Though we like to act like it’s not that big of a deal, it actually takes quite a bit of skill and nerves of steel to take to the streets during a Canadian winter. Naturally, different parts of the country offer their own unique road conditions, from snowdrifts and ice to rogue moose. If we’re being honest with ourselves, there are few places on Earth that experience winter quite like Canada. And one time where we need to be abundantly honest with ourselves is when shopping at our local truck dealership.
Many of us are aware of features that can help mitigate the slipping and sliding that comes with snow and ice. Foremost among them are all-wheel drive and four-wheel drive, which help supply torque to the wheels that can use it best when you are having difficulty finding the traction you need to keep moving forward. But modern automotive technology has brought us even more fantastic driving tools to help us navigate sloppy roads. As a result, Canadians are becoming very particular about what kind of trucks they drive.
While a truck needs to be drivable twelve months out of the year, here are three trucks that have been tested and approved by Canadian drivers for the dark, cold, and slippery winter months.
#1 – Ford F-150
Not surprisingly, Canada’s best-selling pickup truck is actually pretty good in winter weather––as long as you choose the right trim for your typical driving conditions. Made of military-grade aluminum alloy impervious to rust and situated on a high-strength steel frame, every Ford F-150 is a tough character. While all F-150 trims are offered with four-wheel drive, choosing a truck with the FX4 Off-Road Package or the purpose-made off-road Tremor trim can be extra beneficial.
The FX4 Off-Road Package is available on several trims and adds useful features like an electronic-locking rear differential to improve traction on both rear wheels, specifically tuned off-road shock absorbers, skid plates, and Hill Descent Control. Even if you’re not a regular on the trails, these features can be beneficial when grinding through whatever questionable terrain lies below that snow drift that just appeared on your regular commute.
The F-150 Tremor, which reportedly has particular appeal in Saskatchewan and Manitoba, is also well-prepared for Canadian winters. Features like Hill Start Assist and selectable drive modes that include options for Slippery and Deep Snow/Sand can be especially friendly when you need to slow down and crawl toward your destination.
The legendary F-150 Raptor is also well-suited to winter driving conditions; however, its professional-level price tag may dissuade some drivers from springing for that big of a purchase just to get through the winter months. On the other hand, if you happen to be an enthusiastic off-roader who could absolutely use the raw power and performance of the Raptor every day of the year, it might be a wise investment.
The Ford F-150 is offered with a dizzying array of engines and options, which may be part of its overall appeal. After all, not every truck will suit every driver. However, features like LED projector headlamps with Adaptive Dynamic Bending can be very helpful on dark days, and the Pro Power Onboard technology that turns your truck into a generator can be a lifesaver when a winter storm knocks out power.
#2 – Hyundai Santa Cruz
A compact truck with a California name might seem like a strange choice for tackling Canadian winters, but hear us out. The new Santa Cruz has been designed to take on all sorts of terrain with its multiple drive modes and an eight-speed dual-clutch transmission with paddle shifters.
When driving in freezing slush, you need power in the right places, immediate traction where it’s needed most, and enough control to keep yourself out of trouble. The Santa Cruz is offered with an HTRAC All-Wheel Drive system that offers specialized control in snow, mud, and sand. Strategic sensors engaged by these modes can help deliver exactly the right amount of power to the wheel that’s struggling and slipping, creating subtle changes in direction…as opposed to the dramatic changes created by slamming on the brakes and shimmying the steering wheel. Paired with a highly controllable transmission, these modes can also adjust the gear so you don’t lose forward momentum by dropping the speed.
The Santa Cruz also has the advantage of its smaller stature. For drivers who don’t really need a giant pickup truck but can appreciate a 2,268 kg towing capacity and a flexible bed, the Santa Cruz has a lot to offer, including 281 hp, 311 lb-ft of torque, and a fuel economy of 10.6 L/100 km combined. The interior of the Hyundai Santa Cruz is ergonomically designed to keep drivers comfortable during longer commutes, with standard heated seats and a heated steering wheel. Features like rain-sensing windshield wipers are also good to have on hand when making your way through the muck and the mire.
#3 – Ram 1500
It’s hard to not get excited about the Ram 1500––this truck even includes a Sport trim designed exclusively for Canadians. Sure, there are some folks in the northern parts of the US who could probably appreciate the fine-tuned performance and convenience features that are part of the Sport’s overall draw, but this one is just for us. In fact, the Ram 1500 was named the Best Full-Size Pickup Truck in Canada for 2021 by the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada (AJAC).
Powered by a standard 5.7L HEMI V8, the Ram 1500 Sport nonchalantly provides 395 hp and 410 lb-ft of torque. Drivers can select from a 1.7m short bed or a 1.9m long bed to stow their all-weather essentials. With standard 4×4 driving action, the Sport has the ability to send traction to whichever wheel needs it most. Add-on features include an anti-spin differential rear axle or E-Locker rear axle for maximum traction in winter weather.
While the interior of a truck may not seem particularly pertinent to winter driving in Canada, the Ram 1500 Sport understands the struggles of living in the North, with standard three-level heated front seats and a heated steering wheel. The Sport also gets a Ram’s acclaimed Uconnect 5 multimedia centre with navigation. However, the Sport isn’t the only trim to consider, as nearly any Ram 1500 will be a great choice for the winter.
Getting Around Canada Safely and in Style
Staying safe as you navigate frosty roads ultimately depends on your patience and skill as a driver. However, the Ford F-150, Hyundai Santa Cruz, and Ram 1500 are all designed with features that can help enhance your capability as a winter warrior. When faced with pop-up flurries or seemingly endless days of snow and ice, these trucks are equipped with technology that can help you get to work––whether that’s plowing the neighbour’s drive or heading down to the office.
We still have a ways to go before we can enjoy trucks that can drive themselves through rough weather, but in the meantime, the F-150, Santa Cruz, and Ram 1500 make the most of today’s technology for wintertime drivability. From giving drivers enough control to navigate slick roads to providing comfort features that make getting out of the house to go to work a little more tolerable, these trucks have all the necessities to make a Canadian winter less of a hassle, letting us enjoy the magical snowscape a bit more.