What are the best and worst vehicles for snow?
The best cars for snow and ice driving have high ground clearance, advanced safety technology, and all-wheel drive. These features help keep your tires firmly on the ground where they belong. On the other hand, the worst cars for winter driving have lower ground clearance, rear wheel drive, and a lighter frame. Many sedans, trucks, and SUVs have good features for winter weather, giving you many options.
What are the best cars for snow and ice driving?
Many cars have features that make driving in the snow and ice much safer than it used to be. Most, if not all, of the features listed below are available on many late-model vehicles.
- Anti-lock brake systems (ABS): Anti-lock brakes keep your wheels from locking up, so you can continue steering when you need to hit the brakes. Anti-lock braking systems are required on all cars and minivans made in 2012 or later, but older vehicles may not have ABS.
- Stability control: Electronic stability control is a computer-controlled system that helps keep your car on the road and maintain control of your vehicle when the tires lose their grip.
- All-wheel drive (AWD): Vehicles with all-wheel drive systems automatically send power to the other tires when one or more starts slipping. Many cars with AWD automatically adjust based on road conditions.
- Emergency braking: Emergency braking systems anticipate when a crash is about to happen and automatically engage the brakes without driver assistance.
- Blind-spot monitoring: This system uses sensors to monitor approaching cars to the right and left of your car. It sends a warning signal if you try to change lanes when another vehicle is in the way.
- Headlight wipers: Snow and ice can get caked on your headlights, making them less effective. Headlight wipers clean your headlights just like windshield wipers clean your windshield, making it easier to see in inclement weather.
- Snow tires: The latest safety features and advanced technology won't help if you don't have the right tires on your vehicle. Snow tires provide extra traction for driving on snow and ice.
- Heated side mirrors: Snow and ice falling from the sky can accumulate on your side mirrors, decreasing visibility. Heated mirrors melt it, making it easier to see.
What features do the best trucks for snow have?
Many modern trucks come with the same features outlined above. However, trucks also have a few other characteristics that make them suitable for driving in winter weather:
- Heavy body: Lighter-weight vehicles are more prone to slipping and sliding on snow-covered and icy surfaces. A truck's heavier body makes them more stable.
- Larger wheels: A truck's wheels cover a larger surface area, offering better traction and more stability than smaller wheels, making you less likely to get stuck in the snow.
- High ground clearance: Trucks sit high off the ground, making them easier to drive over snow and ice-covered roads. You don't have to worry about scraping the undercarriage on accumulated snow or ice with a higher clearance.
If you opt for a truck over an SUV, sedan, or minivan, ensure the weight is evenly distributed throughout the vehicle. Having too much in the passenger area or truck bed can lead to vehicle instability that can cause damage or an accident in snow or ice. Learn more about the difference between a truck vs. suv.
What are the worst cars for snow?
While many vehicles will serve you well when winter weather strikes, there are a few you should avoid if you plan to drive in the snow or ice:
- Rear-wheel drive (RWD): A car with rear-wheel drive sends your vehicle forward by spinning its back tires. This type of drivetrain is the worst for driving on snow-covered roads because it provides the least amount of traction.
- Lightweight: Lighter cars are more likely to slip and slide on snowy roads than heavier vehicles.
- Low ground clearance: It's easy to damage the undercarriage of vehicles with low ground clearance when driving in wintery weather. They're also prone to get stuck in the snow, potentially leaving you stranded.