The Car Chasers

The 10 best cars for the year’s worst weather

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The 10 best cars for the year's worst weather

Shaun Lowe | Vetta | Getty Images

It's that time of year again. It's getting darker earlier, the cold fronts are moving in and the roads are icing over. This is the time when your car is put to the test, and when you find out firsthand what it's really made of, and while some cars make the cut, many more don't.

So which cars are best for negotiating the frozen highway tundra? Karl Brauer, a senior director at the car valuation and analysis company Kelley Blue Book, provided CNBC.com with his list of 10 cars that are best equipped to withstand the elements.

"Fighting foul weather shouldn't mean a foul driving experience," he said. "These cars should confidently get you through the rain, sleet and snow without compromising passenger comfort, driving performance or style."

Read ahead to see CNBC.com's list of the 10 best cars for the year's worst weather. All cars on the list are 2014 models.

By Daniel Bukszpan
Posted 08 Nov. 2013

Tune in to the new season of "The Car Chasers" on CNBC Prime, all new episodes Tuesdays at 10 p.m. ET/PT.

Land Rover Range Rover

2014 Land Rover Range Rover
Image source: Land Rover

The Land Rover Range Rover has a starting price of $83,000. That's not exactly cheap, but it comes with numerous amenities to comfort the intrepid driver, such as heated leather seats and a 380-watt Meridian audio system.

"The Range Rover has been an off-roading legend for decades, but the latest version also offers a luxury-nirvana experience while still going anywhere and everywhere its driver could ever want to go," Brauer said.

"A more advanced off-road system, adaptive xenon headlights and a heated windshield are among the dozens of luxury options available on the Range Rover."

Jeep Grand Cherokee

A 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee
Source: Jeep

For more than 70 years, Jeep's rugged performance vehicles have enjoyed a reputation that nobody questions. The 2014 Grand Cherokee represents a seamless continuation of that tradition.

"These cars specialize in extreme off-road travel, which means they readily scoff at icy, snow-covered roads," Brauer said. "The 2014 comes with four-wheel drive and dual-zone climate control for about $30,000, but heated seats, xenon headlights and a Blu-ray entertainment system with console gaming interface are on the option list."

Porsche Cayenne

2014 Porsche Cayenne
Image source: Porsche

Porsche has been in the all-wheel drive game for decades. The Cayenne is a highly practical sport utility vehicle in exactly that vein, with all-wheel drive, rain-sensing wipers and water-repellent front side windows, all for a starting price of approximately $50,000.

"The Cayenne is one of the most engaging people movers on the market when the road is dry, yet it doesn't miss a beat when things get slippery," Brauer said. "An almost endless supply of luxury and performance options abound."

Mercedes-Benz GL

2014 Mercedes-Benz GL
Image source: Mercedes-Benz USA

Mercedes-Benz is a prominent luxury car brand, so its products sell at higher price points than those of other manufacturers. The GL starts at $64,000, but consumers get a lot of foul-weather bang for their buck, including heated front seats, dual-zone climate control and power-folding third-row seats.

Options include a heated steering wheel, night vision assist and three-zone climate control. But how does it drive?

"The standard 3.0-liter diesel engine manages 26 highway miles per gallon, despite the GL's large dimensions and portly curb weight," Brauer said. "The luxurious GL comes standard with all-wheel drive and all-weather confidence."


Toyota Sequoia

2014 Toyota Sequoia
Image source: Toyota

If you need to haul a heavy load through lousy weather, the Toyota Sequoia may be the ride for you. Karl Brauer described it as "large and in charge," and cited a starting price of $45,000.

"It seats up to eight adults and can tow 7,400 pounds while still providing the confidence that comes from an advanced 4-wheel-drive system and powerful 5.7-liter V8," he said. "It can come with heated seats, a proximity warning system, a rearview camera and a Blu-ray rear entertainment system."

Ford Explorer

2014 Ford Explorer
Source: Ford Motor Co.

Karl Brauer described the Ford Explorer as "one of the more advanced SUVs on the market." Its terrain management system is just one of several reasons why, as it allows the driver to adjust the 4-wheel-drive system for varying road conditions.

"It also includes Ford's Curve Control technology to keep drivers from veering off course in a turn," he said. "Starting price for a V6 Explorer with 4-wheel drive is about $30,000, but heated seats, adjustable pedals and a rear entertainment system will cost extra."

Dodge Durango

2014 Dodge Durango
Image source: Dodge

The Durango is a sport utility vehicle that can carry up to seven people. It features all-wheel drive, a powerful V6 engine and an eight-speed transmission, all for a starting price of around $32,000.

"The Durango SXT includes heated exterior mirrors and three-zone automatic climate control," Brauer said. "Heated front and rear seats, a heated steering wheel and rain-sensing wipers are also available if you've got the cash."

Audi Allroad

2014 Audi Allroad
Source: Audi

According to Karl Brauer, the Audi Allroad is what you would have if the German automobile manufacturer's A4 sedan were designed to handle punishing winter weather. He said that Audi's newest foul-weather creation allows drivers to overcome the winter weather with full confidence.

"Standard Quattro all-wheel drive keeps the Allroad pointed where you want, and the 2.0-liter turbocharged engine gets you there in short order," he said. "An elevated ride height, stainless steel skidplates, heated front seats and a panoramic sunroof are all included in the Allroad's $40,000 base price, but you'll have pay extra for LED headlights and keyless entry."

Subaru Outback

2014 Suburu Outback
Image source: Suburu

The Subaru Outback has an elevated ride height that adds up to 8.7 inches of ground clearance. Combine that with all-wheel drive and you can masterfully negotiate snow-clogged roads for a starting price of approximately $25,000.

"The base 2.5-liter engine gets 30 miles per gallon on the highway, while the larger 3.6-liter boxer engine manages 256 horsepower and still gets 25 miles per gallon," Brauer said. "An available all-weather package comes with heated seats, heated mirrors and a windshield de-icer, to save you the joy of scraping."

Nissan Juke

2013 Nissan Juke
Image source: Nissan

With a starting price of just $22,000, the Nissan Juke is the least expensive car on this list. But don't let the low price fool you into thinking any corners have been cut in terms of performance or comfort.

"All-wheel drive and torque vectoring stabilizes the car in slippery conditions while improving handling response when the road is dry, and the turbocharged 4-cylinder engine kicks into high boost," Brauer said. "Spend a little more and you get heated leather seats to keep your backside warm."

The Car Chasers

Jeff Allen and Perry Barndt are gamblers—their game being classic and exotic cars. They travel the country looking to buy and sell them. Whether it's a rare Shelby Mustang or a vintage hot rod, the key is buy low and sell high, something that doesn't always happen.

Selling cars is a dangerous business, but perhaps there's no greater risk than negotiating with your own father. Tom Souter, Jeff's dad, runs a classic car dealership around the corner from Jeff's shop in Lubbock, Texas. They are not just regular trading partners; they are trading partners hell-bent on one-upmanship. Tom said doing a deal with his son is like being locked in a closet with a porcupine: "It's gonna hurt, but you know it won't kill you."

Tune in to the new season of "The Car Chasers" on CNBC Prime, all new episodes Tuesdays at 10 p.m. ET/PT.