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
Mar 18, 2022

We love the idea of snow - until it starts falling when we're trying to get to work. While the occasional snow day is always exciting, 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 falls and causes unfathomable chaos across the British road network. But it will please you to know that you wont 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.

Best small cars for driving in snow

1. Audi A1 quattro

Used deals from £14,995
Monthly finance from £0*

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. For the best value, you'll have to stick with the previous-generation model.

The good news is you have a great selection of top-level S1 models with very few miles available on BuyaCar for less than a standard spec brand new model. Throw in the inclusion of four-wheel drive and you've got yourself something of a deal.


2. Citroen C3 Aircross

Used deals from £10,700
Monthly finance from £210*

This Citroen C3 Aircross is only available in front-wheel-drive form, but it 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.

That means 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 driving modes help to ensure that it's optimised for the surface you're driving on at all times.


3. Dacia Duster

Used deals from £6,980
Monthly finance from £0*

Prices for the Dacia Duster have increased significantly in the past couple of years, rising to over £20,000 for four-wheel-drive versions, but you can pick up a previous-generation used Duster from BuyaCar for much less than that. That's cheaper than even a Ford Fiesta, 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, and it's not a bad car to drive either, as long as you're able to look past the last of interior comforts.


4. Fiat Panda 4x4

Used deals from £6,795
Monthly finance from £0*

Don’t be fooled by the Fiat Panda 4x4'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.


5. Mini Countryman

Used deals from £8,090
Monthly finance from £511*

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.


6. Suzuki Ignis

Used deals Limited stock

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, and 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.


Best SUVs and crossovers for driving in snow

1. Land Rover Discovery Sport

Used deals from £17,750
Monthly finance from £375*

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 cross-country shortcut 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, so you're best avoiding this engine altogether. You also have the option of seven seats if you need them. They're included as standard on most models. The back row is on the snug side, though.


2. Peugeot 3008

Used deals from £13,000
Monthly finance from £240*

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 surprising 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 from slipping on snow when accelerating; it's the same system found in the C3 Aircross above. 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.


3. Skoda Kodiaq

Skoda Kodiaq front three quarters view

Used deals from £17,980
Monthly finance from £488*

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 control, which controls your speed on steep slopes.


4. Subaru Forester

Used deals Limited stock

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.


5. Toyota Land Cruiser

Used deals Limited stock

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 keeps on going.

Admittedly, its interior is on the drab side for such an expensive car (prices for new models start from well over £40,000) 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.


6. Volvo XC40

Used deals from £19,300
Monthly finance from £419*

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 an all-wheel-drive (AWD) version 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.


Best family cars for driving in snow

1. Audi A4 allroad

Used deals Limited stock

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.


2. BMW 5 Series xDrive

Used deals from £20,500
Monthly finance from £0*

For proof you don’t need to buy an SUV or even a jacked-up estate car, see the current BMW 5 Series. This is the best large saloon car that money can buy, and 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, 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


3. Skoda Superb 4x4

Used deals Limited stock

Think of the latest Skoda Superb as a 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.


4. Volvo V60 Cross Country

Used deals Limited stock

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.


Best luxury cars for driving in snow

1. Range Rover

Used deals from £27,490
Monthly finance from £1,206*

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.


2. Lexus RX

Used deals Limited stock

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.


3. Porsche Panamera Sport Turismo

Used deals Limited stock

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.


4. Volvo XC90

Used deals Limited stock

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 friendly 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.


*Representative PCP finance - Ford Fiesta:

48 monthly payments of £192
Deposit: £0
Mileage limit: 8,000 per year
Optional final payment to buy car: £2,923
Total amount payable to buy car: £11,926
Total cost of credit: £2,426
Amount borrowed: £9,500
APR: 9.9%

Buyacar is a credit broker, not a lender. Our rates start from 6.9% APR. The rate you are offered will depend on your individual circumstances.


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