Top 10: Safest Winter Cars

14th Jan 2021

By Paige Hodgkinson

What makes a car safe for the UK's winter months?

When purchasing a car it's worth considering the unpredictable British weather during winter months. Conditions including heavy rainfall, snow, blustery winds and dark nights can pose a real challenge for all road users no matter how competent a driver you are.

The safest cars for tackling wintry conditions are, without a doubt, cars that feature a four-wheel drive option. Therefore, we have created a list of the top 10 cars that will be the safest and most reliable during the adverse weather the UK is faced with during winter, that include the option of four-wheel drive.

We have also made an effort to mention additional beneficial features such as heated seats, windscreens and steering wheels; to make a wintry journey far more pleasant.

Ford Kuga

Ford Kuga Driving in Snow

A consistent favourite out of the Ford models, the Kuga is a safe and solid SUV; perfect for family buyers. The spacious interior ensures the whole family can have a comfortable and safe ride whether sitting in the front or the back.

Pick the second generation 2.0-litre diesel, all-wheel drive automatic version and you'll have a car that is capable of keeping you safe in wintry conditions. It's also worth mentioning the Kuga's handling ability; Ford are well-known for their exemplary steering, which is sure to be beneficial in slippery road conditions.

Known for being safe, thanks to the availability of advanced driver-assistance features such as adaptive cruise control and lane-keeping assist, it's clear to see why it was awarded a five-star Euro NCAP rating.

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Dacia Duster

Dacia Duster Off-roading

Rugged and robust are two adjectives Dacia use to describe their practical SUV, the Duster. Don't be put off by the often lower price associated with the Duster as it really is fantastic value, being triumphant in many industry awards.

Although there are various petrol, diesel and even a Bi-Fuel option; you will need to look out for the Blue dCi 115 diesel engine to gain the 4x4 capability. With this engine you get the choice of either the Comfort or Prestige models, with Prestige being the Duster's top-of-the-range specification.

Often recognised for its understated and simple range of key features, the Duster actually comes rather well-equipped when you upgrade to the higher models. With Comfort, a rear camera and Hill Descent Control are introduced but with the king of the Duster range you can expect luxuries such as climate control and keyless entry. Heated seats can even be added as an optional extra.

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Range Rover Evoque

Range Rover Evoque Driving in Snow

Featuring the award-winning Land Rover Terrain Response 2 system, the Range Rover Evoque can conquer any terrain with ease. The intelligent computer detects the road surface and adjusts the car accordingly.

The luxury compact SUV is also the first vehicle in the world to feature the innovative Ground View technology, which allows the driver to essentially see a straight-through-the-bonnet view on the infotainment touchscreen. Not only does this make driving in wintry conditions easier, it also aids with negotiating tricky parking spaces.

Of course, we need not mention the sheer driving pleasure that can be experienced in the smallest vehicle of the Range Range Rover family. In addition to being able to confidently confront snow, floods and off-roading; drivers can appreciate the refinement and capability that this distinctive SUV delivers.

Even the entry-level specification features heated front seats for the driver and front passenger to comfortably relax in.

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Nissan X-Trail

Nissan X-Trail Driving in Snow

Nissan's largest SUV, the X-Trail, is available with four-wheel-drive and the choice between either five or seven seats; making it a fantastic family car for handling the UK's winter months.

If you look for the higher specification models, such as the N-Connecta or N-TEC, you will get helpful features such as a hands-free automatic opening tailgate and Intelligent Park Assist. If you want to keep toasty during the colder months, you will need to look out for the Tekna trim to gain front and rear heated leather seats.

In terms of safety, the X-Trail has been awarded the top score of five stars for crash testing by Euro NCAP. This will give driver's extra confidence when confronted with challenging weather conditions.

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Ford Ranger Double Cab

Ford Ranger Wildtrak

Time for a change from the SUVs as, despite being popular in the UK market, they're not to everyone's taste. Fortunately, Ford have created a super tough and massively capable pick-up truck that is fit for just about any job, the Ford Ranger.

Rugged and practical enough to serve as a commercial vehicle, whilst providing all the comfort and technology features of a premium passenger car, the Ranger is suitable for many purposes and makes an excellent choice of vehicle when it comes to travelling during the UK's winter months.

With a simple flick of a switch, Ford's utility vehicle can shift between 2-wheel or 4-wheel-drive and the intelligent on-board computers enable the Ranger to tackle pretty much any terrain.

Combining its robust build and innovative safety features, the Ranger managed to score top marks of 5 with Euro NCAP.

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Volkswagen Golf

Volkswagen Golf R Driving in Snow

You may find it odd that a hatchback has managed to make it into the list of the top 10 safest winter cars, however, we can confirm it isn't an error. We had every intention of including the extremely popular VW Golf, but we are referring to the Mk 7 Golf R in particular, thanks to its permanent 4MOTION all-wheel drive system.

The hot hatch has all the envious features of the standard Golf, making it an exceptional family hatchback, as well an incredibly powerful 310bhp engine. Safe doesn't need to be boring as the Golf R proves that despite being a superbly fun drive, it's still remarkably secure and stable.

Families in need of a bit extra space will be delighted to know that the Golf R is not only available as a hatchback but as an estate too.

Featuring plenty of luxuries such as heated front seats, electric heated folding mirrors as well as automatic lights and wipers; the Golf R is even more enjoyable to drive.

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BMW 3 Series

BMW 3 Series Saloon Driving in Snow

Keen and enthusiastic drivers will be thrilled to see that the desirable BMW 3 Series has made the list. Beautifully agile handling and superior steering can be experienced when you're in the driver's seat of either the 3 Series Touring or Saloon.

Looking for enhanced stability and the feature that warrants this BMW making the safest winter cars list? Let us introduce you to BMW's intelligent four-wheel-drive system, xDrive.

Thanks to xDrive there's no need to panic when faced with snow, ice, mud or wet conditions as the Dynamic Stability Control (DSC) sensors will detect a loss in grip and counteract this by diverting the required amount of power to the set of wheels with the best traction.

Rear parking sensors and heated mirrors come as standard across the 3 Series range.

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MINI Countryman

MINI Countryman Driving in Rain

Distinctive and instantly recognisable as a MINI, the Countryman is the most practical car in the MINI range thanks to its compact SUV build and the All4 all-wheel drive system.

The second generation MINI Countryman was introduced in 2017 and received a light facelift in 2020. Each variant is available with either front-wheel drive or MINI's All4 system so if you're wanting the best option for winter conditions you need to look out for the examples featuring all-wheel drive.

Road grip is excellent, as well as the steering ability, and did we mention there is a plug-in hybrid option too? The Countryman Plug-in Hybrid gains the All4 system by default and can achieve around 26 miles in pure electric mode, on a single charge.

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Land Rover Discovery

Land Rover Discovery Driving in Snow

The fifth generation of the super practical Land Rover Discovery surprised its admirers with a whole new look compared to the boxier fourth generation but still managed to impress with its unrivalled capabilities. The Discovery saw a minor update for 2021 to gain new efficient engine, new trim levels and updated technology features.

When faced with slippery road surfaces, the Discovery's All-Wheel Drive and Terrain Response work in conjunction with each other to maximise traction, by balancing torque between the front and rear wheels.

Having been awarded a 5 star Euro NCAP safety rating you can rest assured that up to seven occupants can safely travel. There's even up to five ISOFIX points available if you are regularly transporting children in child seats, these vehicles can be harder to find, which is why we also created a handy blog on cars that can fit three child seats in the back.

Expect luxuries such as a heated windscreen and heated front seats in the entry-level specification.

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Volvo XC60

Volvo have always been recognised as a brand with a focus on safety, and in 1959 they were the first car brand to fit three-point seatbelts as standard, which is the seatbelt that is still used today.

The XC60 SUV is a perfect example of the safety that Volvo offer across their range of vehicles and it is even considered to be one of the safest cars ever made, considering it achieved one of the highest scores when it was crash-tested by Euro NCAP back in 2017.

Keep a look out for the models with four-wheel drive as not all variants will feature this. However, you will be pleased to know that LED headlights, heated front seats, an electric tailgate and Volvo City Safety with Steer Assist all come as standard.

Heated front seats and door mirrors are standard features across the XC60 range, but if you upgrade to the R-Design Pro specification you will benefit from a heated steering wheel too.

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Find your perfect used car for a safe driving experience during the winter months

There are endless types of car to consider when looking for a car that is prepared to tackle the UK's winter months. Whether you are wanting the popular SUV, the practical and robust pick-up truck, a handy estate or even a hot hatchback; there is sure to be a car that will cater to your requirements.

We have only featured 10 cars that stand out as being safer options for winter use, however, there are so many more options out there. At Evans Halshaw we have an extensive range of used cars from top manufacturers such as Mercedes-Benz, Ford, BMW, Vauxhall, Kia and many more.

Take a look through all of our used car collection.