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The best cars for snow

  • Beat the winter with a tough four-wheel drive car
  • We pick our favourite 4x4s that prove handy off-road
  • Winter tyres are worth thinking about too
  • Beat the winter with a tough four-wheel drive car
  • We pick our favourite 4x4s that prove handy off-road
  • Winter tyres are worth thinking about too

With British winters ranging from mild and wet, to freezing and covered in snow for three months, you need a car that will get you through the winter months.

Mention 4x4s and you’ll probably think of large SUVs or tough but basic workhorses. There are, however, plenty of affordable all-wheel drive alternatives out there that are ideal for shrugging off the worst of winter.

The best cars for snow

For safe, reliable transport in the wintry months, 4x4s are unbeatable for their mix of all-wheel drive grip to deliver you home when other cars might struggle. Add in a raised driving position to give a better view of any potential hazards and a 4x4 is the perfect winter weapon in town, on the motorway or down in the country.

They needn’t be gas-guzzling monsters either, as our range of economical 4x4s shows. There’s something for every budget too, so you keep moving and stay safe even in the bleak mid-winter with our pick of the best 4x4s for driving in snow. 

Skoda Yeti

Skoda Yeti - best 4x4s for winter driving

Skoda has divided its Yeti range into two distinct looks: the standard Yeti has colour-coded bumpers and a more urban look, while the Outdoor has more off-road bodywork protection. Choosing all-wheel drive means picking between three 2.0-litre TDI engines.

The 109bhp version offers the best economy and emissions, though the 138bhp better balances power versus consumption, while SE spec provides comfort at affordable prices.

New price: £17,610 - £27,945
Used price: £4,255 - £19,830
Fuel economy: 35 - 64 mpg

Read our full review of the Skoda Yeti

Range Rover Sport

Range Rover Sport - best 4x4s for winter driving

Range Rover takes a definite step into Porsche’s territory with the second generation Sport that uses aluminium to make it lighter and better to drive.

It’s a superb 4x4 to pilot on-road and off it, with strong engines ranging from decently frugal diesels to the glorious but thirsty supercharged V8 petrol. The Sport is just as sassy on the inside and we’d choose the 3.0 SDV6 HSE with optional Dynamic package.

New price: £59,700 - £88,770
Used price: £35,525 - £76,060 
Fuel economy: 22 - 45 mpg

Read our full review of the Range Rover Sport

Nissan Qashqai

Nissan Qashqai - best 4x4s for winter driving

This second generation Qashqai has been a long time coming and the new car builds on the previous model’s success with improved cabin space, safety and lower emissions.

It’s also sharper to drive and the four-wheel drive model uses the smooth 128bhp 1.6-litre diesel engine and six-speed manual ’box. This Qashqai comes in top Tekna trim, which means part-leather upholstery, Around View parking camera and optional Park Assist.

New price: £18,795 - £30,165
Used price: £8,980 - £21,480
Fuel economy: 47 - 74 mpg

Read our full review of the Nissan Qashqai

Audi Q5

Audi Q5 - best 4x4s for winter driving

The reassuring four rings on the nose mean the Audi Q5 is one of the most popular SUVs out there, and for good reason. It’s immaculately built, spacious and the raised driving position affords good vision without feeling too lofty.

All Q5s have quattro four-wheel drive, which works seamlessly to deliver traction when others might falter. It also holds its value well and the 2.0-litre TDI with seven-speed auto is a pleasure to drive.

New price: £26,385 - £43,960
Used price: £8,525 - £36,785
Fuel economy: 30 - 50 mpg

Read our full review of the Audi Q5

Land Rover Discovery

Land Rover Discovery - best 4x4s for winter driving

In many ways the Land Rover Discovery is the perfect 4x4. There are seven seats, a well-appointed cabin, that commanding driving position and near-unstoppable off-road ability.

It’s also very good to drive on the road and the 3.0-litre V6 diesel and eight-speed auto gearbox are silky smooth in action. The XS has leather seats and sat-nav, while the HSE adds a panoramic sunroof to this superb all-rounder.

New price: £43,495 - £68,295
Used price: £4,215 - £63,950
Fuel economy: 18 - 43 mpg

Read our full review of the Land Rover Discovery

Lexus NX

Lexus NX - best 4x4s for winter driving

The NX takes Lexus into the mid-size SUV sector for the first time and it’s a sharp looker. It’s the same inside, where the NX bristles with high-tech, including wireless charging for mobile phones and a laptop-style touchpad that operates most functions.

All but the base S have four-wheel drive, while the Luxury adds leather seats. Every NX is keenly priced and all use petrol-electric hybrid power to give excellent economy and low emissions.

New price: £30,995 - £45,245
Used price: £19,480 - £37,105
Fuel economy: 35 - 56 mpg

Read our full review of the Lexus NX

Mazda CX-5

Mazda CX-5 - best 4x4s for winter driving

Mazda’s ingenious SkyActiv technology makes the CX-5 as light as possible, so it can deftly negotiate snow-clogged roads with ease. It also allows the 148bhp 2.2 diesel four-wheel drive model, with manual gearbox, to offer 62.8mpg and 136g/km CO2 emissions.

In well-equipped SE-L trim, the CX-5 costs £25,395, which is strong value for a great-driving, refined 4x4 with so much interior and boot space.

New price: £23,395 - £31,195
Used price: £9,580 - £23,535
Fuel economy: 47 - 61 mpg

Read our full review of the Mazda CX-5

Porsche Cayenne

Porsche Cayenne - best 4x4s for winter driving

No other large SUV matches the Porsche Cayenne’s handling or agility on the road, but it’s also very handy when the going gets slippery. It’s powered by a variety of engines, including a plug-in hybrid option, but best is the S Diesel that offers 35.3mpg, 209g/km CO2 emissions and 0-62mph in 5.4 seconds.

All Cayennes are opulently equipped, but you might want to add Dynamic Chassis Control and a panoramic sunroof.

New price: £53,044 - £120,895
Used price: £14,100 - £101,245
Fuel economy: 24 - 41 mpg

Read our full review of the Porsche Cayenne

Porsche Macan

Think of the Macan as the Cayman of Porsche’s SUV line-up and you’re spot on. It offers much of the Cayenne’s style but in a more compact package.

The Macan has all-wheel drive, superb handling and comfort, and a magnificently made cabin, plus it’s easier to drive in tight city streets. The S Diesel costs the same as the petrol-powered S but has better economy and emissions, so it’s our pick, but watch for pricey extras such as larger alloy wheels.

New price: £43,908 - £68,778
Used price: £32,555 - £66,740
Fuel economy: 30 - 46 mpg

Read our full review of the Porsche Macan

Volkswagen Touareg

VW Touareg - best 4x4s for winter driving

A recent facelift keeps the Volkswagen Touareg feeling as classy as ever. The upmarket feel is underlined by the hassle-free way the Touareg deals with every type of road, even slippy-slidy winter ones.

A 3.0-litre V6 TDI is the only engine option and we’d choose it in more powerful 258bhp form as there’s little penalty in economy or emissions. The Escape is more off-road biased, but the sportier R-Line is the most desirable with all the kit you’ll ever need.

New price: £36,560 - £50,810
Used price: £11,850 - £38,610
Fuel economy: 31 - 42 mpg

Read our full review of the VW Touareg

Land Rover Discovery Sport

Land Rover Discovery Sport - best 4x4s for winter driving

The name “Land Rover” should conjure up images of unbeatable off-roaders and while the Discovery Sport doesn’t look as rugged as a Defender, it’s still a formidable wilderness-weapon.

You get five or seven seats, although the rear-most are generally best taken by the smallest members of your party, plus that premium-yet-rugged interior styling balance which Land Rover does so well.

New price: £31,095 - £46,510
Used price: £23,535 - £42,875
Fuel economy: 44 - 57 mpg

Read our full review of the Land Rover Discovery Sport

Fiat Panda Cross 4x4

Fiat Panda Cross - best 4x4s for winter driving

Four-wheel drive cars don't have to be huge and this little Fiat is a great example of that. Covered in rugged styling cues like tow hooks and a silver bash plate on the front bumper, the pumped-up city car certainly looks the part.

It's very capable off road too thanks to a higher ride height and a clever electronic locking differential which helps distribute power to the wheels that need it most.

All this means the Panda Cross can shrug off a snow drift without needing an enormous parking space when you get to your destination, plus it boasts the best running costs here thanks to its diminutive size.

New price: £14,445 - £17,995
Used price: £4,600 - £13,795
Fuel economy: 57 - 62 mpg

Read our full review of the Panda Cross 4x4

Kia Sorento

Kia Sorento - best 4x4s for winter driving

The Sorento does many things very well but doesn’t make a big noise about it. As well as offering a large towing capacity here, it’s also strong off-road thanks to a boosted ride height.

There are seven seats inside, with plenty of room all around, and a comfortable cabin area up front to take the sting out of long journeys.

That combination makes it a superb place to conduct a long Boxing Day schlep across country, whether it’s clear and crisp or covered by two feet of snow.

New price: £28,795 - £40,950
Used price: £16,985 - £34,560
Fuel economy: 42 - 49 mpg

Read our full review of the Kia Sorento

Dacia Duster

Dacia Duster - best 4x4s for winter driving

Nothing does value for money quite like a Dacia Duster, especially the surprisingly competent 4x4 model which should stand up easily to the worst of the UK’s weather.

It’s a bit rough and ready at the bottom of the range but upgrade to the Ambiance trim and you’ll find comfort and convenience features which will make a real difference day-to-day.

There’s an impressive amount of space for all passengers plus a big boot to fill with warm weather clothing too.

New price: £9,495 - £16,895
Used price: £4,195 - £14,275
Fuel economy: 35 - 64 mpg

Read our full review of the Dacia Duster

 

Cheap winter 4x4s

If you’re looking for a car to cope with all that the winter weather can throw at it, you don’t have to spend a fortune on a good winter 4x4. 

Here are some more cars for snow to choose from, without breaking the bank. 

Not only are they affordable and come with all-wheel drive, our pick of the best low-cost 4x4s offer plenty more besides. Whether you’re looking for a rugged off-roader, practical family crossover or chic city transport, there’s a car here to suit your needs and budget. They also provide low running costs, that raised 4x4 driving position buyers love and plenty of driving pleasure.

Suzuki Jimny 1.3 VVT SZ3 3dr

Suzuki Jimny - cheap winter cars

The Jimny is the latest in a long and illustrious line of compact 4x4s from Suzuki. Its dinky dimensions make it ideal for threading along rural tracks or city streets, though the Jimny is not so happy on motorways.

Still, its 1.3-litre petrol engine works keenly and the Jimny comes with a proper low ratio transfer ’box to cope with seriously dirt-defying acts. The small engine needs to be worked hard sometimes, but combined economy of 39.8mpg is good for such a capable off-roader.

A boxy shape means the Jimny maximises interior space for its four occupants. The boot is not huge, but Suzuki supplies a lot of standard equipment in what is the cheapest and easily one of the most able small 4x4s.

New price: £12,799 - £15,149
Used price: £600 - £13,040
Fuel economy: 34 - 39 mpg

Read our full review of the Suzuki Jimny

Suzuki SX4 1.6 SZ5

Suzuki SX4 - cheap winter cars

Suzuki is one of the acknowledged masters of 4x4 vehicles and the SX4 adds to that reputation by mixing all-wheel drive and reasonable off-road ability with the practicality of a small hatch.

While some might prefer their 4x4s to be chunkier in the looks department, the SX4 would rather get on with delivering lots of interior space and equipment.

The 1.6-litre petrol engine in the SX4 is much improved on the original offering and gives 43.5mpg average economy. An upright driving position gives a good all-round view without the SX4 needing to be too tall, so it can nip through town or trail with ease.

Selecting four-wheel drive is cinch at the touch of a button, so you get the best of two- and four-wheel drive.

New price: £9,927 - £17,574
Used price: £905 - £9,315
Fuel economy: 37 - 57 mpg

Read our full review of the Suzuki SX4

MINI Countryman 1.6 Cooper ALL4

MINI Countryman - cheap winter cars

Some may regard the MINI Countryman as a mere trinket, but that would be to seriously underestimate this car’s ability. For starters, the MINI Countryman has won the gruelling Dakar Rally and in ALL4 specification the Cooper has perfect poise from its all-wheel drive system.

Making the most of the four-wheel drive traction, the Countryman handles brilliantly in normal conditions yet can also maintain forward motion when it gets cold, wet and slithery.

You won’t be affected by this inside the comfortable, stylish cabin that has space for four and luggage. There will be even more smiles when you tot up the running costs and find they are supremely affordable for such an elegant 4x4.

New price: £16,995 - £30,730
Used price: £5,060 - £20,890
Fuel economy: 38 - 67 mpg

Read our full review of the MINI Countryman

Vauxhall Mokka 1.4T Tech Line 4WD

Vauxhall Mokka - cheap winter cars

Vauxhall’s Mokka has proved a huge hit with buyers wanting all the style of a 4x4 but with lower running costs. The 1.4T Tech Line 4WD proves this point admirably and also comes with all-wheel drive to keep it moving when all around it others are slithering to a halt.

The Mokka may not be up for tackling serious off-road routes, but it has plenty of traction on normal roads and the 1.4 turbo petrol engine is both perky and decently frugal, though it can be rowdy when worked hard.

With its high-set driving position and compact dimensions, the Mokka is the perfect 4x4 for town as it’s a doddle to park and the Tech Line spec offers lots of standard equipment.

New price: £16,604 - £25,264
Used price: £6,055 - £15,425
Fuel economy: 40 - 68 mpg

Read our full review of the Vauxhall Mokka

Peugeot 2008 1.6 e-HDi Allure

Peugeot 2008 - cheap winter cars

OK, we admit it, the Peugeot 2008 is not a four-wheel drive car. However, Peugeot offers its Electronic Grip Control system with the 2008 1.6 e-HDi in Allure trim and above. This uses the ESP system in a similar way to Land Rover’s Terrain Response and allows the 2008 to choose between Normal, Sand, Mud and Snow modes to tailor the Peugeot to the conditions.

Coupled to chunkier tyres for added grip in slippery conditions and the 2008 will tackle tricky conditions with as much gusto as any hard-core 4x4.

As well as its surprising off-road credentials, the 2008 is comfortable family car with a large boot. The 1.6-litre turbodiesel engine delivers supermini levels of economy and emissions, so running costs are as low as the driving position is lofty.

New price: £15,765 - £21,635
Used price: £5,550 - £14,135
Fuel economy: 43 - 80 mpg

Read our full review of the Peugeot 2008

Nissan Juke 1.6 DiG-T Acenta Premium 4WD Xtronic

Nissan Juke - cheap winter cars

A facelift has done nothing to undermine the distinctive looks of the Nissan Juke, which are one of the major draws for buyers of this car and has seen it ranked in the top 10 sellers in the UK. Most will choose the front-wheel drive models, but Nissan draws on its lengthy 4x4 history to offer the Juke 1.6 DiG-T Acenta Premium 4WD Xtronic.

This model uses Nissan’s punchy turbo petrol engine that delivers 43.5mpg and 153g/km of CO2 for a road tax bill of £180 and is significantly less than most larger SUVs with similar performance.

The engine is refined, though we’d prefer the CVT (Continuously Variable Transmission) to be quicker witted. The high-riding Juke leans a little too much in corners, but offers plenty of cabin space and standard kit.

New price: £14,520 - £24,120
Used price: £4,320 - £17,525
Fuel economy: 37 - 70 mpg

Read our full review of the Nissan Juke

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