Choosing a Car for Winter Driving

01 20 2015

The right car for winter is, literally, where the rubber meets the road. Low temperatures, snow, ice – all of it makes for trouble on the pavement. But if you're in the market for a new car, you have an opportunity to make the season a little easier. We did some research on choosing a car for winter driving and would like to share our favorite findings.

First, you might be wondering the difference between four-wheel drive (4WD) and all-wheel drive (AWD). Digital Trends covers the distinction expertly in a new article. Here's how author Peter Braun summarized the pros and cons per each type of car:

4WD Pros:
- Best traction in off-road conditions
- Can be turned off to improve fuel economy
- Proven, rugged technology

4WD Cons:
- Adds weight and complexity to cars
- Can’t be used in all conditions
- More expensive than two wheel drive models

AWD Pros:
- Provides increased grip and control under all road conditions
- Gives sportier handling and traction to a broader range of cars.
- Works all the time

AWD Cons:
- Reduces Fuel Economy
- Increases the weight and complexity of vehicles
- Not as good in extreme off-road conditions

On the Forbes list of best cars for the winter, we loved seeing the Toyota Sienna AWD, which is "the only minivan sold in the U.S. to offer optional AWD for added foul-weather prowess." This model has 6.6" ground clearance and – bonus! – heated front seats. Speaking of heated interior features, we also noted the Volvo XC70 T6 AWD on the same Forbes list. What made it stand out? A host of heated components including the front and rear seats, steering wheel, windshield, windshield washer nozzles and headlamp washers. Sounds like a car that we could get cozy in. Browse the other 12 cars on this list of 14.

We also found a great list of 10 Best SUVs in Snow by autobytel. Our favorite was the 2014 GMC Yukon, as it can seat up to nine passengers while giving you traction on your winter drive. We also noted the 2014 Mitsubishi Outlander, "one of the more affordable mid-size snow-ready SUVs on the market."

This post is part of our #SafetyForTheSeason initiative sponsored by O'Reilly Auto Parts. Follow us on social media to get more tips on winter car safety!

What cars do you recommend for winter driving?