All-wheel-drive offers greater traction
Front-wheel-drive or four-wheel-drive models are good options for a winter beater, but all-wheel-drive seems to be the best overall choice.
"All-wheel-drive can keep the car from getting stuck in deep snow or help you climb a hill covered in slick pavement," says Senior Analyst Karl Brauer at Edmunds.com, the car research site. "Front-wheel-drive isn't as capable as all-wheel-drive in these instances, but it's better than rear-wheel-drive and is also more common, making it a cheaper alternative than all-wheel drive."
The downside: All-wheel-drive vehicles can be more expensive to maintain and always use more fuel than their front-wheel-drive cars, says Dan Gray, founder and blogger at MPGomatic.com, who suggests getting better fuel efficiency by opting for an all-wheel-drive sedan or wagon rather than an SUV.