More cars are offering winter-friendly features than ever before. Though some of these are rare, others are showing up even in less expensive models. Often, several of these features are bundled in a cold-weather package, so they can be difficult to order à la carte. Some of them are just for convenience, but many will keep you safer, too.

Remote start. Like a remote control for your car, these devices let you start your car’s engine from inside your home or office to warm up the cabin in advance. Certain newer vehicles, including Mercedes-Benz and Volvo models, can remote start via smartphone.

Heated seats. Seating surfaces can warm you faster than your car’s heater can warm the cabin air. Certain luxury cars, such as the BMW 5 and 7 Series and Mercedes-Benz S- and E-Class, have heated armrests and door trims as well. A few years ago you had to spring for leather upholstery to get heated seats, but many automakers, such as Hyundai, Jeep, and Subaru, now offer the option with cloth upholstery.

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Heated steering wheel. An electric heating element runs along the outside of the wheel to warm it, giving drivers a comfortable, mitten-free grip. Some wheels—in select BMW, Fiat Chrysler, and Volkswagen models—can be set to turn on when the temperature drops below a set point.

Heated side mirrors. Heating elements like the ones used to defrost your back window can clear ice and frost from mirrors without the need for scraping.

Windshield wiper de-icers and washer jets. Ice and slush can cake up in your wiper blades and block your washer jets, so some cars have electric heating elements underneath the resting position of wiper blades and in the jets to melt icy obstructions away. Some luxury vehicles from carmakers such as Audi, BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Porsche, and Volvo also have washer jets for the headlights to keep them clear—and you safer. That will get the grime off the headlights, but if they’re caked in snow or ice, you should clear your headlights off before driving.

Heated windshield. These are still rare (seen on certain Jaguar, Land Rover, and Volvo models), but they can make clearing ice easier. One downside: The heating elements are made up of wavy lines across the windshield that can be distracting. Plus, we’ve found that these elements can block the signal of toll transponders such as E-ZPass.

Snow-friendly ‘beam’ windshield wipers. These one-piece wiper blades have spring steel incorporated into the rubber. As a result, they can provide a more uniform pressure on windshields and a better wiping performance. But our testing has shown that cheap beam replacements can hurt performance. Good ones cost $20 to $60 for a pair at; a pair of conventional wipers can cost $15 to $50.

Winter Driving Tips

There is over 2,000 crashes in wintery conditions. On the 'Consumer 101' TV show, Consumer Reports' expert Jen Stockberger offers essential tips to help get you where you're going safely.

Editor's Note: This article also appeared in the November 2017 issue of Consumer Reports magazine.