Sport utility vehicles, or SUVs, are one of the best choices for all-weather handling. These vehicles are designed to combat the negative effects of rain, slush and snow and to maximize traction in less than ideal road conditions. These vehicles also feature outstanding all-wheel drive systems. Although some of the best vehicles for winter driving are SUVs, there are smaller vehicles offering similar benefits.
10 Best Cars for Winter:
2016 Subaru Outback
The standard engine for the Subaru Outback is a 2.5L “boxer” four-cylinder engine generating 157 horsepower, 174 foot-pounds of torque and an acceleration speed of zero to 60 mph in 9.6 seconds. The 3.6R Limited version offers a six-cylinder engine with 256 horsepower and 247 foot-pounds of torque. Each engine set-up offers AWD, which also works when reversing the vehicle. Safety features include forward crash prevention, antilock disc brakes, and a rearview camera. Government crash tests rated the 2016 Subaru Outback at an overall of five stars. The updated steering and suspension tuning provide additional winter weather handling to this vehicle. The base model price is listed at just below $26,000.
2016 Mazda CX-5
The Mazda CX-5 offers a 155-horsepower, four-cylinder engine with its base model. For increased power, you can upgrade to the 184-horsepower 2.5L four-cylinder engine with optional all-wheel drive. Top speed for the CX-5 is 120 mph with an acceleration speed from zero to 60 mph in 7.7 seconds. The solid body control and the accurate steering of the CX-5 make it ideal for negotiating slippery winter roads. The base model price is listed at $22,675.
2016 Audi Allroad
The 2015 Audi Allroad features a 2.0L TFSI turbocharged four-cylinder engine providing 220 horsepower and 258 foot-pounds of torque. The engine is mated to an eight-speed transmission featuring a Sport Mode. The latest Quattro all-wheel drive system provides the extra thrust needed to manage winter weather conditions. The 2016 Audi Allroad can accelerate from zero to 60 mph in 6.4 seconds, a tenth of a second faster than the 2015 version. Top speed for this vehicle is 128 mph. This station wagon offers SUV-like versatility with excellent stability around curves and outstanding highway performance in rain, sleet and snow. The 2016 Allroad has been given an overall five-star rating from the NHTSA. The starting price for the Allroad is listed at $43,625.
2015 Subaru Forester
The 2015 Subaru Forester is listed at $26,597 MSRP. The 2.5i, 2.5i Premium, 2.5i Limited and 2.5i Touring trim levels are equipped with a 2.5L four-cylinder engine. The 2.0XT Premium and 2.0XT Touring trims come with a turbocharged 2.0L four-cylinder engine. This compact crossover features all-wheel drive with each model. The 2.5L four-cylinder engines produce a total of 170 horsepower and 174 foot-pounds of torque. A six-speed manual transmission is standard for the 2.5i and 2.5i Premium trim levels. Higher trims feature continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT) alone.
2015 Dodge Journey
The 2015 Journey is a compact crossover SUV offering a 3.4L four-cylinder engine producing 173 horsepower and 166 foot-pounds of torque with the base model. The 3.6L V6 engine is optional for lower trims but standard on the Limited and R/T versions. It offers 283 horsepower and 260 foot-pounds of torque paired with a six-speed automatic transmission. Front-wheel drive is standard, with an optional upgrade to all-wheel drive. The solid feel of the Journey holds it in good stead for slippery winter trips. The base model price is listed at $24,595.
2015 Acura TLX
The 2015 TLX features a base powertrain of a 2.4L 206-horsepower four-cylinder with an eight-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission or a 290-horsepower 3.5L V6 engine with a nine-speed automatic. Top speed for this vehicle is 129 mph with an acceleration speed of zero to 60 mph in 5.8 seconds. Torque-vectoring all-wheel drive for the TLX sends power to the wheels that need it most when it senses a potential loss of control. This feature could come in handy during winter drives. The base model is listed at $31,445 MSRP.
2015 Chevrolet Tahoe
The Chevy Tahoe is a solidly-built SUV featuring a 355-horsepower engine, six-speed automatic transmission, and optional all-wheel drive. The Tahoe can reach a top speed of 114 mph. The three available trim levels are LS, LT, and LTZ. The Tahoe is capable of towing 8,500 pounds when properly equipped. The LTZ AWD version reached 60 mph in 7.3 seconds while a 2WD LT reached that speed in 7.1 seconds. The base model is listed at $48,195. Safety features include Lane Keep Assist and Forward Collision Alert. The heavy-duty handling of the Tahoe makes it the ideal winter driving vehicle.
2015 Volvo XC70 AWD
The 2015 Volvo XC70 AWD splits the difference between an SUV and a traditional wagon, offering the all-wheel drive capabilities of an SUV with the driving manners of a sedan. The all-new 2.0L turbocharged four-cylinder is standard for the 2015 XC70 and provides 240 horsepower and 258 foot-pounds of torque. The new engine is paired with an equally new eight-speed automatic transmission. A traction control system ensures a high-quality driving experience during winter trips. Safety features include blind spot monitoring, forward collision with full braking, pedestrian and cyclist detection and driver alertness monitoring. The base model price is listed at $35,400.
2015 Toyota RAV4
The Toyota RAV4 for 2015 is powered by a 2.5L four-cylinder engine offering 176 horsepower and 172 foot-pounds of torque. A six-speed transmission is standard with all versions of the RAV4. Customers can choose from front-wheel or all-wheel drive. The Toyota RAV4 reached 60 mph in 9.2 seconds according to Edmunds testing. The off-road friendly government crash testing rated the RAV4 at four out of five possible stars. The base model price for this vehicle is $30,165.
2015 Land Rover Range Rover Sport
The Range Rover Sport is equipped with a 3.0L V6 rated at 340 horsepower and 332 foot-pounds of torque. Supercharged and Autobiography models are equipped with a 5.0L V8 generating 510 horsepower and 461 foot-pounds of torque. The SVR model engine is slightly stronger at 550 horsepower and 502 foot-pounds. The automatic transmission delivers smooth, responsive shifts. The Range Rover is capable of going from zero to 60 mph in a speedy 6.9 seconds. This crossover handles twisty roads with ease and can handle the occasional off-road trip. The MSPR price is $71,480.
Winter driving is an important consideration, especially if you live in areas prone to heavy snow. Keep in mind that even if you have AWD, it is still very important that you use winter tires. What is your No. 1 choice for winter driving? How do you ensure that your vehicle is fully equipped for navigating treacherous winter roads?
About the author:
Matthew Young is a Boston-based freelance writer. As an aspiring automotive journalist looking to make a name for himself in the industry, he is passionate about covering anything on four wheels. When Matthew is not busy writing about cars or new emerging tech, he usually spends time fiddling with his camera and learning a thing or two about photography. You can tweet him @mattbeardyoung