10 Best New Cars for Winter
The ultimate all-wheel-drive machines.
Not so long ago, if you wanted a car with all-wheel drive, your choices were pretty much limited to certain Audi and Subaru models. Fast-forward to 2017, and there are an abundance of all-wheel-drive vehicles to choose from—all purring at the ready for any mountainous adventure. If you’re someone who loves it when the white stuff flies (20 inches? Bring it!), read on, because we’ve compiled all of the best and most inspired winter-capable vehicles money can buy right now. (Happy skiing!) And for more great automotive coverage, check out our hilarious roundup of the 20 Worst Rental Cars of the Last 20 Years.
VW’s newest SUV entry was conceived specifically for citizens of the 50 states, where roominess, comfort, and functionality are primary concerns. With room for seven adults and their luggage, it’s a behemoth that maneuvers like a much smaller vehicle, capitalizing on VW engineering know-how for a dialed-in driving experience. The all-wheel-drive model built for northern climates and comes with a 276-horsepower V6, including forward-collision alert and lane-departure warning with steering assist. Prices start at $30,500.
Chrysler 300S AWD
Nearing the end of its current product cycle, the proud 300 remains a stout, handsome, and capable car, the very definition of the all-American full-size sedan. And one of the few that can be equipped with all-wheel-drive, which improves grip and handling in all conditions, not only inclement weather. With sibling brand Jeep situated just down the hall, Chrysler has access to some of the best all-wheel drivetrain technology in the industry. The 300S prioritizes rear-wheel-drive handling dynamics up to the point where vehicle inputs determine front wheel engagement is required for maximum traction. The all-wheel-drive 300s is available with the stellar Pentastar V6. MSRP $35,675. For more fun car coverage, here are the 30 Worst Cars of the Last 30 Years—Ranked.
Chevrolet Colorado LT Crew Cab 4WD
The Colorado—and sibling GMC Canyon—are often compared to Honda’s more expensive Ridgeline pickup, which bests GM’s small trucks in ride quality and other car-like metrics, but squanders its advantage with dorky styling. Based on a minivan platform, it’s an entirely different animal, which does not compare favorably in terms of torque, towing capacity, and truckiness (if that’s your thing). The coarser, rugged Colorado 4WD is a chest-puffing hustler, a worthy scion of the Chevrolet Division’s 100-year truck heritage. When your hauling needs are real but infrequent, a compact pickup driving all four wheels may be just the ticket. Base price: $34,670.
Dodge Challenger GT
Of America’s hairy-chested muscle car triumvirate, only the Challenger offers all-wheel drive, a situation that is likely to remain. Powered by the automaker’s 3.6-liter Pentastar V6 mated to an eight-speed automatic, its 305 horsepower and 268 lb-ft of torque are deliciously well-suited for the task of throwing some impressive rooster tails. It shares an AWD system with the Charger SE and SXT sedans, with an active transfer case and front-axle disconnect for maximum dry weather performance. The Challenger GT borrows its heavy-duty suspension from the all-wheel-drive Dodge Charger police-spec Pursuit sedan, making it one robust winter machine. Prices start at $26,995.
BMW X2 xDrive28i
BMW’s newest compact crossover, the X2, is a sportier alternative to its more proletarian sibling, the X1 while targeting the Mercedes-Benz GLA and Audi Q2 in this hot segment. Equipped with a 2.0-liter TwinPower Turbo four, it’s good for 228 horsepower and 258 lb-ft, driving power to xDrive, BMW’s prodigious all-wheel-drive system, via an eight-speed automatic with hill-descent control. The driving dynamics includes comfort, eco pro, and sport modes, of which the latter is what you’ll want engaged most often. The M Sport X package is tuned for quicker responses and a sportier suspension. Unlike many recent models, BMW got the styling right on this one, with 19- or 20-inch wheels completing its crisp, aggressive new look. Stateside deliveries begin Spring 2018 with pricing expected around $35,000.
Volvo V90 Cross Country
With the history of Volvo steeped with wagons, the V90 Cross Country elevates a proud tradition with a rare combination of style and practicality. Its extra ground clearance and all-wheel-drive provide confidence in all-weather and road conditions. The standard 250 horsepower turbo 2.0-liter four, while not a barn-burner, is well matched to this handsome hauler. For more grunt, opt for the T6 model for a supercharged boost to 316 horsepower. Experience winter like never before from the cozy confines of a strikingly elegant and sophisticated cabin. Being a Volvo, of course, means being outfitted with the latest safety tech like automated emergency braking and a semi-autonomous driving mode. Base price starts at $56,295.
For an uncompromising experience under any condition, the Bentayga sets the bar high. As well as the price, which starts at an eye-watering $195,000 just to get the conversation started. If you’re game, your reward comes in the form of a 600 horsepower W12 engine with all-wheel-drive, a state-of-the-art British bombshell. With torque rated at 664 pound-feet and zero-to-60 in four seconds, the Bentayga stays cool under pressure, undeterred by anything nature can throw in its path. Conveniently, Bentley offers myriad ways to make yours bespoke. Good luck deciding on the more than one-hundred standard and unique paint options (starting with 11 shades of black) along with 15 interior leather colors. The possibilities are endless.
Range Rover Sport
Our list would not be complete without mention of stalwart Land Rover, the UK’s response to Jeep following the Second World War. Any model from this British brand will perform gallantly on snow-covered terrain—paved or otherwise.
For the perfect blend of agility and brute force, our choice is the Range Rover Sport, a 2.5-ton luxury SUV. The winning formula is simple: your choice of a 340 horsepower, supercharged 3.0-liter V6 or an efficient 254 horse turbocharged diesel V-6, matched to an eight-speed automatic with all-wheel drive. (Want more? For 2018, Land Rover is introducing an SVR model with a 575 horsepower 5.0-liter V8!) Popular with the smart set for its urbane looks and as a status symbol, though it’s tempting to smash that stereotype by extracting one from the suburban slog, take it out back and get it muddy. Only then can it truly shine. Prices start at $66,645 for the V6 SE.
Even for devotees of the Mercedes Gelandewagen, the boxy military cult classic is a bit long in the tooth, going on nearly four decades since its introduction with only minor upgrades in the interim. While it’s a testament to something that was damn near perfect, the 2019 G-Wagen is coming in for some significant improvements.
Its anti-fashion fashion statement exterior remains mostly untouched, though now slightly wider for an improved stance and visual balance against that tall greenhouse. Inside and under the skin is where the action is, shedding over 800 pounds of mass and featuring a slick, new cabin, and upgraded mechanical bits to justify its premium price.
The G63 model downsizes to the lithe, blistering bi-turbo 4.0-liter V8 used in high-performance AMG models, while the top line G65 boasts a brawny, torquey V12. The turbodiesel 3.0-liter from the E-Class will also be offered, and all Gs will get M-B’s stellar nine-speed automatic transmission standard. And while the natural habitat of many Gelandewagens lies in the Hills of Beverly or the slopes of Aspen, G-wagens living in less glamorous parts of the globe are navigating tough, dangerous terrain as part of daily duty. For all its pretense, these trucks are the real deal. Prices start at $122,400.
Jeep JL Wrangler
The king of all-terrain vehicles, Jeep’s formidable Wrangler, is what you want when the drifts blow high. The much-anticipated next-generation JL makes its debut in late November at the Los Angeles Auto Show and judging from the previews if you’ve been considering one, the time is now.
Along with legendary off-road prowess, this American classic includes powertrain upgrades featuring the new 2.0-liter turbo four, and a 3.0-liter EcoDiesel V-6 in addition to the sturdy, battle-tested Pentastar 3.6-liter V6. The JL Wrangler’s square-jawed bearing has been chiseled ever finer, with a newly designed cabin that is miles better than the outgoing JK platform. Though it looks familiar, the JL Wrangler is entirely redesigned from the bottom up to be lighter, stronger, and quicker, with numerous safety and technical improvements. Perhaps the most customizable vehicle you can buy, with an enormous after-market for performance parts and all types of swag, owning a Jeep is like joining a fraternity, minus the hazing. To be a member get in line now. Demand for this greatest of all Wranglers is bound to outstrip supply. With prices to be announced, expect an MSRP slightly north of $24,000 for the base Sport model.