What makes for the best winter vehicle? Is it an AWD or 4WD system that allows it to excel when the weather is less than favorable? Maybe it’s heated seats that keep you warm, and in good spirits when bitter cold attempts to chill you to the core. Or maybe it’s much simpler than that, and what makes a vehicle great during the colder months, is just being able to count on it to get you where you need to go, no matter what the weather is doing.
Precipitation of one kind or another is only one piece of the puzzle, winter also brings with it freezing temperatures, seasonal affective disorder, and an increase in sicknesses. Throw in a car not cut out for inclement weather, and you’ve got yourself a big ‘ol ball of misery to roll around for a few months. Granted, some people enjoy throwing a pity party for themselves when the days get short, and the mercury dips, but that’s a childish way to deal with an adult problem. Chances are if you’re walking around grousing about the weather, the issue is most likely something else entirely. Maybe it’s something that you have some control over, something you can change, say for example, what you drive.
Consider how you dress during the winter, you’re prepared for the elements right? Well, take it a step further, and think of your vehicle as another piece of outerwear. In addition to having the equipment that allows it to perform in unpleasant conditions, it would ideally be a pleasant place to spend some time would it not? This is where so many people go wrong with choosing a great vehicle for winter, and where the whole deal is made or broken.
Why go out and buy an SUV capable of climbing the harshest routes, only to outfit the interior in icy aluminum, and black leather? Does hanging out in a doctors office after a long day outside in cold weather sound like a good time? No, of course it doesn’t, so why would you drive around in the automotive equivalent? There are enough automakers out there who offer alternatives to these austere interiors that there’s really no excuse to opt for an aesthetic that a Bauhaus student would lust after.
Instead of coolness, choose warmth, choose vitality, choose an interior that feels like a sanctuary. Light color leathers or cloth, wood trim instead of metal (even if it’s fake), and a light colored headliner, these are the hallmarks of a great winter vehicle. A heated steering wheel, a defrost function for your sideview mirrors, these are all nice options to have, but they’re not absolutely necessary for a vehicle to be well qualified for winter duty. All you really need to beat the cold is an interior that is as welcoming as possible, and a damn good set of snow tires. All four wheels working together will certainly give you piece of mind, but put a set of studded Hakkapelittas on a FWD, even RWD vehicle, and you’ll be fine, provided you know how to drive in the snow.
Bottom line is this, what makes a great winter vehicle is not what it can do, but how it makes you feel when you’re in it. Creature comforts are nice, but they’re not nearly as important as an inviting design atheistic. So, the next time you’re shopping for a post winter solstice performer, keep in mind that all the gadgets the salesperson is pushing on you count for nothing if the basic vibe of the car isn’t in line with the cozy vibe you should be looking for.