If you live where it snows, all-wheel drive is a good thing. But it's not everything. A little extra ground clearance, for instance, also makes it easier for your car to get through the thick stuff. Also, even in New England and Colorado, it doesn't snow all year round, so your vehicle needs to be a good driving partner the rest of the year, too.
A great example of what we're talking about is the new Audi AllRoad, a model that's making a return engagement after having been absent from American dealerships since the 2005 model year. Basically, it's a slightly raised up Audi A4 with a butched-up wagon body. But with Audi performance and Quattro all-wheel-drive, it's a nice mix of performance car attitude and muck-slogging capability. And it's cooler than a typical crossover.
One other thing: If it really snows a lot, a good set of winter tires would be a helpful addition to any car. While all-wheel drive helps a car to get going in the snow, it does nothing for you when it comes time to stop. Good tires designed for handling cold, slippery stuff help a lot with that.
We realize that none of the pictures in this gallery actually show a car in any sort of snow. If you happen to have a snow globe handy on your desk, we recommend holding that up near your computer monitor. You'll get the impression.
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