The driver is more important than the car under any driving conditions, but never more than on snow and ice, when experience, skill, and caution are needed to match slick roads and poor visibility. Cold, dry snow often gives good traction, while heavier, wetter snow is slick and treacherous.

Only years of driving allows people to develop a feel for the conditions, and the experience to handle a car with confidence. The primary rules: Drive more slowly than normal, drive at a greater distance from the car ahead, start to stop or turn earlier, and handle the car more gently.

Still, some cars are just better than others in snow. Front-wheel-drive cars are better than rear-wheel drive vehicles, because they pull through the snow rather than push, and the weight of the engine helps give traction. Four-wheel-drive vehicles go better than two-wheel-wheel vehicles, especially uphill in slick conditions, but the extra drive train makes them heavier and they take longer to stop.

Many people give all-wheel-drive vehicles an edge over all others for driving in snow, although some models go through tires at a fast clip, and burn more gas overall than two-wheel drive vehicles. Vans of any type are poor snow vehicles, because they have little weight over the drive wheels. The best snow vehicles are probably those that combine all-wheel-drive with computer technology that detects when cars are skidding and wheels spinning without traction, and adjusting power accordingly.

Forbes Magazine's upscale readers chose their top 15 cars for driving in snow. In order:

  1. Subaru Outback
  2. Volvo XC90
  3. Subaru Tribeca
  4. Mercedes-Benz M-Class
  5. Volkswagen Touareg
  6. Lincoln MKX
  7. Subaru Forester XT Limited
  8. Toyota Highlander
  9. Ford Edge
  10. Ford Taurus X
  11. Jeep Compass
  12. Jeep Patriot
  13. Chevrolet Equinox
  14. Pontiac Torrent
  15. Hyundai Santa Fe.

All of these cars share a few characteristics, including high ground clearance and solid drive trains, either front-wheel, four-wheel, or all-wheel drives.

One New Englander who has driven a variety of cars year-round for decades likes his Jeep Liberty, with four-wheel-drive. His Datsun B210 was not up to the slick roads when the Blizzard of '78 essentially shut down Massachusetts for three days; he had to hitchhike 40 miles to work on snowplows and emergency vehicles. His two rear-wheel-driveToyota pickup trucks were excellent snow vehicles, once 250 pounds of weight was loaded into the back of the truck bed. His Chevy Blazer was good; his Ford Explorer went well in snow, but took a long time to stop. His Porsche was not a good snow car, but was the most fun of all.