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10 of the best cars for driving in the snow

By KSL Cars | Posted - Dec 6th, 2018 @ 9:00pm



The first snowstorm of the season, which took place last week, caused 224 accidents.

Want to do your best when the road is at its worst? There are some great cars on KSL Cars right now that can get you through this winter as safely as possible. We’ve chosen 10 of them, with an emphasis on all-wheel — not four-wheel — drive. The reason for this is that four-wheel drive is typically switched on when needed and really cuts into your gas mileage. All-wheel drive is always on and helps you stay wheel-side down in any conditions or speed. Ironically though, if your all-wheel-drive car ends up in a ditch, it will be a four-wheel-drive truck that pulls you out.

Remember that the even the most advanced vehicles depend on good tires, and you can up any car’s snow game by adding all-season or snow tires. Finally, the best and least popular strategy of all: slow down.

Toyota 4Runner

This SUV was built on the truck platform when it debuted in 1985, but go for newer than 1999 to get the standard multi-mode 4wd system suitable for dry pavement. This can handle 9.6 inches of snow before its undersides start plowing, and from the factory they come with mud-and-snow tires.

A few listings we like:

Browse more listings for the Toyota 4Runner.

Audis with Quattro all-wheel drive

Audi got instant attention when their Quattro starting winning rally races in the early 1980s. Since then they’ve offered all-wheel drive on most of their models. The A4 has been around since 1994, and has gotten bigger and more upscale since. Quattro pops up as an option on most models; we listed the A4 because you can get into an older one cheap. If you go for a Q5, you get 8.2 inches of ground clearance.

A few listings we like:

Browse more listings for Audi models with Quattro all-wheel drive.

Hyundai Kona

This is a new model built to give Mazda CX-3s and Subarus a little competition. The Impreza has 5.1 inches of ground clearance; the Kona 6.98. We list it here because it does well in bad traction, and you may not have heard of it. It came out in 2018, so most KSL Cars listings are for new models, ranging in the 20K range.

A few listings we like:

Browse more listings for the Hyundai Kona.

Chevrolet Suburban

If you have a lot of people and/or stuff to haul in snow, this is a solid choice. Truck-based since 1935, it stopped looking like the front of a truck in 2015. You can substitute a Tahoe if you can get by with 20 inches shorter cargo space, a Yukon if you want more luxury, and a Cadillac Escalade if you want a lot more luxury.

A few listings we like:

  • 1990 (65,000 miles / $3,500)
  • 2015 LTZ (68,000 miles / $38,000)

Browse more listings for the Chevrolet Suburban.

Jeep Cherokee Trailhawk

Really, anything with “Jeep” on the hood (besides a front-wheel-drive Compass) should handle snow easily. We’re narrowing the field to Cherokee because of its traction programs that stay content on asphalt, and the Trailhawk has big tow hooks. Presumably, you would use the hooks to pull other vehicles out of snowbanks. If you need more space, go Grand Cherokee, but don’t say we didn’t warn you about the gas mileage.

A few listings we like:

  • 2015 (20,000 miles / $25,193)
  • 2015 (55,000 miles / $23,000)
  • 2018 (19,000 miles / $25,995)

Browse more listings for the Jeep Cherokee Trailhawk.

Lexus RX / Toyota Highlander

These crossovers ride on the same basic platform, but offer different levels of luxury. Neither is built for off-roading, but they have traction control systems that do well in slippery conditions. They can both be had with power liftgates, meaning when you’re sprinting out to them in the snow or rain, you can have a little cargo-loading shelter in place before you get there.

A few listings we like:

2018 RX350 (113,000 miles / $11,497)

2016 RX350 (25,000 miles / $36,999)

2019 Highlander LE Plus (New / $38,015)

2008 Highlander Sport (154,000 miles / $10,499)

Browse more listings for the Lexus RX.

Browse more listings for the Toyota Highlander.

Acura MDX

There are a lot of SUVs and crossovers out there with all-wheel drive and electronic traction controls, but the Acura does it quite well. With a system they call “Super-Handling All-Wheel Drive,” it works so well you can almost drive carelessly in snow. It shares its undersides with the Honda Pilot, but adds extra tech and luxury.

A few listings we like:

  • 2007 (136,000 miles / $10,976)
  • 2004 (147,000 miles / $5,000)

Browse more listings for the Acura MDX.

Newer Subarus

Every model the company offers has all-wheel drive except the BR-Z. The newer models have added electronic safety features like to keep you between the lines. They are always in all-wheel drive, so you get the added control year-round. Driven fast enough or into very deep snow, you can get one stuck, but you have to work at it. The Impreza has 5.1 inches of ground clearance, so if you take it through 5.2 inches of snow, it’ll start plowing.

A few listings we like:

Browse more listings for newer Subaru models.

Well-used Subarus

The older models have roughly the same systems as the newer ones, minus the electronic interventions. The model line went all all-wheel drive in 1997. New Subies aren’t cheap, but you can find some five-year-olds in good shape for $8,000-$10,000.

A few listings we like:

Browse more listings for well-used Subaru models.

Old Subarus

Four-wheel drive was a switched-on option as far back as the 1970s, and it worked great in snow. Subaru sponsored the U.S. Ski team in 1975, which got them some snow credibility. Unfortunately, bad rust tendencies came standard on early models, so survivors are somewhat rare. Finding one on KSL Cars is tough, but possible.

A few listings we like:

Browse more listings for old Subaru models.

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