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

@texases. I absolutely agree about the worn tires. But, I give Auto the benefit of the doubt. If he says “any decent Awd” I assume that it is at least equipped with average all season tires. In the same way I don’t assume the snow tires on the Corolla are worn either. Please look at Cigs excellent reference video. Especially where it says the Awd car with all season tires will out accelerate a fwd car with snow tires. We agree on just about everything else…I think it’s just a matter of what we assume and not here. Wish you were here right now. It was -6 degrees this morning and my road out has 4 inches of ice under snow with two steep half mile hills. I could make it out, as I have, with 4wd with all AT all season tires as have all my neighbors. I can never make it out with fwd with snow tires with out mad dash runs going 30 mph and hope no one is comming down. If I have to stop on a hill, I can never get started again with fwd.

If I have to stop on a hill, I can never get started again with fwd.

Why not? I never have a problem stopping on a hill with fwd and all season tires in snow or on ice for that matter. I can take off with either a manual or automatic transmission. The only time I have ever had a problem was with rwd, all season tires and no limited slip differential.

Because @keith, there are hills and there are HILLS. I have a minimal amount in my banking account but would be willing to bet all of it on you not being able to start up on the hill just outside my house, half way up with the conditions now as we speak with fwd and all season tires. I would bet half of it you couldn’t with snow tires and fwd. But, I don’t have to worry. We would have to air lift your fwd car into our place and airlift you out, just to make the bet.;=)

You didn’t specify which hill. But I have stopped on some pretty steep hills and still been able to go. But there are limits to everything. The thing I hate the most is not going up a steep ice or snow covered hill, its going down one.

@Keith. How about going down one backwards ? You make not like going down a slippery ice and snow covered hill frontwards, which is why we do have snow tires on our 4wd vehicles, but not making a hill is much scarier when you have to back down it for another run with fwd regardless of your tires.

@dagosa, Yes the acceleration was better. I watched the whole thing. But in your voluminous post above you said all sorts of things, such as that FWD cars are no good on hills. Sorry, friend, but I grew up in snow country in FWD cars and they kick A**. (Of course, you also have to know what you are doing, but the same goes with AWD). The fact that an AWD with all seasons will out-accel an FWD with snows doesn’t make me want to choose and AWD with all seasons over an FWD with snows. I’ll always go with the winter tires. The climbing I can do. But then there’s all that other stuff, like braking and keeping traction on turns and stuff. And on that it’s quite clear that winter tires are on a whole different planet. Yes, mountains have hills that you have to CLIMB - but they also have lots of other things, like turns and, of course, what goes UP must come back DOWN.

My reference to your “smoke blowing” - as I put it - was about your vast overstatement of many things in favor of AWD.

Finally chiming in, I think all the time 4wd detracts from driveability, Sorry to bring up trailblazer, but the on demand 4wd as needed has been the only car I do not fear boldy going where no car has gone before. I have been in a multitude of snow and ice situations, michelin cross terrain tires rule, along with the 4wd that kicks in only when needed. I think the video showed the problems with awd all the time, sure I come from a background of 2wd rear, and dealt with it. But I am sure I could trump any front wheel drive with snow tires with my current tires.

The biggest difference in fwd cars vs Awd cars ( I am comparing them to Awd cars) they are really, really poor compared to an Awd car accelerating and hill climbing in any conditions… It’s physics and fwd is the worse drive train to climb steep slippery hills. The Awd car accelerates better on level with all seasons in snow and that difference is exacerbated by hills. Auto and I are only talking about hill climbing. As far as snow tires and driving in snow is concerned, I have always put snow tires on all my Awd and 4wd cars and trucks because they are vastly superior helping to stop, corner and accelerate. So, you get no disagreemnt there. But the facts remain, fwd is so inferior to awd climbing hills that Awd cars will do it much better with all seasons then fwd will with snow tires.

If anyone has ever driven an Awd car with decent tires…even new all season in snow for a winter, I wonder why they could disagree with these commonly known facts ?

@dagosa, no, you weren’t just talking about hill climbing. The discussion is about driving in mountainous areas.

Here, I’ll give you this. If I was going to a snow & ice hill climbing competition then I’d probably take an AWD. If I was renting a car to get around in an mountainous area I’ll take the FWD with winter tires over the AWD with all-seasons. It’s simple physics. Because it will hold better on turns and brake better. It will also have no trouble on hills - as long as I’m not trying to race someone to the top who is driving an AWD.

Sorry @cigroller this is the quote I made that you disagreed with with respect to Auto’s comments. and said "you guys are blowing smoke "

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

You are conflating it with my original discussion of fwd with snows vs rental for mountainous travel with all season tires.
My earlier comments about driving a fwd car with snow tires were with respect to he choosing a mid size SUV with AT (all terrrain ) all season tire. They are special all season found on many rentals which many rental companies don’t even know they have. I suggested he look at those vehicles specifically. If he found one…no fwd car with snow tires could match it, going up. down around over and you name it…in snow ! if you drive awd cars in snow for a winter that included hills, you would feel exactly the same way

And @Cig
If you were renting I would recommend the same thing I did to OP…ALL SEASON ALL TERRAIN TIRES on a mid size SUV. They often have them standard .Here is a discription…http://www.tirerack.com/tires/types/allterr.jsp
Some have the M+S symbol. Many 4Runners may come standard as well as many Jeep Grand Cherokees

@dagosa, I think you care a lot more deeply about this than I for whatever reason. I will continue to drive my FWD cars in the snow up hills and down hills and around corners and when I need to - which is frequently - stop to see whether the people who have driven their AWD and 4WD SUVs into ditches need me to help them out. That will include those times that I need to stop on a hill. You continue to grossly overstate the case, but I don’t actually care all that much about it - so you can win if you want.

dag, I don’t know about backing down a hill because I got stuck half way up, haven’t gotten stuck yet except with that old Maverick with the bald tires, but I didn’t get stuck half way up on that, didn’t even get started up on that one until my wife pushed the car up the hill with our old Dodge (RWD) wagon. Wagon had limited slip and if I still had it, I’m pretty sure it would climb your hill even with all season tires.

.Cig…Where I live the only losers…are those who don’t have awd and winter rated tires . I live on the side of a mountain. Hope this is an education. I suggest you drive an awd car with just decent tires. If someone calls for advice, for any advice on winter driving and it isn’t correct and they take it, it’s not our problem. But I think you should at least care it is correct. If we don’t care about being correct, maybe we should not offer advice. But if you think you and your fwd car can stay on the road with all those awd cars going off, it definitely isn’t me alone who continues to grossly overstate the case

There is something I think you don’t quite get yet. Those guys who go off the road in their AWDs don’t go off the road because the car is the problem. A couple years ago I got caught in a badass snowstorm out in California, almost a whiteout. I was driving the Saturn and was passed by a 4 Runner and a Civic like I didn’t know how to drive. A couple miles later, I went by them, they ran into each other or lost control in the same spot.

I may not get up the mountain as fast in my FWD as you can in your AWD, but I will get up there eventually. Not everyone that passes me on snow or ice has an accident, but I have a lot of miles, slow ones at that, but a lot of them without an accident. Its mostly a matter of taking it easy.

BTW, I just bought a new Subaru Legacy so I am not completely against AWD. Funny, it seems that it has less ground clearance than the 97 Accord that I just gave up. I have had 4WD in the past too.

I never gave advice on this thread either, I’m just saying that FWD with even all weather tires can work on most roads if the driver takes it easy. AWD is better, but the FWD will work, even on pretty steep grades covered in ice.

@keith, i have had awd/4wd for more then twenty years. Trust me, I get why many Awd cars go off the road in winter and why many are the safest cars on the road. There are two sides to their ownership. You will see these sides as you drive yours.

I know what you are saying and I agree that Awd drivers can be too aggressive for their own good. If Awd drivers don’t use winter rated tires , they can still easily accelerate and they find them selves going too fast for their all season tires to stop and turn. It happens a lot with people who are new to Awd and think they are a replcement for good winter tires and common sense.

But, the seasoned awd4wd driver, gets good winter tires and drivers SLOWER. They don’t have to get a run for hills like 2 wd cars do and they don’t have to coast through at snow covered intersections because they may worry with fwd, they can’t merge into traffic fast enough form adead stop. Seasoned Awd drivers often have snow tires and drive slower , not faster, because they can. .

The hills are so steep around here and in the mountains, you would never take a chance with fwd not making a hill and having to coast down, backwards to get another start. So you need to drive faster just to make the hill. Awd does nearly everything in winter better then fwd. The only reason most everyone doesn’t own one in snow country, is $$$ to buy, $$$ to maintain and $$$ for gas. Everyone around here would have one if they could afford it for winter driving.

But, I hope you will also put winter tires on our new Subaru. Otherwise, you can easily out drive the car. After a winter driving an Awd car with snow tires, you will be a huge convert to their capabilities. And, you will drive slower because you can. Btw, your Lgacy is low because it’s a car and not an SUV. You will still have trouble in deep snow. You NEED snow tires like everyone else.

I live in the south now, winter tires would not be justified. I didn’t get the Legacy for its AWD, I got it because my wife is having range of motion issues with her knees and this is the only car that she can get into easily. The doors hinge further forward and are a little larger. It is better for this than even the trucks we tried.

There are a lot of 4wd trucks around here, but 4wd is hardly justified unless you go off road into the mud. Judging by the fancy paint jobs, custom wheels and inappropriate tires on a lot of them, the 4wd is not used, ever. It’s just status.

Picture a 4wd F-350 about 3 feet off the pavement with 30" chrome spoked wheels and 255/30-30 tires, with a drunk redneck behind the wheel.

That’s still a good reason to buy an Awd car. They are great cars in emergency maneuvers being Awd as well. So IMHO, you will be safer. Safe driving for you and your wife. When we move back into town and don’t need the clearance, a legacy will be high on our list too.
We have our share of red necks too. At least here, when they go off the road, they get they might freeze to death if they are too drunk.

Down here they end up upside down in a ditch with their mama on local TV blubbering “he was such a good boy”.

Like father, like son I’m sure.

I don’t mean to make it sound this this place is full of stupid rednecks and such. Most of the people are well educated, hard working and normal folk. For some reason, when there is a news story, the TV reporters go for the crying woman or the most ignorant person they can find in the crowd to interview.

It might be a conspiracy though as even the normal people will act like an illiterate when in front of the camera just to keep other people from wanting to move here. Even most of the “rednecks” are good people, but we do have a few that give rednecks a bad reputation.