Skip to main content

We have seen a lot of extreme winter weather over the last month. Winter driving tips and winter survival kits have been sorely missed as thousands were stranded on a frozen highway in Virginia last week. However, those with some of these seven best new car features for winter driving were sitting pretty. These new car features will take the edge off if you hate winter driving issues. 

  • Heated steering wheel
  • Heated seats
  • AWD
  • Limited-slip differentials
  • 360 camera
  • Remote start
Snow on a car with a person cleaning it off. if only they had the best new car features for winter driving
Snow on a car with a person cleaning it off | Getty Images

What are the best cars for winter? 

We tend to think big four-wheel-drive trucks and SUVs are the best vehicles for winter driving, hands down. But as we have seen recently, even a big, tough Ford F-150 can struggle with snow and ice if it isn’t properly prepared. This is why we don’t say one kind of vehicle is better than another, because having the right features and gear means much more than the model. 

Are heated steering wheels worth it? 

Hell yeah! Few things are as uncomfortable as climbing into your frozen car first thing in the morning and meeting a freeing cold steering wheel. While the rest of your car slowly heats up, the steering wheel remains cold for much longer due to its density. 

However, if you can hit a button and within minutes your sterling wheel is warm and cozy, your fingers will thank you after scrapping all that ice. 

Heated seats are a must

Just like the steering wheel, your car’s seats hold in the cold for a while, especially if you went with leather. 

These days, heated seats are becoming much more common and even standard in many cars and trucks. This is a good thing, but if you are on the fence about a vehicle that doesn’t offer heated seats as standard, take the upcharge and get those cheek warmers. 

Is all-wheel drive worth it? 

Subaru Outback sitting in the snow waiting for some AWD winter driving
Subaru Outback | Subaru

Before we get too far into this one, not all cars and SUVs offer AWD. In fact, many do not. However, brands like Subaru basically offer it on every model, and Honda has started offering it as an option on more vehicles. 

AWD is a great new car feature for winter driving. It does come as one of the most costly options on this list, but it’s worth it. AWD means that power is sent to all four wheels. This means that the car will have more traction making it better in low traction situations, as long as you have the right tires. 

What is a Limited-slip differential 

For the same reason, mega off-roaders like a limited-slip or locking differential is the same reason it can be a good feature for winter driving. It keeps all wheels moving at the proper speed for the traction they are getting. 

Eaton defines LSD as “working by shifting a portion of the torque to the wheel with the most traction while limiting the slip on the wheel with the least traction.” Since traction is often the biggest issue in winter driving, a limited-slip differential is a powerful weapon because its whole purpose is to use your vehicle’s power as efficiently as possible. 

Heated mirrors: a small but worthwhile new car feature

These are often overlooked on the option sheet and by people who actually already have them in their cars and don’t know it. 

Heated mirrors are a great new car feature that allows you to melt away snow, ice, and fog from your mirrors without scraping the glass and potentially damaging it. To activate these little heaters, all you have to do to activate your rear defrost. Within minutes you’ll have clear side-view mirrors. 

How can 360-degree cameras help with winter driving? 

One of the toughest parts of winter driving is visibility. Between precipitation, fog, and frosted windows, low visibility is a serious danger, which is why having a couple of extra sets of “eyes” is pretty useful. 

If a road a snowed over, and you can’t easily see the edge of the road and where your tires might fall, cameras can be a great solution for this problem. Don’t underestimate visibility. 

Remote start won’t save you but it’s pretty nice

Lastly, having a remote start can be a much cozier way to start your day or your drive home at the end of a long day. Instead of having to trudge through the snow to start your car and then trudge back to get ready and wait for the car to warm up, just hit the button from your house or office, and by the time you get to the ride, everything is nice and thawed out. 

It isn’t going to make or break your winter, but having a remote start will help it be just a bit more comfortable. 

Nothing beats being prepared

As with all things related to winter driving, the most important thing you can do is use your head. Learning to drive in snow and ice is a great idea. Packing an emergency winter weather kit, also great. However, nothing is more valuable than assessing a situation objectively and making a logical choice about your safety and comfort.