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Best Crossover For Snow: Forester, RAV4 Adventure, Cherokee Trailhawk, or Bronco Sport 1st Edition

We break down the options for those who drive in snowy icy weather. These four vehicles are at the top, but which is the king of the mountain?


In the U.S. crossover utility market, Torque News recognizes four standout two-row vehicles for winter driving. Each of these vehicles is equipped with all of the hardware and drivetrain options one might need in the most extreme winter snow and ice driving. However, there are some differences between the models. Here is our summary of what makes these four vehicles exceptional.

Subaru Forester
The Subaru Forester starts our list because every trim of the 2021 Forester line is a vehicle with the possibility for winter-driving excellence. All Subarus have the best standard AWD system in this group and among the most ground clearance. You can also outfit a Forester with optional skid plates.

We say the Forester has the “Possibility” to be great in the snow because the factory all-season tires just don’t cut it. Take it from the owner of four Subarus who presently has a Forester as his daily driver. You are going to need to invest in a set of winter-only tires for your Subaru. Once you do, this is the benchmark in the segment.

Note that the affordable Sport and also the top trim have Dual X-Mode and also hill descent control. For snow, there is no combination we would want more. Just be sure your Forester has these options if you buy one. Also, ensure you have the package with the heated steering wheel and windshield.

RAV4 Adventure
As much as we are Toyota fans, the RAV4 Adventure and TRD Off-Road trims seem like obvious efforts by Toyota to create a match for the Forester. We would trash-talk the AWD system in the Adventure except we drove the prior generation RAV4 Adventure in ridiculous conditions and it was outstanding. Maybe you don’t need five knobs, six drive-mode selectors, and a sway-bar disconnect to be good in the show after all?

Related: Is All-wheel Drive In Your Crossover Enough, or Do You Really Need A True 4X4?

Jeep Cherokee Trailhawk
While the Cherokee Trailhawk is packed with an astounding array of “4x4” equipment, we are not convinced that any of it matters more than a good AWD system that allows for limited wheelspin. Off-road or in a muddy forest, this is our first choice hands-down. But on a snow-covered commute, we are not sure that the Trailhawk is even Jeep’s best Cherokee. What we sill say definitively, is that if you want an off-road vehicle that is great in snow, this is a great option.

Ford Bronco Sport 1st Edition
Ford’s Bronco Sport checks all of the boxes we look for in an outstanding winter vehicle. Literally, if you look at our chart above. The Bronco Sport feels like a serious off-roader, and it is. It has a slippery mode, the ability to lock the rear diff, and you can lock in AWD. But there’s more.

The Bronco Sport is the only vehicle in this matchup that comes with tires bearing the three-peak mountain snowflake symbol indicating the tires are rated for snow. We drove the Bronco Sport until we reached its limits in snow. Those limits are impressive. However, a Forester wearing dedicated winter tires may have an edge over this Bronco Sport wearing its Falken Wildpeak A/T all-terrain tires. Of course, you could also outfit the Bronco Sport with a set of dedicated winter tires. But will you?

Related: 2021 Ford Bronco Sport Winter Snow Testing - The Verdict

Bronco Sport also has Trail Control which acts like hill descent control and a bit like the Crawl Control that Toyota uses on its Tacoma and 4Runner.

We’d consider a Bronco Sport Badlands trim and buy a dedicated set of winter tires for it in order to maximize this great vehicle’s capabilities.

Which Crossover Is Best In Snow?
Which of these four great winter vehicles strikes your fancy and why? Tell us in the comments below.

John Goreham is a long-time New England Motor Press Association member and recovering engineer. Following his engineering program, John also completed a marketing program at Northeastern University and worked with automotive component manufacturers. In addition to Torque News, John's work has appeared in print in dozens of American newspapers and he provides reviews to many vehicle shopping sites. You can follow John on Twitter, and view his credentials at Linkedin


Chris N. (not verified)    November 26, 2022 - 9:28PM

With ZERO doubt, it has to be the Cherokee Trailhawk. The low range and rear locker as well as snow mode has to make it the best of all.