Driving fun doesn't need to stop when the snow starts. When winter weather turns ugly enough to scare traditional sports cars into the corner of the garage, time to look for transportation that's more entertaining to drive than a traditional 4 x 4 truck or SUV, but still has all-weather capabilities.

Along with being well-suited for dashing through the snow, our Winter Wonder Machines exude sporty attitudes and deliver exciting performance. All-wheel-drive is an across-the-board feature that helps these excellent four-season cars resist fear of the flakes.

Ford Fusion Sport AWD

The Ford Fusion recently won The North American Car Of The Year. It deserved it. For 2010, Ford improved the Fusion in significant ways: the interior is all-new, the engines are all-new, and much of the exterior is totally redesigned. Our pick for winter driving fun is the Sport version with all-wheel-drive. The 263-horsepower 3.5-liter V-6 delivers torque to all four corners using a sophisticated Haldex system similar to those used in expensive imported sport sedans. Expect taut handling from the chassis and good acceleration that's helped by an efficient six-speed automatic. Plenty of features -- including leather seats -- are standard for under $28,000.
  • Image Credit: Subaru

Subaru Impreza 2.5GT

Young enthusiasts lust after the startling performance of Subaru's legendary WRX STI. The $35,000 rally-bred Impreza model with 305 horsepower suits the Fast & Furious generation just fine, but our recommendation is the less radical Impreza 2.5GT. For about $9,000 less than the STI, it suits a wider range of buyers with its sporty practical interior that can be wrapped in sedan or hatchback body styles. Subaru's trustworthy 2.5-liter four-cylinder turbo engine produces a punchy 224 horsepower. The Impreza was all-new in 2008 so the car's design is fresh, and like all Subarus, the 2.5GT features all-wheel-drive.
  • Image Credit: Chrysler

Chrysler 300C AWD

The Chrysler 300 is an American full-size sedan with a proud history that reaches back to the Eisenhower administration. The current model introduced in 2005 is due for a major overhaul in 2011. However, the still stylish 2010 edition is worth a look, especially the high-performance 300 C model with all-wheel-drive. Solid as granite and as fast as a bullet train, the 300 C radiates bold American pride. The Chrysler backs up its looks with a 359-horsepower 5.7-liter HEMI V-8 and bursts to 60 mph in the six-second range. All-wheel-drive puts the power to the pavement at a price (about $40,000) that delivers value. Importantly, Chrysler dealers need to sell every vehicle they can, so they should be willing to deal.

Porsche 911 C4

Porsche enthusiasts have known for generations that the 911 can be much more than a summer car for successful orthodontists. With the six-cylinder engine hanging out behind the rear wheels, the 911's natural rearward weight bias aids traction in bad weather. The addition of all-wheel-drive amplifies the Porsche's foul-weather capabilities. The current generation of the 911 is available in a dizzying array of models, two of which make excellent year round choices, the C4 and C4S. Both are all-wheel-drive, with the "S" getting a more powerful engine, 385 horsepower versus 345. Porsche-type performance is addictive and expensive. The 911 C4 starts at about $86,000 with the C4S costing about $10,000 more.

BMW 3-Series xDrive

Of the 13 available BMW 3-Series models, five feature all-wheel drive. You can have your choice of coupe, sedan or wagon, and there are two engine choices (standard and turbocharged versions of BMW's classic 3.0-liter inline six-cylinder). Prices begin at about $35,000 for the 230-horsepower 328i xDrive sedan, a wonderfully balanced car that has impressed journalists and driving enthusiasts since its introduction in 2006. Another 70 horsepower and a big jump in performance are available in 335i xDrive models. BMW keeps the 3-Series at the top of its class by making continuous improvements. Even their once-panned iDrive interface was improved during a recent redesign. The goodness of the total package helps explain why the BMW 3-Series has long been the best-selling luxury car in the US.
  • Image Credit: Ford

Ford Taurus SHO

Some drivers want a modern full-size car with personality, and the 2010 Taurus SHO has plenty. The SHO is the highest-performance and most expensive Taurus model ($37,100 base price). Its major features include an efficient 365-horsepower, twin-turbo 3.5-liter V-6 Ecoboost engine that directs torque to every corner. Other SHO features include a sporty leather interior and six-speed automatic transmission with paddle shifters. Its good road manners help mask the fact that it's a huge sedan that some drivers may find intimidating to parallel park. Mileage is surprisingly good (17 mpg city, 25 mpg highway), bettering several smaller AWD vehicles.

Infiniti G37x

Infiniti continues to improve and expand its series of mid-size cars. The G37x is one of the company's all-wheel-drive performance-oriented sedans. With a pleasing but forgettable style that doesn't stand out in traffic (good for avoiding speeding tickets), the high-revving and smooth 3.7-liter V-6 produces a serious 328 horsepower. The power translates to excellent performance that leaves drivers of competitive makes wondering what kind of car just blew by them. If all the option boxes are checked, the G37 provides drivers with an exceptional level of technology that can even help prevent lane drift. Prices start at about $36,000.

Volkswagen CC VR6 4Motion

The Volkswagen CC may be the least Volkswagen-like vehicle the company has ever produced. The CC's coupe-like four-door body recalls the profile of the handsome Mercedes CLS, but sells for half the price. The four-seat interior is luxurious looking and feeling. While it's performance can't match the much more expensive V-8 Benz, the VW holds it own. With its capable 4Motion all-wheel-drive system, ample power (280 hp) from the 3.6-liter V6 and quick-shifting DSG (direct shift gearbox) transmission, the CC runs 0-60 mph in just over six seconds. Compared to the high-value Golf models, a well-equipped CC VR6 4 Motion is expensive with a starting price over $40,000.
  • Image Credit: General Motors

Cadillac CTS AWD

Cadillac once epitomized everything that was bad about Detroit's automotive business. From the 1970s through the 90s, its products were dated, dowdy, and disrespected. Anybody remember the Cimarron or Catera? Then, the once respected brand realized it needed to reinvent more than just its marketing. The CTS emerged soon after Cadillac's near-death experience, and it has helped change the face of the division. Available with all-wheel-drive in sedan and sport wagon body styles, the second-generation CTS is one of the most stylish all-weather cars available (especially the wagon). The Caddy's advanced 3.0 and 3.6-liter V-6 engines produce respectable power (270 and 304 hp) and solid performance with good economy. Prices for AWD models begin at about $38,000.
  • Image Credit: Audi

Audi S5 V8

The sleek Audi S5 coupe doesn't look like a car that would like snow at all, but don’t judge this book by its cover. The body covers an all-wheel-drive quattro chassis that gets its power from a 4.2-liter, 354-horsepower V-8. Audi engineers biased the torque distribution toward the rear, so the S5 drives like a rear-wheel-drive performance car, only with significantly better grip. Drivers will appreciate the finely detailed, leather-wrapped interior. The wonderful sounding V-8 is thirsty in the city (14 mpg city, 22 mpg highway) but delivers huge grins as it rockets down the road. Sophisticated traction and stability control systems further aid the quattro system to help keep drivers safe. Budget at least $53,000.
  • Image Credit: Volvo

Volvo XC70 Cross Country

Volvo blazed an important trail when they introduced their XC70 Cross Country in 1998. It foreshadowed the coming crossover boom. The wagon became the most popular station wagon in the US, a position it earned because of its SUV-like styling, capable all-wheel-drive, and Volvo's unceasing quest for passenger safety. Our favorite 2010 model is the T6 because of its turbocharged 3.0-liter inline six-cylinder engine that produces 281 horsepower. Because it is a car, the XC70 handles with more agility than many crossovers and nearly all SUVs. The wagon features a slightly elevated ride height, giving drivers a better view of traffic. The T6 begins at $42,000, while the non-turbo is about $5,000 less.

Winter Driving Tips

Whether you're ready to purchase one of AOL Autos' Winter Wonder Machines or not, follow these tips to improve the fun and safety your winter driving experience:

• Gain traction by properly inflating tires.
• Allow extra room in traffic. Experts recommend increasing following distances by at least three times on snow-covered roads.
• Pay attention: It takes up to 10-times longer to stop on snow- and ice-covered roads.
• Consider purchasing dedicated snow tires that provide significantly better grip compared to all-seasons tires in cold, snowy driving conditions. Regular tires begin to loose their ability to grip the road at temperatures under 45° Fahrenheit and are not designed for optimum traction in snow.
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