At a glance:

  • Driving on snow and ice can be hazardous
  • For a safer driving experience, vehicle manufacturers have built cars better suited to these conditions
  • Learn about 10 of the best cars for snow and ice driving
  • Discover which features make cars good for snow


Even in the UK, snowy and icy weather creates some of the most challenging conditions for drivers. Standard tires become far less effective at gripping, and braking distances can increase tenfold, according to the RAC. It’s no surprise then that serious road accidents are most common in the winter months, according to data on insurance claims. 

If you’re concerned about driving in icy weather, then it’s worth choosing a vehicle that can help you drive safely in these conditions. At Motors, our experts have compiled a list of the best cars for snow and ice driving so you can find a vehicle that suits your needs. 

Features of good cars for snow driving

The best cars for snow and ice driving will have most, if not all, of the following features:

  • Four-wheel drive: Choosing a 4×4 car may mean you’re less likely to get stuck on icy or slushy surfaces and will give you power to drive off
  • High ground clearance: The best vehicles for deep snow are higher off the ground. This means they are less likely to get stuck
  • Snow tires or chains: Good cars for snow and ice will come with snow tires or chains as standard, which improves traction
  • Comfort inside: When it’s cold out, the best cars for snow provide a warm cocoon and come with features like heated seats and a steering wheel
  • Anti-lock brakes: In some cars, when you brake hard, the wheels can lock, and you can’t change direction. That means you could skid into obstacles when it’s icy. An ABS (anti-locking brake system) lets you apply the brakes while also allowing you to steer to safety
  • ESC (Electronic stability control): In cars with ESC, a computer can tell if an individual wheel is skidding. It can then apply the brakes to the wheel separately to help keep the car moving in the direction you want to go

A word on snow driving safety 

Although the best cars for snow driving can reduce the risk of accidents in wintry conditions, you should always exercise caution. One of the biggest dangers with snowy driving is overconfidence. Even if you’re driving a 4×4, you should always drive more prudently in snowy weather. For more advice, the AA has a useful guide for driving in icy conditions. 

The 10 best cars for snow

Ready to brave the chill? Based on the features we’ve listed above, our experts have selected 10 of the best cars for snow and ice driving from leading manufacturers:

1. Land Rover Defender

The Land Rover Defender is an icon, renowned for its ability to handle tough conditions. Whether you choose the latest Defender or an earlier model, you can be sure you’re getting a vehicle that can handle whatever you throw at it. So, what makes it such a good car for snow?

This chunky 4×4 has one of the strongest off-road reputations of any car and handles icy conditions well. What’s more, some of the more recent Defenders also come with a snow mode – a setting which assesses slip, temperature, gradient and pressure – to help with traction (grip) and braking on slippery surfaces. 

Although older models of the Land Rover Defender were rather more rugged, recent iterations are very comfortable inside, with all the additional features you’d expect, including a massive infotainment display, top-of-the-range sound system and over-the-air updates. You get bags of storage, plenty of legroom, comfortable seating and 3D surround cameras as standard too. 

Best Features

  • Range of petrol and diesel engines available, as well as plug-in hybrid
  • A ‘Snow’ mode is included as standard as part of Land Rover Terrain Response system
  • Big P525 V8 model also offered
  • Chunky SUV designed with purpose
  • The Defender is available as three-door ‘90’, five-door ‘110’ and extended wheelbase ‘130’

2. Subaru Outback

If you live somewhere with harsh winters, this rugged estate offers great capability in poor conditions. The Outback features Subaru’s legendary four-wheel drive which makes it hugely capable when driving off road and giving you plenty of traction in snowy weather.

Although this is an estate (meaning it’s lower to the ground than an SUV), it still has enough height to cope with deep snow. Another factor that makes this one of the best vehicles for snow is Subaru’s X-Mode, which provides advanced capabilities for icy conditions. Essentially, it helps deliver more traction when driving at lower speeds on ice, slush and snow. It’s also one of the safest cars out there, having received a top five-star rating from safety body Euro NCAP, giving you extra peace of mind when driving in hazardous conditions. 

Inside, this estate is spacious and comfortable – we particularly like the heated front and rear seats. It also comes with keyless entry so you don’t have to take your gloves off when trying to get in!

Best Features

  • Uses a 2.5-litre diesel engine
  • Towing capacity of up to two tonnes
  • Practical estate car ideal for range of uses
  • Subaru’s legendary four-wheel drive combined with plenty of ground clearance makes the Outback a force to be reckoned with

3. Dacia Duster

The Dacia Duster is a budget SUV that delivers features and quality well beyond expectations for its low price. Dusters come in a variety of models, letting you choose between four-wheel drive and two-wheel drive options (we’d suggest finding a 4×4 if you want a snow-ready car). 

The 4WD version of the Duster is really easy to shift between front-wheel drive and 4×4 using a simple toggle by the handbrake – helpful if you suddenly find yourself in a snowstorm. Another feature that makes it a good car for snow is its ground clearance. It’s relatively high off the ground, meaning it won’t get caught in deeper snowdrifts. 

Inside, the car looks and feels smarter than you might expect for a low-cost vehicle, with an attractive interior and a decent 8-inch touchscreen in later models. The Duster is also spacious enough for three adults to sit comfortably in the back. 

Best Features

  • The Duster’s £16,095 starting price (from new) makes it one of the cheapest 4×4/crossovers
  • Four-wheel drive available on a 1.5-litre diesel engine
  • Efficient diesel returns up to a claimed 53 mpg
  • Smaller than many other SUVs with four-wheel drive
  • Compact 4×4

4. Skoda Yeti

With a name like the Yeti, you’d expect this car to be one of the best cars for snow and ice and this 4×4 certainly doesn’t disappoint when it comes to tackling challenging conditions. 

Despite being relatively low to the ground, the Yeti is more than capable of ploughing through heavy snow – especially when snow tires or chains are attached. There’s also the Yeti Outdoor, ideal if you live somewhere with frequent storms in winter. You can even fit different bumpers to help with tackling tough terrain. 

The car is nice to drive and handles well. Inside, it’s fairly simple and lacks the infotainment features of some modern cars. That said, the materials and design are high-quality and are built to last. The Yeti is also comfortable and spacious, with over 1,700 litres of boot space when the rear seats are folded down. 

Although the Yeti was discontinued in 2017, it’s pretty popular in the second-hand market so you can still get your hands on one. 

Best Features

  • The Yeti was introduced in 2009 and was discontinued in 2017 to make way for the Karoq
  • 4×4 available on both petrol and diesel, with these models being very useful in the snow
  • Compact 4×4 body with boxy looks
  • Similar size to a Nissan Juke 
  • 2.0 TDI diesel engines are cost-effective and deliver plenty of performance

5. Jeep Wrangler

Driving in wintry terrain? The Jeep Wrangler is easily one of the best cars for snow and ice. This rugged car is most at home in off-road conditions and is hard to beat when traversing dirt tracks. And thanks to Jeep’s ‘Selec-Terrain’ system, you can choose a snow mode that reduces the amount of power sent to the wheels, meaning you start more smoothly in icy conditions. 

Inside, it provides plenty of tech without losing Jeep’s traditional tough look and feel. There’s a decent touchscreen infotainment system, as well as a variety of dials and displays for understanding and controlling the car’s performance. 

Do bear in mind though that the Wrangler is a 4×4 that’s intended for serious off-roading, so might not be the right choice if you mainly drive on tarmac (though more recent editions are more comfortable on roads).

Best Features

  • The Wrangler is equipped with Jeep’s ‘Selec-Terrain’ system, which includes a dedicated ‘Snow’ mode to help in wintry conditions
  • The Wrangler has been around since 1986, with the latest 2018 model getting more technology making it the best-suited to tarmac road use
  • Choice of petrol and diesel engines, but bear in mind that running costs will be steep
  • 4×4 is available in short (three-door) and regular (five-door) wheelbases
  • More compact than the Land Rover Defender
  • Range of roof options available, including electric canvas top

6. Fiat Panda 4x4

While snow can be an issue across the UK during most winters, you might not necessarily need a big SUV-style car all year round – especially if you live in a town. This is where the brilliant Fiat Panda 4×4 comes in. The compact city car is perfectly suited to urban adventures, but its four-wheel drive gives you extra control on frosty, icy or slushy drives.

The ability to switch between two-wheel drive and four-wheel drive is super helpful, providing extra traction when you need it. This is one reason the Panda 4×4 has become a popular choice for people living and working in Alpine ski resorts. The car also comes with electronic stability control and electronic locking differentials, both features that help reduce the risk of accidents or sliding on ice and make it one of the best cars for snow when driving in cities. 

We also like the fun and quirky styling of the Panda. While its interior is starting to show its age compared to newer cars, it’s still got all the main features you’d want. 

Best Features

  • Four-wheel-drive available on Pandas equipped with 0.9-litre ‘TwinAir’ petrol engine
  • Part-time four-wheel-drive system offers impressive traction in snow
  • Relatively efficient by four-wheel-drive standards, if not for a city car 
  • Small in size, just 3.6m in length (30 cm shorter than a Ford Fiesta)
  • Compact city car turned into a 4×4

7. Toyota Land Cruiser

The Land Cruiser is one of Toyota’s most popular and long-running lines, and it’s easily one of the best cars for driving in snow currently available. 

Several features make this car perfect for tackling frosty surfaces. First, there’s the four-wheel drive system, which helps with control and traction on icy ground. Land Cruisers also have plenty of ground clearance, which makes them some of the best vehicles for deep snow

Other features include an Active Braking System which reduces the risk of accidents, plus vehicle stability control – essentially, the Land Cruiser automatically reduces engine speed if the vehicle seems to be losing control. Similarly, its nifty Active Traction Control can tell if a wheel is losing traction and will apply the brakes to help prevent wheel spin. 

Inside, Land Cruisers are very spacious, with seating for seven. The option of heated front and rear seats will also make it attractive for driving in cold weather conditions. 

Best Features

  • Toyota’s long-running Land Cruiser is renowned for its unstoppable capability, whatever the weather
  • The Land Cruiser is available as a three and five-door, and a more utilitarian Commercial model for business use
  • Now one of Toyota’s only models in Europe that features a big 2.8 litre diesel rather than a hybrid powertrain 
  • 3-door models are relatively compact for an SUV, but long-wheel-base models are large in size
  • Can tow up to 3,000kg, making it an ideal choice for caravanners 

8. Audi e-tron

Audi’s e-tron SUV is one of the best electric vehicles for snowy, icy weather. The car comes with several features that make it especially suited to driving in winter, including its four-wheel drive system, giving you plenty of control when dealing with slippery surfaces. Since it’s an SUV, you also get decent ground clearance, meaning you can roll right over snow drifts. 

Audi vehicles are known for their plush, comfortable interiors, and this family car will also keep everyone happy thanks to plenty of tech. We particularly like the car’s connectivity features, which allow you to turn on the heating before you get in, warming the vehicle up and clearing the frozen windscreen and saving you time on icy mornings. 

Best Features

  • Impressive traction supplied by electric motors
  • Boasts a range of up to 330 miles, as well as up to 402 bhp
  • Mid-size SUV sits between Q5 and Q7 in Audi’s ‘Q’ line-up
  • The e-tron (now called Q8 e-tron) comes equipped with Quattro four-wheel drive as standard 
  • Five doors and five seats

9. Ford Ranger

The Ford Ranger is rugged, tough and capable, but surprisingly fuel efficient and enjoyable to drive. It’s great in wintry weather and has plenty of safety features that help reduce the risk of hazards and make it one of the best cars for driving in snow. There are various models for different types of drivers – some are better suited to outdoor workers, and others are more aimed at families or leisure drivers. 

We especially like how the Ford Ranger has a lot of ground clearance, making it a great vehicle for deep snow. It comes with four-wheel drive as standard, which gives you more control and traction when driving on icy surfaces. You’ll also find automatic traction control, stability control and an anti-lock braking system. These features all reduce the chance of slipping, sliding and accidents. 

Inside, this is a very comfortable car. You get plush upright seats with loads of adjustment options, a decent infotainment system (some models have a large touchscreen that connects to your smartphone via Bluetooth) and other handy tech. 

Best Features

  • The Ranger pick-up comes with smooth diesel engines and nearly all models feature four-wheel-drive
  • New 2.0-litre bi-turbo diesel engine is efficient by class standards
  • The Ranger uses a selectable four-wheel-drive system
  • Available in Single Cab, King Cab and most useful Double Cab body styles
  • Large pick-up
  • 10-speed automatic gearbox 

10. SsangYong Rexton

This big, seven-seater SUV is a great option for off- and on-road driving and is suited as a workhorse and for family driving. The Rexton comes with plenty of features for handling snowy weather, including a part-time four-wheel drive system (you can switch between two-wheel drive and 4WD as and when you need) and a dedicated ‘Winter’ mode, which starts the car in second gear to help avoid slipping and sliding in icy conditions. 

The huge amount of interior space makes this a comfortable cocoon when you’re driving in cold weather. It also comes with plenty of modern tech, an infotainment system and good-quality speakers. The heated front and rear seats will also be appreciated by everyone when driving on cold days. 

Best Features

  • The Rexton uses a strong 2.2-litre diesel engine paired to an eight-speed automatic gearbox
  • Part-time four-wheel-drive system allows the driver to choose when to activate the system – such as in snowy conditions
  • Five doors and seven seats across all of the latest models
  • Large SUV

Choosing the best car for snowy driving

Driving in wintry weather can be especially hazardous, and there’s no substitute for taking a cautious approach. But a good car for snow driving will provide you with additional features that give you more control, and reduce the risk of slipping or having an accident. 

So, which one was your favourite?

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