Top five cars for winter motoring

  • Five of our favourite winter-proof cars
  • We lay out why you should buy them
  • Find out how much each one costs

We’ve had seriously cold evenings already, the frost has started forming on cars and soon enough you’ll see snow on the weather forecast.

With that in mind, we’ve picked out our favourite cars for winter motoring. We’ve also given you some key facts about the cars, including how fast and efficient they are and how much they cost.

Nissan X-Trail


Why buy?

The Nissan X-Trail is one those rare beasts. It’s got all the off-road abilities that you need in the winter months and although it’s capable on the slippery stuff it’s not compromised by a poor practicality or an uncomfortable interior. It’s also smooth to drive on the Tarmac thanks to its strong yet refined dCi diesel engine and if you need to get someone out of trouble, it’ll do that too – that is, if you have tow-bar fitted. It’s reliable, which means that if you want a dependable, no-nonsense 4×4 that’ll cart your family around the countryside with peace of mind then look no further. There’s not much to complain about except that rear legroom is a bit tight and that the interior plastics aren’t all up to scratch.

Key stats
Recommended model: 2.0 dCi 173 n-tec+ 5dr

0-62mph: 10.0 seconds

Fuel consumption: 44.1mpg

Annual road tax cost: £275 (first year) £195 onwards

Price: £27,790

Skoda Yeti


Why buy?

This is more fun to drive than a traditional 4×4 like the Nissan X-Trail for example, and it’s arguably better looking than most conventional off-roaders too. The best version for wintery weather is the 4×4 (Yetis also come in two-wheel-drive versions only) and to make the most of Yeti’s four-wheel drive system there’s an off-road mode which you can activate by pressing a button on the dashboard. This system gives a more sensitive accelerator response which is particularly handy on slippery surfaces. There’s also hill descent control that’ll help you maintain a constant speed when going down steep slopes and stop the brakes locking. The system also includes hill start assist to help you to pull away on wet, slippery or snowy road surfaces. Inside there’s enough room for four people and the engine range includes a very frugal and usable 2.0-litre diesel engine.

Key stats
Recommended model: SE 2.0 TDI CR (140bhp) 4×4

0-62mph: 9.9s

Fuel consumption: 47.1mpg

Annual road tax cost: £170 (first year) £170 onwards

Price: £21,210

Volvo XC70


Why buy?

The XC70 straddles the estate car/4×4 camps and in that respect it ticks a lot of boxes for those who want decent loadspace and a car that’ll be dependable in the snow and ice. It has all-wheel drive and a sizeable 575-litre boot that extends to 1,600 litres with the rear seats down. There are similar offerings on the market – Audi A4 Allroad, Peugeot 508RXH and Volkswagen Passat Alltrack – but for off-road use, the Volvo is the best. It’s ideal if you live in a rural area or regularly have to tow trailers or caravans. There’s a good choice of strong engines including the D5 diesel while a front-wheel drive low-emission version badged DRIVe was introduced in mid-2009. It’s also very well built with excellent interior quality and the comfortable seats and the slightly raised driving position should be attractive to buyers who want a bit of class to go with their off-roading habits.

Key stats

Recommended model: D4 AWD SE Start/Stop 5dr
0-62mph: 9.8 seconds

Fuel consumption: 50.4mpg

Annual road tax cost: £275 (first year) £195 onwards

Price: £34,205

MINI Countryman


Why buy?

The MINI Countryman is probably the driver’s choice here. A more left-field option, it still retains much of that precision handling that is part and parcel of all the MINIs currently on the market. The high ground clearance compromises on-road handling a bit, but the payoff is greater off-road ability. Yes, it is something of a fashion accessory but it’s better than a traditional five-door hatchback when it comes to the slippery stuff. As the picture suggests, it’ll keep its composure when things get particularly muddy. If you’re looking for an SUV or crossover to be the most practical car you’ll ever need, the MINI Countryman is probably not for you. It has a reasonable boot, but it’s not as big as many of its competitors, and the rear seats don’t fold down completely flat. Go for the Cooper D model with four-wheel drive because the other engine variants come in front-drive only.

Key stats
Recommended model: Cooper D ALL4

0-62mph: 11.6 seconds

Fuel consumption: 57.6mpg

Annual road tax cost: £110

Price: £20,460

Peugeot 3008


Why buy?

The Peugeot 3008 is another crossover but it mixes 4×4 capabilities with people carrier attributes. Yes, it’s a curious-looking thing but ESP stability control is standard and, more importantly, there’s an optional system called Grip Control that has driving modes including snow, sand and all-terrain. Each setting can accessed via a dial by the gear lever and they alter the traction control, directing more power to the front wheel with the most ground contact. It’s not a four-wheel-drive system per se but it does come with mud and snow tyres suitable for both on- and off-road use. This makes the 3008 a real contender for winter driving.

Key stats
Recommended model: Style HDi 150 FAP 5dr

0-62mph: 9.7 seconds

Fuel consumption: 53.2mpg

Annual road tax cost: £135

Price: £21,345