Best cars for snow

Don't get stuck when snowflakes strike: these are the best cars for snow driving, from cheap hatchbacks to luxurious SUVs

Simon Ostler James Mills
Oct 28, 2019

We love the idea of snow - until it starts falling when we're trying to get to work. While the ocassional snow day is something of an excitement, that novelty will soon wear off when work is calling and you can't get your car off the driveway without sliding into a ditch.

So you need a car that can handle the challenges of winter during those rare occasions when the white stuff does actually fall and causes unfathomable chaos cross the British road network. But it will please you to know that you wont necesarily need to spend a huge amount of money on the latest top-of-the-range off-roaders with four-wheel drive and excessive levels of clever technology.

Choosing the right car for your needs will depend primarily on where you live and the type of roads you'll typically be driving on. Requirements such as practicality and budget will of course also come into it, so be careful not to go in blindly and come out with something that is actually not much good to you day-to-day. 

In most cases, a perfectly standard hatchback fitted with appropriate winter tyres will be more than sufficient for all but the deepest snow drifts. We've got everything you need right here to help you manage during those treacherous winter months. Read on for our run-down of the best cars for snow driving.

 

Best cars for driving in snow

Best small affordable cars for driving in snow

1. Audi A1 quattro

Latest Audi A1 Quattro deals from £15,740
Monthly finance from £221

The baby in Audi’s range has just had a complete makeover and emerged looking more stylish and distinct. Inside, there’s a dashboard fit for the digital age, and under the bonnet is a range of super-efficient engines. But it’s the option of four-wheel drive – or quattro, in Audi speak – for the A1 that will be of interest to drivers after a compact car that can tackle the worst of winter weather. You'll have to wait a little longer for all-wheel drive versions of the latest A1, but in the meantime, there are plenty of deals on sporty S1 versions of the previous model with quattro that you can check out below. 

Audi A1 buyers' guide

2. Citroen C3 Aircross

Latest Citroen C3 Aircross deals from £9,250
Monthly finance from £134

This Citroen comes with the option of Grip Control; an electronic system that monitors the road conditions and adjusts the amount of power sent to the wheels for maximum grip. It means that front-wheel drive C3 Aircross models fitted with Grip Control can breeze through winter conditions, proving that you don't need a big 4x4 to drive on snow. Mud, snow and sand settings ensure that it's optimised for the surface you're driving on.

Citroen C3 Aircross buyers' guide

3. Dacia Duster

Latest Dacia Duster deals from £6,490
Monthly finance from £119

Brand new four-wheel drive Dusters (shown above) are on sale for around £12,500 before any discounts, and you can pick up a previous-generation used Duster for half that price. That makes the car cheaper than most Ford Fiestas, and there’s no doubting which one you would choose if you wanted to get anywhere in the snow.

Admittedly, for the rest of the year, you would find the Fiesta quieter, more nimble and considerably better equipped, but many will prefer the workhorse qualities of the Duster.

Dacia Duster buyers' guide

4. Fiat Panda 4x4

Latest Fiat Panda 4x4 deals from £8,900
Monthly finance from £164

Don’t be fooled by the Panda’s pintsize, cartoonish character. Anyone that’s owned one will testify to its tenacious ability at tackling rough roads and winter weather. 

Its four-wheel drive system operates automatically to keep you moving in the snow, or you can lock it to split power evenly between the front and back when the going gets tough. It also comes with a higher ride height than most other Pandas, allowing it to pass over drifts of heavier snow with less chance of getting stuck. There’s a choice of a 0.9-litre, turbocharged petrol engine or more muscular diesel motor.

Fiat Panda buyers' guide

5. Mini Countryman

Latest Mini Countryman ALL4 deals from £10,250
Monthly finance from £162

Here's another small car with a big heart. The Mini Countryman is available with either front- or four-wheel drive, and in both cases proves to be very capable of tackling adverse conditions. 

We've gone for the previous generation four-wheel drive ALL4 model as, for not much more money than the standard front-wheel drive model, you can take vastly reduce the risk of getting stranded in the snow. Although the extra weight of the additional systems does put a dampener on speed and economy, so bear that in mind if you don't actually need that safety net.

Mini Countryman buyer's guide

6. Suzuki Ignis

Latest Suzuki Ignis deals from £7,790
Monthly finance from £115

If you need an affordable car that’s fit for an adventure or two off the beaten track, the Suzuki Ignis makes for a good alternative to the Fiat Panda 4x4. It has the look and stance of a 4x4, but four-wheel drive is actually an option, called Allgrip. Fit it, and this little car is like a mountain goat, able to scurry about places that might faze bigger, more expensive SUVs. There aren't a great number of Allgrip models around, so it's worth moving quickly if you see one that you want.

Suzuki Ignis buyers' guide

Best SUVs and crossovers for driving in snow

1. Land Rover Discovery Sport

Latest Land Rover Discovery Sport deals from £17,990
Monthly finance from £241

Most SUVs are designed to be best on Tarmac roads. Their ability to scramble up slippery slopes and crawl across rocks is very much an afterthought.

But Land Rover still builds its cars to conquer the unknown, even if a churned-up grassy lane is likely the toughest test it will ever encounter. It works well for the company’s marketing strategy, but also makes their cars a bit more dependable in winter. In theory, if the road is blocked, you could take the Land Rover Discovery Sport on a shortcut across country instead, assuming the tyres are appropriate for the terrain.

Cars with the cheapest eD4 engine are less capable, as they don't have four wheel drive. Avoid this engine and should also have seven seats, which are included as standard on most models. The back row is on the snug side, though.

Land Rover Discovery Sport buyers' guide

2. Peugeot 3008

Latest Peugeot 3008 deals from £14,419
Monthly finance from £170

You could argue that Peugeot’s engineers understand better than most what drivers need from an SUV. Its current 3008, which went on sale in 2016, is one of the best crossovers that you can buy, but doesn’t even feature four-wheel drive. How? It includes a Grip Control system, which gives a surprisingly amount of traction on slippery surfaces.

This is a software system that can adjust the amount of power sent to the front wheels, helping to prevent the car slipping on snow when accelerating. It may not be quite as effective as a proper four-wheel drive car but, when combined with winter tyres, it's all that most drivers will need.

Peugeot 3008 buyers' guide

3. Skoda Kodiaq

Latest Skoda Kodiaq deals from £17,480
Monthly finance from £248

Need an affordable, spacious seven-seat SUV that comes with the latest tech and is available with four-wheel drive? Look no further than Skoda’s acclaimed Kodiaq. The Sportline or Scout (pictured) models are a bit more expensive but look better than regular models and come with a host of extra equipment.

All Kodiaq 4x4 variants can tackle snow without sending a shiver down your spine, but the Scout adds a little more capability for rough-roads, with underbody protection to prevent damage and Off-Road Assist, which helps manage the Kodiaq’s speed off-road and works in conjunction with hill-descent assist, which controls your speed on steep slopes.

Skoda Kodiaq buyers' guide

4. Subaru Forester

Latest Subaru Forester deals from £13,495
Monthly finance from £238

Generations of farmers swear by the Subaru Forester. It has four-wheel drive, is raised off the ground, boasts rugged mechanical parts and generally doesn’t go wrong.

That’s a finding reflected by plenty of Forester owners, in the 2016 Auto Express Driver Power consumer satisfaction survey. It was ranked sixth out of 150 cars - something you’ll be glad of when you’re driving in freezing temperatures with snow falling heavily all around you.

Subaru buyers' guides

5. Toyota Land Cruiser

Latest Toyota Land Cruiser deals from £32,490
Monthly finance from £464

The Land Cruiser makes for an unstoppable family car that can seat seven in some degree of comfort. Its secret to breezing the snow is a wealth of four-wheel drive mechanical hardware that is complemented by the latest electronic technology. Together they ensure that when the going gets tough, the Land Cruiser gets going.

Admittedly, its interior is on the drab side for such an expensive car (prices start from around £34,000) and the four-cylinder diesel engine and automatic gearbox are far from the most sophisticated, in terms of both performance and refinement, but few cars are as capable as this 4x4.

Toyota Land Cruiser buyers' guide

6. Volvo XC40

Latest Volvo XC40 deals from £23,990
Monthly finance from £298

Just as Scandinavian drama has set the standard by which other TV shows follow, so Volvo’s new XC40 leads the way in the small SUV scene. This is an outstanding car, a class-leading product that shows it’s possible for a comparatively small car company to do a better job than the German giants in the premium SUV market.

Whether you choose a front-wheel drive model or all-wheel drive version (AWD) is up to you. All trim levels are available with Volvo’s AWD system if you want it. But regardless of which you go for, the XC40 is a seriously impressive SUV.

Volvo XC40 buyers' guide

Best family cars for driving in snow

1. Audi A4 allroad

Latest Audi A4 Allroad deals from £16,400
Monthly finance from £255

The Audi A4 is one of the most quiet and comfortable cars in its class. But in the guise of the allroad, it is built for those who intend to tow, tackle a slippery slipway or need a family estate that can stay surefooted on snow just as well as it can carry the family Labrador in the boot.

Audi has raised the ground clearance compared with a standard A4 Avant, fitted some natty looking additions to the bodywork and equipped it with four-wheel drive and – with some versions – adjustable suspension that gives a pillow-soft ride over even the roughest roads. The current model (pictured) is available with Audi's latest technology (as an option) but the cheapest versions are from the previous generation, which offer a similar driving experience.

Audi A4 allroad buyers' guide

2. BMW 5 Series xDrive

Latest BMW 5 Series xDrive deals from £22,950
Monthly finance from £306

For proof you don’t need to buy an SUV or even jacked-up estate car, see the current BMW 5 Series. This is the best large saloon car that money can buy, and these days BMW’s engineers have addressed its poor traction in snow by fitting select models with xDrive, an accomplished four-wheel drive system.

With a wide choice of petrol and diesel engines, and a wealth of onboard technology and one of the best driving experiences money can buy, it’s the yardstick by which other cars are judged

BMW 5 Series buyers' guide

3. Skoda Superb 4x4

Latest Skoda Superb 4x4 deals from £11,500
Monthly finance from £173

Think of the latest Skoda Superb as value-for-money alternative to an Audi A6 or BMW 5 Series and you won’t go far wrong. It is exceptionally spacious, delightfully quiet and the interior feels far removed from Skodas of old.

The latest hatchback looks a little like a saloon, and is supremely practical, with a boot that’s big enough to camp in. But it’s the addition of four-wheel drive that we suspect will be of most use to drivers after a smart car that’s fit for the next snowmageddon event.

Skoda Superb buyers' guide

4. Volvo V60 Cross Country

Latest Volvo V60 Cross Country deals from £28,216
Monthly finance from £374

Like the Audi A4 allroad, the V60 Cross Country is an estate car that’s been decked out in an adventurer’s wardrobe. It sits 65mm off the ground, handy in deep snow or on rutted tracks.

The Volvo is fitted with technology that helps it to be efficient on the road, but competent off it, so muddy hills and rocky tracks shouldn’t spell too much trouble. The rest of the car is overshadowed by alternatives - such as the Mercedes C-Class, which are more luxurious, but it means that you should be able to get a good discount.

Volvo V60 Cross Country buyers' guide

Best luxury cars for driving in snow

1. Range Rover

Latest Range Rover deals from £32,100
Monthly finance from £500

It’s the king of the mountain, the car that will not only make it to the top of the world but signals to everyone else below that you’ve done rather well for yourself.

Its capability off-road or when towing is the stuff of legend. But for most owners, the true appeal of the Range Rover is that it’s a relaxing luxury car that will speed them from A to B in complete comfort. Whether up to its axles in mud, surfing the sand on a beach or wafting across snow-covered roads, there’s little that prevents a Range Rover from reaching its destination.

Range Rover buyers' guide

2. Lexus RX

Latest Lexus RX deals from £27,950
Monthly finance from £393

Drivers don’t have to buy big, brash 4x4s with gas-guzzling petrol or diesel engines to stay out of trouble in winter weather. Cars like the Lexus RX show there’s an alternative, with a hybrid powertrain that is cleaner, comparatively fuel efficient and lets you announce at dinner parties that you’re trying to do your bit for the environment.

The RX won’t be to everyone’s taste – its styling is deliberately bold – but we suspect that the plush interior and Lexus’ legendary reputation for outstanding customer satisfaction will simply add to this snow-car’s appeal.

Lexus RX buyers' guide

3. Porsche Panamera Sport Turismo

Latest Porsche Panamera Sport Turismo deals from £75,990
Monthly finance from £1,000

The Sport Turismo is like a Panamera only, er, not ugly. It only comes with four-wheel drive, which means traction on frost- or snow-covered roads is assured.

However, unlike, say, a Cayenne SUV, the Panamera Sport Turismo sits lower to the road. This can be bad, if you have a holiday home at the end of a remote track and need extra ground clearance to avoid reshaping the underside of the car. However, it can also be good, because you get to enjoy a luxury car that feels more faithful to Porsche’s sports car roots.

Porsche Panamera buyers' guide

4. Volvo XC90

Latest Volvo XC90 deals from £27,098
Monthly finance from £379

One of the best large seven seat SUVs on sale, the XC90 is a haven of calm that somehow brings out the best in a family and helps journeys pass by without drama. That’s thanks to an interior that is straight out of the Scandinavian book of designer-cool.

The T8 model has proven popular, as its plug-in hybrid technology makes it surprisingly tax efficient for company car drivers. But for most private drivers, the D5 diesel is the XC90 to plump for, as it’s affordable to buy and more economical on a long drive. All models come with four-wheel drive, too.

Volvo XC90 buyers' guide

 

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