In 2015, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) released a study noting the most common causes of car accidents. It noted that while human error constitutes more than 90 percent of all collisions, inclement weather conditions also contribute to collisions. These dangerous weather patterns range from snow, fog, sleet, and rain.
It’s critical to understand what makes a car good for cold winter driving. Features you’ll want to look for are four-wheel drive, snow-ready tires, and good weight distribution. Spoiler alert: when it comes to shopping for a winterized car, bigger isn’t always better. After all, larger cars have a bigger center of gravity, making them prone to rollover accidents and flips.
It’s important to know that certain vehicles’ value depreciates much quicker than others due to the harsh weather conditions found in colder climates. If that’s of significant import to you — it would be worth taking note of which types of vehicles retain their value best over time, especially in the face of rust and/or cold weather.
Know Your Car Vocabulary Before Shopping for Your Next Vehicle
Many top-of-the-line winter-ready have these things in common:
- Four-wheel drive. You want your wheels to have a lot of traction when gripping icy roads. Four-wheel drive cars drive power to all four wheels and lock the front and rear axle, so all four tires turn at the same speed. With this feature, you can take sharp turns in icy weather with no problems.
- Ground clearance. Ideally, you want a lot of space between your car’s undercarriage and the snowy road beneath. That way, you won’t “plow” into the snow and get stuck. SUVs and trucks typically have pretty good ground clearance.
- LED headlights and taillights. Sure, when you’re going to the grocery store, no one wants to be blinded by your headlights. However, if you’re traveling in a snowy area with low visibility, LED headlights can be a life-saver. These are much, much brighter than the halogen lights that come with most standard passenger vehicles.
- Snow tires. Some people buy snow tires and keep them in their garages until winter comes. However, there’s nothing wrong with using snow tires all-year-round. When choosing your next car, look for tires with deep tread. These tires grip the road and traverse well over snow and ice.
- Heated mirrors. There is nothing worse than your mirrors fogging up when it gets cold outside. Heated mirrors break down snow and ice the moment you turn the car on. Some models even automatically turn on once it senses a certain outside temperature.
While not particularly necessary for wintertime driving, you may also consider purchasing a remote starter key. That way, you can remotely turn your car on (and its heater) before you even open the door and step inside. It also prevents your car’s windshield wiper from fogging up.
It’s critical to understand what makes a car good for cold winter driving. Features you’ll want to look for are four-wheel drive, snow-ready tires, and good weight distribution. Spoiler alert: when it comes to shopping for a winterized car, bigger isn’t always better. After all, larger cars have a bigger center of gravity, making them prone to rollover accidents and flips. That is not the case for the Ford Bronco, and to learn more about the Ford Bronco Sport SUV check out that article.
Four Great Cars for Wintertime Driving
In 2021, Kelley Blue Book (KBB) listed some of its favorite picks for wintertime driving. Not only do these cars get you from Point A to Point B safely, but they also retain their values over time. These cars include:
The 2021 BMW 3 Series xDrive
KBB notes that this vehicle sits on top of the luxury car food chain. It also includes:
- Rain-sensing windshield wipers. You don’t even have to turn on your windshield wipers anymore. The moment these bad boys sense rain, they’ll automatically turn on to the right speed and intensity.
- Blindspot monitoring. The average car comes with at least four blind spots. That’s not a problem with this car, however. When you’re about to hit something in your blind spot, a beeping noise will go off, alerting you to the hazard.
It also features automatic LED lights and high beams. Models start at around $44,000.
The 2021 Dodge Charger SXT AWD
Dodge is a made-in-America favorite. With this vehicle, not only do you get roomy cabin space, but you also get:
- Forward collision warning. Just like a backup mirror, if you’re about to collide with another object, not only will the car warn you, but it’ll also immediately brake.
- All-wheel drive. We know. We said that four-wheel drive is perfect for wintertime driving. But all-wheel drive achieves similar ends. By powering each of the car’s wheels, the driver stays in full control.
Just like the 2021 BMW 3 Series xDrive, this baby also comes with automatic LED lights and rain-sensing windshield wipers. Models start at around $35,000 but also come with add-ons.
The 2021 Toyota Avalon AWD
This Toyota is hot, hot, hot. Not only does it come with four-wheel drive, but it comes with heated mirrors, heated seats, and a heated steering wheel. Safety features include:
- Automatic high beams
- Front emergency braking
- Blindspot monitor
- 8-speed automatic transmission
It also comes with Toyota’s ingenuity and brilliant fuel efficiency. Models start at around $36,000––and the investment’s well worth it. U.S. World & News Report notes that Toyota holds its value even years after its initial purchase.
The 2021 Toyota Camry AWD
CNBC reports that the Toyota Camry is one of the best-selling cars of all time. With all-wheel drive, it makes taking sharp turns and traveling down icy roads a breeze. For extra visibility, it also comes with LED headlights and taillights.
It also comes with a hot of add-on features, including:
- Rear-cross traffic alert features
- Blind-spot monitoring
- Heated mirrors, steering wheel, and seats
It’s also worth mentioning that Toyotas retain their value over time. Within the first five years, they generally maintain more than half of their buying price.
The 2021 Chevrolet Tahoe 4WD
One of the greatest things about this vehicle is its ground clearance. There is seven inches of height between the car’s undercarriage and the street. It also comes with:
- Rain-sensing windshield wipers
- Forward-collision warnings
- Cross-traffic alert
For an extra $790, motorists can get the “Buyer’s Alert Package,” which offers more features.
Considerations When Choosing a Vehicle for Cold Weather Driving
When choosing the right winter vehicle for you, consider the following:
- Where you live
- Your price point
- How often you travel to and from work
- Your age (seniors generally have a harder time driving than younger people)
- Your driving record
Of course, you should also consider your personal preferences.
A Final Word
Safety should be at the forefront of your mind when purchasing a winter-ready vehicle. To learn more about what car is right for you, visit KBB’s website.