Winter driving is, in cold and snowy climates, undeniably hazardous. For new drivers, it can be downright terrifying. You have less control as you speed up, slow down, and come to a stop, your visibility is significantly decreased, and you constantly have to worry about black ice — not to mention the inexperienced and reckless drivers you are sharing the road with.
That’s why the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) advises drivers to take special precautions in winter. They include practicing winter driving on safer and more familiar roads, making sure your car maintenance is up to scratch, planning your route out ahead of time in winter, and arming yourself with emergency supplies like jumper cables, shovels, abrasive materials, and flashlights in case you do get stranded.
One of the best precautions you can take to increase your safety when driving in winter starts well before the weather turns, though — choosing the best vehicle. Your vehicle is your essential partner when you’re on the road, and you’re going to want to make sure that you can rely on it.
Most experts agree that a smaller or mid-sized SUV with four-wheel drive is the safest option for winter drivers who are not carrying heavy loads. A low-driving four-wheel-drive sedan may serve you well through most of the winter, as long as you have high-quality winter tires, but given very heavy snow, these vehicles can encounter obstacles and be stalled. Pickup trucks can be solid winter cars as well, but that depends on one crucial factor. To be safe on an extremely snowy road, you will need to carry a heavier load in the back.
When you’re shopping around for a new vehicle and live in an especially cold and snowy region, you will want a car that you can rely on throughout the year — a solid workhorse that purrs like a kitten every time.
Some examples of vehicles you’ll love year-round, including for winter driving, include:
As you’re choosing the best vehicle to drive in winter, make sure to scour online reviews specifically related to winter performance. You’re looking for cars that can handle heavy snow with ease, have additional safety features, and come with defrosting air conditioning — not to mention quality winter tires. Your options aren’t limited to the models above by any stretch of the imagination, but they should give you a launchpad from which you can continue exploring.
No matter which winter vehicle you ultimately end up with, remember to check your battery, windshield wipers, antifreeze levels, and your tire tread. Even with the best car, the actions you take as a driver determine your own safety and that of others.