Winter road domination is top-of-mind when heading into the season of heavy snowfall, and we found 10 prime vehicles that turn snow-filled roads into child’s play.
There are many more than 10, but to keep things simple, we included only factory production cars and omitted the vast variety of vehicles modified for individuals’ needs. We’ve included something for everyone to lust after — including off-road champs, extreme trucks and performance coupes, and sedans. They’re all here, in no particular order. Choose your adventure.
1. 2017 Ford SVT Raptor
Ford is the maker of one of the few performance trucks that rolled off the assembly line prepared to handle extreme conditions. The 450-hp 3.5-liter twin-turbo EcoBoost V6 blasting 510 ft-lb of torque is enough to make any snowdrift cringe, but Old Man Winter will throw in the towel when he comes face-to-tire with the Raptor’s extra suspension travel and the Torsen rear differential with a 4.10 gear ratio. The Ford’s super-strength components ensure that nothing will snap while it’s obliterating — or launching off — a huge snow drift.
2. 1982-1985 Audi Quattro
An Instant Champion
Why a 1982-‘85 Audi Quattro? Because you guessed it: it runs on all four wheels. Not only that, it was the first AWD car made, with the exception of the 1966 Jensen FF and the lesser-known 1903 Spyker 60HP. The Quattro platform was a game changer in rally: when Audi entered the car into the World Rally Championship in 1981, AWD rally cars didn’t exist. The car dominated the competition as soon as the tires hit the gravel, and Michèle Mouton became the first female driver to win the championship.
3. Jeep JK
The Iconic Choice
As long as you bypass the 2WD models, you can’t go wrong with a Jeep JK. Two-door versions are the perfect machines for twisting around tight trails, and the four doors make snow-covered hills seem like child’s play, giggles and all. If you plan on some summer season trail exploring to substitute your winter season fun, the Rubicon is no pushover with its Dana 44 axles and 4:1 transfer case. Whether stock, modified into an extreme trail rig, driven daily or all of the above, it is hands-down the most versatile modern-day Jeep.
4. 2014 Toyota FJ Cruiser
A Versatile Cruiser That’s Too Good for the Mall
The 2014 Toyota FJ is a retro-style off-road expedition rig that has everything needed to start exploring the wilderness, including factory lockers, a drool-worthy component for any trail riding enthusiast. A predecessor of the later FJ40, its off-road capabilities are superior, especially with the part-time 4WD option, which gives driver’s total command of the road. Also available is full-time 4WD, which takes the edge off driving through severe conditions.
5. 2015 Ferrari FF
The Revolutionary AWD Grand Tourer
The 2015 Ferrari FF may be the world’s fastest grocery getter, but due to an extravagant price tag, affording groceries could be a challenge. A first for Ferrari, the unforeseen shooting-brake four-seater may look like a modern-day Jaguar E-type at first glance. But upon closer review, the characteristically sharp and sensually curvy figure is home to a 651-hp 6.2-liter V12 mated to a seven-speed dual-automatic transmission, all flawlessly encapsulating the Ferrari brand. Winter driving is acceptable, if not encouraged: the standard AWD setup combined with extreme snow tires will ensure you never live without milk or toilet paper in the middle of a blizzard.
6. 2010 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution GSR
No, It’s Not a Subaru
The Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution was perfected for 10 generations to be a competitive factory rally car until the esteemed model was discontinued after 2015. Arguing which Evo trim level is the best is like opening a can of worms, but the 2010 GSR is held in high regard. Powered by a 291-hp 2.0-liter turbocharged four-banger, it leaves the paddle shifters from the MR and MR Touring trims behind to preserve the five-speed manual transmission. The Yaw Control rear differential ensures maximum traction by transferring torque to the wheels with the strongest grip on the most treacherous roads.
7. 2004 Subaru WRX STI
Bare-Boned and Rally Ready
It’s impossible to compile a “best of” winter vehicle list without including Subaru in the mix, and this time we vouched for the 2004 WRX STI. Coveted by many rally car enthusiasts, it’s specifically a driver’s car that did away with all the extras. Hell, the original STI didn’t even come with a stereo. The power plant consists of a turbocharged 2.5-liter that blasts 300 hp and 300 ft-lbs of torque, but that’s not all: Subaru’s key advantage is the Driver Controlled Center Differential, which allows for a range of 65/35 to 50/50 power distribution. This combination guarantees optimum traction through wintery forests, mountains, and seasonal roads.
8. 2016 Mercedes Benz G-63
One Powerful Fashionista
The 2016 Mercedes Benz G-63 is a Rambo-esque SUV that pounds over pavement and stomps through anything from heavy snow, mud or menacing terrain. But it also has a glitzy, glamorous side, as any Mercedes should. It’s stocked with leather ten-way adjustable, multi-level heated front seats and plenty of cargo space teamed with every convenience, comfort and passenger entertainment option imaginable. The German luxury brand didn’t skimp out on the power either: a twin-turbo 5.5-liter AMG V8 unleashes 563 hp and 561 lb.-ft. of torque at only 1,750 rpm, which in turn gives the four chrome side pipes a pleasant, boisterous rumble.
9. 2017 Porsche 911 Carrera 4
The Pinnacle of Sports-Car-Meets-Extreme-Weather
The 2017 Porsche 911 Carrera 4’s distinctive Targa top option consummately represents the brand’s sophisticated, elegant style. Best of all, this sports car has an advantage on snow with an enhanced AWD system paired to a fuel-efficient twin-turbo flat-six that spits out 370 hp (420 hp in the S model). It snaps from zero to 60 mph in 3.9 seconds, so if you’re running late for family holiday festivities, this Porsche is one way to make good time. With a choice between a seven-speed manual transmission or a dual-clutch automatic, all that it’s missing is a whale tail.
10. Volvo XC70 AWD
Don’t Judge a Book by Its Cover
The Volvo XC70 AWD may be the nerdy librarian out of the group, but don’t let its modest looks fool you; it still extends from rally car roots. The turbocharged 2.5-liter inline-five engine produces 208 hp and 235 ft-lbs of torque from the factory, whispering sleeper potential. Its off-road capabilities and proven reliability make the wagon a favorite for the ready-for-anything driver. The raised ride height paired with skid plates protect components from rough country roads, while Volvo’s refined AWD conquers inclement weather.