Auto123.com - Helping you drive happy

Winter Rides

Not to send anyone into a spiral of depression, but the skies will soon turn gray and start dumping fluffy white slipperiness all over our roads. Winter driving is nearly upon us Canadians, and it scares the heck out of a whole lot of drivers. Of course, there are vehicles that can make it more easygoing-- or even fun.

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.