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Published May 05, 2021
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If winter driving fits your lifestyle, then you’ll want to consider an SUV with all-wheel drive, 4-wheel drive and traction control to take on snow and other wintry conditions. Towing capacity and cargo space to haul your gear are musts in mountain-ready SUVs, and of course, you’ll want safety features and good fuel economy for the weekday commute after descending from those mountain peaks.
Not sure where to start your search for your winter-ready SUV? Take a look at our list of vehicles that run the gamut from rugged to luxurious (and often, both!).
Hop in, we’re headed to Colorado (or any of your favorite winter locales)!
Our list includes Toyota, Ford, Audi, Jeep Grand Cherokee, the ever-popular, all-weather adventure mobile, Subaru Outback, and the Honda CR-V, a compact SUV. These vehicles offer all wheel drive and good ground clearance to tackle snowdrifts, driver-assist safety features and traction control to handle inclement weather conditions and winter driving, plus hefty towing capacity and roomy cargo space. And with optional features like heated seats and steering wheel, they go from off-roading on a rugged mountain top to chilly cityscape and the morning commute with ease.
Engine: 2.5-liter four-cylinder/182-horsepower
MPG: 26 city/33 highway
Is it a wagon? Is it a SUV? The nimble Outback strikes a good balance between driving like a car and more rugged utility. All trim levels come with all-wheel drive for added grip on slippery roads, while an optional turbocharged four-cylinder adds a bit more fun, no matter where you’re driving.
Front and rear seats are roomy, with the cargo area measuring more than 32 cubic feet (load up those snowboards). And according to U.S. News & World Report, the updated cabin “sports a cool, fresh and modern look and feel.” The Outback’s towing capacity is 2,700-3,500 pounds.
Engine: V-6 to V-8, from 293 to 707-hp
MPG: 19 city/26 highway
The Grand Jeep Cherokee, available in trim levels for every budget, offers real off-road capability. The Trailhawk model climbs and descends with Jeep’s Quadra Trac II hill ascent and descent control, and four-wheel drive can be added to every trim level, including the base Laredo. Need to tow? The Grand Cherokee can haul 3,500 to 7,200 pounds.
When you’re not climbing mountains, the Grand Cherokee works just fine running errands, boasting a user-friendly infotainment system called Uconnect, upscale interior and comfy seats. With a standard V-6 (V-8 also available), the Grand Cherokee is fairly fuel-efficient for a SUV. The Jeep Active Safety Group, optional on some models, includes adaptive cruise control, automated emergency braking, forward-collision warning, lane-keeping assist and parallel- and perpendicular-parking assist.
Engine 2.0 turbocharged 4-cylinder/248-hp
MPG 23 city/31 highway
If you like your ruggedness with a side of refined luxury, the Audi A4 Allroad offers elegance and a quick 248-horsepower turbocharged four-cylinder and Quattro all wheel-drive (standard) to power through a variety of winter-weather conditions.
This high-riding SUV has lots of legroom in the back, perfect for loading up passengers and heading out for a day on the ski slopes. Standard features include leather seating, a panoramic moonroof, a power liftgate and adaptive suspension. The Prestige trim, at the top of the price range, adds heated and ventilated front seats, heated rear seats and a heated steering wheel for when you need to get warm and toasty after a snow day spent outdoors.
Engine 4.0-liter V6/270 hp
MPG 16 city/19 highway
While not the most gas-efficient SUV on our list, you’ll easily navigate treacherous snowy roads with the 4Runner’s 4-wheel drive, limited slip differential and Active Traction Control. Equipped with Toyota’s Star Safety Sense, the 4Runner also offers 9 inches of ground clearance. Brake Assist increases braking power and shortens braking distance, which allows for safe, quick stops, even on ice or snow.
And did we mention cargo volume? How about 90 cubic feet of it, plus a respectable 5,000-pound towing capacity. Available upgrades include leather upholstery, heated and ventilated front seats, dual-zone automatic air conditioning and push-button start.
Engine: 3.8-liter V-6/291 horsepower
MPG 19 city/24 highway
With what Car and Driver calls “remarkable” levels of both luxury and utility, you get a lot of SUV for your buck with the Kia Telluride. Available with front- and all-wheel drive systems across all trim levels, the Telluride has three rows of seating for the family and lots of cargo room. Ample for offroading or snowy roads, the Telluride boasts 8.0 inches of ground clearance and can tow up to 5,000 pounds.
The Telluride’s exterior design that gives it a broad-shouldered and luxurious look. More luxe options include a 12-way power driver's seat, black-painted 20-inch rims, blind-spot monitoring, a Harman/Kardon audio system, front and rear sunroofs, and second-row captain's chairs.
Engine: Turbocharged 4-cylinder/190 horsepower
MPG 28 city/34 highway
The small but mighty Honda CR-V is extremely popular for a variety of reasons – great fuel economy, roomy passenger and cargo areas and the Honda Sensing suite of features that now comes standard. Although you only have one engine to choose from, all-wheel drive can be added for all trim levels. Load up your snow-day gear – the cargo area is 39 cubic feet.
Think this compact SUV can’t handle a winter storm? Generous ground clearance gets the CR-V through snow and is also equipped with Honda’s Real-Time All-Wheel Drive system. The Real-Time AWD system works by sending torque to all four wheels to provide better stability in slippery conditions. Added features include heated front seats and steering wheel, dual-zone climate control.
OK, so, not a SUV, but our next vehicle ranks high on lists for best mountain and winter driving.
Engine: starting at 3.6-liter V6/260-395 horsepower
MPG 22 city/32 highway
Available in rear- and all-wheel drive format, and with a choice of four engines, the Ram is a versatile pickup truck ready for almost any task. You may love the work-truck sensibilities of the Ram, with an open cargo bed behind the passenger cabin, with room for your tools and hunting gear (or skis!) Or you can outfit your Ram with a 12-inch touch screen, leather seating, real wood trim, air suspension, power running boards, wireless device charging and heated front and rear seats.
Truck enthusiasts say the Ram 1500 is the most comfortable pickup around. And in addition to those heated seats, the Ram also comes standard with heated steering wheel, engine block heater and remote start that activates those heated elements. How’s THAT for winter-weather ready?
Ready for an exhilarating mountain road trip? We hope you find yourself dashing through the snow in an SUV you love soon. Come test drive a used SUV as low as $12,999 at your local EchoPark Automotive, where our Experience Guides can answer your questions about vehicle features, financing and more.