9 Best New Cars For Winter 2022

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Is it time to get your all-wheel drive on?

Winter is here in 2021, and it'll be back in 2022. So, if you live somewhere with heavy winters and need to go places where the roads aren't cleared or salted regularly, you probably either have or want an all-wheel-drive vehicle. That added forward traction can become incredibly valuable very suddenly, as well as a system that can distribute torque to the wheels that have the most traction when going around slippery bends. Big trucks and SUVs designed to go off-road are a given for being close to ideal for snow, ice, and soggy wet tracks, so we'll skip past obvious options like Range Rovers, Wranglers, 4Runners, and the like. Instead, we'll stick to cars, wagons, crossovers, and the lightest of trucks.

Subaru Outback Wilderness

In reality, you could insert any Subaru here as they all come with the Japanese automaker's symmetrical all-wheel-drive system that has proved itself time and time again over the decades. If you want a sedan, the Impreza will do the job on slippery roads. If you want to go faster and have fun, the WRX is a given, and for compact SUV goodness, there's the excellent Forester. However, if you live in the mountains and need extra ground clearance, agility, and toughness, then there's an even better tool for the job. The Outback Wilderness comes with upgraded suspension, a front skid plate, all-terrain Geolander tires, an engine making 260 horsepower and 277 lb-ft of torque, and, most importantly, Subaru's revised Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive with the X-Mode off-road drive mode.

Stephen Pham
Stephen Pham
Stephen Pham
Stephen Pham

Hyundai Santa Cruz

Hyundai's truck that isn't a truck wowed us at its release in 2021. It's essentially a Santa Fe crossover but with a useful bed in the back for things you don't want to throw in the back of a crossover. Whether that's muddy hiking boots, wet scuba gear, dirty bikes, or any other kind of gear, it's incredibly useful. It also returns mpg ratings more often associated with compact crossovers, but it also has another little trick up its sleeve - Hyundai's optional and remarkably intelligent HTRAC all-wheel-drive system. The system "uses an array of sensors to monitor traction and distribute power to the front and rear axles as needed via an electronic variable-torque-split clutch with active torque control technology."

Essentially, that means you'll be driving around in the fuel-efficient front-wheel-drive mode in grippy conditions, but when the system detects a wheel slipping, it'll start making adjustments. Alternatively, you can select a mode suited to the conditions in front of you. The HTRAC system isn't as well known as others, but don't underestimate how good it is when the going gets slippery.

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Ford Bronco Sport

On paper, the Bronco Sport doesn't look much. It's based on the Ford Escape, and its base model uses a three-cylinder engine making 181 hp and 190 lb-ft of torque. However, unlike the Ford Escape, the Bronco has serious off-road chops courtesy of steep approach and departure angles and an AWD system that features Ford's G.O.A.T (Goes Over Any Terrain) modes. It also has a bunch of cool features that make it an excellent winter vehicle as a whole, including rubber floors under the carpet and a rubberized cargo area. It's an eager and agile little off-roader that easily doubles up for daily commuting.

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Audi A4 allroad

Audi's quattro AWD system led the way in Europe for decades and has only gotten better over the years. The A4 allroad is based upon the standard A4's wagon variant, but with a lift on the suspension, extra body cladding, and underbody protection for clattering down rocky roads. Despite the lift, it's still lower and lighter than an SUV and handles like a regular car, which makes it an excellent all-year choice as a family car for those that also want some high-tech luxury in the cabin.

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Volvo V60 Cross Country

A swish alternative to the Subaru Outback and Audi A4 allroad is the V60 Cross Country, or if you want to crank up the luxury in your wagon, the V90 Cross Country. The V60 Cross Country models are stylish inside and out while raising the ride height and, when needed, shifting up to 50 percent of its available torque to the rear axle to maximize traction. We test drove the V60 Cross Country in the middle of summer, but we gave the drivetrain a full workout in the loose dirt and sand of the California desert where, typically, only aggressively shod off-roaders dare to tread.

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Honda Ridgeline

With all the excitement in late 2021 for the Ford Maverick, it's easy to forget that Honda has been quietly and steadily selling a monocoque chassis truck with independent suspension at the back and front for years. However, the Honda Ridgeline is bigger, comes with a V6 engine generating 280 hp and 262 lb-ft, and AWD as standard. The independent suspension is almost as crucial on slippery surfaces as the AWD system, which includes effective modes for the most awkward of surfaces like sand, mud, and snow. The Honda remains one of the comfiest trucks to drive.

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Land Rover Discovery

While the BMW X5 and Mercedes-Benz GLE-Class are the go-to models in the segment for their performance and luxury, neither offers as much ability at lower speeds as Land Rover's Discovery. Plus, it comes with a third row of seating for the larger family. The Discovery is the softest off-roader in Land Rover's lineup, but that still puts it head and shoulders above the competition. You can choose between a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine or the 3.0-liter six-cylinder turbo with mild-hybrid assistance, but either way, you get a sophisticated AWD system with Land Rover's Terrain Response system that includes gradient acceleration control and hill descent control for when traction is at its lowest.

2021-2023 Land Rover Discovery Frontal Aspect Land Rover
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Nissan Pathfinder

A nearly all-new Pathfinder launched in 2021 for the 2022 model year; it's significantly revised but carries over the same platform and the capable and reliable V6 engine to the new generation. That engine delivers 284 hp and 259 lb-ft of torque to all four wheels when optioned with the sophisticated AWD system. We got to drive the new Pathfinder on dirt and rocky trails that threw up some exciting challenges and pressed the buttons that include Snow, Standard, Sport, Mud/Rut, and Tow mode.

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Mini Cooper Countryman

For some winter or general adventure driving, the Mini Cooper Countryman is a capable little thing. You'll need to option the ALL4 system, but if you do, you now have a fun and practical four-door that can deal with soft mud, ice, and snow, with relative ease. As well as shifting power backward and forwards depending on where it's needed in slippery conditions, the Cornering Brake Control system also chimes in when needed to help maintain control and agility. For added excitement, the John Cooper Works version packs 301 hp and 331 lb-ft of torque under the hood to make it the fastest practical Mini you can buy.

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