No one wants to drive in harsh conditions, and snow or ice carries particular dangers for drivers. Worse than driving in the snow is getting stuck in it. Which can become life-threatening if you're somewhere far from help or in the middle of a heavy storm. Luckily, car makers are responding to these needs. And they're employing a range of different features that go a lot further than the old snow tires that you keep in your trunk until its often too late to use them. AWD vehicles are essential for snow capable cars, wagons, SUV's and trucks. Some companies are taking it much further than that. A range of smart tech solutions, tires, and safety features will keep you safe, warm, and on the road all winter long. Some of the vehicles are obvious choices, and some will surprise you with their capabilities.
Subaru Outback 2018
Subaru could almost be a byword for snow driving, as most of its vehicles come standard with AWD, which is essential for battling icy road conditions. The 2018 Outback has always been the leader in this category, and the 2018 model comes with a retuned suspension and a much smoother ride. The newly introduced X Mode uses the AWD system in conjunction with a stability control that further reduces individual wheel spin. The Outback is a midsize crossover wagon that will cost you only about $26,000 and has 5-star safety reviews. For the price, you'll get tons of safety tech like lane departure and forward collision warnings, automatic forward and reverse braking, as well as optional automatic high beams and blind spot warnings. How good is the Outback? Well, let's just say that it's aced winter driving tests in Lapland, Finland, Northern Canada, and the Russian Tundra.
Toyota Land Cruiser 2018
The Land Cruiser is the preferred vehicle of NGO workers around the world because they know that it is virtually indestructible, whether in the middle of the Sahara desert or the mud of the Amazon Rainforest or the ice of a tundra. This 70-year-old spring chicken will not be beaten by the new kids on the block, and in its current iteration as a large luxury SUV, it continues to run circles around the competition. Since 2016 the Land Cruiser bucked the trend of building SUVs on car frames and instead constructed a unique rugged steel ladder frame. This refit added real heavy duty suspension and a limited slip differential, allowing this massive SUV unparalleled traction on ice. The Land Rover comes standard with tires designed for mud and snow and safety tech including not only rear, front and side cameras but also a camera for underneath the car. In the unlikely event that you do slip on the road, Land Cruiser has one of the highest safety records in the SUV class.
Tesla Model S
Though the Model S doesn't come with standard AWD, you can have an additional motor added to the front wheels. However, in perhaps the worst example of upselling ever, Tesla claims that it isn't necessary. They argue that the RWD is still a superior car in adverse driving conditions than any other gas-powered car on the market, thanks to their electric powertrain. The AC induction technology not only gives you amazing speed off the line, but the quick reaction time of the Model S gives the car a huge amount of traction. This powertrain, coupled with sharp handling and a low center of gravity makes the Model S particularly adept at handling snow and ice on the road. You can also employ the Model S Insane Mode, which gives you incredible kick off the line, and which still maintains traction over icy patches.
Jeep Grand Cherokee 2018
If you are looking for a snow driver without breaking the bank, the Jeep Grand Cherokee is for you. While the standard doesn't come with AWD, for only $32,000, you'll get a four-wheel drive SUV with an excellent safety rating. Moreover, there's tons of tech that Jeep employs specifically for rainy conditions, making this an ideal match if you live somewhere particularly soggy. The Jeep Rain Brake Support is an innovative system that engages when the windscreen wipers are being used, giving you greater stopping power by keeping the brake pads dry. The standard 17 inch off-road tires are great, but the 18 inch Goodyear All-terrain upgrade tires employ shoulder block sides which stop snow from building up in the treads, helping to retain their grip. The upgraded tires also have Kevlar incorporated into them making them stronger, lighter and highly resistant to being punctured by anything lurking under all that snow.
Audi Allroad 2018
The Allroad shares many of its looks, and it's Quattro all-wheel-drive system with the Audi A4, but it outshines the A4 with those few extra inches of ground clearance. The Allroad isn't meant to be an offroad vehicle, but it's a stellar example of a road car that handles with poise under poor road conditions. The Allroad has been absent from American markets from 2005-2013, but when it came back, it was an instant success. It's all new 252 hp standard engine, and standard seven-speed dual clutch automatic transmission give you unmatched performance and the features of a luxury wagon. The redesigned suspension also comes with five different driving modes including one for tricky conditions. But the real beauty of the Allroad is the beauty and lines that make Audi a luxury car, and even though the Allroad is a beast, it still looks like a class act. Even though you may want a car that performs under tough conditions like a surprise blizzard, you still want it to look good during those sunny days.
Acura TLX 2018
The newest car on this list has only been around for three years but offers a smart solution to the problem of driving in poor conditions. The all-wheel-drive version of this midsize sedan comes with Acura's Precision Four Wheel steering that gives you an edge in rain and snow driving as well as an advantage on dry pavement. The torque vectoring system helps to maintain stability in corners, noticeably improving grip and preventing oversteer. The SH-AWD (SH for super handling) may sound a bit awkward, but it makes an enormous difference when driving over rain and snow. If you live someplace where snow is an issue, you'll probably want to upgrade your tires, but you'll be glad you've got Acura's suite of safety features that come standard on the TLX. All models come with the AcuraWatch safety suite, which includes collision detection with automatic braking, adaptive cruise control, lane-keeping assistance, and road-departure mitigation. If you've ever found yourself on some dreaded black ice, you'll know how important these features can be.