The days are short, the nights are cold and the chances of encountering rain, snow, sleet or some other form of weather-related treachery during the course of any daily drive are at their peak. It just may be time for consumers to consider upgrading their current rides for vehicles more befitting the season. To help you ponder the possibilities, kbb.com expert editors put together a list of the Top 10 Winter Driving Vehicles for 2012.
"Although this purposefully diverse roster includes a full spectrum of highly capable alternatives, all share one common trait: Each boasts some type of user-friendly all-wheel drive system that can help keep you on the road – figuratively and literally – as you head to your final destination," said Jack R. Nerad, executive editorial director for Kelley Blue Book's kbb.com. "Whether that journey involves a mundane commute to work or a well-deserved weekend getaway to a favorite ski resort is up to you."
Top 10 Winter Driving Vehicles for 2012
#10: 2012 Subaru Outback Classy, comfortable and capable, the 2012 Subaru Outback is a superb year-round travelmate that truly rises to the occasion whenever Mother Nature does go on a rampage. Even the base Outback 2.5i with its economical 2.5-liter flat-four engine packs an impressive feature set, highlighted by Subaru's excellent Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive and a comprehensive Vehicle Dynamics Control system. The more potent six-cylinder Outback 3.6R as well as the Premium and Limited variations available for each respective Outback model make it easy to find the best match to up the creature comforts ante even further. An options list that includes a GPS navigation system, harman-kardon premium audio, a Cold Weather Package and Mobile Internet access further bolster the Outback's appeal.
#9: 2012 Toyota Sienna AWD If only a minivan can really meet your basic transportation needs, there's just one choice to be made: the 2012 Toyota Sienna with optional On-Demand All-Wheel Drive System with Active Torque Control. Available on V6-powered Sienna LE, XLE and LTD models, this totally transparent upgrade adds a new level of sure-footed confidence to Toyota's well-appointed space ship. Like its front-drive kin, this even-more capable Sienna offers easily reconfigurable room for seven or eight, loads of standards and the choice of adding a passenger-pleasing Dual-View Entertainment Center on the XLE/LTD models as well as a Navigation Package and Dynamic Radar Cruise Control on the primo LTD variant.
#8: 2012 Acura MDX Well-mannered, richly appointed and offering room for seven, the 2012 Acura MDX makes a strong case for its spot on our list by matching a refined 300-horsepower V6 engine with a smooth-shifting six-speed automatic transmission and Acura's stellar Super Handling All-Wheel Drive system. Couple the MDX's dynamic prowess with standards like power heated leather seats, a premium audio package, tri-zone climate control and a power rear liftgate, plus available Technology, Advance and Entertainment Package upgrades, and this well-rounded Acura takes on all the charm of a safe and secure mobile living room.
#7: 2012 Ford F-150 AWD Perennial best-seller in the full-size pickup segment, the 2012 Ford F-150 in 4WD configuration won our votes for its smart blend of style, comfort and, yes, even fuel economy, thanks to the available 365-horsepower EcoBoost V6 – which has become the most popular engine in the entire F-150 lineup. Like the base V6 and two optional V8s, the EcoBoost/4WD combo can be had in Regular, SuperCab and SuperCrew body styles and multiple trim levels. While all F-150 4WD models boast Hill Start Assist for 2012 and upline versions add a new 4x4 "auto mode" to the existing 4Hi/4Lo setup, only EcoBoost 4WD models also get a new 36-gallon fuel tank that lets them match their best-in-class 21-mpg highway mileage with a best-in-class 756-mile range.
#6: 2012 Honda CR-V AWD A generational makeover brings a more contemporary appearance as well as many welcome new features to the 2012 Honda CR-V, not the least of which is the introduction of Honda's Real Time AWD with Intelligent Control System. Optional on all models of the automaker's compact, crossover-style SUV, this smaller, lighter and quicker-responding upgrade of the previous Real Time AWD setup helps the latest CR-V cope with challenging traction conditions even more effectively. The people side of the CR-V package benefits from a similarly well-measured upgrade regimen that includes a quieter, more stylish cabin, better ride comfort and a new rear-seat entertainment system option, plus significantly improved fuel economy from its 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine and five-speed automatic transmission.
About Kelley Blue Book (www.kbb.com) Founded in 1926, Kelley Blue Book, The Trusted Resource®, is the only vehicle valuation and information source trusted and relied upon by both consumers and the industry. Each week the company provides the most market-reflective values in the industry on its top-rated website www.kbb.com, including its famous Blue Book® Trade-In and Retail Values and Fair Purchase Price, which reports what others are paying for new cars this week. The company also provides vehicle pricing and values through various products and services available to car dealers, auto manufacturers, finance and insurance companies as well as governmental agencies. Kbb.com provides consumer pricing and information on minivans, pickup-trucks, sedan, hybrids, electric cars, and SUVs. Kelley Blue Book Co. Inc. is a wholly owned subsidiary of AutoTrader.com.