Best SUV For Snow: Here Is Our Top 15

As the mercury dips, the need for a vehicle capable of confidently conquering snow-covered roads comes to the fore. The best SUVs for these conditions are not just about all-wheel drive; they combine that with great ground clearance, robust engines, heated features, and advanced safety technologies.

Let’s navigate through the winter wonderland and discover the top fifteen SUVs that are ideally equipped to handle the snow.

Top 15 Best SUVs For Snow

1.     Subaru Outback

Subaru’s famous Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive comes standard on all Outback models, making it a natural choice for tackling snowy conditions. The low center of gravity of its BOXER engine and the balanced design of the AWD system ensures that power is distributed evenly, resulting in optimal stability and quick responses to conditions.

The Outback also boasts a generous 8.7 inches of ground clearance, which is higher than many SUVs in its class, enabling it to effortlessly traverse snowy or icy terrains. With X-MODE, it also incorporates Hill Descent Control for safer downhill travels.

Lastly, the Outback’s EyeSight Driver Assist Technology adds another layer of safety with features like adaptive cruise control and lane-keep assist, ensuring peace of mind when visibility is poor or road conditions are challenging during winter months.

2023 Subaru Outback on the road.

2.     Jeep Grand Cherokee

With its heritage rooted in off-road prowess, it’s no surprise that the Jeep Grand Cherokee makes this list. Equipped with the available Selec-Terrain Traction Management System, drivers can dial in the optimal setting for the conditions at hand, including a dedicated ‘Snow’ mode that adjusts throttle, transmission, and traction control for maximum grip on snowy surfaces.

The Quadra-Lift Air Suspension system, another unique feature of the Grand Cherokee, allows for an increased ride height of up to 10.8 inches. Combined with its robust engine options, this SUV can plow through deep snow with relative ease.

Rounding out its snow credentials are standard safety features like blind spot monitoring, forward collision warning, and automatic emergency braking, ensuring your journey remains safe, even when the weather isn’t cooperating.

3.     Volvo XC90

The Volvo XC90 stands out as a luxurious, family-friendly option that is well-suited to winter driving. This SUV features a sophisticated all-wheel-drive system that continuously monitors the speed, throttle, engine torque, and brakes to distribute power between the front and rear wheels as needed for optimal traction.

The XC90 also comes standard with a drive mode selector, including a setting for slippery conditions, making it adaptable to various driving scenarios. Its ground clearance of 9.4 inches gives it ample height to overcome snowy obstacles.

Volvo’s focus on safety is also evident in the XC90 with features like Pilot Assist for semi-autonomous driving, City Safety Collision Avoidance Technology, and a robust body structure designed to protect occupants. Combined with heated windshields, seats, and steering wheel, the XC90 provides comfort and safety in harsh winter conditions.

4.     Audi Q5

The Audi Q5 stands out in the luxury compact SUV category with its impressive handling and performance characteristics, making it ideal for snowy conditions. The standard quattro® all-wheel drive system with ultra® technology offers high-precision handling by intelligently distributing power between the front and rear axles to maximize traction and stability.

Moreover, the Q5 offers Audi Drive Select, allowing the driver to adjust the engine, transmission, and steering response according to the road conditions. Combined with advanced safety features such as Audi Pre sense® basic and city, which can detect pedestrians and initiate emergency braking, the Q5 is well-prepared for winter’s challenges.

5.     Toyota Land Cruiser

Toyota’s Land Cruiser has built a reputation for its off-road capabilities and dependability, which extends to excellent performance in snow. Its full-time 4WD system features an Active Traction Control system that automatically adjusts the power distribution, maximizing traction on slippery surfaces.

The Land Cruiser’s Multi-terrain Select system allows drivers to choose from multiple modes to optimize driving dynamics based on conditions. With Crawl Control, it can maintain an appropriate speed over challenging terrains. The Land Cruiser’s high ground clearance and potent V8 engine further aid its snow-busting capabilities.

2021 Toyota Land Cruiser front rear view.

6.     Land Rover Range Rover

Synonymous with luxury and off-road proficiency, the Land Rover Range Rover is designed to excel in a wide range of conditions, including snow. Its Terrain Response system, which adjusts the vehicle’s engine, transmission, and traction settings, includes a specific ‘Grass/Gravel/Snow’ mode to optimize its performance in wintry conditions.

Range Rover’s All Wheel Drive (AWD) system, coupled with impressive ground clearance and wading depth, ensures safe navigation through deep snow. The vehicle also boasts safety features such as Lane Departure Warning and Emergency Braking, adding an extra layer of protection during winter drives.

7.     Ford Explorer

The Ford Explorer offers a combination of power, space, and advanced technology, making it a great choice for snowy conditions. The Intelligent 4WD with Terrain Management System™ lets you choose from four different modes, including a ‘Snow, Gravel, Grass’ setting, ensuring maximum traction on snow-covered roads.

The Explorer comes with a range of potent engines, including a turbocharged V6 on the ST and Platinum trims. Coupled with ample ground clearance, the SUV can handle deep snow without breaking a sweat. Advanced safety features like Ford’s Co-Pilot360™ Assist+ further enhance safety, offering evasive steering assist and post-collision braking.

8.     Nissan Rogue

The Nissan Rogue, with its Intelligent All-Wheel Drive (AWD) system, is a capable compact SUV designed to adapt to changing conditions instantly. The AWD continually monitors and responds to changes in road conditions by automatically sending power to the wheels with the most traction.

With its Drive Mode Selector, you can adjust the vehicle’s performance with the turn of a dial, including a mode specifically designed for snowy conditions. Nissan’s Safety Shield 360, which includes automatic emergency braking, rear cross-traffic alert, and blind-spot warning, further enhances its winter driving capabilities.

9.     Honda CR-V

The Honda CR-V’s Real Time AWD with Intelligent Control System™ offers excellent handling in snow. This system can sense a loss of traction and automatically transfer power to the rear wheels, helping you maintain control.

Further bolstering its snow-driving credentials is the CR-V’s decent ground clearance and the Honda Sensing® suite of safety and driver-assistive technologies, which includes Collision Mitigation Braking System™ (CMBS™) and Road Departure Mitigation System (RDM) – both useful features for maintaining control in slippery conditions.

10.     Mercedes-Benz GLC

The Mercedes-Benz GLC is a luxurious compact SUV equipped with 4MATIC all-wheel drive, which sends torque to the wheels that can use it best, enhancing its traction and handling on snowy roads. The DYNAMIC SELECT feature allows the driver to fine-tune the vehicle’s performance characteristics with the flip of a switch, including a setting for winter driving conditions.

On the safety front, the GLC is equipped with Active Brake Assist and ATTENTION ASSIST, ensuring safer driving in challenging winter conditions. Its suite of advanced safety features, combined with its luxurious and comfortable interior, make it an excellent choice for winter driving.

11.     Chevrolet Tahoe

The Chevrolet Tahoe is a full-size SUV renowned for its powerful engine options and expansive interior space. Its available four-wheel-drive (4WD) system, combined with the Drive Mode Selector featuring a setting for snowy/icy conditions, ensures good traction and control in snowy conditions.

The Tahoe also benefits from a suite of safety features under the Chevrolet Safety Assist, including Forward Collision Alert, Automatic Emergency Braking, and Front Pedestrian Braking. Its solid body structure and high ground clearance further help navigate snow-laden roads with confidence.

2023 Chevrolet Tahoe 5.3L V8 engine.

Each of these SUVs excels in its unique ways, offering a balance of comfort, capability, and safety in snowy conditions. However, remember that technology and capabilities are just part of the equation – safe driving habits and preparation for winter conditions are equally important.

12.     Jeep Wrangler

When it comes to 4WD systems, the Jeep Wrangler is an iconic name in the industry. This vehicle is designed to take on the roughest terrains, and that includes snowy and icy roads. The Wrangler features a Rock-Trac® 4WD system, available in the Rubicon trim, which provides more control and torque for superior off-road performance.

The Selec-Trac® 4×4 System, on the other hand, automatically switches between 2WD and 4WD depending on the road conditions, offering increased efficiency and optimized traction on snow and ice. With its high ground clearance and robust build, the Wrangler can tackle deep snow without issue.

Adding to the Wrangler’s winter capabilities are features like heated seats and a heated steering wheel, ensuring that you stay comfortable even in the harshest weather.

13.     Toyota 4Runner

The Toyota 4Runner, with its sturdy body-on-frame construction and proven 4WD system, is another excellent choice for snowy and icy conditions. The 4Runner’s full-time 4WD system with Active Traction Control (A-TRAC) and a locking limited-slip center differential enhances traction and evenly distributes engine power to all four wheels.

Moreover, the Multi-terrain Select system allows you to choose from four modes that adjust wheel slips based on the terrain, including snow. Combined with high ground clearance and Crawl Control, the 4Runner can safely navigate slippery and snowy conditions.

14.     Land Rover Defender

Known for its extraordinary off-road prowess, the Land Rover Defender is a capable 4×4 SUV for snow and ice. Equipped with a permanent All-Wheel Drive, a twin-speed transfer box, and a configurable Terrain Response system, the Defender allows drivers to optimize the vehicle’s engine, gearbox, and other systems to match the demands of the terrain.

The Defender’s impressive ground clearance and robust architecture, coupled with advanced assistance systems like Electronic Traction Control (ETC) and Dynamic Stability Control (DSC), ensure secure handling in challenging snowy conditions. The Defender also comes with a Cold Climate Pack, offering heated features for comfort in low temperatures.

15.     Honda Pilot

If you’re looking for a used or older model SUV that excels in snowy conditions, consider the Honda Pilot. Models from 2009 and onwards are equipped with Honda’s Variable Torque Management 4-Wheel Drive system (VTM-4), a proactive system that sends power to the rear wheels when it detects front wheel slip, making it suitable for snowy roads.

The Pilot also features Vehicle Stability Assist (VSA) with traction control and ABS, providing extra safety in slippery conditions. It offers ample ground clearance and comes with a robust V6 engine, giving it the power and height needed to tackle deeper snow.

Each of these vehicles excels in terms of 4WD and 4×4 capabilities, providing excellent traction and control on snow and ice. However, despite their capabilities, it’s important to remember that no vehicle can change the laws of physics. Always drive with caution in snowy and icy conditions, regardless of the vehicle’s capabilities. Stay safe!

Why Are Subarus So Good In Snow?

The prowess of the Subarus in the snow is primarily due to its Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive system, which comes standard on most Subaru models. Unlike most AWD systems that react to wheel-slip, Subaru’s system is proactive, continuously sending power to all wheels for maximum traction and minimizing the chance of slippage.

In addition, the Subaru Boxer engine is designed to sit lower in the chassis for optimal balance and a lower center of gravity, leading to improved handling and stability. Subarus also tend to have good ground clearance, which is beneficial when driving in deeper snow. The combination of these features makes Subarus exceptionally capable in snowy conditions.

Is RAV4 Good In Snow?

The Toyota RAV4 is indeed well-equipped for handling snow. The RAV4 comes with an available Dynamic Torque Vectoring All-Wheel Drive (TV-AWD) system that improves responsiveness and stability by sending up to 50% of the power to the rear wheels and distributing more power to the wheel that needs it.

The Multi-Terrain Select feature, available in certain trims, allows drivers to choose between four modes (Mud & Sand, Rock & Dirt, Snow, and Normal) to optimize the vehicle’s systems based on the driving conditions. In the Snow mode, the system adjusts throttle response to provide more gradual acceleration, helping to prevent wheel spin on slippery surfaces.

Moreover, the RAV4 comes with Toyota Safety Sense™ 2.0, a suite of active safety features that includes Road Sign Assist (RSA), Lane Tracing Assist (LTA), and Pre-Collision System with Pedestrian Detection (PCS w/PD), ensuring safer driving in winter conditions.

However, even with the capabilities these vehicles offer, it’s important to remember that safe winter driving depends greatly on the driver’s skills, understanding of the road conditions, and proper maintenance of the vehicle. Always ensure your vehicle is winter-ready and drive cautiously in snowy and icy conditions.


To conclude this article, it’s clear that the market offers a variety of SUVs designed to handle snowy conditions with features like all-wheel-drive systems, advanced safety technology, and high ground clearance.

Brands like Subaru, Toyota, and Honda have made a name for themselves with their reliable, snow-friendly vehicles, but options extend beyond these brands to include luxury SUVs like the Mercedes-Benz GLC and Audi Q5, or rugged choices like the Jeep Wrangler.

Ultimately, the best SUV for snow depends on your specific needs, preferences, and budget. Regardless of the vehicle you choose, remember that safe winter driving also requires proper vehicle maintenance and careful, cautious driving.

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About Brock Rangel

Hi, I am Brock, and I am the lead editor/photographer for TheCarColony. I have been a mechanic for over 14 years now, and I am here to spread my car knowledge across the web!