Top 5 Fuel-Efficient Winter cars:
With thermometers seeing record lows this winter, it looks as though most the country (particularly south of the Mason-Dixon Line) has been woefully unprepared for the snow and ice that has blanketed our roads. Years ago, if you wanted a vehicle that could handle a little snow and ice, you had to buy something with a big V8, seated 15 sumo-wrestlers, clubbed baby seals for fun, and was absolutely awful to drive on the road. Luckily for us, times are changing! Now you can have a great 4-season car that looks good, drives well on-road, can park in most parking spots on a major city and gets great gas mileage.
- 1. 2015 Audi A3:
The Audi A3 is a brand new car. Forget the awkwardly sized hatchback of yesteryear and say hello to the beautiful little sedan that that has officially been released in the US. This compact car offers great power with a turbo-charged 1.8L or 2.0L engine (see audi.com for details). This car makes the list largely due to Audi’s legendary Quattro all-wheel drive system, which does a wonderful job at keeping all Audis pointed the right way on slick roads. With the new 2.0L Turbo, this little Audi is still managing great fuel economy. According to fueleconomy.gov, the A3 manages well over 30mpg on the highway and has a combined cycle rating of 27mpg. Combine great safety, economy, performance and looks into one reasonably priced car, and you get a vehicle which belongs on top of this list.
- 2. 2014 Subaru Impreza
Obviously Subaru had to have at least one car on this list. The 2014 Impreza makes the cut because of its very low price ($25,283, very well equipped), great mileage (combined cycle of 30mpg according to fueleconomy.gov) and of course, Subaru’s legendary symmetrical All-Wheel drive system. This car is not only the least expensive car on the list, but it’s also the most efficient. Equipped with the CVT transmission, this car will run very nearly 400 miles per tank of gas. Not bad considering people on YouTube take these poor little guys and do some respectable off-roading with them. Subies take pretty much anything thrown at them in stride. All but the wonderful little BRZ offer All-Wheel drive as standard. Subaru’s entire line-up could make it to this list, but Subaru’s counter-culture can be off-putting to some.
- 3. 2014 Audi Q5 TDI
We’ve been asking for it and Audi finally heard us! The 2014 Audi Q5 finally comes with a diesel. This is the only oil-burner on the list, and the most expensive car here (very nicely equipped at $46,500. See Audi.com for details), but the Q5 is a wonderful place to be and with the added ground-clearance does a little better with higher-snow falls than some of the others on this list. Those that think Diesels are dirty, loud and awful in the winter need to wake-up and smell the Urea! Test-drive any Audi equipped with a TDI and you will see for yourself. They are quiet, sophisticated and efficient. They also start very easily in the winter and have gobs of torque. While I would never condone taking one of these off-road (see YouTube), the fact is it can be done. Equipped with the Diesel, the Q5 manages a combined cycle of 27mpg and 31 on the highway (fueleconomy.gov) making it one of the most fuel efficient SUVs you can buy (take that Toyota Highlander Hybrid!).
- 4. 2014 Mini Cooper S Countryman All4
Do you enjoy watching ‘Downton Abbey’ in your evening robe, with a leather book on your lap, sipping overly priced hot cocoa, with non-prescription reading glasses sitting on your nose? Good! Believe it or not, there’s a winter car for you too! The Mini Countryman S All4 is not only the biggest mini ever released, it’s the first one released to the public with all four wheels getting power. Don’t worry; it is still a mini with small overall dimensions, and a small 1.6L turbo-charged engine. The little mini comes very well equipped at $30,945 (see mini.com) and still manages over 30mpg on the highway (fueleconomy.gov). The Countryman will also seat 4 adults in relative comfort with enough room in back for a larger-than-average grocery run. While it does have polarizing looks, I think it looks brilliant.
- 5. 2014 Honda CRV
The Honda CR-V is boring. There, I said it. It’s boring on the inside, boring on the outside, boring to drive, boring, boring, boring. There is, however, something to be said for boring. The CR-V gets 30mpg (fueleconomy.gov) on the highway, it comes very well equipped for less than $30,000 (see Honda.com). It is also a Honda, which means this little guy isn’t going to depreciate, break-down or be high-maintenance like some of its German competition might. The CR-V is roomier on the inside than you’d expect and can seat 5 adults with plenty of room to spare in the trunk for bags of wheat, cinder-blocks or anything else that is large and dull. The point is, the CR-V comes with a very capable all-wheel drive system that will keep it out of the ditches when the white stuff starts falling from the sky.
There are plenty of other cars that could make it on this list. Being safe in the winter time no longer requires a small-block V8 and a body-on-frame set-up. We live in a time where AWD, traction and stability control, anti-lock brakes, and air-bags are common in many vehicles. Safety and traction no longer have to take a backseat to efficiency.