Our list of the 10 best small cars for snow is packed with unique choices. The list only includes smaller vehicles with all-wheel drive and avoids any traditional SUVs. You’ll find just one spunky subcompact crossover and a splendid small luxury wagon that’s remarkably fuel efficient and well-appointed, along with a number of affordable vehicles. If you live in a northern climate, you know that dealing with cold weather is no picnic and the right options can make all the difference. Heated seats, heated steering wheels, and heated side mirrors are a blessing in freezing temperatures. No matter which vehicle you choose, a set of proper winter tires is essential in snowy climates. Bridgestone Blizzaks, Nokian Hakkapeliitta R2s, and Michelin X-Ice XI3s are among the highest rated tires for winter driving.
10 Best Small Cars for Snow
Photo Credit: Subaru
2017 Subaru Impreza
The Subaru Impreza is the least expensive vehicle on our list of the 10 best small cars for snow, and one of the most fuel efficient. The Impreza’s starting MSRP of $18,395 and EPA ratings of 28 city/38 highway miles per gallon deliver maximum value. You’ll want to step up to the Premium ($21,195) or Sport ($21,995) trim levels to gain a heated windshield, heated side mirrors, and heated front seats. The Impreza’s 2.0-liter boxer 4-cylinder engine produces 152 horsepower and 145 pound-feet of torque. A 5-speed manual transmission is standard in the base model and a CVT is offered in every trim level. If you love AWD Subies but crave more power, you’ll opt for the WRX or STi.
Photo Credit: Nissan USA
2017 Nissan Juke
The subcompact Nissan Juke defies description. Is it a tall hatchback or a tiny crossover? While the Juke’s frog-like face and distinctive lines are polarizing, a starting MSRP of $22,100 for the AWD Juke S positions it well. Stepping up to the SV trim level gains heated seats and exterior mirrors. The 1.6-liter turbocharged direct injected 4-cylinder engine produces 188 horsepower and 177 pound-feet of torque. While a 6-speed manual transmission is offered with the front-wheel drive base Juke, all AWD Jukes are only available with a continuously variable automatic transmission. The EPA rates the 2017 AWD Juke at 26 city/30 highway mpg. All told, the Juke is a fun little ride, as long as you can live with your friends making fun of it.
Photo Credit: Mitsubishi
2017 Mitsubishi Lancer
The Mitsubishi Lancer is one of the least expensive all-wheel drive vehicles in America, with a starting MSRP for $20,295 for the Lancer ES 2.4 AWC. The Lancer ES, SE, and SEL are exclusively equipped with a 2.4-liter 4-cylinder engine, a continuously variable transmission, and all-wheel- drive. The EPA rates the Lancer SEL 2.4 AWC at 23 city/30 highway miles per gallon and the naturally aspirated DOHC inline-4 produces 168 horsepower and 167 pound-feet of torque. You’ll need to choose the SE or SEL model to gain heated front seats. 2017 looks to be the end of the road for the Lancer in America as a whole, as Mitsubishi turns to a highly SUV-driven lineup.
Photo Credit: Volkswagen
2017 Volkswagen Golf Alltrack
The Volkswagen Golf Alltrack is new for 2017. Equipped with a turbocharged 1.8-liter 4-cylinder engine that produces 170 horsepower and 199 pound-feet of torque, the Golf Alltrack is EPA rated at 22 city/32 highway mpg. The base Alltrack S has an MSRP of $25,850 and is fitted with heated seats as well as heated exterior mirrors and heated windshield washer nozzles. It can be equipped with a 6-speed manual or DSG automatic transmission. It offers more ground clearance (6.65 inches) than the Golf SportWagen S 4Motion (5.5 inches) which is offered at a slightly lower MSRP of $23,830. Unfortunately, Volkswagen can no longer sell the highly efficient TDI turbodiesel engine in the United States.
Photo Credit: BMW
2017 BMW 328d xDrive
While the BMW 328d xDrive may be one of the most expensive entries on our list of the 10 best small cars for snow, it’s also the most fuel efficient, thanks to a 2.0-liter turbodiesel engine that produces 180 horsepower and 280 pound-feet of torque. The 328d xDrive has a starting MSRP of $43,245 and a remarkable EPA fuel economy rating of 30 city/40 highway miles per gallon. You’ll want to add the Cold Weather option package ($800) to gain a heated steering wheel, as well as heated front and rear seats. Need to haul the family and a bunch of luggage to the mountains? The 328d xDrive has you covered, with 4-door sedan and 5-door Sport Wagon models. The 330i is a bit faster, but less fuel efficient.
Photo Credit: Cadillac Media
2017 Cadillac ATS
The Cadillac ATS is one of the most luxurious entries on our list of the best small cars for winter and is offered as a coupe or 4-door sedan. The sedan starts at $37,590 with all-wheel drive when equipped with the 272-horsepower turbocharged 2.0-liter inline-4, which is EPA rated at 22 city/30 highway mpg. While a 6-speed manual transmission is offered in the rear-wheel drive ATS, the all-wheel drive models are only available with an 8-speed automatic. You’ll need to step up to the Luxury trim level to gain heated front bucket seats and a heated steering wheel. The Premium Luxury trim level is fitted with a 335-horsepower 3.6-liter V6 engine and a suite of safety technology.
Photo Credit: Ford Media
2017 Ford Focus RS
While the Ford Focus RS earns our pick as the best hot hatchback for snow, it’s only for folks that love to drive a stick shift. The 350-horsepower 2.3-liter EcoBoost engine is exclusively offered with a 6-speed manual transmission and dynamic torque vectoring all-wheel drive. The EPA fuel economy rating of 19 highway/25 city mpg is quite reasonable, considering the level of performance. You’ll want to add the RS2 option package for heated leather-trimmed Recaro front bucket seats, heated exterior mirrors, and a heated steering wheel, along with voice-activated navigation. The dealer-installed RS Winter Tire and Wheel option package ($1,995) consists of unique 18-inch alloy wheels and Michelin Pilot Alpin PA4 tires.
Photo Credit: Audi
2017 Audi A3
The A3 is the smallest sedan Audi offers in America, with a starting price of $34,200 when equipped with quattro all-wheel drive. It’s quick, efficient, and fun to drive. The turbocharged 2.0-liter engine produces 220 horsepower and is mated to a 6-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission. The EPA rates the 2017 A3 at 26 city/35 highway miles per gallon, with a factory estimated 0-60 mph time of 5.8 seconds. The base A3 Premium is equipped with heated side mirrors and windshield washer nozzles. The Premium Plus trim level adds heated front bucket seats.
Photo Credit: Mercedes-Benz Media
2017 Mercedes-Benz CLA250 4MATIC
The CLA250 4MATIC is the least expensive all-wheel drive vehicle in the Mercedes-Benz lineup, with a starting MSRP of $34,400. The 208-horsepower turbocharged 4-cylinder engine is mated to a 7-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission and is factory-rated at 6.8 seconds in the 0-60 mph sprint. The EPA rates the CLA250 4MATIC at 23 city/32 highway mpg. You’ll need to add the Premium option package ($2,350) to gain heated front bucket seats. The Premium package also includes a Harman Kardon audio system and blind spot mirrors.
Photo Credit: Alfa Romeo
2017 Alfa Romeo Giulia
The Alfa Romeo Giulia is the newest entry on our list of the best small cars for snow, and the most intriguing. The turbocharged 2.0-liter engine is mated to an 8-speed automatic transmission and has a factory rated 0-60 mph time of 5.1 seconds. The base 2017 Giulia has a starting MSRP of $39,995 when equipped with all-wheel drive. The Cold Weather option package ($700) adds heated front seats, a heated steering wheel, and heated windshield washer nozzles. While the Giulia is the new kid on the block and has garnered rave reviews from the press for its style and performance, the media has had little chance to test it on snow, so far.