All Wheel Drive?

Hello, we are in the market for a new car, we are thinking of something small or medium sized. We live in Ashland, Oregon, where it snows heavily maybe twice a year, and we are wondering if it’s worth getting an all wheel drive car to deal with the snow and ice. What do you all think?

Not necessary.

All wheel drive adds weight and friction drag to the vehicle, reducing your gas mileage. It also adds many systems (center differential, rear differential, CV axles, etc) that need periodic maintenance. Some systems require 4 equal tires, as in get a flat and replace all 4 rather than 1. AWD is not worth it for 99.9% of people.

A front wheel drive car with winter tires is far superior to an AWD car with all-season tires.

It’s NOT worth it. AWD/FWD is really only needed when you encounter a lot of snow a lot of the time. Twice a year really isn’t worth it. For those really bad times…just stay in-doors.

I’d say no. AWD means less mpg gallon over the entire life of the car, 2 to 3 mpg less. AWD means you may need to replace all 4 tires if one tire gets a nail and needs to be replaced, more money. AWD requires more maintenance, you’ll need fluid changes for a transfer case and differential that are required for AWD. Your repair bills could be higher as the AWD system has special computer controls, sensors, and more mechanical components subject to failure.

A cheaper option to deal with snow is a set of winter tires. AWD can be great for those dealing with a lot of snow on a daily basis in winter. Or, who live on hills or in the mountains, or where roads plows rarely go. From your described situation I think a FWD car with winter tires would be very safe and secure motoring in winter.

If it only snows a few times it’s probably not worth the extra expense. I say this because I own an AWD vehicle but it doesn’t snow much in my area. I’m planning to sell the AWD car soon, and I will not replace it with another AWD.

A set of four winter tires would be much less expensive and would probably work just fine.

Or you could stay home and wait until the roads are cleared. It probably only takes one day.

In those conditions, I’d say front wheel drive with good winter tires should be fine.

You Need AWD Like I Need Tap-Dance Lessons.


I hope you are planing to put a video up of your tap-dancing.

I’m still hoping he’ll clarify whether or not he actually needs tap-dance lessons. I can’t figure out which way to take it :wink:

I’ve lived in Minnesota almost my whole life and have never wanted AWD for many reasons:

  1. Added expense
  2. Added weight
  3. Lower MPG
  4. Higher maintenance and repair costs
  5. More likely to crash or end up in a ditch. I see this every year, more 4wd accidents because these people are overconfident and think they can drive faster than they should.

It depends on whether you go into the mountains when it snows are are an emergency employee and need to get somehere not matter what the weather is. If you live in Ashland and not the surrounding mountains, and can limit travel to the valley, then probably not.

Consider the DRIVER too.

My wife is, admittedly, a poor judge of a vehicle’s operational capabilty in various weather and road conditions.
– for her the AWD is the answer. –

Even with a 4x4 button to push if she needs it on the other trucks, she just doesn’t get the feel of the car-vs-road to know when to drive gingerly ( like 2wd ), use 4x4, or stay home.
Same with her 4x2 pickup, it’s just beyond her to adjust driving style to match conditions.
I tell her "you can feel it in you big toe on the gas pedal, if the car wants to skate or grip"
She says “No I can’t” and hasn’t gotten any better in 33 years of driving.
– for HER…the automatic, buttonless AWD ( 06 Ford Escape hybrid ) is the answer.–

For YOU…
and your impending vehicular puchase…
In the past have you dicovered a need for AWD ?
Have you often wanted, yearned for AWD ?
Is you sub-consious gut feeling AWD, 4x4, or 4x2 ?

Are there mountains where you are in MN?

It snows a lot more than just twice per year.

I don’t know about Oregon, but in California, there are some mountain passes where either chains or AWD/4WD is required. This can be a problem if you choose a vehicle that doesn’t either take chains or have AWD–and an increasing number of vehicles fit this description.


I’m with “KG” on this one…I think you should try one out in the kind of slippery winter conditions you may face. You decide, not us. Even w/o snow, there are reasons to buy an AWD car.

Every one here has given their own opinion; but that’s all it is. Here is mine. An awd car with snow tires makes the comparison with 2wd cars with snow tires a joke…there is none. An awd is enough superior in many ways to comparable fwd cars in dry too, it may still be reason enough to own one. It all depends on how much $$$$ you’re willing to part with in initial expense and the SLIGHT increase in maintenance and mileage costs.

We never had awd cars until we moved to a place they are a necessity. There is a not a 2wd lover here who could function in the winter with their cars where we live regardless of their “snow tire is all you need mantra.”. If we leave, and go back in town, at least one of our cars will be AWD. We like to visit our grandchildren at our convenience in the snow belt, not the weather’s. That will be our choice and not someone else.

We also want the piece of mind knowing, that in an emergency, we have a “fighting chance” when the weather is bad. And, studded snows is still a must on all our 4wd/awd vehicles in the winter. That includes the studs we “screw” into the tractor R4 tires as well. If any of these reasons sound familiar to your’s, I feel you owe it to yourself to try one out in severe winter conditions.

One add on. My neighbor does have a cheap 2wd Aveo with studded snows for winter. But, he also has his very large 4wd Case backhoe/loader in the end of his drive that he uses to literally “pick up” the car and transport it up the mountain when necessary. So, you could say he functions with a 2wd here.

You Need AWD Like I Need Tap-Dance Lessons.
Maybe not tap, but every one would do well to have dance lessons; we owe to our spouses.

Just how many inches of snow are talking on a yearly basis? I’m sure you heard about that blizzard that hit here in Chicago last week. Well, with my AWD Matrix and winter tires I made it to work that morning which was so shocking to all my coworkers. So I’d say that it depends on your local winter conditions.