QOTD: Building a Better Winter Beater?

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
qotd building a better winter beater

Some people have it rough. Just the other day, the affordable town of Vancouver was hit by three or four inches of snow, plunging the bucolic enclave into mayhem. High-end cars wearing low-profile rain slicks couldn’t make it out of their driveways. Buses lay paralyzed across intersections. Employees were told to stay home. Hashtags blossomed like the daffodils due out in a month’s time.

We’ve talked winter here before, and winter beaters for sure, but what about the ideal winter vehicle?

Just think — this could have been you:

A group of people try to push a Aston Martin Vanquish through the snow in Vancouver, B.C., on January 16, 2020. (Ben Nelms for @cbcnewsbc ) pic.twitter.com/WD5Kmg0fXt

— Ben Nelms (@Ben_Nelms) January 16, 2020

Scary stuff indeed.

So, as a big winter storm gathers itself in the Great Plains, headed for Midwest and Northeast residents who’ve been having a pretty easy go of it thus far, let’s talk not about the winter beater (which may also serve as a daily driver) you do own, but about the one you would own. If you had your way. If finances complied. If things were better.

Said winter “beater” would take up residence next to your spring-summer-fall vehicle, ready to serve double duty if called upon. Perhaps on some off-road excursion, or when society breaks down and we’re forced to live in the woods. (While beater is a derogatory term under normal circumstances, signifying a tired vehicle pressed into the inglorious task of soaking up road salt until the moment of death, here it’s simply a word.)

If you’re like yours truly, you may be thinking about that snorkel-equipped Suburban the English fellow drove in Dante’s Peak, which had a water-fording depth of eighteen feet or nearabouts. However, as tough as that old BOF 4×4 would be, a 1980s cabin heater would have an awfully difficult time warming up all that real estate. And scraping ice off that expanse of glass? Hardly a fun task. Corey suggested the driver in the top photo should have taken their G-Wagen to work that day — a model which could be in the running for this exercise. Assuming modesty isn’t a concern.

A coworker once waxed poetic about her one-time winter ride, one you simply never see in northern climes anymore due to the ever-lurking Rust Monster: the featherweight Suzuki Samurai. Capable, efficient, yet hardly the vehicle you’d want to mingle with freeway-bound F-350s in. And we’ve grown used to being coddled.

While I could mention the rugged, do-anything Gladiator here, long legs and a bad back leave me wondering about exhaustion during long journeys. It’s desirable, cool as hell, and capable, but for this QOTD, I’m going with something that’s had a few years to reach near-perfection.

I’m choosing the Toyota 4Runner. Right-sized and ready, body-on-frame but refined, and still a looker that stands apart from bland, bulbous crossovers. 4Runner, I love what you (could) do for me.

What’s your pick?

[Images: General Motors, Fiat Chrysler, Toyota]

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3 of 55 comments
  • JD-Shifty JD-Shifty on Jan 19, 2020

    I run snow tires all year. Just turned 500,000 on my S-10. In those years you folks have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on vehicles. I did throw sandbags in the back today. (2wd)

    • Lie2me Lie2me on Jan 19, 2020

      Don't your snow tires wear pretty fast running them year round? I think most of the guys here are pretty sensible in their automotive choices, but if you can afford hundreds of thousands of dollars on vehicles and you like cars, why not?

  • Big Smoke Big Smoke on Jan 20, 2020

    You only need snow tire, 2-3 seconds before impact. You can use your Stan Smith tennis shoes all year. But I call those people Citiots.

  • Master Baiter It’s hard to make predictions, especially about the future. It will be interesting to see if demand for Ford’s EVs will match the production capacity they are putting on line.
  • Brett Woods 2023 Corvette base model.
  • Paul Taka Hi, where can I find 1982 Honda prelude junkyards in 50 states
  • Poltergeist Make sure you order the optional Dungdai fire suppression system.
  • Prabirmehta I charge my EV at home 100% of the time. The EV is used for in-town driving and the gas guzzling SUV is used for out of town trips. This results in a huge cost saving and rare trips to the gas station.