Funny story. I was in the process of moving to Texas from Chicago. I had to stay in Chicago one last winter. I purchased some Blizzaks for my Legacy GT Wagon which had been in Texas but I had driven down back to Illinois. Got them from the Tire rack mounted on wheels and put them on. The difference for winter tires is remarkable. I had some good all-season continentals on a WRX wagon I had owned and they were very good in Chicago snow storms. However the Blizzaks were so much better. They just gripped the road better and the most telling part was when you hit the brakes you never felt the ABS kick in at that last foot or so like you might on the all-seasons. That told me how much better they were, no slipping or sliding unless it was on purpose practicing to be the next Tommi Makinen or Colin McRae. Also I drove in the unplowed lanes passing the poor people in the plowed lane doing 20 under the speed limit. I would see some people try to do it and almost get their car stuck and have to abandon. I'm sure people saw the Texas plates and assumed some nut from Texas was going to get stuck in a ditch somewhere not realizing i was from Chicago and lived their most of my life. So yes snow is worth every penny. Come spring/summer time on went the summer tires. I do miss that Subaru.
To sum this up there is no musts here when it comes to snow.
Snow driving most All Season and wu tee tires are pretty close. It is ice that there is a bit better traction with winter tires. But these hard ice conditions are rare in most areas accept where it is so cold where salt is not effective.
Where you live also matters as my work has offices here in Ohio and in places in GA and TX. The get an inch or so of snow down south and they close down. Here in Ohio in 30 years we shut down once. That was for freezing rain not snow.
We just expect to go and deal with it.
What is odd too is where my home is It can be sunshine and grass but yet work can be 8” of now in only 25 miles between due to the lake snow effect.
So a lot of how we deal with it is due to wherever are from.
The type of vehicle can matter to some extent but some folks like to say you must have FWD or AWD but we got around for 100 years with RWD and life did not stop.
The truth is some people in some places and with some vehicles must winter tires but most don’t.
As for studs it once was a need but anymore if you are in need of studs you really should look at winter tires as the soft compounds and tread designs are about as affective and legal. Plus you will not damage your paved driveway.
I have owned some cars that were a challenge to drive in the winter. The El Camino with a big block, a HHR with 300 HP and a Fiero, they did claim Pontiac builds excitement. A little weight in the Camino, just controlling my left foot on the HHR and buying a truck for the Fiero.
The Fiero went straight fine but it sat so low the front end will raise up on piles of snow and with no weight up front it hated to turn.
The one recommendation though I do recommend is limited slip or locking rear ends. Not mandatory but much less frustrating mostly in deep snow if you have not cleared the drive. Most people in Ohio get stuck in the uncleared drives.
Actually it is a combination of car, options and design and compound.
The greatest factor is driver skill. The harsh reality is some folks just can’t drive in the snow. I recently had two storms here with around 25” of snow. We got by even in the car with 2WD. Roads were cleared soon after and life goes on.
Some vehicles are better than others but that does not mean they are impossible or dangerous to drive. We got by for 100 years with bad tires and little AWD.
As for brands you just need to look at a company like Michelin or Goodyear and see just how many types and lines of tires they offer. They all have old models that are not as good as the new models with more tech and advanced design. Why are old designs sold? Because they are offered by discount houses.
There are some folks who live where it is so cold salt will not work for weeks. Winter tires help there but in most areas we see roads cleared in hours and most all season tires work just fine.
But like a race car 25% tires, 25% car 50% driver. How many times did we see Dale Earnhardt SR take a bad car and out run others. He did it often. One race at Bristol he ran with no power steering for 400 laps and won.
Now to drive in snow you don’t need to be SR but it helps to understand traction, how a car responds and how to control that car in slippery conditions.
Car control is king in the snow.
To be honest there are a number of drivers who should not be out there in the snow. Actually there are too many that should not be out there in a sunny day.