Is all-wheel-drive sufficiently worthwhile to justify the presence of something more to go wrong with the car? I am a conservative driver with an '06 Pontiac Vibe so the handling is not a big issue with me. I live in a no snow area, in the San Francisco Bay Area.
Without snow why would you possibly want all wheel drive?
AWD out performs fwd in almost every parameter you wish to measure. From handling to towing to stability to balanced power application, in bad traction areas and good.
But, the difference is not that great and it’s advantage either until traction begins to diminish. Without slippery conditions, only those who want it’s slight superiority and are willing to pay the extra in terms of initial cost and maintenance for an awd car is it recommended.
If you’re someone who wants to put 300 hp safety on the ground in a light car…nothing does it better than awd…as a conservative driver, I don’t think that’s you.
Now if you anticipated mud slides ?
AWD out performs fwd in almost every parameter you wish to measure.
With the exception of reliability and cost.
And the exception of fuel mileage. All that extra drivetrain resistance kills fuel mileage as well.
The only advantage for YOU is not having to put chains on the car when you go over the Donner Pass in the winter. AWD vehicles are exempt from having to put on chains in heavy snow, all others have to.
Dagosa is right that AWD is superior in many instances, most of which will never occur to the average driver. Under normal conditions, a 2 wheel drive vehicle with good winter tires out-performs an AWD with standard “all season” tires. We live near the Rocky Mountains and ski on weekends. We’ve never felt the neeed for an AWD with higher purchase price, lower gas mileage and significantly higher maintenance and repair costs.
A friend of mine is a soils testing engineer, his work actually requires a 4 wheel drive vehicle which he only drives for work. He can’t be bothered driving it on evenings and weekends.
You sound like someone who doesn’t need it.