Winter is right around the corner, and if you live in the northern states, expect cold weather to roll in soon. As the temperature drops, hazards such as freezing rain, snow, sleet and ice can quickly precipitate, making roadways difficult to traverse and often treacherous to travel. Whether you’re on your daily commute to work or taking a long-distance road trip, you’ll want a vehicle that’s safe, solid and surefooted in wintery conditions. A compact crossover can be your answer. Here are five that will help you reach your destination confidently despite Jack Frost’s best efforts to slow you down.
2017 Ford Escape
There are a number of reasons the Ford Escape remains popular among car shoppers. Aside from being made in the U.S.A., this solid and well-designed American crossover is stylish, fun to drive and an excellent all-around utility vehicle. On the road, the Escape offers a balanced ride and handling experience. This translates to a stable and surefooted drive when the road falls under bad weather. And the Escape enjoys good ground clearance to help drive through deeper snowfalls. We recommend the optional 18-inch wheels for even greater capability through challenging on- and off-road conditions.
The Escape’s cabin is comfortable and offers a long list of amenities. Interior materials are decidedly high-quality, and fit and finish are excellent. Ford’s focus on craftsmanship is evident here. Also, the Escape is very roomy for both passengers and cargo, delivering a cavernous 67.8 cu ft. with the second row folded down. That’s enough room for all the snow gear you could imagine. And for those who have growing teenagers in their family, the Escape offers lots of rear seat legroom. The 2017 Ford Escape begins at $23,750.
2017 Honda CR-V
The 2017 Honda CR-V delivers a good mix of performance and technology. It also enjoys an athletic and modern look, featuring elements intended to increase visibility in stormy weather, such as signature LED headlights. The CR-V also offers a refined interior to keep occupants warm and comfortable despite the harsh climate outside. Heated front seats are a favorite among options. And there’s plenty of cargo space, too, giving the CR-V class-leading status in this area.
For propulsion, Honda’s mainstay utilizes either a turbocharged 1.5-liter 4-cylinder producing 190 horsepower or a 184-horsepower 2.4-liter 4-cylinder. And ride and handling are benefitted by a newly-designed rear multilink suspension system. But the things that really inspire confidence in the CR-V’s winter driving abilities are its ride height, its well-engineered all-wheel-drive system, a wide array of safety features and, of course, Honda’s reputation for reliability. The 2017 Honda CR-V has a base MSRP of $24,045
2017 Subaru Forester
The Subaru Forester is a wagonlike utility that’s built to go off the beaten path. And with Subaru’s reputation for standard all-wheel drive, the Forester is all about staying stable and steady despite the road conditions ahead. Its AWD performance in the snow is particularly noteworthy, maximizing traction and grip in extreme cold-weather conditions. And the Forester’s body cladding gives it a tough-looking exterior that speaks to its overall capabilities. Power comes from a 2.5-liter 4-cylinder engine or a more powerful turbocharged 2.0-liter engine that outputs 250 horsepower.
Inside, the Forester offers occupants a sturdy but comfortable cabin with high-quality materials. This compact crossover also enjoys a good dose of technology, like the STARLINK telematics system and lane-departure warning. And for transporting gear, you’ll love the low, wide cargo floor. The 2017 Forester starts at $22,595.
2017 Toyota RAV4
The Toyota RAV4 is generally regarded as one of the key offerings in the crossover category. And from the time it first came to market, it has built a reputation for quality, practicality, durability and performance, all of which make it an ideal choice for cold-weather environments. This tough little utility delivers a confident driving experience whether the roads are dry, wet or icy. That’s especially true when the RAV4 is equipped with Toyota’s innovative all-wheel-drive system with Dynamic Torque Control, which distributes engine power between the front and rear wheels to optimize traction.
From a content standpoint, the RAV4 offers a full suite of technology features and comfort amenities that makes others in the class pale by comparison. It also enjoys a very spacious passenger compartment, especially in terms of legroom. But its most impressive characteristic may be its generous cargo space, measuring a voluminous 73.4 cu ft. with the rear seats folded down. The 2017 Toyota RAV begins at $24,410.
2017 Volkswagen Tiguan
This German-engineered 5-seat crossover might have a strange name inspired by tigers and iguanas, but that doesn’t take away from its attractive design, well-crafted interior and compliant on-road experience. Poised for cold weather, the Tiguan is both refined and rugged. Inside, this crossover is feature-rich, with lots of standard and optional amenities. This cabin also touts high-quality interior materials that are durable enough to withstand snow and slush dragged into the car all winter long by its occupants. The Tiguan is more spacious than it looks, making it roomy enough for a family of four to escape for a weekend of skiing or mountain fun.
Motivated by a 200-horsepower 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder engine, the Tiguan comes in both front- and all-wheel-drive versions, which brings an elevated level of capability. If you live in the northern band of the country, going with the all-wheel-drive option is a no-brainer. The 2017 Tiguan has a base MSRP of $24,995.