Winter weather takes a toll on cars, and it creates special issues for drivers. Summer's dry, smooth road surfaces give way to snow-covered pavement, icy bridges, and potholes that deliver a beating to your suspension.
Thanks to improvements in technology, however, cars that are geared toward tackling these conditions are no longer limited just to Jeeps and other rugged SUVs. All-wheel drive, anti-lock brakes, heated side mirrors, and onboard driver-assistance systems are just a few of the features that are available on many new cars, trucks, and SUVs these days.
Read on to learn about the best vehicles for winter driving.
For a little foul-weather flare at a price point that won't break the bank, consider Volvo XC40. This luxury subcompact SUV's all-wheel-drive system makes traversing slippery roads an easy matter.
The standard 187-horsepower engine is solid, and you can upgrade any model to the more potent 248-horsepower T5 motor with all-wheel drive. Handling isn't especially sporty, but it is steady and smooth. Plus, there's little body lean through turns.
The XC40's attractive, understated cabin is nicely loaded with standard tech and comfort features. Also, all XC40s come with a long list of active safety features like rain-sensing windshield wipers and blind spot monitoring. These can help you see more clearly and be more aware of what's around you, which is very handy when the skies turn cloudy and precipitation begins falling.
Toyota Land Cruiser
Just because it's cold doesn't mean your outdoor adventures need to end. The 2021 Toyota Land Cruiser will take you most anywhere you want to go, whether or not there's a paved or dirt road to the camp site.
This luxury large SUV has a powerful V8 engine and standard four-wheel drive. Though big and heavy, the steering is light and engaging, keeping you in control when the weather turns bad. Further, it comes standard with a number of features to ensure excellent off-road performance. Among the included goodies are tow hooks, multiple skid plates, low-speed crawl control, and a two-speed transfer case with high- and low-range gearing.
The cabin affords comfortable seats for passengers in the first two rows. Third-row passengers won't find a lot of space, so it's best to use that area for storage.
The 2021 Mercedes-Benz E-Class isn't the cheapest vehicle in the luxury midsize cars segment, but there's surely a model that will appeal to everyone. It comes in four body styles (sedan, coupe, wagon, and cabriolet) and with a range of powerful engines. All-wheel drive is available in E 350 models and the E 450 coupe and cabriolet. It comes standard with the E 450 sedan and wagon, as well as both AMG trims.
Comfort defines the E-Class, so when the elements outside turn foul, the cabin inside will swaddle you in warmth and comfort. The number of passengers you can bring along depends on body style, with seating for up to seven in the wagon.
A range of option packages up the luxury ante – and the price tag. Still, this is a stellar vehicle for dashing (safely) through the snow.
Audi A4 Allroad
With a name like Allroad, you'd expect this Audi to go anywhere. Though not set up for serious off-roading, the A4 Allroad handles winter weather with aplomb. Not only does it come standard with all-wheel drive, but it also has standard adaptive suspension. This system identifies road conditions and adjusts on the fly, ensuring a stable, pavement-hugging ride.
Inside, there's standard leather upholstery and even a panoramic sunroof, so your passengers can watch the snow fly overhead while on the road. This Audi will also appeal to tech lovers, as it comes with an excellent infotainment system that includes wireless Apple CarPlay. The Allroad's list of standard active safety features is good, and there are numerous tech and driver-assistance aids available.
The fully redesigned 2022 Hyundai Tucson isn't just a great vehicle for winter – it's currently our top-ranked compact SUV, period. For openers, the cabin is a warm, comfortable place to be on a cold day. There's plenty of passenger space for five adults, who ride on comfortable seats and are surrounded by soft-touch plastics and cutting-edge tech. Cargo space is also very good for the class.
Every model is available with all-wheel drive for an extra. This firms up road grip and helps the Tucson handle wet or snow-covered streets confidently.
All together, this creates an affordable, comfortable, and easy-to-drive vehicle that can handle poor driving conditions with ease.