Which vehicle for snow/mountains?

Moving from Florida to New England. Going to sell the lemon of a car I currently have and take that $1.27 and apply it to a used vehicle - 2007 or so. I have a toddler and a dog and would be taking them on trips into the mountains. I’m thinking about a Subaru, Nissan Murano, or possibly a Volvo. I basically want something safe, reliable and that won’t kill me on repair bills. Any suggestions?? (other than not moving to New England). Thanks.

Either the Subaru or an AWD Murano, with a set of winter tires mounted on rims for easy swap-out, would do fine.

Subaru or Nissan fit the bill well.Volvo falls down on repair bills.

A set of separate quality winter tires makes winter driving a pleasure when it gets sketchy out. Not a requirement but makes winter driving so much more pleasant from personal experience of one Subaru with all-seasons and the other Subaru has winter tires.

If you’re going to be doing a lot of trips to the mountains (during ski season) then the Subaru or Murano will be fine…If only trips every once in a while…then any good fwd vehicle will be fine.

Not only does a set of 4 winter tires allow you to get going and to stay on course, but–more importantly–they allow you to stop in a significantly shorter distance than so-called all-season tires when you are driving on slippery winter roads.

I have a Subaru (AWD, naturally), with traction control and vehicle stability control, and I still faithfully swap my “all seasons” for a set of Michelin X-Ice tires each year in December.

Any AWD car or crossover with snow tires will take you anywhere you want to go. Having all seasons and snows mounted on different sets of wheels is convenient but a little pricey. If you want to avoid crazy repair bills avoid anything European. Pretty much all new cars sold in the US are safe and reliable, so pick your flavor and be happy.

I like how you highlighted the word stop. Everybody always gets AWD or 4WD so they can go, but the ability to stop is where the magic really is.

VDCdriver was talking about the tires giving you shorter stopping distance. AWD or 4WD does not stop any better then the 2wd version of the same vehicle with the same tires…It does however give you better CONTROL while stopping.

I agree 100% with those who recommend WINTER tires. (NOT SNOW tires)

Winter tires can be used year round although not commonly used that way due to the rubber being softer and more flexible in sub-zero temps causing them to wear quicker on dry surfaces.

A word of caution: do not forget the fact that once the tires get several thousand miles on them and wear AND you get a punctured tire that cannot be repaired, you must replace ALL 4 tires OR shave the new tread down to match the other three tires.

Failure to do so MAY result in drivetrain failure.

This is one problem with AWD vehicles.

Just a heads up is all.

Thanks for all the replies and awesome info!! I really appreciate everyone’s input. I’ll definitely target the Subaru or Nissan and will ESPECIALLY get that extra set of winter tires. Thanks again to everyone.

I’ve been driving in New England (all states, all areas) for most of the past 40 years. Any FWD or AWD vehicle with four good tires will be fine…but give yourself the time and opportunity (in an empty parking lot) to develop some technique.

Since you’ll be new to the area, I agree that four winter tires are good insurance.

You may also want to drain your windshield wash bottle and refill with “winter mix” (run it after to get the lines purged) and replace your wiper blades with rubber booted winter wipers. And pick up a snow brush and scrapers as soon as you get here.

And remember…in NH you are required to clean all of the window areas of snow AND to clear the snow from your roof. These should always be done. To do otherwise is unsafe.

Drive carefully.

t does however give you better CONTROL while stopping.

Really? How does it do that?

I will suggest just one thing. If you have not driven in snow, you are going to need to learn to drive in snow. I strongly suggest taking it very easy to start with. Find a nice large parking lot where you can safely practice stopping and starting in snow with no cars or obstructions close by.

Even those of us who live in snow country, know we need to take it easy during the first couple of snows because our skills need to be sharpened and because new to snow drivers will be out there for their first time on snow and ice.

*** Get real WINTER tyres ***

Great advice about practicing first. I’ll definitely find a large and EMPTY parking lot to practice in. And, I’ll put a post on this website warning you all when I’ll be practicing - that way you can stay home where it’s safe!! Thanks!

Just be aware of the placement of light poles and other obstacles in that parking lot!

Recently, on the Judge Judy TV program, she had the case of a young woman whose boyfriend insisted on teaching her how to drive on snowy roads. They went to a large deserted parking lot which supposedly had only one light pole in the entire lot.

Yup–you guessed it. He managed to crash her Acura into the sole light pole in that lot, causing strut damage, as well as a bent wheel and body damage.

From your statements it sounds like you may be a good candidate for a Subaru Forester or possibly Outback wagon. If you get a chance to test drive a Subaru on snowy roads do it. I’m sure you will then be convinced it is the car you want to drive on snowy roads, and on clear roads. Soobs rule the snow country along with being safe an reliable.

My only additional advice on Subaru if your choice is target 2008+ or earlier one equipped with VDC(stability control). It became standard across Subaru in 2008.

It is a great safety feature on icy/snowy roads that helps prevent skids within reason by braking at individual wheels(impossible by a driver) and pivoting the car in proper direction if it sense it going off.

Subaru usually way ahead on safety features was behind the curve on this one in introducing stability control across all models.

Hint: try to borrow or rent 1/2 dozen orange traffic control cones. When you get them, go to your choice of unplowed lot and place the cones where you have to handle the vehicle around them as though you were on ice.

Use that steering wheel to steer OUT of a skid and don’t lock the brakes. Always look in the direction YOU want to go.

The second reason for using the cones is for your local policeman who will come around eventually and MAY give you a problem. This depends on your local by-laws.
At least by having the cones out there tells the cop you are learning how to handle a vehicle in adverse conditions which is a plus for you.

Like VDC said “Just be aware of the placement of light poles and other obstacles”. Especially if you have a sloping area you want to try.

Great suggestions. I’ll definitely try to get some cones. I had no clue about VDC, but that will be on my list.

Regarding tires - I’ve heard to get an entire set of rims with winter tires already on them. That could be costly. How does that compare in cost to just having the regular tires swapped out for winter tires and just keeping the same rims?

Thanks again everyone - super advice!