Winter is a troublesome time of year for us drivers. The car struggles to start in the mornings, the windscreen is always covered in ice, and slippery roads really put your car's grip to the test. You need a car that can really withstand everything the elements will throw at it during this time of year, so here are the best SUVs and 4x4s to get you through these cold, wet, challenging months.
Nissan Qashqai SUV
Prices start from: £18,265
Rather than being a full-blown SUV, which can be quite big and bulky, the Qashqai is a crossover between a standard car and an SUV. It's ideal for anyone who doesn't feel completely comfortable getting behind a huge SUV, but wants the practicality and characteristics of one. Despite its stature, the boot boasts plenty of space, so you'll easily be able to fit all the family's Christmas presents in there. There's more than enough space for kids too, and the four-wheel drive means it's more than capable of coping with slippery conditions. Plus, that price tag is pretty darn attractive compared to some of the other models on our list.
BMW X3 xDrive20d SE
Prices start from: £32,990
The X3 was the overall winner in the 4x4 and SUV section of WhatCar's Car of the Year 2013 awards, and it's easy to see why. This particular model has four-wheel drive and averages 50.4mpg, so for such a powerful car it's surprisingly efficient. As well as being powerful, the engine is whisper-quiet, giving you a relaxing ride even when the roads are gridlocked.
Although it's a family car, the spacious cabin makes it feel just as luxurious as BMW's executive saloon models, so you don't lose out on that sumptuous quality BMW is famous for. When the weather is bad, it copes well; when the weather is good, it thrives.
Hyundai Santa Fe 4x4
Prices start from: £27,800
Awarded the title of 'Best Large SUV' at the Auto Express New Car Awards in 2013, the Santa Fe really delivers in terms of practically and style. Its smart four-wheel drive system means you'll always feel secure and safe, even when you're driving on roads resembling an ice rink. Both the inside and outside of the vehicle look plush, so you needn't worry about not travelling in style.
If you want even more luxury features, opt for the premium model, which comes with a sat nav, reversing camera, and automatic lights and wipers.
Range Rover Sport
Prices start from: £50,591
The Range Rover Sport is a full-size SUV that offers luxury cruising, but can also handle almost any driving conditions you throw at it. There's plenty of space inside for five passengers, and although there is a seven-seat model, it's a bit of a squeeze for the poor people sat at the very back. The Terrain Response System sets the standard air-suspension according to what type of surface you're driving on, which makes the ride comfortable whether you're driving on snow, tarmac, gravel, sand or rocks.
It may be a bit on the expensive side, but the Range Rover Sport sure is a great all-rounder.
Mazda CX-5 SUV
Prices start from: £21,895
Similar to the Qashqai, the CX-5 is a crossover model, but it can still come fitted with four-wheel drive. The great thing about this crossover is that it doesn't feel very big once you're behind the wheel. In fact, it feels more like driving a MX-5. The engine is powerful, yet economical, and there's plenty of space for your passengers and their luggage - ideal for when you're driving home for Christmas.
It's an excellent family car, but it's also a joy to drive - what more could you want from an SUV?
Suzuki SX4 S-Cross
Prices start from: £15,499
If you're looking for an SUV but don't want to pay the earth for one, this crossover is probably your best option as it hugely undercuts its competitors. However, just because it's cheap, it doesn't mean you lose out in terms of features. Even the entry-level models come with electric windows, alloy wheels, cruise control and air con. If you're happy to pay a little more to get a top-spec model, your car will come with a panoramic sliding sun roof, reversing cameras, sat nav and heated leather seats, which will keep you nice and toasty during the colder months.
It's worth noting that whichever car you choose for your winter driving journeys, when the weather gets really bad you still need to have winter tyres fitted. These will give you the best grip possible, as no matter how good your car's handling is, you'll still slide about if the tyres aren't suitable. If the new prices look a little high all of the above make great used cars and are available at competitive prices and on used car finance.