There are many good SUVs for off-road adventures, including the Jeep Wrangler Rubicon 392, Ford Bronco Raptor, Toyota 4Runner TRD Pro, and 2023 Subaru Forester Wilderness. But which compact SUV is the best for winter driving for those with active lifestyles who need an affordable, fuel-efficient option that is also used as a daily driver?
According to CarTalk's John Goreham, there is only one choice for new compact SUV shoppers. He should know because he travels to his cabin in a remote part of the New Hampshire woods in the winter. You can't get there in a typical small SUV because the snow is measured in feet, not inches.
What sets the 2023 Forester Wilderness apart?
Goreham picks the 2023 Subaru Forester Wilderness as the best SUV for winter. He says, "Subaru's all-wheel-drive system seems to work better than much of the competition in severe winter conditions. The traction control doesn't work against you. There is no delay noticeable when conditions are slippery. The dual-function X-Mode works as advertised. Why is the Wilderness trim of the Forester our top pick? Because the Wilderness comes standard with special tires rated for severe snow duty and has the most ground clearance in its class."
Why is ground clearance essential?
You know the answer if you have ever tried to navigate deep snow drifts to get to a remote location. Forester Wilderness comes standard with 9.2 inches of snow-clearing capability. It exceeds all other compact SUVs in its class. Forester Wilderness is for outdoor enthusiasts who need to get further off the grid and make it back home without getting stuck.
Who talks about tires?
CarTalk's John Goreham mentions that the Forester Wilderness trim level comes standard with special tires rated for severe snow duty. Most compact SUV buyers don't consider the vehicle's tires when buying a new one. The standard all-season tires on new all-wheel-drive SUVs are adequate for city commutes in snow and ice in small amounts, but get off the beaten path, and you need snow/winter-rated tires.
The Forester Wilderness comes equipped with Yokohama Geolander all-terrain tires mounted on new 17-inch alloy wheels. The tires come with raised white letters that tell you they are aggressive enough for off-pavement and severe weather use. Subaru includes a standard full-size tire under the cargo area which you won't see in other compact SUVs.
What is the price of Forester Wilderness?
The Subaru Wilderness pricing starts at $35,245, including destination and delivery fees. The Forester Wilderness' 9.2-inch ground clearance is a half-inch increase over the standard trim and has longer coil springs, shock absorbers, and unique tuning for improved ride and handling performance with the increased height.
What about the Subaru Crosstrek in the snow?
CarTalk scores the 2023 Subaru Crosstrek in a tie with the Mazda CX-30 as the best in the subcompact SUV category.
They say, "The best smaller-than-compact SUV is a tie because one is an off-road hero and the other is a sports sedan with a lift kit. The Mazda CX-30 is a sleek, sporty, refined on-road performer that can still handle winter. The Subaru Crosstrek is a great vehicle for those who need the best possible snow performance and plan to go off-pavement to find adventure. These two manage to set themselves apart in a segment with many great options."
CarTalk says the 2023 Subaru Forester Wilderness is its top pick for the best compact SUV for winter and one of the best SUVs if you go off-road. The extra ground clearance and all-terrain tires are important features most compact SUV shoppers only think about once they are stuck in deep snow.
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Denis Flierl has invested over 30 years in the automotive industry in a consulting role working with every major car brand. He is an accredited member of the Rocky Mountain Automotive Press. Check out Subaru Report, where he covers all of the Japanese automaker's models. More stories can be found on the Torque News Subaru page. Follow Denis on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
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