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Winter warriors: An AW list of vehicles in which to tackle the snow

Thu, 02 Dec 2010

Now that cold weather has arrived in many parts of the country, the Corvette Stingrays and Plymouth Barracudas are being tucked back into their garages.

With that in mind, AutoWeek offers this list of sure-footed rides for the winter. Some have higher sticker prices--we're looking at you, Range Rover--but most are fun, economical rides that will get you through the deepest doldrums of winter.

All prices and specs are for 2011 models, unless otherwise noted.

Ford F-150, Dodge Ram, Chevrolet Silverado

Price: $25,085-$27,760

F150: 3.7-liter V6, 302 hp @ 6,500 rpm, 278 lb-ft @ 4,000 rpm

Silverado: 4.3-liter V6, 195 hp @ 4,600 rpm, 260 lb-ft @ 2,800 rpm

Ram: 3.7-liter V6, 215 hp @ 5,200 rpm, 235 lb-ft @ 4,000 rpm

The American pickups are a good, inexpensive choice to take on the snow, slush and sleet of the season. Their elevated ride heights, four-wheel drive and knobby tires provide safety over the slippery stuff. A few bags of salt in the back wouldn't hurt either.

Subaru WRX

Price: $26,220

2.5-liter turbocharged H4, 265 hp @ 6,000 rpm, 244 lb-ft @ 4,000 rpm

The WRX. All-wheel drive. Snow. 'Nuff said.

Jeep Grand Cherokee

Price: $32,995

3.6-liter V6, 290 hp @ 6,400 rpm, 260 lb-ft @ 4,800 rpm

The new Grand Cherokee looks mean and has an attitude to match. The Pentastar V6 makes enough horsepower to get you over trouble spots and gets good enough fuel economy to keep you inside your car, where the heat is.

Ford Taurus SHO

Price: $38,595

3.5-liter twin-turbocharged V6, 365 hp @ 5,500 rpm, 350 lb-ft @ 5,500 rpm

The return of the SHO wasn't just the return of Ford's power sedan. It was a new beginning for an all-wheel-drive, performance-geared automobile from the Blue Oval. Get some snow tires and stuff your worries in a stocking, because the Taurus is built in the Windy City for the wintry weather.

Acura RDX

Price: $35,480

2.3-liter turbocharged I4, 240 hp @ 6,000 rpm, 260 lb-ft @ 4,500 rpm

The RDX is Acura's small crossover, but it has more than enough gusto to handle whatever winter can throw at it. The RDX is loaded with technology, even without the Tech Package. Dual-level heated seats are standard on the all-wheel-drive version.

Toyota Land Cruiser

Price: $68,180

5.7-liter V8, 381 hp @ 5,600 rpm, 401 lb-ft @ 3,600 rpm

The Land Cruiser had been in production continuously since 1951, so Toyota must be doing something right. The lineup has been used for everything from royalty transport to military duty.

Land Rover Range Rover Sport (2010)

Price: $75,395

5.0-liter supercharged V8, 510 hp @ 6,000-6,500 rpm, 461 lb-ft @ 2,500-5,500 rpm

Could 500 hp be too much power for the snowy months? Probably, but all-wheel drive, adjustable suspension and terrain response make up for it. Still, you should ditch the 20-inch wheels.

Audi A6 Avant (2010)

Price: $54,185

3.0-liter supercharged V6, 300 hp @ 5,100-6,800 rpm, 310 lb-ft @ 2,500-5,100 rpm

If you need to carry around more than just yourself this winter, the A6 Avant is one of your best choices. The A6 will transport three kids, two dogs and some luggage to Grandmother's house. With quattro all-wheel drive, the A6 has what it takes to tackle the coldest months.

Volvo XC60 3.2 AWD

Price: $36,250

3.2-liter I6, 240 hp @ 6,400 rpm, 236 lb-ft @ 3,200 rpm

Volvo has been synonymous with safety since winter came to be. The XC60 with all-wheel drive and the climate package will make quick work of the snowy season. The $1,000 option includes heated seats, heated windshield-washer nozzles, headlight washers and rain sensors.

Volkswagen Tiguan S

Price: $27,360

2.0-liter turbocharged I4, 200 hp @ 5,100 rpm, 207 lb-ft @ 1,800-5,000 rpm

The Tiguan is another small sport-ute with all-wheel drive that will carry you through the winter season. A good-size cabin, crisp handling and heated seats should be enough. Throw in a turbo and super-bright HID headlights, and you have a winter winner.

By Jake Lingeman