In order to get you thinking about what you’ll be driving around in throughout this winter (and hopefully many after), we’ve compiled a list for your perusal. Love performance coupes? We’ve got that covered. Off-roading fans? No worries. Something simple, safe, and capable? Check.
We only included production cars that were factory made, so third-party modified vehicles were omitted (though this would be one of our top picks otherwise). Most are available now, and others are either nearing the end of production run or haven’t quite yet started production. Let us know what vehicle you drive in the snow in the comments section, and what you love about it!
1. For the Simple and Sensible Crowd: Subaru Crosstrek XV
The Impreza is one of Subaru’s most popular cars, and the Crosstrek is very similar, but with a few added perks for more difficult terrain. It has higher ground clearance (a near-necessity for driving in more than a couple inches of snow), and some additional protective body paneling to help reduce the sand and salt corrosion that plagues vehicles from colder climes. It’s not as big as the Outback or Forrester, but is still largely capable and has Subaru’s excellent all-wheel drive system; a hybrid is also available, though don’t expect a big boost in mileage — get it for the extra torque that can help pull you out of a drift, if anything.
2. For the Gasoline-Resistant: Tesla Model X
When the Tesla Model X sees production next year, it will become the first production all-wheel drive electric crossover SUV due to its duel-motor setup that supplies power to both axles. Tesla anticipates that this will not come to the detriment of battery life, so there will be virtually zero tradeoffs over a two-wheel drive vehicle. The unique falcon doors will ease parking in tighter spaces, but the torquey, oil, and gasoline-free electric powertrain is the main selling point of the car. Winter may pass before the Model X sees any snow action, but it’s a good consideration for next year — especially considering how much you might have to save for it.
3. For the Ready-for-Anything Crowd: Volvo XC70
The Volvo XC70 (pictured here with Swedish soccer standout Zlatan Ibrahimovi?) is among the most capable and versatile vehicles in the wagon class. Like the Crosstrek, it stands out with it’s increased ride height, additional sheet metal protection, and makes use of Volvo’s refined all-wheel drive system. As Volvo says itself, “we created a whole new idea — an elegant station wagon with the off-road capability of an SUV.”
4. For the Wagon Enthusiast: Audi Allroad
If the Volvo is just too Swedish for your tastes, Germany offers an exceptional alternative: consider it an Audi A4 wagon, but with better ground clearance, a turbocharged four-cylinder engine, Audi’s superb Quattro all-wheel drive system, and, of course, that additional body cladding. It might not outdo the Volvo in terms of luxury, but it comes close enough to where that might be more of a subjective argument; the biggest problem with the Allroad is that there’s no manual transmission option.
5. For the Capable Comfort-Oriented: Jeep Grand Cherokee EcoDiesel
If the Tesla doesn’t check the right boxes and you’re not quite ready to quit your gasoline addiction, the Jeep Grand Cherokee EcoDiesel is perhaps one of the top SUV options for winter weather, and was actually voted as such by the New England Motor Press Association. It has the potential to travel 730 miles on a single tank of gas, can achieve 30 miles per gallon, all while returning 420 pound-feet of torque paired with 240 horsepower.
6. For the Off-Roading Connoisseur: Toyota FJ Cruiser
Like the idea of the Jeep, but need something a bit more extreme? The Toyota FJ Cruiser has your back, though not for much longer. It’s loaded with Bilstein shocks, more than adequate ground clearance, a torquey V6, a rough and tumble attitude, and big, chunky tires that can take a bite out of most harsh terrain. It also boasts one of the best resale values around, which might be your only bet, as the FJ is sadly in its last year of production.
7. For the Family: Toyota Sienna
Sometimes there’s just no substitute for the humble minivan, as many families will attest. If you really need the kid-centric features and the everyday preparedness that the minivan provides, your best bet for winter might be the Toyota Sienna, which is the only van in the segment with optional all-wheel drive. Coupled with a five-star safety rating from the NHTSA, the Sienna and its 8-occupant capacity (on equipped models) might be one of the safest poor weather people movers around.
8. For the Performance Coupe Diehards: BMW 650i xDrive
For big proponents of performance cars, the end of Summer or Fall can be especially hard when it requires you to make the move to a more practical vehicle, but the BMW 650i xDrive can help mitigate that pain. It still has 445 horsepower that’s routed to all four wheels, thanks to BMW’s creamy smooth 4.4 liter V8, and even though it’s over $90,000 at base, it’s a downright bargain compared to other all-wheel drive performance coupes like the Bentley Continental, Ferrari FF, or Porsche 911 Carrera 4. You wouldn’t really want to take those out in the slush, would you?
9. For the I-Need-to-Move-a-Village Folks: Chevrolet Tahoe/Suburban
Few SUVs offer the kind of interior real estate that the Chevy Tahoe or Suburban do, and when equipped with all-wheel drive, it becomes formidable machine for handling all kinds of weather. Though it’s based on a truck-derived frame, the weight of the SUVs is more evenly distributed to help minimize the risk of fishtailing or general loss of control, though a few extra sandbags wouldn’t hurt.
10. For the Pickup Enthusiasts: Ford Raptor
As far as factory-produced extreme trucks go, there are few options outside of the mighty Ford SVT Raptor, and it’s 411 horsepower. A forced-induction, 434-pound-foot 6.2 liter V8 is all well and good, but the Raptor’s snow-subduing power comes largely from it’s huge tires, extra suspension travel, a Torsen rear differential with a 4.10 gear ratio, and extra-strength components to ensure that nothing will snap when you’re plowing through a huge drift.