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.
1) 2015 Subaru WRX STi
That the 2015 Subaru 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 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 features such as upgraded suspension tuning and Brembo brakes.
2) 2015 Audi A4
The 2015 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 220 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.
3) 2015 Acura TLX
The all-new 2015 Acura TLX was designed to replace Acura’s TL and TSX, so this sedan is under quite a bit of pressure. The base trim is powered by a 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine, paired to a new eight-speed dual-clutch gearbox, good for 206 horsepower. Stepping up to the 3.5-liter V-6 yields 290 horsepower, put to the ground by a nine-speed automatic transmission. Either option can be ordered with Acura’s all-wheel drive system, which they call Super Handling All-Wheel Drive. What makes it super? It features torque-vectoring control to make each turn as precise as possible.
4) 2015 Cadillac CTS
The 2015 Cadillac CTS isn't just an upscale people mover, it's also an all-weather champion thanks to the ability to order the vehicle with all-wheel drive. The option is available with two of the car’s engines: the 2.0-liter turbo four-cylinder (272 horsepower, 295 lb-ft of torque) and the 3.6-liter V-6 (321 horsepower, 275 lb-ft of torque). The 3.6-liter twin-turbo option is configured in rear-wheel drive only, though. A six-speed automatic transmission is responsible for handling the gear shifting duties, and it's also possible to upgrade the suspension system in order to give it a more playful nature when pushed hard.
5) 2015 Toyota Sienna
The 2015 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. The 2015 Sienna is powered by a 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.
6) 2015 Infiniti Q40
The 2015 Infiniti Q40 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 Q40 comes with the brand's ubiquitous 3.7-liter V-6 engine, good for a healthy 328 horsepower and 269 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 Q40 in order to help enhance its already responsive chassis.
7) 2015 Lincoln MKS
The 2015 Lincoln MKS 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 305-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.
8) 2015 Volvo S60
For the 2015 model year, the Volvo S60 AWD offers plenty of options, including a diverse lineup of powerful engines and a sophisticated, comfortable cabin. Though the S60’s entry-level models are front-wheel drive, Volvo’s all-wheel drive system is one of the brand’s biggest strengths and well worth the upcharge. The S60 AWD can be configured with a turbo five-cylinder or six-cylinder engine, both of which come paired to a six-speed automatic transmission that helps return solid fuel economy.
9) 2015 Dodge Charger
The 2015 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 the 3.6-liter V-6 (292 horses, 260 lb-ft of torque), an upgraded V-6 with 300 horsepower, and the 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 is now available with all versions of the 2015 Charger.
10) 2015 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 2015 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 2.0-liter that churns out 250 horsepower and 258lb-ft of torque. Base Foresters can be had with either a six-speed manual or a continuously variable transmission, while the XT is CVT only.