For many American car shoppers, driving in snowy weather is a reality for up to five months every year. For car enthusiasts, those snowy months mean parking the exciting sports car in the garage until the snow melts and warmer temperatures return. But that doesn't have to be the case, as we've proven in our latest list of exciting all-wheel-drive cars that make winter driving an event to anticipate.
Although it's in short supply at dealers these days, few compact coupes and convertibles are as exciting as Audi's handsome TTS. In addition to a standard all-wheel-drive system for fun in the snow, the TTS boasts an impressive 265-horsepower 2.0-liter turbocharged engine that propels the tiny 2-seater to 60 miles per hour in less than five seconds. And while the TTS's $48,000 base price might seem steep, thanks to fuel economy ratings of 21 miles per gallon in the city and 29 mpg on the highway car shoppers who spring for the sports car won't spend a fortune at the gas pump. Drivers with deeper pockets might also want to consider the wild 340-hp TT RS--if they can find one.
BMW 335i xDrive
Unfortunately for car shoppers interested in the best snowy weather performance, BMW doesn't offer its souped-up M3 with all-wheel drive. But it does sell the next best thing: an all-wheel drive version of its sporty 335i coupe, which is nearly as exciting as its pricier M3 stablemate. While its 300 hp might not seem like much compared to the M3's 414 horses, the 335i's secret weapon is torque: It produces an impressive 300 lb-ft at just 1,200 rpm, helping it accelerate with intense speed. It also boasts handsome styling that's only slightly different from the M3's, making it one of the best values in the comprehensive 3 Series range.
Ford Taurus SHO
Drivers interested in a fun winter car with a little more interior room than most of our other suggestions would be wise to check out Ford's turbocharged Taurus SHO. One reason is the sedan's luxury car levels of standard equipment, such as keyless access and starting, Xenon headlights, a rearview camera and the automaker's SYNC infotainment system. But we're also taken by the Taurus SHO's performance capabilities, from its 19-inch alloy wheels and sport suspension to the tremendously powerful 365-hp turbocharged EcoBoost V6 under its hood. Best of all, the Taurus SHO includes standard all-wheel drive in its $40,000 price tag, making it a great all-around vehicle for snowbound drivers with families.
Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution
The latest incarnation of Mitsubishi's Lancer Evolution improves upon a tried-and-true formula that started when the model made its debut 20 years ago in Japan. The recipe is simple: Take a standard Lancer compact sedan and add muscular styling, all-wheel drive and a turbocharged high-performance engine. In the latest Lancer Evolution, that's a 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder that boasts a healthy 291 hp and propels the sedan from zero to 60 mph in around five seconds. The Lancer Evolution also includes a long list of equipment, with goodies like a USB port, 18-in alloy wheels, remote keyless entry and Bluetooth all included in its base price of around $35,000 with shipping.
Subaru Impreza WRX
Subaru's turbocharged Impreza WRX practically defined the vehicle genre that combines all-wheel-drive capability with a powerful engine. First released in 2002 and born from the highly competitive World Rally Championship race series, the WRX now boasts a wild 265-hp 4-cylinder in base-level form with a starting price of around $26,000, including destination. For drivers who want to push the limits even more, Subaru also offers an even more raucous WRX STI model, which features a 305 hp version of the same engine. Best of all, each WRX comes standard with all-wheel drive and a manual transmission to give a thrilling ride to drivers who need year-round capabilities.
Volkswagen Golf R
Drivers interested in an exciting car for the snow can't overlook Volkswagen's recently released Golf R hatchback. In addition to an enthusiast-friendly standard 6-speed manual transmission, the Golf R offers a wild 256-hp 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder engine, which propels it to 60 miles per hour in an impressive 5.8 seconds. That makes it the fastest and most powerful Golf ever. Best of all, since it sits at the top of the Golf's range, the R features a long list of equipment--including standard leather upholstery, 18-in alloy wheels, steering-linked Xenon headlights and sport suspension--for a reasonable base price of under $35,000 with destination.
Volvo S60 T6 R-Design
Given Volvo's reputation for ride quality and safety features, it might come as a surprise that we've chosen one of the brand's models for our list of exciting vehicles for winter driving. But we assure you that the AWD-only S60 T6 R-Design is worthy of its spot on our list, and not just due to its impressive engine power. Of course, its powerplant does have something to do with it: The sedan boasts a whopping 300 hp and 325 lb-ft of torque, which outshines the high-performance S60R of just four years ago. But the R-Design model also boasts 18-in alloy wheels and sport suspension, which makes it a blast to drive whether the ground is covered in snow or dry as a bone. Best of all, the sedan's base price of just $44,000 makes it a good value compared to most rivals, which can easily cost upwards of $50,000.
What it means to you: Our latest list proves it's possible to have year-round fun, even if you live in a snowy climate.