Find winter-worthy features
Heated seats make a car more comfortable on a frigid morning. An electrically heated windshield could help thaw the frost and ice faster, says Mike Quincy, automotive specialist with Consumer Reports. Such a windshield is a rare option found in luxury models, which might set you back $1,500 as part of a climate comfort package offered on the car. However, heated seats are more common and usually part of an overall cold-weather package included in mid- or higher-priced levels.
Also, in your conversation with the salesperson, focus more on tires than you would during the spring or summer. Winter tires or snow tires can keep you safe if you live in areas with heavy snowfall, Fix says.
"If you're not willing to make that investment, your safety is being compromised," Fix says. Cars with high-performance tires may not fare as well on icy roads. Snow tires typically cost the same as all-season tires, but there may be additional fees related to their installation when you're purchasing a car.