Best cold-weather vehicles for the white months ahead

By Automotive Staff | December 04, 2007
As can be seen by the recent whiteout hitting the northeast, while the debate on global warming will one day consume every byte of the planet's Internet bandwidth, there will remain the problem of snow and ice.From our perspective, that boils down to how to drive in it. Kudos to the good folks as BusinessWeek for taking the time to help us with what to drive in it. The magazine has compiled a wintry mix of the top bad weather troopers. The usual AWD and 4WD suspects dominate the chart, with Subaru (who only make AWD), Audi, and Mercedes making notable appearances. Front drivers also fare well, particularly those with above-average traction control systems such as the Honda Accord and Volvo C30. With the recent reversion to performance oriented RWD layouts, Buick's staunchly FWD Lucerne also fares well. With the weight of the engine over the front axles, traction is greatly enhanced. Four wheel drive behemoths like the Hummer H2 and Land Rover Range Rover also make the cut, thanks not only to their proven inclement weather manners but also for their luxury appointments geared specifically for the cold. Nuclear heated seats on a freezing February morning are indeed a Good Thing. The article does indicate the best defense against highway ballet is to simply stay put and avoid driving altogether. That's what we tell the boss, but once the beer and pizza run out having a reliably drivable car is definitely an asset to one's sanity. Any of the cars on the list have what it takes to avoid that eventual stir craze, but they're not exclusive members to the cold weather club. Most FWD cars properly equipped with snow tires can hack the snow and ice, provided the person behind the wheel plays it cool. Even all-wheel drive isn't foolproof when overconfidence sets in, however. And just like any skill, practice is the key. While folks used to driving in icy conditions know what to expect and how to react, those drivers, say in Austin, Texas, are far more likely to end up shiny side down when conditions go a bit slick. The best advice? Just conserve that six-pack or take it slow. We think we know which of the two is more likely, so be careful out there.