If you've read any national news outlets in the past 48 hours, you've likely seen a single common word: snow. Yes, in the winter, most of the United States is known to get a fair bit of snow. However, this winter season has been exceptionally bad with literally feet of snow being dropped all over the country, be it east, west, north, or south. In the spirit of the season we have put together our list of seven picks to get through the "snowpocalypse" no matter what your needs be or where you live. Bring it, Mother Nature...
Cheapest: 2011 Suzuki SX4 Crossover
How can you argue with a sub-$18,000 price tag? Ringing in at $17,774 (including destination), the 2011 Suzuki SX4 Crossover is the most inexpensive new car on the U.S. market available with all-wheel drive. Suzuki's intelligent-AWD system is actually a part time system (activated by a switch on the center console) so that you can lock in the all-wheel action before the car senses wheelslip. Driver control doesn't end there, as the SX4 comes standard with a six-speed manual transmission (a CVT is optional). If you are looking to outrun the snow, the manual transmission is rated at 22/30 mpg (city/highway), while cars fitted with the CVT are rated at 23/29 mpg. With a 13 gallon tank on board, the SX4 should be able to travel almost 300 miles in (or away from) the snow without a problem.
Most Fun: 2011 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution X
Mitsubishi’s Evo X is undoubtedly one of the most versatile cars available today. Four doors? Check. Room for five? Check. Sports car capabilities? Check. Ability to tackle the snowpocalypse? Oh yeah. Mitsubishi’s Lancer Evolution is born from rallying, and the road-going car is little more than a civilized rally car. It features an advanced, torque-vectoring all-wheel-drive system, rally-inspired traction control with tarmac, snow, and gravel settings, and a powerful, 300-horsepower, turbocharged 2.0-liter I-4. This car, without a doubt, is one of the best cars you could use to tackle Jack Frost's worst. With either the five-speed manual or six-speed dual clutch transmission, other cars stuck in the snow soon become a slalom course, not obstructions...
Best All-Rounder: 2011 Audi S4
We named Audi’s S4 an All-Star in 2010 and for good reason: it’s one of the best sport sedans on the market, rain, shine, or -- well, snow. The S4 comes standard with the latest iteration of Audi’s Quattro all-wheel-drive system for sure-footedness in the white stuff. Do make sure, however, to opt for Audi's Sports Rear Differential, which can shuffle power between the rear wheels. Not only does this torque vectoring diff help in the snow, it also helps the car turn in once the frost melts. If that weren't enough, the S4 features a sweetheart of an engine: a supercharged, 3.0-liter V-6 that churns out 333 horsepower and 325 pound-feet of torque. Coupled either to a six-speed manual or a rapid-fire seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox, the engine is more than sufficient to make this a veritable German rocket -- regardless of the weather.
Supercar: 2011 Porsche 911 Turbo S
Once the snow starts falling, most supercars head to their warm garages for a few months of hibernation. That said, those with all-wheel-drive, like the Porsche 911 Turbo S, may still be capable of playing in the fresh powder -- especially once winter tires are fitted.
The 911 Turbo S is capable of sprinting from 0 to 60 mph in 3.1 seconds, thanks in part to its powerful, twin-turbocharged, 3.8-liter flat-six engine, along with its advanced all-wheel-drive system. It's this driveline, with the ability to direct power to the wheels with the most traction, that help the Turbo S rocket off the starting grid, to say nothing of gripping when snowfall begins to accumulate.
Crossover: 2011 Nissan Juke
Plenty of crossovers offer traction and car-like amenities, but few combine surefooted grip with the dynamics of a hot hatch. The new Nissan Juke, however, does just that. All-wheel-drive models even receive a rear differential that can bias torque between the left and right wheels, helping keep the Juke pointed in the right direction. Once the roads are cleared, you'll be able to make full advantage of the powerful turbocharged, direct-injection 1.6-liter I-4 underhood. With 188 horsepower and 177 pound-feet of torque on tap, the Juke can literally become a pocket-sized rocket -- especially once you select sport mode from the nifty menu on the center stack.
Most Luxurious: 2011 Mercedes-Benz S550 4Matic
Just because it's snowing doesn't mean that you need to compromise in how you travel. Fortunately, the 2011 Mercedes-Benz S550 -- one of the most posh luxury cars presently on the market -- is available with Benz's 4Matic all-wheel drive system. 4Matic combines all-wheel drive with stability control and four-wheel electronic traction control to vector torque to and from the wheels with traction -- or just one wheel, if the case may be. We've found the combination to be almost unstoppable in the snow, even on test vehicles fitted with subpar all-season rubber.
Power is supplied by Mercedes' 382-horsepower, 5.5-liter V-8 -- which, in dry weather, will whisk the sumptuous sedan from 0-60 mph in 5.4 seconds. Once inside the S550, you can leave the snow globe world behind. All seating positions are wrapped in leather and heated (and, for $490, so is the steering wheel). Better yet, the entire interior is bathed in soothing LED ambient lighting, making it just that much easier to forget about the raging storm outside.
Best Car With Which to Rescue Grandma: 2011 Mercedes-Benz G550
On any average day, going over the river and through the woods would be a piece of cake. However, after multiple sequential blizzards, there is only one vehicle that will get to grandma's house: the 2011 Mercedes-Benz G550. Originally starting live as a workhorse for the German military, the Geländewagen is equipped with a full-time all-wheel drive system, complete with three -- front, center, and rear -- locking differentials. And with 8.27 inches of ground clearance, there is virtually no stopping this truck. The 5.5-liter V-8 produces 382 horsepower and 391 pound-feet of torque, meaning there are few snow drifts this side of an avalanche the G can't traverse.
If the route to bring a basket of goodies to grandma includes any mountainous terrain, worry not, the G-Class can climb up to an 80-percent grade, with a 34-degree angle of approach, 29-degree departure angle, and eight inches of wheel travel. Interior accommodations are luxurious (as you'd hope, considering the $106,625 price tag), with massaging, heated and cooled leather front seats, and wood trim covering almost every surface.
If these seven weren't enough to tackle the white weather with, make sure to check out our Winter Car Buyer's Guide!
-Donny Nordlicht & Andrew Peterson