Winter driving doesn't need to be a white-knuckle experience," says Mark Cox. "In fact, it can be fun." That's a pretty bold statement, but then again, Cox's employer is the Bridgestone Winter Driving School, so the guy could be a trifle biased. But still fun?
Maybe, maybe not, but there's little doubt that winter driving can at least be tolerable, and more importantly, safe, if you have the right ride. The rise of the SUV has brought attention to the benefits of all-wheel-drive systems, and manufacturers are now stepping beyond the boundaries of yesteryear, designing all-wheel-drive vehicles with personalities to match any driver, and traction to tackle nearly any road surface with confidence.
The SUV still reigns supreme, but it's more refined than ever. In fact, many new models offer carlike levels of comfort, handling, and overall polish. Even pickup trucks have learned some streetwise moves, gaining versatility, and therefore, value. And never before has such a variety of all-wheel-drive cars been available.
What follows is a diverse five-pack of our favorite new winter driving rigs, rated on a scale of 1 to 10 by our own automotive experts - you'll even see a couple of ratings-busters in the bunch. We've included one car, two SUVs, one pickup, and one, well, we're not sure what to call it. But it's cool.
$17,000 - $26,000
(800) 925-5337 or www.jeep.com
Street Smarts: 8
Appetite for Chilly Adventure: 10
The all-new Liberty is a winner when the going gets tough.