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5 of the Best Winter Cars & SUVs For Bargain Hunters

Your blanket cocoon only delays the inevitable. Eventually, you’ll need to head out into the cold, hop into the chilly driver’s seat, and crank the key. If you’re worried your car won’t start or get you to your destination safely, it isn’t just frustrating—it can be dangerous. Maybe it’s time for an upgrade?

You don’t need to rob a bank to buy a trustworthy and winter-ready vehicle. There are many used car and SUV models that can get you through Canada’s tough winter conditions, year after year.

Why buying pre-owned is a great idea this winter

Sure, there’s prestige in buying a new car, but that only lasts as long as the new car scent. So why not consider a used vehicle instead? When you buy a pre-owned model, the advantages include:

  • Saving a huge chunk of change on depreciation. Many new cars depreciate as much as 30% in the first year. Why not let someone else pay that?
  • Lower monthly payments. The payments on a used car could be much more manageable than a brand new vehicle.
  • Vast selection to choose from. Today, the used car market is impressively robust and there’s great value to be found by buyers who know where to look.
  • The balance of the factory warranty. When you buy used, the balance of remaining factory warranty transfers over to you, the new owner. Plus, many dealers offer excellent extended warranty options for even longer coverage.
  • Quality assurance from the dealership. Before you buy a used car from a dealer, it undergoes a thorough inspection. Certified pre-owned models are even more stringent with some requiring a passing grade on a nearly-200-point checklist.

5 of the best (pre-owned) winter cars

The following selection was made according to our writers’ own criteria. Each vehicle made the list for scoring highly in several of the following categories: ground clearance, rugged design, handling on snow and ice, comfort features, fuel economy, and price. Check it out, a couple of our choices may surprise you…

1. Honda CR-V

Pre-owned vehicles that make great winter cars

Image credit: Honda (2015 CR-V model)The fourth-gen Honda CR-V was manufactured from 2011 to 2016. Powered by a 185-hp 2.4L four-cylinder engine and commonly purchased with Realtime All-Wheel-Drive, these compact SUVs are well suited to the climate. Decent ground clearance, a short wheelbase, and awesome fuel economy are just a few benefits you’ll enjoy with this CR-V.

You might even find a 2015 or 2016 model with a factory warranty still in effect. Expect a price range of around $17,000 to $28,000 depending on the trim level, year, and mileage.

2. Acura TL

Pre-owned vehicles that make great winter cars

Image credit: Acura (2014 TL model)If a sedan is more your speed, Acura may be right for you, and specifically, the Acura TL with Super Handling All-Wheel Drive (SH-AWD). As one of the most competitively priced luxury brands on the market today, you’ll find any TL is well equipped with creature comforts like heated seats and factory remote start.

While ground clearance on a sedan may not be a top-selling feature, the TL’s ability to combine awesome handling and comfort makes it a top choice for a used winter car. A model around six years old will typically be between $15,000 and $20,000.

3. Toyota Yaris

Pre-owned vehicles that make great winter cars

Image credit: Toyota (2013 Yaris model)A low-cost option for a winter car, however unlikely it might seem, is the Toyota Yaris. It’s a four-door sedan or a five-door hatchback powered by a 1.5L four-cylinder engine that sips fuel slower than you do with hot cocoa. The Yaris isn’t manufactured with AWD, but with front-wheel drive and narrow tires, along with your choice of manual transmission or auto tranny, it handles snow and ice rather well.

Rudimentary on the inside, you might be able to afford a newer model that still has powertrain or even comprehensive warranty still in effect. Anything older than the 2017 model year will set you back under $15,000, while a 2008-or-older model could be under $8,000.

4. BMW 3 Series xDrive

Pre-owned vehicles that make great winter cars

Image credit: BMW (2013 3 Series model)If you don’t mind that your used car is outside of warranty, the BMW 3 Series with AWD is a great option. The 3 Series sedan is a wonderful compact luxury car that can offer spirited V6 power, German-engineered handling, and elegant yet quirky interior options.

Our recommendation would be to stick with a BMW 3 Series with xDrive AWD. The rear-wheel-drive alternative would be counter-intuitive. If you’re watching for a deal, you can snag a 3 Series xDrive for under $15,000.

5. Hyundai Tucson

Pre-owned vehicles that make great winter cars

Image credit: Hyundai (2016 Tucson model)There’s no doubt that Hyundai vehicles offer outrageous value, and that goes for a pre-owned Tucson SUV as well. You have a 4-cylinder and a V6 option as well as front-wheel-drive or AWD, so traipsing down snowy or ice-covered roads is no big deal. For example, you can get a ’16 Hyundai Tucson GL AWD model with heated rear outboard seats in addition to heated front seats for snuggly comfort in both rows.

And if you come across a low-mileage vehicle, it may still have factory powertrain warranty in place—that’s a bonus for a crossover SUV you can buy for between $14,000 and $21,000!

Jan 8th, 2020