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Top 5 Fuel-Efficient New Cars for Snow

by Jeff Wysaski
August 30, 2010
2010 suzuki sx4

2010 suzuki sx4

Before you know it, the snowplow will be depositing piles of the white stuff three feet deep at the end of your driveway. While you'll need a truck to tackle that sort of an obstacle, there are plenty of cars, CUVs and hybrid SUVs that will handle several inches of snow with ease. Even lightweight AWD cars such as the Suzuki SX4 will increase your confidence and your level of safety while driving in slippery conditions.

Snow-friendly, fuel-efficient new cars aren't exactly the easiest vehicles to come across. Typically, the high degree of road performance and inclusion of all-wheel drive required for safe winter driving tend to reduce gas mileage. However, there are several great models for the 2010 year that will save you gas while still staying confident on snowy roads. Review the top five fuel-efficient new cars for snow to find the right winter warrior for you.

The Suzuki SX4 is one of the very few compact cars recommended for winter weather. One of the main reasons for this is that the Suzuki SX4 is available with all-wheel drive - a feature that is notably absent on virtually all of its competitors. A powerful engine and superior handling also help the SX4 plow down snowy roads with relative ease. With all-wheel drive, the SX4 earns an estimated 23 mpg in the city and 29 mpg. Available as either a sedan or hatchback, all-wheel drive models start at $16,899. This makes it one of the most affordable winter vehicles available for the year.

The 2010 Chevrolet Equinox is the most fuel-efficient non-hybrid SUV for 2010. Such a fact makes it a great option for those who want the all-terrain benefits of a sport ute without the negative gas-guzzling connotations. Base models earn an impressive 22 mpg in the city and 32 mpg on the highway, while all-wheel drive models make do with 20 mpg in the city and 29 mpg on the highway. Though not exactly the most exhilarating SUV to drive, the Chevrolet Equinox is a competent, reliable and affordable option for northern climates. Starting price for an all-wheel drive model is $24,364.

As a general rule, luxury cars tend to be better equipped for snowy conditions. This is largely due to improved driving dynamics. One of the best luxury models for fuel efficiency and performance is the Audi A3 TDI. The base diesel engine earns an impressive 30 mpg in the city and 42 mpg on the highway. However, if you want AWD, then you'll have to opt for a gas engine that outputs 21 mpg in the city and 28 mpg on the highway. While less impressive, these numbers are still pretty good considering the vehicle's excellent all-weather performance. Base price for the A3 is $27,270.

Hybrid SUVs are intrinsically great vehicles for all of us environmentally concerned Eskimos out there. The Toyota Highlander Hybrid delivers a powerful ride, high ground clearance and seating for seven. Despite its impressive girth (and standard four-wheel drive), the vehicle manages to deliver 27 mpg in the city and 25 mpg on the highway. Add it all up, and the Highlander is a great winter vehicle for families who are looking to save at the pump. Base price for the Toyota Highlander Hybrid is $34,900.

The Ford Escape Hybrid and Mercury Mariner Hybrid are corporate cousins that prove to be great options for snowy conditions. Both models offer agile handling, seating for five and best-in-class fuel figures. Base models earn 34 mpg in the city and 31 mpg on the highway. Four-wheel drive models offer 30 mpg in the city and 27 mpg on the highway. Though the Escape Hybrid is not as large as the Highlander, it is also not as expensive. Starting at $29,860, the Escape Hybrid is a natural choice for those concerned about fuel efficiency, yet still require improved handling for winter conditions.


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