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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 often affected by snow and unpredictable weather, you know how important it is to plan. 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 many good options, but what are the best cars for snow?

The 2021 Subaru Outback

Subaru is well-known for its off-roading 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 at 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 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 provide 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. 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 at around $28,000. The standard horsepower begins at 250hp but can be upgraded up to 450 hp, 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 8,000 towing capacity, 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 comes with collision sensor warnings, 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 

Built with a powerful 284-horsepower V6 engine and Nissan’s 4X4 intelligent system, the Pathfinder was practically built for snow. Just like the Altima, Nissan’s Pathfinder is loaded with safety and driving features that make it one of the best cars 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 has several driving modes configured to handle inclement weather like rain, ice, and offroad conditions. Rear parking sensors, forward collision warning, and the 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 and 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 specific models, but the base model will start at 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 modes, including deep snow and other weather conditions, to improve stability while driving just about anywhere. Heated front and second-row seats and a heated steering wheel are available to keep the SUV’s spacious interior warm. Lane hold help, rear cross-traffic alert, forward collision warning, and automatic high-beam headlights are only a few safety features. 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 (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 slightly 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 and traction. A predictive assist functionality can help the driver regain control on uneven, wet, or rough terrain. Interior comfort is offered for front and rear heated seats and a heated steering wheel. A bit more expensive than the other midsize 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 their snow rating are safety, comfort, price, and overall control of 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.

Honorable Mentions

2022 Subaru Ascent

The 2022 Subaru Ascent is an excellent midsize SUV pick for a reliable family hauler in the snow. As a Subaru, the Ascent comes standard with an AWD drivetrain so you can confidently drive through the snow. This midsize SUV also provides a respectable 8.7 inches of ground clearance, making driving in winter conditions more accessible. In addition, the 2022 Ascent also features traction and hill descent control, which are more than welcome when driving on steep snowy roads.

On the inside, the Ascent offers an upscale interior with high-quality materials and ample creature comforts. It also has a wide range of safety features like lane centering and forward automatic braking for slippery roads.

2022 Kia Telluride

Kia’s flagship SUV, the Telluride, doesn’t have AWD as standard, but for $2,000, you can have one of the best SUVs for winter driving. It offers three rows of seating, 8 inches of ground clearance, remote start, and other features that come in handy for snow driving.

Kia’s AWD drivetrain is mated to a 3.6-liter V6 engine that produces 291 hp and an eight-speed transmission. Overall, the Telluride is an excellent all-around pick.

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