4 wheel drive with all seasons vs. front wheel drive with snow tires

Long story short- I am driving through the White Mountains this weekend and there is supposed to be some winter weather. I have two car choices, or 2008 Toyota corolla with snow tires on it or a mid-size suv (rental so I don’t know make and model yet) 4 wheel drive with all seasons. Any suggestions or opinions out there?

If you rent, you are at the complete dependency on the tires on the rental. But, you may not be stuck with all season tires. IMHO, you just may find a rental Awd with AT tires. All seasons wuld be too big a compromise if they had too many miles which you have no control over. Go over to the lot. Take a tire gauge and your smart phone and check reprorts from Tire Rack or oters on the spot when you look for a car. Otherwise, if you aren’t willing to do that reaserch, stay with the Corolla. But, Awd with decent AT or snow tires are the ultimate choice.
A 4Runner for example, should have them standard.

I’d take a Corolla with winter tires. It is going to be very cold so fill up your windshield washer tank with premium no freeze solution - that’s the orange stuff.

Winter tires on a Corolla

Take the Corolla, as other suggest. You’ll also save money!

I would go with the dedicated winter tires. In my experience snow traction can vary a lot with all season tires. I had a 2000 Blazer 4wd, with Uniroyal Cross-Country all season tires, traction was not that great in either two or four drive. With Firestone Destination LEs the Blazer had better traction in 2wd than the Uniroyals in 4wd.

Ed B.

There are too many variables not to at least investigate finding a rental SUV with AT tires especially if it has a snow flake emblem on it. If the Corolla has to carry much of a load, in very deep snow it will be useless with it’s low clearance. Snow tires aren’t magic, though they are preferable to all seasons on the same vehicle. I have had AT tires that were every bit as good as the snow tires on another 4wd. And, for mountainous potential snow driving, NOTHING beats Awd/4wd with tires with good snow traction. In mountains, Awd aids handling when driving up hills. With fwd, even with snow tires, in dealing with hills you have to drive too fast just to make a hill. Slow and steady is the advantage of 4wd with good traction tres. In parks that require chains for snow with2wd , 4wd vehicles with good tread AT ( not necessarily snow tires) are often exempt. As cold as it’s going to be, I don’t want to be stuck.

Thanks for all of the advice everyone. The car that I usually drive is a Toyota Rav4 with great snow tires- perfect for these conditions. Unfortunately about a ton of ice fell off of my neighbor’s roof right onto the hood/windshield/front bumper so I only have our other car, or the rental. The rental place told me that, by law, they can’t put snow tires on their vehicles, so they only have all seasons. I don’t think that the snow is going to be too deep, I will be on well traveled roads, so I think I will probably go with the Corolla. Thanks again!

Best of luck in your travels.

“The rental place told me that, by law, they can’t put snow tires on their vehicles”

I would love to see the text of that…law.
Hint: It almost surely doesn’t exist, except in the minds of the folks at the car rental place who are trying to rationalize the condition of their fleet.

The corolla with snow tires should do just fine, drive carefully

Any decent AWD will leave a snow-tired Corolla for dead on a snowy hill.

"The rental place told me that, by law, they can't put snow tires on their vehicles"

Companies LIE all the time…especially for cr*p like that. I had a restaurant tell it was against the law for my son to sit at the bar with the…Total lie. They didn’t want NON-ALCOHOLIC drinkers sitting at their bar. I once had an eye exam at Lens Crafters…And they told me I couldn’t get a copy of my prescription because it was against Hipaa law. Which again is a complete lie. Hipaa law only applies to the them giving out my prescription to a third party without my permission. They just wanted to make sure I bought my glasses from them.

@autoowner “any decent Awd will leave a snow tired Corolla for dead on a snowy hill”

Auto Is absolutely right. Snow tires have their important advantage over all seasons when it comes to braking and cornering on level and going down hill. But technically, this is an absolutely true statement when going UP hills.
An Awd has so much more drive or acceleration traction ALL TESTS on snow traction ever conducted concluded that an Awd car/truck with any average all season ( not bald tires) will out accelerated and climb better the fwd with snow tires.
Fwd cars are really poor going up hills and maintaining steerage when the drive wheels slip as the weight dynamically shifts to the rear of non driving wheels is nearly impossible when they spin. A huge advantage and flatlanders that make outlandish claims about snow tires on any vehicle are better then Awd with just decent all season tires while hill climbing…just haven’t driven in snow country on hills. And, we aren’t even talking about adding loads to fwd which makes them worse still. To hear some talk, snow tires eliminate the security for Awd vehicles completely. Obviously my suggestion about seeing if the all season tires were AT rated fell on deaf ears. If you put those tires in the mix, in snow, Awd SUVs with these tires are outstanding and unmatched in snow by any fwd car with ANY snow tire.

Go ahead snow tire total advocates and drive your little Ground hugging Corolla with snow tires and loaded to the gills through the White Mountains with snow in the forecast and sub zero conditions. I’ll take a 4wd with the all season AT tires I mentioned ANYTIME. I will wave hello and goodbye as we pass you on hills while you wait for a tow truck or drive back down BACKWARDS just to try another high speed run. Sure, that’s really safe !

Mike you are absolutely right. These rental vehicle office workers often don’t have a clue about the cars the have and the tires on them. Perhaps they don’t have snow tires. That is just an expense issue. But there are very few midsized SUVs they can’t rent you in snow country that don’t have adaquate more aggresive all season tires, and many have AT rated all season tires as standard equipment. Office workers don’t have a clue about this option either.

@autoowner and @dagosa, you guys are blowing smoke. There is no hands down anything about it.

@autoowner “any decent Awd will leave a snow tired Corolla for dead on a snowy hill”

Nonsense. If the AWD has worn or summer tires it’ll go nowhere.

@texases Two things my good friend. First, in the north, midsize SUVs are seldom if ever equipped with SUMMER Tires in the winter. Maybe in texases, but not here, and especially not as rentals. Secondly, we are talking about MOUNTAIN driving and going up steep hills…Please read both our posts…we don’t assume the tires are flat either. Nothing in the tests show hills. Btw, I have always stipulated AT tires for all season tires for rentals. Does that mean anything to you guys ? Also, we, Auto and I, are only talking about going UP HILL AND ACCELERATING.

I have snow tires on all my cars. It isn’t like I don’t appreciate the difference.
But, in one case, accelerating, or climbing hills Awd with all season tires will still climb better then a fwd car with snow tires. BTW cig, , did you even look at your own tape ? It completely verifies what auto and I have said. The Awd car with all season tires out accelerates the the fwd car with snow tires. That and hill climbing are what Auto and I were discussing.
Now, tell me where both you and @texases live and what you experts drive for cars NOW.

@Dagosa - Well, 13 years in Anchorage taught me the need for good tread, awd or fwd or whatever. I’ve seen a number of awd vehicles unable to make progress because they had worn tires. That’s why the statement that "“any decent Awd will leave a snow tired Corolla for dead on a snowy hill” is nonsense. Gotta have good tread.

My 4wd Jeep Cherokee was inferior to my fwd GTI with snows until I got the snow tires on the Jeep.