We are coming to Iceland in January. Is a 4WD car really necessary or would a 2WD be enough?
It sort of depends on where you are going - and also how comfortable you are driving in ice and snow.
It is possible to drive a 2WD in winter, if you are only staying on the main roads, such as doing the Golden Circle, driving within Reykjavík and driving on the ring road of Iceland in south and west Iceland - but you’d be much more comfortable in a 4WD.
If you are planning on going somewhere further, such as to the Westfjords, or heading north or east, then a 4WD is advisable. Perhaps not completely necessary, but you’ll definitely feel better in a 4WD, and there’s a much lower risk that you’ll get stuck in snow or skid on ice.
There are a lot of steep hills or mountainsides that the Icelandic roads are on, and when these hills or mountains are covered in ice and snow, then a 2WD can sometimes not make it the whole way up.
Weather in Iceland also varies a lot, so perhaps when you come there may not be much snow, but it could change the following day or week (or even in the following hour)
Hope this helps!
For a newcomer to Iceland, I would almost always recommend a 4WD. Even when traversing the city, fresh snow and ice can make getting around very difficult, and I have had my share of problems just pulling out of driveways. If you are more than used to these conditions, only plan to travel main roads, and have complete faith in your abilities, then by all means, get a 2WD.
Hope that helps
I totally would get a 4x4. A JEEP 4X4! If you will be travelling at al, it will just amke you feel so much safer and if anything happens you’re better equipped to get out of things. Like, if there is a lot of snow, the jeep is less likely to get stuck, and if you slide and accidentally go off the road, it’s easier to drive the jeep onto the road again. I’d also actually recommend taking a manual car, because if you are stuck and need to ‘wiggle’ free, it’s much easier to do that in a manual car than in an automatic. Just a hint from a born northern girl
The weather in Iceland, and especially in January, is VERY unpredictable. Maybe it’ll be nice; no snow and clear roads but it could also be nasty with snowstorms and ice on the roads (or it can start out nice and turn nasty an hour later)
I don’t think Icelanders themselves would go far from Reykjavík in a 2WD in January, and they often get in trouble on the main roads of Reykjavík due to snow.
So by all means, choose the 4WD, just to be sure. You’d rather be safe than sorry right? And if you are going anywhere outside of Iceland, pick an SUV/Jeep.