What are the best 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. Additional safety features, like emergency braking and blind-spot monitoring, can make driving in snowy conditions safer.

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What is the best type of vehicle for snow?

SUVs and pickup trucks generally have better ground clearance, making them a good choice for driving in deep snow. But there are other features that make driving in the snow and ice much safer, either by improving control of the vehicle or making it easier to navigate in wintry weather. 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

Winter driving tips

The way you drive in the snow is key. For example, you should avoid sudden braking and acceleration, which can cause your vehicle to skid if the roads are icy or unplowed. Learn more winter driving tips as well as what to do if your car gets stuck in the snow.

Is a car or SUV better in the snow?

It depends on the conditions you're driving in. An SUV's additional weight and ground clearance might make it easier to traverse deep snow compared to a sedan or other smaller vehicles. However, that additional weight can make stopping an SUV more difficult, and their higher center of gravity makes them more prone to rollover.

On the other hand, smaller vehicles with lower ground clearance may be more prone to skidding or getting stuck in the snow.

In most scenarios, the type of vehicle you drive matters less than whether it has AWD and snow tires equipped.

Do pickup trucks drive well in the snow?

Like SUVs, pickup trucks are generally taller and heavier, giving them an edge in deep snow. Their larger wheels also provide better traction. However, when driving a pickup truck in the snow you should evenly distribute the weight throughout the vehicle. Too much in the passenger area or truck bed can make the vehicle less stable while driving on snow or ice. Learn more about the differences between trucks and SUVs.

Is all-wheel drive (AWD) or 4-wheel drive (4WD) better in snow?

Both systems improve a vehicle's traction in snowy conditions, but AWD fits most people's driving needs since it automatically sends power to all four wheels when needed. A 4WD system may have to be manually turned on, depending on the make and model.

However, if you frequently drive in deep snow or off-road, a 4WD vehicle may work for you. When engaged, 4WD mode locks the front and rear axles so they move at the same speed, reducing wheel spin on extremely slippery terrain or when the vehicle is stuck.

Learn how AWD and 4WD systems may impact your insurance rate.

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