Every week of the year, I travel from Sudbury to the Greater Toronto Area down Highway 69 to swap the test vehicle of the week.
Yes, I like driving.
In winter, a big chunk of my trip is spent on what Northern Ontarians call the ‘Snow Belt’. In good weather, the weekly trip takes about 5 hours each way. In the type of weather that the Snow Belt is named for, it can take all day or night.
Some vehicles have a special place in my memory for delivering abundant confidence or surprisingly capable operation in these nasty conditions. Here are a few.
5) Chrysler Town & Country: This is one of the most comfortable and peaceful rides going, and travelling through snow on empty highways amplifies the experience. The heavy body and long wheelbase mean this luxo-bus plows through deep powder and slush with authority.
4) Volvo XC90 V8 R-Design: What snow? The Yamaha-built V8 sounds sexy, and XC90’s all wheel drive system mangles slippery roads with a smile on its face. This is a sporty SUV that sticks it to winter while looking and sounding great in the process.
3) Audi A4 Avant: Quattro AWD quickly tackles any traction-related issues, and a heavy, solid steering feel make this wagon feel absolutely locked-down on any surface. There’s room for your things, and decent mileage, too.
2) Subaru WRX: With a turbo engine, symmetrical AWD, a manual transmission and an awesome hood scoop, the WRX is fun, fast and all-season ready. It’s also the unofficial car of wintertime driving shenanigans.
1) Porsche 911: Trust me, it’s way better than you think. The rear-engine, rear-drive setup gives the 911 traction from a standstill like a front-wheel drive. The front wheels only need to steer the car-- meaning it can turn and accelerate at the same time, too.