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With winter pounding parts of the US, thoughts turn to “How the heck do I get to the gym?” Or other similar quandaries. You could call an Uber and leave your life in their hands, or a better solution would be checking out these winter storm and snow slayers. No, there are no 4×4 pickups or $150,000 G-Wagens on this list. Instead, we’ve got six winter vehicles that are traction makers, and they’re all under $40,000; some are even under $30,000. 

Subaru Outback Wilderness

A blue 2022 Subaru Outback Wilderness wagon shot on a dirt road from the 3/4 angle
The 2022 Outback Wilderness | Subaru

As you can tell from the name, the Sube Outback is made for the snow. With a bit more ground clearance and Subaru’s Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive system, snow has no chance. The Wilderness version comes with a tougher suspension than the standard Outback. There is also a front skid plate and those Geolander all-terrain tires. The Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive also has X-Mode for tougher off-road duties. Plus there is plenty of room in the back protected from the elements.

Ford Bronco Sport

2022 Ford Bronco Sport in Orange
2022 Ford Bronco Sport | Ford

Don’t pass on the Bronco Sport until you try the Ford G.O.A.T modes. Combined with the short overhangs and great approach and departure angles, the Bronco Sport with AWD could be what you’re looking for in a tough snow smasher. To that end, there are rubber floors hiding under the carpet, with a weatherized cargo area too. Yeah, 181 hp isn’t much to sing about, but nobody is drag racing in a snowstorm.

Mazda CX-50

2022 Mazda CX-50
2022 Mazda CX-50 | Mazda

The Mazda CX-50 is a new entry to the outdoor category. Its i-ACTIV AWD comes standard and features off-road, sport, and towing modes. Included is G-Vectoring Control Plus to eliminate tire spin. Mazda also equips the CX-50 with i-ACTIVSENSE safety tech with an array of monitoring and added safety features. Plus, those wide fenders should allow some serious off-road rubber. 

Honda Ridgeline

A 2022 Honda Ridgeline Sport unibody midsize pickup truck with the HPD Package parked in the middle of a desert
2022 Honda Ridgeline Sport with HPD Package | American Honda Motor Co., Inc

You could opt for a Ford Maverick, but you won’t get a V6 with 280 hp. The Honda Ridgeline’s independent suspension front and rear combined with AWD can handle snow, mud, and ice the best. And the truck is larger than the Maverick, and some of the other choices on this list. Plus, Honda has been making the Ridgeline for years, which means the bugs have been worked out. 

Nissan Pathfinder

A red 2022 Nissan Pathfinder parked in a forest, here's the features, price, and specs.
2022 Nissan Pathfinder | Nissan USA

One of the newer entries is the Nissan Pathfinder. Last year was the debut of the all-new unibody SUV. The V6 delivers 284 hp and 259 lb-ft of torque spinning the AWD system. There are modes for Snow, Standard, Sport, Mud/Rut, and Towing. Play around with them to see what works best for your winter wandering. 

Hyundai Santa Cruz

2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz by the beach
2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz by the beach | Hyundai

Another new vehicle for 2021, the Hyundai Santa Cruz is getting rave reviews. Add snow capabilities to the list of cool features. Intelligent HTRAC all-wheel-drive system “uses an array of sensors to monitor traction and distribute power to the front and rear axles as needed via an electronic variable-torque-split clutch with active torque control technology.” So if the system detects tire spin, it adjusts the drive for better traction. 


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