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The 9 Best Cars for Snow

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Red sedan driving down snowy road

Photo by Alexandr Podvalny from Pexels

Winter driving impacts a good portion of the country and can wreak havoc for young and experienced drivers alike. If you live in an area that is often affected by snow and unpredictable weather, you know how important it is to plan ahead. Lower visibility, freezing temperatures, and often slick roads make for sometimes outright dangerous situations for driving. Improved technology, safety features, enhanced comfort for those cold days, and convenience capabilities all factor into a vehicle’s ability to handle winter driving. There are lots of good options out there, but what are the best cars for snow?

The 2021 Subaru Outback

Subaru is well-known for its offroading and superior safety technology, so it’s no surprise that it has one of the best cars for snow. The Outback wagon is a leader in its class and has the driving style of a full-size sedan with the power of an SUV. Not only does the Outback come standard with all-wheel drive, but it also comes with a 260-horsepower turbocharged four-cylinder engine that brings in a nice balance of control and power for winter roads.

Safety features provide a unique hill and slope descent control option that’s great for snow, mud, and icy conditions. Modestly priced around $25,000 for initial models, the Outback offers leather upholstery, a heated steering wheel, and heated seats for the interior. 

Key snow driving features:

8.7-inch frame clearance

Standard AWD

Hill and slow descent controls


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The 2021 Honda CR-V 

You’ll see this compact SUV all across the country for various reasons, one of which is its ability to handle multiple climates while remaining efficient at the pump. The 190-horsepower turbocharged four-cylinder engine provides some power for its smaller exterior frame and can still maintain 32 MPG on the highway. 

The standard Honda Safety Sensing suite for lane departure, collision alert, and brake assistance makes this modest SUV great for year-round and winter driving. Heated front seats and heated steering wheel options are also available to add some extra comfort on those frigid days.

Key snow driving features:

Honda Safety technology

Interior heating comfort

AWD Capability

The 2020 Ford F150

It’s no surprise that the F150 is one of the best-selling trucks every year. The F150 provides power, comfort, and surprising fuel efficiency and affordability. Trucks can be one of the most expensive vehicles on the market, but the F150 starts around $28,000. The standard horsepower begins at 250hp but can be upgraded all the way up to 450hp, which is a good reason why many decide to throw plows on to clear the roads.

Equipped with all-wheel drive, stability control, and brake assist, the F150 is easily at the top of the class for technology and safety features. Averaging nearly 28 MPG highway, with its towing capacity of up to 8,000 pounds, this is one of the best trucks out there and obviously on the shortlist for performance in the snow. 

Key snow driving features:

Standard AWD

Horsepower range

Towing capacity


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The 2021 Nissan Altima

One of the top overall full-size sedan models for its blend of comfort, safety, and tech, the Altima is also one of the best cars for snow. It comes loaded with a 188-horsepower 2.5-liter 4-cylinder engine, and most trims and styles can be equipped with all-wheel drive, which is not typically offered for sedans. With AWD, the starting base price is about $28,000 and also comes with collision sensor warning, rear cross-traffic warnings, automatic front emergency braking, blind-spot alerts, and automatic rear braking systems.

Key snow driving features:

AWD standard

Nissan safety technology

188 horsepower 

The 2020 Nissan Pathfinder 

Just like the Altima, Nissan’s Pathfinder is loaded with safety and driving features that make it one of the best cars for snow. Built with a powerful 284-horsepower V6 engine and Nissan’s 4X4 intelligent system, the Pathfinder was practically built for snow. The vehicle’s torque is monitored and controlled by Nissan’s Intelligent 4x4 system, which communicates with the tires to tackle slick roads. The Pathfinder also comes with several driving modes that are configured to handle inclement weather like rain, ice, and offroad conditions. Rear parking sensors, forward collision warning, and automatic emergency braking are standard on all models, and the price starts in the low $30,000 range.

Key snow driving features:

Nissan’s Intelligent 4x4 torque monitor system

Interior leather and heating

Nissan safety technology

The 2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee 

It’s not a surprise that the company that initially designed amphibious military vehicles is one of the best cars for snow. The Grand Cherokee comes with standard four-wheel drive, a powerful 295-horsepower V6 engine. It’s got the power of a pickup truck with the style of an SUV. Drivers also can upgrade to a V8 on certain models, but the base model will start around $33,000. 

Key snow driving features:

7,000 + pound towing capacity

Heated upholstery and steering wheel

Safety features including auto windshield wiper adjustments 

The 2021 Ford Explorer

Redesigned in 2020, the 2021 Explorer is built with strength and tire control to handle snow and ice thanks to three powerful engine options and rear-wheel drive. The Terrain Management System has seven different modes, including deep snow and other weather conditions, to improve stability while driving just about anywhere. Heated front and second-row seats, as well as a heated steering wheel, are available to keep the SUV’s spacious interior warm. Lane hold help, rear cross-traffic alarm, forward collision warning, and automatic high-beam headlights are only a few of the safety features available. Still reasonably priced in the high $30,000s, the Explorer is an excellent option for tackling the snow. 

Key snow driving features:

Interior heating comfort

Seven mode terrain management system

Ford safety technology


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The 2021 Toyota RAV4

Toyota is well known for its durability, safety, and affordability (think around $25,000 to start); the RAV4 cabin has plenty of room for additional winter comfort. Synthetic leather upholstery, heated front seats, and a heated steering wheel are all available to make winter driving more comfortable. The award-winning Toyota safety features are great for winter, especially lane departure and drifting if the roads are causing sliding. The standard ground frame is a little over 8 inches to limit snow buildup and includes all-terrain tires, hill descent control, and torque-controlled steering.

Key snow driving features:

8.6-inch frame clearance

Multi-terrain system

Toyota safety features

The 2020 Mazda CX-9 

The Mazda CX-9 is a nice blend of affordability, comfort, and safety, especially for winter driving. In the rain, mud, sleet, and snow, the CX-9’s all-wheel-drive technology detects slick patches of road and instantly transfers torque to the tires for stability traction. A predictive assist functionality is available to help the driver regain control on uneven, wet, or rough terrain. Interior comfort is offered for both front and rear heated seats and a heated steering wheel. A bit more expensive than the other mid-size SUVs listed in the mid $30,000 range, the CX-9 is a good option for enhanced interior technology and driving performance. 

Key snow driving features:

8.8-inch frame clearance

AWD

Interior heating comfort

While many of these vehicles have similar features for winter driving, the key factors that go into its snow rating are safety, comfort, price, and overall control in the conditions. You can do a few additional things to improve your experience driving in snow with enhanced tires, wipers, and practice, but these vehicles are at the top of the list for your next snowy drive. 

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