Autumn is just getting started, but it won't be long before denizens of the more northern reaches of the country will be forced to deal with that white, fluffy, and occasionally sticky winter interloper we affectionately call 'snow.' The best cars for snow are those that are able to maximize traction no matter how icy or slipper road conditions might get, or how deep the precipitation might start to pile during the course of a wintry evening. The vehicles listed below represent strong alternatives standard truck-based SUVs for those want a reliable all-wheel drive ride.
Let's take a quick look at 10 of the best cars for snow.
Best Cars For Snow - 01 - 2012 Subaru Impreza WRX Sti
That the 2012 Subaru Impreza WRX STi does exceptionally well when the white stuff falls shouldn't be a surprise to anyone, as this vehicle draws its heritage from decades of winter rally competition. The Subaru Impreza WRX STi's standard symmetrical all-wheel drive system comes with a driver-controllable center differential that can be used to dial in the torque being sent the front and rear wheels, allowing as much as a 50/50 split. The WRX STi is also a ton of fun to drive regardless of weather conditions thanks to its 2.5-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine that puts out 305 horses and 290 lb-ft of twist. A six-speed manual is the only transmission available with this Subaru, and it offers the choice between sedan and hatchback body styles.
Best Cars For Snow - 02 - 2012 Audi A4
The 2012 Audi A4 is an upscale sedan that also offers the bonus of a race-bred all-wheel drive system as optional equipment. The compact Audi A4 provides entry-level luxury buyers with a 2.0-liter, turbocharged engine that produces 211 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque. Quattro all-wheel drive can be had with the car regardless of whether the vehicle is ordered with a six-speed manual or an eight-speed automatic transmission. For those seeking additional practicality, the Audi A4 is also available in a wagon edition called the Avant. All versions of the Audi A4 Avant come with quattro all-wheel drive as standard equipment, as well as an eight-speed automatic gearbox.
Best Cars For Snow - 03 - 2012 Acura TL
Good cars for snow are also frequently engaging vehicles to drive - which is the case with the 2012 Acura TL. The Acura TL is available in the SH-AWD trim level, an acronym that stands for 'Super Handling All-Wheel Drive.' Acura has tuned this particular drivetrain to be able to shift engine torque front to back as well as side to side, which means that while cornering the SH-AWD system is constantly working to improve exit speed by moving power to the outside wheels. Throw in the SH-AWD trim's 305 horsepower, 3.7-liter V-6 (which also produces 273 lb-ft of torque) and available six-speed manual or six-speed automatic transmissions, and its clear why this premium sedan has an edge when it comes to winter performance.
Best Cars For Snow - 04 - 2013 Cadillac CTS Sport Wagon
The 2013 Cadillac CTS Sport Wagon isn't just an upscale people mover with a generous amount of cargo space, it's also an all-weather champion thanks to the ability to order the vehicle with all-wheel drive. The option is available with both of the Cadillac CTS Sport Wagon's engines: the 3.0-liter V-6 (270 horsepower, 223 lb-ft of torque) and the 3.6-liter V-6 (318 horsepower, 275 lb-ft of torque). A six-speed automatic transmission is responsible for handling the gear shifting duties with either engine, and it's also possible to upgrade the Sport Wagon's suspension system in order to give it a more playful nature when pushed hard.
Best Cars For Snow - 05 - 2012 Toyota Sienna
The 2012 Toyota Sienna certainly stands out from the other vehicles on this list of the best cars for snow, but there's a good reason for including this particular model as it is the only minivan currently on the market that can be had with all-wheel drive. Eight passenger seating and the ability to haul up to 150 cubic feet of cargo with the rear rows folded make the Toyota Sienna the perfect sleigh for anyone who doesn't want to drive an SUV but who needs to be able to transport the occasional hockey team or stack of snowboards. To gain access to all-wheel drive, the Sienna must be ordered with its 266 horsepower, 3.5-liter V-6 engine. Also capable of generating 245 lb-ft of torque, this mill is shifted via a six-speed automatic transmission.
Best Cars For Snow - 06 - 2012 Infiniti G Sedan
The 2012 Infiniti G sedan continues the trend of entry-level luxury cars that can be had in an all-wheel drive edition, making it a perfect winter weather chariot. The Infiniti G37x comes standard not only with all-wheel drive but also with the brand's ubiquitous 3.7-liter V-6 engine. This unit is good for a healthy 328 horsepower and 270 lb-ft of torque, and it comes mated to a seven-speed automatic transmission that allows for the driver to intervene in the gear selection process via steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters. Additional performance goodies are also available with the G37x in order to help enhance its already responsive chassis.
Best Cars For Snow - 07 - 2013 Lincoln MKS
The 2013 Lincoln MKS has been significantly revised for the current model year, and it continues to provide luxury buyers with a viable full-size winter option by offering available all-wheel drive across the board. Stepping into the Lincoln MKS AWD trim means benefiting from a 300 horsepower, 3.7-liter V-6 that also generates 280 lb-ft of torque. Moving up to the MKS EcoBoost installs a twin-turbo 3.5-liter V-6 that is good for 365 ponies and 350 lb-ft of torque (with standard all-wheel drive). A six-speed automatic transmission comes with both models of the big sedan, and fuel mileage is almost identical for the two drivetrains despite the additional power offered by the EcoBoost six-cylinder.
Best Cars For Snow - 08 - 2012 Suzuki Kizashi
The 2012 Suzuki Kizashi is one of the best cars for snow that no one has ever heard of. Well, almost no one - Suzuki's tiny dealership network and equally obscure advertising campaigns have made the Suzuki Kizashi one of the best kept secrets in the industry. The Suzuki Kizashi provides mid-size sedan accommodations, snappy exterior styling, and excellent value. It can also be had with an all-wheel drive system that is yoked to a continuously-variable automatic transmission, making it sure-footed in the snow. Like all Kizashis, the all-wheel drive model comes with a 2.4-liter, four-cylinder motor that generates 185 horsepower and 170 lb-ft of torque.
Best Cars For Snow - 09 - 2012 Dodge Charger
The 2012 Dodge Charger is a bit of an outlier on our list of the best cars in the snow. The Dodge Charger is better known for its aggressive full-size sedan styling and its available Hemi engine than its foul weather prowess, but with all-wheel drive available as an option with both the standard 3.6-liter V-6 (292 horses, 260 lb-ft of torque) and 5.7-liter V-8 (370 ponies, 395 lb-ft of twist) it's no slouch during the winter months. An eight-speed automatic transmission comes standard with the all-wheel drive V-6 Charger, while the all-wheel drive Hemi makes do with a five-speed auto.
Best Cars For Snow - 10 - 2012 Subaru Forester
A Subaru kicked this list, and it only seems natural that in a discussion about the best cars for snow a Subaru should end it, too. The 2012 Subaru Forester is favored amongst northern dwellers thanks to its tall-roofed, wagon-like approach to the crossover equation, as well as its standard all-wheel drive system. Two different flavors of Subaru Forester are available. The base 2.5-liter, four-cylinder model can be counted on for 170 horsepower and 170 lb-ft of torque, while the XT editions features a turbocharged version of the same motor that churns out 224 horsepower and 226 lb-ft of torque. Base Foresters can be had with either a five-speed manual or a four-speed automatic transmission, while the XT is automatic only.