Vehicles with the best handling in snowy conditions have electronic stability control, high ground clearance and a low center of gravity. Four-wheel and all-wheel drive give a car better traction, but do not guarantee better handling on ice. Check annual reviews listing the best cars to drive in snow from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, Forbes Magazine and Edmonds.com.
Topping the 2009 list for Forbes Magazine's "Best Cars in the Snow," the Audi A8/S8 comes standard with all-wheel drive, electronic stability control and four-wheel anti-lock brakes. Heated seats are also standard in front and optional in the back. Other standard features include adaptive suspension, front and rear fog lights, adaptive steering resistance, retractable headlight washers and heated windshield washer nozzles. The Audi A8/S8 starts at $74,550, as of April, 2010.
Raised more than eight inches off the ground, the Subaru Outback 3.6 R Limited combines high ground clearance with standard all-wheel drive. This wagon's handling also received good reviews from both the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety and Forbes.com. The Outback weighs more than 3,000 pounds and offers standard features like brake assist, variable torque distribution, electronic stability control and four-wheel anti-lock brakes. In addition, Subaru has several, optional winter extras like window-wiper de-icer, remote start, severe weather companion kit, battery warmer and engine block heater. The Subaru Outback starts at $30,995 as of April, 2010.
Consider the Volvo XC90 when safe winter driving tops your priority list. Edmunds.com calls it an "excellent snow vehicle." The XC90 has nearly nine inches of ground clearance and weighs more than 4,000 pounds. Available in two models, one has a 3.2-liter inline six-cylinder engine with optional all-wheel drive, while the V8 model comes with standard all-wheel drive. In addition, an optional climate package adds features like heated seats and headlamp washers. The Volvo XC90 starts at $35,962 as of April, 2010.