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Unconventional Winter Beaters
Imagine speeding through a majestic winter wonderland, handling unplowed roads with ease. Snow and ice crunch inconsequentially beneath your tires as you sip hot chocolate with confidence around every curve. Now, what was that car you imagined driving?
Probably a massive SUV with all the padding, all-wheel drive and traction control only those giants of the road use, right? But it doesn't have to be that way. Drivers don't have to sacrifice performance or luxury the rest of the year just to survive the winter months.
We here at AOL Autos want you to know that fresh powder can be manageable for more than just the Hummer or Range Rover owner. These picks aren't the normal all-weather rides, but they'll beat back the winter weather without the gas guzzling of traditional SUVs.
Sticker Price: $23,925-$25,714
Invoice Price: $24,900-$38,373
Fuel Economy: 18 mpg city, 25 mpg highway
Toyota offers the only all-wheel-drive minivan left on the market. While minivans are big and truckish like SUV’s, they roll with far less regularity. That’s probably because minivans tend to be driven more carefully, what with all the kids they carry. But minivans also have a lower center of gravity than SUV’s. Even without the Sienna’s optional all-wheel-drive, front-wheel-drive minivans can be great winter drivers. Most are fitted with relatively narrow tires, which work better in the snow and slush than the wider tires you’d want for dry pavement performance.
Research the Toyota Sienna
Sticker Price: $23,555-$60,255You’ve probably noticed that we’ve mentioned snow tires a few times already. The truth of the matter is that almost any car that’s equipped with real snow tires, rather than all season tires, can be forced into winter duty with good results. Yes, even a car like the Chevy Camaro, though we’d probably choose the V6 model because 323 horsepower and 278 lb-ft of torque is more than enough to get you into trouble. This new version of GM’s pony car is a thoroughly modern vehicle with independent rear suspension and stability control, which makes it a much better handling car than Camaros of yore. You can read more about snow tires here.
Invoice Price: $22,612-$57,845
Fuel Economy: 17 mpg city, 28 mpg highway
Research the Chevy Camaro
Sticker Price: $84,300-$181,100
Invoice Price: N/A
Fuel Economy: 19 mpg city, 27 mpg highway
While Porsche offers several all-wheel-drive versions of its 911, even the most basic rear-wheel-drive Carrera model can be a great winter driver when shod with snow tires. The 911 has always had its engine in the back, which has made Porsche’s venerable sports car good in the snow. Today’s 911’s are no different, as their rear weight bias gives them extraordinary traction during acceleration. With stability control to help novice drivers compensate for this difference in driving dynamics, the modern 911 is as ready for winter as any car Porsche has built.
Research the Porsche 911 Carrera
Sticker Price: $34,995-$38,195
Invoice Price: N/A
Fuel Economy: 17 mpg city, 23 mpg highway
All-wheel-drive sports sedans can be more fun to drive on unplowed roads than they are when the weather is nice. The Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution even has a special setting for driving in snow that adjusts its all-wheel-drive differential for maximum traction, a product of its rally heritage. Its giant Brembo brakes will help in the stopping department, which is often the biggest problem when dealing with icy roads
Research the Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution
Sticker Price: $42,900
Invoice Price: $39,898
Fuel Economy: 22 mpg city, 31 mpg highway
While you probably won’t want to put the top down when it’s below freezing, the Roadster's all-wheel-drive system makes this a four-season sports car. With dedicated snow tires, a TT is virtually unstoppable in the snow – at least until the drifts get deep enough that its relatively low ground clearance becomes a problem. Its modern convertible top is insulated enough – and the cabin small enough – that you’ll stay toasty as well.
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