Check out this list of the best cars for winter driving.
Do frigid temperatures and harsh weather leave you cold on the idea of braving the elements in your car? When you’re piloting a vehicle that’s up to the task, wintertime driving isn’t so much of a challenge. Instead, it can be fun!
With all the vehicles out there, it can be a challenge to find the best cars for snow or best winter vehicles. To help shorten your search, we’re sharing a list of our most popular used cars and SUVs for the season. To meet the strict criteria of a good winter car, every vehicle on this list has heated front seats, rear defrost, traction control, and remote start.
The Chevrolet Volt is more than an eco-warrior; it’s also a vehicle that can totally tackle tough winter conditions. Sure, it’s a hybrid, and batteries face challenges in cold weather — but here’s where the Volt’s small, four-cylinder gas engine kicks in. It’s good for around 100 horsepower when needed, and it’ll keep you and your passengers on the move on those really cold days. You’ll also get around 40 mpg in gas-only mode.
Although the Volt’s interior can be a bit cramped for taller passengers, especially in the back seat, it’s got all the amenities you need for a comfortable cold weather drive. You can activate the remote start from inside your house to heat up the interior. And the front seats are heated (pre-heating just the seats could save you some battery power), and so is the steering wheel in later models.
The Chevrolet Cruze is a solid winter car for drivers who seek a smaller vehicle. The smooth, capable ride quality comes thanks to the Cruze’s refined suspension, which includes MacPherson struts in the front and a torsion beam axle at the rear. If you need more control over your driving experience, an optional six-speed manual transmission will likely serve you better.
Once you’ve activated the remote start system, the cabin space heats up to make a welcoming driving environment. The Premium trim package gives you heated leather seats that will help keep you and your passengers both comfy and warm. And unlike lots of other cars its size, the Cruze has heated rear seats. This is a nice plus, and not something you’ll find in many cars or trucks.
The performance and comfort features you’ll find in the Jeep Patriot should give you plenty of confidence for taking one out to tackle cold-weather driving situations.
.. This front-wheel drive, compact crossover SUV can handle rough roads, but you may prefer an upgrade to the even more capable all-wheel drive system. With either option, you can utilize the continuously variable transmission’s AutoStick system to pick a lower gear for powering through snow with ease.
On steep hills, the Patriot’s Hill Descent Control system helps stabilize the vehicle and keep the wheels from slipping. The stability control system kicks in when it senses low grip and adjusts traction to keep the vehicle on course. This vehicle has an automatic climate control system that you can set to a comfortable temperature before focusing your attention on the road ahead. On especially cold mornings, use the remote start to fire up the engine and heat the interior before you step outside.
The Buick Verano is a proper performer in winter driving, thanks to its combination of front-wheel drive, traction control, and heated features throughout the cabin space that ensure you and your passengers stay comfortable. The leather-wrapped steering wheel, adjustable mirrors, and power-adjusted front seats are all heated for on-demand toastiness. The dual-zone climate control system keeps tabs on your cabin temperature, based on your settings. And the remote start system lets you preheat the cabin and defrost an icy windshield before you climb aboard.
A proud member of the Jeep lineup, the Compass has both the performance and handling specs needed to live up to the marque’s off-road reputation. The combination of power and comfort in this compact crossover SUV make it a great choice for winter driving. While the standard front-wheel drive performs solidly in cold weather and icy situations, an upgrade to the Trail Rated package (available in 2011-and-up Compasses) boosts traction even further. You can also select the four-wheel drive version, equipped with a drive-mode selector, for quick adjustments on the fly.
On a Compass, the front seats, steering wheel, and even the side mirrors on the doors are heated. The keyless entry system has a remote start button that can be activated from afar — and what’s special here is that an immobilizer turns on to keep potential thieves from making off with your unoccupied vehicle.
The Dodge Journey is also game for the challenges of driving in winter weather. The high-tensile steel frame gives the Journey a firm base that stabilizes handling. The ride is confident and capable with the all-wheel drive option, though a front-wheel drive Journey handles itself well enough in inclement weather. Traction control and electronic brake force distribution systems work together to make this vehicle a solid performer in poor driving conditions.
Both the front seats and steering wheel heat up to comfortable temperatures within a minute of start-up, and you can also start the vehicle remotely and let it warm up before climbing in and heading out.
The Ford Fusion just missed our list of the top 10 4WD and AWD cars of 2016. However, this midsized cruiser has a solid reputation as a good choice for winter driving. The five-door sedan layout and 3,280-pound curb weight help this car feel stable and ready for rain or snow. Electronic stability control actively monitors the wheels’ grip situation in order to transfer power as necessary. Front MacPherson struts and rear multi-link suspension components keep passengers comfortable over rough surfaces. The Fusion SEL comes with a 240-horsepower, six-cylinder engine, which gives you plenty of power. Plus there’s a Sport model which gives you an all-wheel drive option.
Drivers looking for cars that excel in winter weather should check out the well-equipped Chrysler 200. This sleek, midsized sedan has front-wheel drive and a smooth, nine-speed automatic transmission for gliding through the wintry elements without a lot of slipping and sliding. It’s equipped with a strong, optional V6 powerplant, and the 200’s active electronic stability control system detects wheel slippage and directs power to the wheels that do have traction to help keep the vehicle from veering off course.You and your passengers will be protected from the elements thanks to the 200’s heated front seats and dual-zone, automatic climate control system. The leather seats do a good job of retaining heat during brief stopovers at the store or post office. And, the 200’s remote start button lets you issue preemptive warm-ups from the relative comfort of your own home.
The Nissan Altima might seem like an unlikely winter vehicle, but stick with us; this mid-sized sedan can confidently carve through dangerous winter conditions. The front-wheel drive configuration and 3,000 pound curb weight — lots of this is engine weight over the drive wheels—helps you keep the nose pointed in the right direction. It’s got a continuously variable transmission (CVT) that helps maximize your mpg and also helps to minimize slipping that can come along with manual or automatic gear changes. Equipped with all-season tires, the lighter-than-an-SUV Altima can stop quickly on uneven surfaces.
For additional comfort, the automatic, dual-zone heating and air conditioning system helps keep your front and rear passengers comfy without you having to fiddle too much with the control knobs. During cold weather snaps, you can activate the Altima’s remote start system to warm up the vehicle before exiting your home.
Learn more by reading our review of the 2017 Ford Escape.
Choosing the best winter vehicle for you
If winter weather has taken a toll on your driving confidence, you can find your mojo again with a car or truck that’s built to address tough weather conditions. Be sure to compare the driving features and overall vehicle configurations to pinpoint the vehicle that will serve you best — not just during the winter, but beyond the colder months. If the winter cars and trucks on this list don’t fit your requirements, look into other used cars for sale, which include: