This was a difficult topic to cover. Cars that are wonderful for winter, but terrible for summer? I guess my underlying assumption was that you wouldn’t change cars like clothes. You keep your car the same regardless of the season. However, the article is meant to highlight some cars that are great for winter but wouldn't be your first choice for the summer.
Most of the decision comes down to whether the car is a rear-wheel drive (RWD), a four-wheel drive (4WD) or an all-wheel drive (AWD). We have to be on the same page about these definitions. So, let's dive in. RWDs are easy. These are the cars that give power to the rear wheels. Most of the time, this would be outfitted in sports cars, which is apt, as you have good steering and handling. But the downside of an RWD is the cost, which generally piles up on RWDs. Also, you know that that sports car of yours isn't going to make it on the slick road without giving you unintentional bursts of adrenaline here and there—even with the modern traction control. AWD and 4WD, on the other hand, are essentially the same in that all corners get power, just that 4WD can lock the differentials between the front and rear axles, whereas the AWD is fixed. But both are still powerful enough to storm through the winter conditions.
Let's dive in.
16 Subaru Impreza
The 2018 model year brought out automatic headlight activation, meaning your headlight is electronically connected to the wipers; start the wiper, and the headlights will chime. The car has been in production since 1992, with the first few years offering FWD, in addition to AWD; however, Subaru pushed for making it available only as AWD since 1996. Having spanned seven generations, the Impreza is continuing to improve. It’s available in a sedan and a hatchback.
While both will be safe with the AWD in the bitter-cold winter, the hatchback provisions you with more space.
Talking about space, the quality of the interior wasn’t sacrificed for space; everything is posh and world class. The technology is also modern with the Subaru’s Starlink infotainment system, which is compatible with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay.
15 Acura TLX A-SPEC SH-AWD
Replacing the TSX, and the TL prior to that, is the TLX, Acura’s midsize luxury sedan. The TLX has been in production only since 2014 and is doing so-so in the market. There was a time when Acura produced a powerful V6 TL that beat the German competitors. But over time, things slowed down for Acura.
So, Acura created the wonderful A-Spec package, which entailed an aero kit, more daunting wheels, and a better suspension system.
And that made the TL a legend, as it actually became a sports sedan. While the TLX is nowhere near as popular as the TL, a few conclusions emerge. It has an outrageous spindle and exterior in general. Similarly, the interior is elegant with its modern technology. We just have to wait and see how the Super Handling-All Wheel Drive turns out.
14 Mazda CX-3
This bad boy has been in the world since only 2014, but it looks like it was endowed with good genes. The car simply looks amazing from any view—the front is neat, the side curves avoid giving it a flat appearance, and the rear also looks nice and fancy. The interior looks clean also. There’s a touchscreen system right in the center of the cabin, but it doesn’t have gadgets and widgets surrounding it, which makes the cabin look less congested. The powertrain is equally enticing. There’s the option of an I4 gasoline and a 1.5-liter diesel. Should your heart not be content with that, consider the turbocharged I4 gasoline. While FWD is an option, you’d want to get the AWD to get through the winter.
13 BMW E30 325iX
There’s a difference between being good and great. These second-generation BMWs were good, and if you own any of the second generations, you’d be set with a solid car. But to be great, you’ve to go that extra mile. You have to do a little more than the previous car did, and that’s what the 325iX did. And you know that the greats aren't produced in quantity; only a few greats are made, although plenty of good cars are made. The 325iX, being an AWD, was no different. On top, it had fender flares and a higher ride height, unlike the good counterpart. So, that's why people were after this car. It might be difficult to obtain this generation, let alone the 325iX, in general now.
12 Ford Fusion Turbocharged Sport
One of the American mid-size luxury cars, the Fusion is fun to drive. It looks drop-dead gorgeous. The beauty of this sports car is in the handling and the ride. It drives well, and passengers feel composed in the car even at high speeds—they know it's full of safety equipment through and through. The interior is well appointed with high-quality materials—design is a forte for the Fusion.
The remote engine start can get that turbocharged V6 running from inside the comforts of your house.
There are various drivers with various opinions on this car, but I think that despite the low sales experienced at some sporadic dealerships, the car has done well. The AWD system is exactly what was needed in this car, which makes it look good in the winter.
11 Audi A4 Quattro
The word "Quattro" indicates AWD technology in any Audi lineup. It’s a registered trademark of Audi, actually. Since we’re talking about history, this lineup is one of the oldest from Audi, being launched in 1994. Available as both a sedan and a station wagon, you have plenty of options to consider. The assembly of this car is world-famous, with assembly plants located in various parts of the world; Audi is quite famous in other parts of the world. The 2018 model year brings about new alloy-wheel options and the Black Optics package that consists of the red brake callipers. The heated front seats will do magic for you in the Russia-like winter that we've been experiencing. If you’re looking for a compact luxury sedan, this would be a choice to consider.
10 Volvo S90
I don’t think successful cars have outlandish grilles, but some lineups do go overboard with their grilles. The grille of this beauty reminds you of a traditional Volvo grille, but at the same time, you don’t get bored by it. The air intakes, the headlights, and the beautifully shaped nose, all work to give the front of the car an excellent impression. The interior is equally posh, if not more. It reminds you of simple designs but designs that are touched by innovative hands. The powertrain is replete with options, being available in petrol, diesel, and hybrid. In keeping up with the category, the inside is capacious. Maybe this all has to do with the fact that the car was launched only two years ago, replacing the predecessor S80.
9 Honda CR-V
You know Honda is good—there’s no denying that. There’s a good chance you might've thought this car was going to be a beast in all the categories. I agree. Besides pure off-roading, there’s not much this car doesn’t excel in. If you’re looking for a two-row, five-passenger compact SUV, this would be your ride. While the CVT and FWD are standard, you’d want to aim for the AWD system. And while you’re choosing your options, consider the 190 hp turbo 1.5-liter engine. Once you have these, you’re set for severe road conditions. This car has been generating decent profits for Honda. Consequently, Honda doesn’t keep tampering with the design and interior of the car, except for necessary sporadic changes. Why change a car that sold more than 377K units last year?
8 Chrysler 300
This car became a legend when it came out. Just look at the picture, and you’ll know why. It looks stern—no curves, no oval-shaped designs, and no cartoonish looks despite many such characteristics seeming suitable and appreciated on some other cars (Porsche 911, anyone?). It meant business, just like Bentley and RR did—that’s why it was called the "poor people’s Bentley." With the long body and the simple creases, it looks dignified, and I guess that’s why people like the then US President Barack Obama got one for himself. And then, there were rap stars who were fond of the car. They were so enchanted that the 300 made appearances in various rap albums. There are various trims available, but it’s the 300 Limited that does the job for us, being available in an AWD.
7 Lexus IS
In addition to the Audi A4, here’s another one to consider. The car looks like it's a compact executive car, and it’s just that. Influenced by the grille craze that’s going on in the automotive industry, this one also has a flashy Spindle Grille. In addition to making your life easier on the tricky, snow-laden roads in the dry-cold winter of Minnesota with the AWD, the car is filled with a litany of safety features, including pre-collision braking and pedestrian detection. Nights can be tough when you’re dealing with the frozen ice and 3-inch thick snow that seems to have hugged the road with no intention of melting, as at that time, you focus on your safety, not the safety of a pedestrian on the road. But this car can help you.
6 Hummer H3
These beasts can likely navigate the treacherous terrains of the Arctic Tundra, right next to a couple of behemoth bears without a problem. That’s what these SUVs were meant for. There's no RWD option available for these SUVs—and it wouldn’t make sense to put all the power in the rear in these types of monstrous SUVs—but it’s reasonable to say, even if there was only an RWD option, that the Hummer would've handled any terrain all the same. In reality, it had an electronically controlled full-time 4WD system. However, there was an option of having locking front and rear differentials. This would've been your ride if you lived in the apex of the northeast in the US or Chicago and the like.
5 Kia Sorento
Unlike the Honda CR-V counterpart, the Sorento is designed by a South Korean manufacturer, Kia Motors. The Sorento was built as an SUV until 2009 since inception in 2002, but after that, it was built as a crossover SUV, due to an increase in the popularity of crossover SUVs. This bad boy is different from others in its class for sure.
It’s bigger and roomier than other five-passenger SUVs, without exactly being a three-row full-size SUV.
The increase in space didn't come at the expense of price. The interior is roomy, and with the big touchscreen, buttons, and shaft, it still doesn’t look congested. 2016 saw a complete reconstruction of the exterior, which captivated many; 2018 carries the tradition. Except for the base trim, every other trim had the AWD option.
4 Audi Allroad Quattro A6 Avant
The Allroad Quattro nameplate has been used since 1999, with the name reserved for variants of station wagons with off-road capabilities—nothing like a Hummer but something more than what an average car can do. The A6 Avant had a wider track, higher ground clearance, and better air suspension. While these exteriors made the car look better, the interior was still kept comfortable with technology features such as dual-zone climate control. Now, just to clarify the nomenclature, I’m not referring to the A4 Avant when I say "Allroad Quattro." Instead, I’m referring to the A6 lineup. Oh, "Avant" stands for "station wagon." While the A6 Avant did become available in the US, the RS6—the high-performance—Avant was never made available in the US. That was also a good car.
3 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited
The Jeep is probably the most iconic vehicle of all time. A kid in Africa could look at it and identify it as a “Jeep.” The reason has to do with how it became famous during and after World War II. It became a car that reminded America of its masculinity. Cars like these are known for their off-road endeavors. This is the beast that paints the picture of two tires on different boulders and the remaining two touching water and land individually.
The Unlimited is just the long-wheelbase version of the Wrangler, with the Wrangler being in production since 1986.
The 4WD system is probably the best anyone could hope for in the Wrangler Unlimited. I’m not the only one to praise the Wrangler. The Wrangler has received recognition from various automotive magazines.
2 Mercedes-Benz G-Class
Here’s a shiny Mercedes. Also known as the "G-Wagen," the G-Class Mercedes used to look like a box but has evolved into a better-looking box now.
The SUV was derived from a military vehicle, which Mercedes made at the suggestion of the Shah of Iran, who had a significant stake in the Mercedes company at that time.
Well, out came the SUV in 1979. Unfortunately, the US didn’t get its dose until 2002, so dealerships took the route of the grey market and looted customers by asking for six-figure prices in the ‘90s. The beast boasts similar capabilities as the Jeep but just boasts more luxuries. And to a large extent, it’s worth the cost for those who can afford it. Various engine options are viable and plenty of opportunities exist to modify the beast into a better beast.
1 Toyota 4Runner
With the built and frame that it has, this beast is bound to be extremely helpful during the winters. If you ever had the original 4Runner—the one from 1984 or something along those lines—you might doubt the veracity of my previous sentence. The very early model-year trucks were nothing more than a compact SUV, looking like their pickup counterparts. However, Toyota has made the 4Runner lineup a beast now. The car has a very sturdy built. It doesn’t sway with door-shutting or with the passage of other vehicles when you’re standing still at a traffic light. It might seem like the noise would take a toll inside the cabin in such a daunting truck, but it truly doesn’t. Instead, that power was transferred to the off-road parts.
Sources: businessinsider.com; roadandtrack.com; nydailynews.com