Blogs Car Info Our Show Deals Mechanics Files Vehicle Donation

Best vehicle to not be snowed in

suggestions for something that would basically be able to drive out of long steep driveway even with 1-2ft snow drifts.

could either be a primary car if good mileage, or just a “beater” to have for this specific use in winter.

Driving through 1-2 foot snow drifts?

Once snow is deep enough to be the same height as your front bumper, you are going to have a devil of a time getting sufficient traction on a level surface unless you have a snow plow attached to the front of the vehicle. Otherwise, the drag of the snow against the undercarriage of the vehicle is going to hang it up.

If you are thinking of driving up a long steep driveway with 1-2 foot snow drifts, I think you are going to have to investigate military-grade equipment with a ground clearance of about 2 feet.

A full size 4wd truck with a V8, big tires, and honest-to-goodness chain link tire chains should usually be able to handle it. If you were to go the “beater” approach, you should be able to pick up an older domestic 4x4 for fairly cheap-- you may end up spending more money on the tires and chains than the truck itself.

If you go the car route, you probably ought to get a Subaru. Their AWD system is vastly better than anything in their price range. Short of high centering, they’re unstoppable. Of course, with 2 foot snowdrifts, high centering is exactly the issue, so you’d need to figure out some other solution on big snow drift days (shovel? snowshoes?).

A sort of middle path might be something like a 4runner, which would get decent mileage (depending on your definition) and should be able to handle fairly deep snow if you can chain up. 2 Feet of snow would be a tall order, though.

Mercedes Benz Unimog. Trust Me. I Have Driven A Street-Legal One In All Types Of Weather And Terrain. It’s Got The Ground-Clearance And Traction You Need.


I’ve had great success in the snow with my full-sized Bronco that sports a 4 inch lift, 33 inch tires and a rear locker. No need to shovel or wait for the roads to get plowed.

Buy a $700 snow blower to keep that steep driveway clean. Any normal car with good winter tires will be sufficient anywhere in the US, outside mountain passes.

Driving through snow drifts on the highway is easy; the momentum of the car will carry you through.

In our neighborhood the local kids will clear your driveway for $5 a week, if needed, and that way you don’t need the expense of a Hummer or other gass guzzling tall 4WD.

How about one of these?

Or how about one of these?

Actually, I recommend a small snow plow so you can plow your driveway and get any car in and out.

If you know a kid that will clear out 1.5 miles of driveway with a snowblower for 5 dollars… sold!

(kidding, people)

Ten minutes after a two hour plowing job with a truck with chains, it drifts back over.

It takes two hours to plow your driveway? If you have a truck with a plow on the front already, that should be your winter vehicle. If not, get yourself a full-sized 4X4 pick-up truck. Then, instead of using tire chains, get some good winter tires. Then add a plow to the front and you will be all set.

You have a pretty extreme case. In a case this extreme I think I’d park the car at the far end of the driveway and get to and from it with a snowmobile or snow cat.

A new 2010+ Subaru Outback achieves excellent MPG considering the AWD and size. It can handle up to 12" fine of light pack snow. The 12"-24" gets dicey as that is completely dependent on snow consistency if hard pack or loose powder. Plowed snow usually has salt which means it turns hard fast.

Are these drifts fine powder or wet snow? Even the best AWD’s/4wd’s have a hard time in 6" of heavy wet snow. Also buy yourself 4 high quality winter tires even with AWD. It will allow the car to claw better and give it a fighting chance.

I grew up with a driveway like this and an AMC Eagle(old school Outback type car) and Subaru and they did fine with drifts and steepness.

I know of no one with a 1.5 mile driveway, except ranchers or people who live in mountain cabins all winter.

In your case, a sturdy high ground clearance 4X4 would fit the bill. My choice would be a Toyota 4Runner which is a great vehicle in snow and also a good highway truck with a civilized ride. The 4 cylinder model is not too hard on gas either.

A Tucker Snow Cat. Post the Google Earth URL of your homestead…I’d like to see this…

You might need to move to a winter home with a better situation, unfortunately.
Or get a job that allows you to work from home.

2 feet of snow on a steep driveway isn’t going to be handled easily by most vehicles.


will make or break any truck’s snow ability.

My wife had a 91 Ford Explorer.
I had a 92 Explorer.
Identical trucks…
Different tires.

I know what of I speak.

Tires !

Right truck, wrong tires, you’re not going anywhere.

You need a plow…

I won’t even attempt my 120’ driveway in 4wd after a 2’ snow storm…Sorry…but driving into and over unplowed snow is a accident waiting to happen.

I tend to agree. Siberia is a tough place to get around in :wink: