Tiss the season to be jolly and for us in the northern hemisphere to be stuck in snow or driving on ice, so to avoid this situation, what is the best SUV for snow and ice?
In this article, we are going to scrutinize and dissect the SUV market in the search for the top 5 for the snowy season.
- What is the best SUV for snow and ice?
- Best full-size SUV for snow and ice – Top 5
- Best small SUV for snow and ice – Top 5
- Frequently Asked Questions
- Final thoughts on the best SUV for snow and ice
What is the best SUV for snow and ice?
We will be dividing the SUVs into two classes normal and small SUVs because it is a bit unfair to line up cars with dedicated low and high range drivetrains against the more “standard” style all-wheel-drivetrain SUVs.
Let’s start with the larger vehicles first.
Best full-size SUV for snow and ice – Top 5
When winter weather hits, it’s important to have a vehicle that can handle the conditions.
Here are the five best full-size SUVs for driving in snow and ice.
1. 2022 Toyota 4Runner
It is the most affordable option of the five and weirdly has a great party trick with its crawl control.
The car can crawl out of any situation on its own, whether that is snow, mud, or even rocks.
The added locking rear differential helps a lot to maintain traction and the advanced electronics help to keep it moving no matter how bad the conditions get.
2. 2022 GMC Yukon AT4
The electronically controlled differentials on the Yukon AT4 are some of the best available on offroaders.
Even in slippery conditions, in the right mode, the Yukon will plow through just about anything and is very controllable in almost any condition, be that heavy rain, snow, and even ice.
The only two reasons it is second is the lack of a rear diff-lock and the higher price tag.
3. 2022 Jeep Wagoneer
The Jeep Wagoneer is another great option. The Yukon trumps it just slightly with its terrain response traction control system and ground clearance, but the Wagoneer holds its own in just about every other category.
Jeep’s well-known offroading ability really shines through, even with the large Wagoneer. The only drawback could be its weight when it comes to driving on the snow and ice.
The Jeep Wagoneer is one of the biggest here in the line-up but also the most luxurious with massage seats as standard.
4. 2022 Ford Expedition XLT Max
The Ford Expedition XLT Max is great in the snow.
While it has a locking differential, the ground clearance is poor and the electronics are slow to react when the terrain changes in grip levels, making it not great in conditions like driving on ice.
If you’re looking for a spacious and comfortable SUV that can handle the snow, then the Expedition Max is still a great option.
5. 2022 Chevrolet Tahoe Z71
While not having the best offroad capabilities in its class, the Chevrolet Tahoe Y71 can still tackle harsh winter conditions.
Some lacking features include locking differentials and better electronic traction control.
This becomes even more puzzling when you realize that the Yukon is built on the same platform and has all the missing features.
Under snowing conditions, these drawbacks won’t be very apparent.
But like the Expedition above, once you put it on some ice, the electronic traction control seems to panic and moves about erratically in search of traction. Definitely not what you need in such situations.
Best small SUV for snow and ice – Top 5
Now let’s look at the smaller options.
Small SUVs are great for people who don’t need a car capable of tackling the direst of conditions.
They’re also a great option as they will be able to fit into any parking space and offer better fuel economy than your average SUV, but that doesn’t mean you should underestimate them in snow and ice.
1. 2022 Subaru Forester
With the symmetrical all-wheel-drive system and the X-mode traction control system, the Subaru Forester is the leader when it comes to snow and ice driving.
When tackling icy terrain all the wheels keep turning and after a few seconds the traction control kicks in and stops the wheels that are free-wheeling forcing the power to the wheels with traction without kicking the car out of its trajectory.
2. 2022 Toyota RAV4
With the new dynamic torque vectoring all-wheel-drive from Toyota, it is hard to choose between the Subaru and the RAV4.
The only reason the RAV4 is second on this list is due to the symmetrical all-wheel-drive system of the Subaru having better mechanical grip when traction control is not engaged compared to the RAV4.
With all the modes to choose from the RAV4 is nipping on the heels of his bigger brother the Toyota 4runner.
3. 2022 Mitsubishi Outlander / Nissan Rogue
If you didn’t know already, these two vehicles are actually the exact same underneath their different branding, and what’s more surprising is that they’re the third-best small SUV for snow and ice.
They don’t have the very best traction control system but it does the job well to help the vehicle regain traction.
One of the downsides to these two is the time it takes for the traction control to kick in, we would prefer a prompt response, especially in slippery conditions.
4. 2022 Mazda CX-5
The CX-5 is fourth thanks to its traction control in snowy conditions.
This is a small SUV, so if you’re not expecting extreme offroading capabilities it will do just fine.
The CX-5 does quite well, even in heavy snowfall conditions, but once it gets icy this is where the traction control lets it down.
5. 2022 Honda CR-V
With its all-wheel-drive system and 7.8-inch ground clearance, the Honda CR-V is better than your average vehicle on the road in snowy conditions.
While the traction control leaves a lot to be desired, it makes up for it in other areas, like being very frugal with its fuel consumption and having plenty of space for the whole family.
If you need a vehicle to get to work and back, while dropping off the kids, during the snow season, then the Honda CR-V is a great choice.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is AWD or 4WD better in the snow?
For ease of use, an AWD system is better in the snow compared to 4WD.
All-wheel-drivetrains have power ready to go to all the wheels when need be, while four-wheel-drivetrains are manually selectable, which can cause driver error.
In the snow, this means you could pull away in 2WD, then get stuck so you put it in 4WD, only to realize you are too far gone that even 4WD is not going to help to get you out.
Which small SUV is best in the snow?
The 2022 Subaru Forester is the best small SUV in the snow. With years of rally technology and their one-of-a-kind symmetrical all-wheel-drivetrains, the Subaru punches well above its class when it comes to its handling on different terrains.
Does AWD help on ice?
All-Wheel-Drive vehicles have an advantage over Two-Wheel-Drive vehicles.
But a more substantial difference will come from the addition of the correct tires. When driving on snow and ice, tires made for winter conditions are vital as their summer equivalents have next to no grip on icy and snow-filled roads.
Even a 2WD vehicle with winter-specific tires will be able to outperform a 4WD off-roader with normal summer tires under snow and ice conditions.
Final thoughts on the best SUV for snow and ice
The best SUV for snow and ice is the one that provides you with both safety AND joy.
It should offer great traction, excellent visibility in bad conditions, be easy to drive on slippery roads, have a smooth ride quality, and provide all-wheel or four-wheel drive if possible.
Luckily there is an option for almost all budgets, ranging from the Jeep Wagoneer all the way down to the Nissan Rogue, while the Toyota 4Runner and Subaru Forester are our recommended picks.