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American Honda Motor Co., Inc.
Winter and All-Wheel Drive: A Natural Pair
When people think winter driving, all-wheel drive is often the first thing that comes to mind, and for good reason. The improved traction makes it easier to navigate wet, slippery roads. There are also a number of other features that winter-weather drivers find attractive.
From heated seats and mirrors to remote start, today’s cars make winter driving safer and more enjoyable than it has ever been. Here, we look at cars that offer all-wheel drive and a good range of features to make driving in cold-weather climes easier for the driver and more pleasant for the passengers.
Readers should note that the prices and scores listed in this slideshow were accurate at the time of writing. However, U.S. News is consistently updating its rankings and scores as more information becomes available, so the information here may not always square with the information on our live site.
John M. Vincent / U.S. News & World Report
2021 Toyota RAV4
Starting Price: $26,250 | Overall Score: 8.2/10
The 2021 Toyota RAV4 isn’t just one of the best-selling compact SUVs in America, it’s also a good SUV for winter driving and the winner of our 2021 Best Compact SUV for Families award. Though front-wheel drive is standard, you can add all-wheel drive (AWD) to any trim level for just $1,400.
The engine is good, and fuel economy in the base model is excellent at 28/35 mpg city/highway. Adding all-wheel drive lowers those figures to 27/34 mpg city/highway.
Step above the base model to the XLE ($27,445) to get standard heated outside mirrors, plus more active safety features. For an additional $925 you can get a leather-wrapped and heated steering wheel, heated front seats, and rain-sensing windshield wipers.
For a hearty winter ride when the pavement ends, choose the TRD Off-Road ($35,880).
Kia Motors America
2021 Kia Sorento
Starting Price: $29,390 | Overall Score: 8.2/10
Another award winner is the 2021 Kia Sorento, it was named our 2021 Best 3-Row SUV for the Money. You can add all-wheel drive to almost every trim for $1,800. The one exception is the SX Prestige trim, where it costs $2,000.
Passengers in the first two rows will find plenty of head- and legroom. The third row is snug, but a couple of adults can make it work for short trips. All passengers enjoy high-end materials and comfortable seats. Heated front seats and dual-zone climate control come with the S trim ($31,890).
Two four-cylinder engines, one making 191 horsepower and the other 281, are available. The Sorento stays well-planted to the pavement and offers good steering feedback. Finally, the list of standard active-safety features is excellent.
Ford Motor Company
2021 Ford Escape
Starting Price: $24,885 | Overall Score: 7.9/10
For those who need a lot of space to haul winter gear, the 2021 Ford Escape is a great choice. This compact SUV offers 65.4 cubic feet of cargo space behind the first row, which is excellent for the class. A suite of active-safety features comes standard. On cold mornings, use your remote start from the kitchen while drinking coffee, so your ride is warm when you climb in.
There are two capable engine choices. A turbocharged three-cylinder that makes 181 horsepower, and a turbo-four that produces 250. Front-wheel drive is standard in all but the top-end Titanium trim, which gets standard all-wheel drive. AWD is $1,500 option in the others.
Kia Motors America
2021 Kia Telluride
Starting Price: $32,190 | Overall Score: 8.6/10
The Kia Telluride took the world by storm when it was released in 2020. The 2021 model hasn’t dampened consumers’ interests or reviewers’ praise. It’s the No. 1 ranked midsize SUV in our rankings.
This three-row SUV offers an exquisite interior, abundant cargo space, and numerous active safety features. Select the EX trim ($39,390) for all-wheel drive, heated and ventilated seats, dual-zone automatic climate control, and a hands-free power liftgate.
The 291-horsepower V6 engine has plenty of gusto, and all-wheel drive can be added to any trim for $2,000. The best part, however, is that this big vehicle drives like a much smaller SUV, and rides easily over ruts and potholes. With 8-inches of ground clearance, it can handle most daily snowfalls.
Nissan North America, Inc.
2021 Nissan Rogue
Starting Price: $25,850 | Overall Score: 8.2/10
Redesigned for 2021, the 2021 Nissan Rogue offers two key things that anyone driving regularly in poor wintry conditions will welcome. The first is excellent handling. The second is available all-wheel drive with any trim for $1,400.
This compact SUV also has an abundance of winter-weather features sure to warm passengers’ hearts – and bottoms. The SV trim ($27,440) offers a package that includes heated front seats as well as a heated and leather-wrapped steering wheel. Tri-zone automatic climate control comes with the SL trim ($32,100).
The Rogue’s engine, while not potent, helps the SUV get excellent fuel economy. All-wheel-drive models earn an impressive 26/33 mpg city/highway. Finally, its list of standard active-safety features is one of the best in the class.
2021 Jeep Wrangler
Starting Price: $28,900 | Overall Score: 7.6/10
In regions of the country where the winters can be rightly called brutal, the 2021 Jeep Wrangler is one of the best bets to keep you moving. And the best part is, you don’t need to buy the fully decked out Rubicon trim (starting price: $38,875) to tackle snowy roads. The base two-door Wrangler Sport comes with a 285-horsepower V6 engine, four-wheel drive, and skid plates.
For those who need to go off-road in the winter, the Rubicon is the best choice. With standard locking front and rear differentials, a sway bar, an upgraded transfer case, and a four-wheel-drive system, there’s almost no place it can’t go.
The interior is not as high-end as other compact SUVs’, but that’s not why you buy the Wrangler. It’s for those who need to get from A to B, weather notwithstanding.
Jaguar Land Rover North America, LLC
2022 Land Rover Discovery
Starting Price: $53,900 | Overall Score: N/A
For those who like the Wrangler’s off-roading chops but want a bit more upscale style in their winter driving, the 2021 Land Rover Discovery might be the ticket. For $600, you can add the Cold Climate Pack to the base model, which includes a heated windshield that ensures clear vision in cold weather, heated washer jets, and a heated steering wheel.
On- and off-road performance, however, is what attracts many buyers. The Discovery has a good 296-horsepower turbo-four and an excellent 355 horsepower six-cylinder engine. Steering is well-weighted and the Discovery glides smoothly over pavement.
Standard four-wheel drive and hill descent are just two features that make the Discovery a true off-road beast. These features also make trekking through snow and rain a breeze.
American Honda Motor Co., Inc.
2022 Acura MDX
Starting Price: $47,200 | Overall Score: N/A
The 2022 Acura MDX is a fully redesigned luxury midsize SUV that weds cabin comfort with capable performance in winter weather.
With a maximum of 71.4 cubic feet of cargo space, the Acura MDX can store more than most SUVs in its class. That makes this two-row vehicle an excellent choice for winter traveling with the family. Get the Advance Package ($60,650) for heated outboard rear seats, a heated steering wheel, and the hands-free power liftgate. Those heated seats will make cold morning commutes bearable. It also comes standard with all-wheel drive and genuine leather upholstery.
The standard V6 engine makes good power. Handling is secure, fuel economy is good, and the list of active-safety features is among the best in the class.
Ford Motor Company
2021 Ford Ranger
Starting Price: $24,820 | Overall Score: 8.0/10
Small trucks are making a comeback, and one of the more popular ones is the 2021 Ford Ranger. Though small in stature, this is a serious work truck with the ability to cut through snow and wet roads with ease. Unlike some competitors, you don’t have to buy a top-end trim to get solid off-road capabilities. Four-wheel drive will cost around $4,000. The FX4 Off-road package will add another $1,295 to your bottom line.
The cabin is comfortable, though not upscale, and there are few standard active-safety features. Shoppers will want to get at least the XLT trim (price depends on cabin and bed length). There’s a $2,450 option package with this trim that includes winter favorites like heated front seats and remote start.