Car Reviews

These are the Best Cars for Winter Driving

By TheCarzingTeam September 12, 2022 | Car Reviews

Car Reviews

Those who live in parts of the country that endure brutal cold winters also might be used to driving in snow and icy conditions, too. In some areas, heavy snowfall is the norm. Other regions are prone to ice and snow.

Winter weather requires defensive driving, but the vehicle also could provide additional comfort during stressful winter drives. The best cars for winter include all-wheel drive and four-wheel drive vehicles and drivers also should choose these safety features:

  • Anti-lock brakes
  • Traction control
  • LED headlights/taillights
  • Rain-sensing wipers
  • Blind-spot warnings
  • Front-collision warnings

Best Cars for Winter Driving

What is the Best Drivetrain for Winter Weather?

The drivetrain of a vehicle is what sends the power to the wheels. There are several different drivetrain options:

  • Rear-wheel drive
  • Front-wheel drive
  • All-wheel drive
  • Four-wheel drive

Some drivers might believe that all-wheel drive and four-wheel drive are the same. However, these are two very distinct drivetrains.

Four-wheel drive needs to be engaged by the driver. This drivetrain isn’t used for standard roads; four-wheel drive is selected for navigating snow, mud, sand and other rough terrain when additional traction and grip is necessary.

With all-wheel drive, power is sent to all the wheels. However, while four-wheel drive isn’t used on standard roads, all-wheel drive can be used on roadways. Kelley Blue Book (KBB) explains that four-wheel drive powers all four wheels equally. According to KBB, “A true 4WD system should never be engaged on dry pavement.”

Typically, highways and city streets that are icy, slushy and slightly snowy are fine for AWD which will engage automatically. However, deep snow-packed streets in the country might be better navigated via four-wheel drive.

How Does Front-Wheel Drive Handle in the Snow and Ice?

Front wheel drive delivers power to the front wheels. In slightly bad weather, front-wheel drive might be fine. Those who live in areas that don’t receive deep snow and deal with moderate winter weather could choose a front-wheel drive vehicle. However, for icier and more severe winter conditions, all-wheel drive handles better.

Shift explains that because the power goes to the front wheels, this drivetrain handles better than rear-wheel drive in winter.

Best Cars for Winter Driving

Vehicles with Rear-Wheel Drive

Sports cars typically have rear-wheel drive, and Shift explains this makes them handle the road better (especially turns) and this drivetrain also is better for high speeds. However, rear-wheel drive doesn’t really fare well in icy and snowy conditions.

The drivetrain might be ok for moderate weather winters, but tackling icy roads and snowier streets might leave these vehicles sliding.

The Ideal Safety Features for Winter Driving

The drivetrain of a vehicle can impact how the car handles in snow and ice. However, drivers also can receive some extra comfort during slick commutes from additional safety features that help to ease the navigation.

Anti-Lock Braking System (ABS)

Many modern vehicles include anti-lock brakes. This braking system is designed to keep the wheels from locking up. This braking system automatically engages, but some drivers might find it to be scary when ABS takes over. Stopping might feel like it takes longer, and drivers might not like the lack of control when hitting the brakes.

Traction Control

This safety feature is fairly self explanatory. It’s designed to improve traction when roads are icy or wet. KBB explains: “The safety feature maintains a car’s traction by limiting how much the wheels can spin, making it easier to stay connected to the surface you’re driving on.”

LED Headlights/Taillights

LED bulbs are a more energy-efficient option for homes, but the benefit of these bulbs on the road is due to their brightness. LEDs can be brighter compared to halogen bulbs; this allows other drivers to see the vehicle better during dreary and snowy weather. Unfortunately, their brightness also could be a downside, with some auto sites reporting that they can be blindingly bright.

Rain-Sensing Windshield Wipers

These smart wipers detect moisture and operate accordingly. Drivers don’t have to worry about turning on their wipers when snow or rain suddenly falls.

Blind Spot Warnings & Alerts

Blind spots are blind on a good driving day, but with bad weather, they might be even more hazardous. Blind spot warnings and alerts on cars will emit a noise when another vehicle is beyond the line of sight. These warnings can help stop accidents in good weather and bad weather, too.

Front Collision Warning

This warning system alerts the driver when a front collision could occur with a vehicle or they could detect pedestrians. Consumer Reports noted that this warning system could operate in tandem with emergency braking; if the driver doesn’t heed the warning, the emergency braking system could kick in to stop the collision.

Best Used Sedans for Winter Driving

Car shoppers living in an area where winter weather is moderate might be looking at used sedans as their preferred vehicle type and to keep the price tag lower. The best used sedans for winter driving include all-wheel drive and safety features to ease navigation on slippery streets and highways.

Safety ratings also might be important to buyers. While the price is often a major consideration, the best cars for winter driving also need to keep the driver and any passengers safe. Larger sedans that received a Top Safety Pick+ rating vary by year.

However, car buyers looking for the safest vehicles can research the ratings of any make/model and year by visiting the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety’s website. Buyers can review the safety report for the model to better understand how it performed in crash tests. Models that received a Top Safety Pick+ or Top Safety Pick rating will have the award/rating prominently displayed on its safety report page.

Four-Wheel Drive Options

Those who live in an area that receives severe winter weather or who live in rural areas might opt for SUVs or trucks that offer four-wheel drive capabilities. These vehicles can handle deep snow or and unplowed back roads.

Four-wheel drive trucks and SUVs could come with a higher price. Those who want these vehicles also might find that the most popular options could be limited or difficult to find. Depending on the area, used model selection will vary.

In addition to four-wheel drive capability, drivers also will want to include features and systems that provide additional safety for the winter commute.

Should Car Buyers Avoid Certain Models?

Not every vehicle is ideal to handle slick roads and snow. Buyers should select their vehicle based on their driving needs, their budget and the winter weather that is most common in their area. Those who navigate slightly slushy roads and mild winter weather might be fine choosing a vehicle with front-wheel drive or maybe even rear-wheel drive.

However, in areas where ice and snow is a common occurrence and can accumulate quickly, rear-wheel drive might not be the best drivetrain choice. Since many families have multiple vehicles, though, one model might be the preference for tackling the winter weather.

Safety ratings also might be a consideration when buyers are trying to decide the best model for their needs. Again, buyers can review crash test data on different vehicles via the IIHS’ website.

Use Carzing to Find the Best Cars for Winter Driving

Car buyers who are looking for the best cars for winter driving can use Carzing to search for new or used cars by price, make/model or body type. For many buyers, price guides the decision; search by price by setting the buyer’s specific budget parameters.

Carzing will show all the used or new options based on the price specifications. In addition, buyers can use the toolbar to the left of their search results to further refine their options. 

Choose a specific drivetrain (AWD, RWD or 4WD) and select safety equipment and features, too. Buyers also can sort their results by price, mileage or age to ensure that the most relevant vehicles appear at the top of the page.

Buyers also can use Carzing to get pre-qualified for financing. Enter information related to work history and housing payments (mortgage or rent), and Carzing will display all the loan options for which the individual might qualify.

If car buyers have a trade-in, they also can enter the trade-in value of their vehicle. Carzing will figure this value into the loan option.

Buyers can review all their possible financing options and find the best loan based on monthly payments, interest rates or specific loan terms. Carzing also helps buyers understand how much they will need for a down payment.

Once buyers find their ideal loan, they can print out a voucher with the details to present to a participating dealership. To get approved for financing, buyers will need to complete a credit application at the dealership.

By using Carzing to begin the hunt for a new car, buyers can take control of their search. Not only can they find the best car at the best price for their budget, but they also can use Carzing to better understand their financing options, too. The visit to the dealership can be shorter and focused on finalizing the deal. With Carzing, car buyers can save time and shop at home at their convenience.

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