Mostly, cars with all-wheel drive, lusty-sounding V8 engines and the ability to do on-demand donuts in the Wal-Mart parking lot after the lights are off are my favourite sort of rides for wintertime. High-powered rocket-sleds are great fun and full of numerous kinds of awesome – though with the especially harsh winter we had last year, a new sort of ride surfaced as a new favourite for your writer: a winter-ready ride with plenty of confidence.
Rev-limiter snow-donuts are great fun – but in real life, a bigger concern is tackling my weekly test-drives of the latest and greatest vehicles with safety and peace-of-mind during a regular 10-hour round trip through what my fellow Northern Ontarians and I call the “Snow Belt”. It’s a stretch of highway 69 that joins Ontario’s Muskoka region to my hometown – Sudbury.
On a good day highway 69 is dotted with beautiful scenery, elevation changes and lively twists and turns. In the type of weather that the Snow Belt is named for, it can be attacked relentlessly with heavy snow, freezing rain, zero-visibility conditions, or any combination of the above. With no notice. For hours. And again the next day.
This is a time of year when many readers begin asking car-related questions about winter driving. One of the most common concerns is which new vehicles feel the safest and most confident to drive if you get stuck in a nasty snowstorm.
Some vehicles have earned a place in my memory for delivering abundant confidence or surprisingly capable operation in some of Canada’s nastiest winter driving. Here’s a list from recent test drives, and be sure to check out the video. Note that all models listed below had the ultimate winter safety feature on board: winter tires.