter tires for whatever you drive, and wherever you drive it.
Regardless of the type of vehicle and which wheels are driven by its engine, winter tires are the only means of physically improving the strength of the grip between your vehicle and an icy road. Installing winter tires immediately improves the safety and control of any vehicle, and modern vehicle safety systems immediately detect and capitalize on the extra traction they provide, for more sure-footed driving on snow and ice.
Comfort Is Key
In many regards then, the best vehicle for winter driving is the one you feel most comfortable and at ease with in adverse conditions.
Of course, sedans, crossovers and SUVs are far from the only vehicles suitable for winter driving. Today, shoppers have more options for winter-capable vehicles than ever. For instance, sports cars like the Kia Stinger, BMW M850i and Porsche 911 come with AWD, can be fitted with winter tires and are a joy to drive in the snow.
Hybrid shoppers have numerous choices for winter-ready crossover models, and the popular Toyota Prius hybrid is now available with AWD as well. Many winter-ready EV models are available from brands like Tesla, Jaguar and Porsche, too.