I’ve just recently moved to Connecticut and suffer through a 20 mile commute every day. With winter soon arriving, what are some of the best cars for winter conditions that are affordable? Not looking for fancy, yet safe and reliable. (actually a little cute wouldn’t hurt)…
Any front wheel drive or all wheel drive vehicle will be fine in Connecticut, provided it does not have tires beyond about 195mm section width (the first number in the tire size) and has good all season or winter radials. Wider tires will tend to ride up on stuff on the road. Connecticut is pretty well prepared to keep the roads in decent shape.
There are some other recommendations I have…
If you don’t have a AAA card and a cellphone, get them.
Have a charge card. ONLY for use to stay in a hotel should you get stuck in a bad blizzard. CHARGE CARDS ARE FOR EMERGENCY USE ONLY, but having one handy in an emergency can save you from a devastating accident.
Be sure you window wash system is filled with winter mix. Summer mix will freeze in the lines.
Get rubber-booted winter wiper blades. Metal-framed blades will ice up and be useless in bad weather.
Do everything slowly and leave lots of room around you. If you don’t feel safe on the road, pull into a hotel and use that aforementioned charge card.
I’m sure others here will add some items.
By the way, where are you moving from? What kind of car do you currently have?
You can’t go too wrong with a Subaru. And you sure won’t be alone on the road with one of them - seems like half of New England drives Subaru’s.
I’m not the world’s biggest Subaru fan, but I have to admit my AWD Subaru Legacy station wagon has gone through every winter condition I’ve yet to encounter with no problem whatsoever.
I’ve had front wheel drive cars about which I could say almost the same thing, but the Subaru does it so effortlessly it’s sometimes amazing.
I also have a 4WD pickup truck, but I prefer to drive the AWD Subaru when there’s snow on the roads.
I’m a firm believer in winter tires, and I wouldn’t attempt a New England winter without four of them, regardless of the vehicle.
Your current car equipped with winter tires if FWD may be perfect for CT conditions. A great set of winter tires that also double as all-seasons are the Nokian WR tires. They will be well suited to the “lighter” winter conditions CT has. If you want a dedicated set of winters check out tirerack.com. I had no issue’s with a FWD Civic going to the mountains with a Civic equipped with Nokian WR’s and Bridgestone Blizzacks. This included going through 6"+ snow on roads and highways.
If AWD car is in your sights the Subaru Impreza(new 2008 is largely improved) or Subaru Legacy/Outback are great choices for your price range. I own two Subaru’s and find the newer ones (2005+ Legacy/Outback) and 2008 Impreza to be really nice cars. I do get by with all-seasons on both however they do not stop quite as well as my priorly Nokian WR equipped pair of Civic’s on snow/ice. I plan on getting Nokian WR’s for at least one Subaru once tires wear out to regain the superior stopping ability in winter crud.
I like the Ford explorer with the little pickup box in back. It looks like it has a short enough wheelbase for good steering in parking lots. I have a long pickup truck and can’t steer enough.
Just about any car with real snow (Winter) tyres will be better than any car without. BTW, I believe you will find that those areas that get a lot of snow, also have a lot of snow plows. If you live in a residential area, chances are you will find that it is not as bad as you think. Now if you live in the country and they don't do much plowing, that is a different matter.
Note: All Season tyres are NOT Snow tyres