AWD vs. FWD in a mid-size crossover?

I’m a commuter, mostly highway, in Northwest Ohio. My main concerns, as far as road conditions, are slick/icy pavement and unplowed parking lots. My 2003 FWD Vibe slides all over the place, so I’m thinking about upgrading to a 2008 Ford Edge or 2011 Kia Sorento. I’ve driven FWD models of both, but not in slick conditions. Obviously both are heavier and more modern than my Vibe, in terms of steering, brakes, stability control, etc. Is the AWD option worth the extra cost and lower gas milage? Any advice?

I should also add that my husband has a 4WD Jeep Grand Cherokee, which would be great for “emergency” situations. However, if the snow is that bad, I won’t be on the road anyway. This is making me lean toward FWD. Thanks!

you cant beat all wheel drive with snow tires for traction and control on snow and slick roads. But yes you do sacrifice some gas milage. In your case I would think it was a fair trade off, simply because you do not seem to be worried about initial cost of a new vehicle.

You’ll save a lot of money if you get a set of winter tires and rims for your Vibe. No sliding then! But if you want a new(er) vehicle, AWD will be a bit better than FWD. In either case you’ll want a set of winter tires.

Does your Vibe slide on winter tires? If you haven’t tried winter tires, I would try them before you give up on your vehicle.

Yes, tires on the Vibe first and foremost.

You know very well the feeling of having on the wrong shoes when you encounter a wet tile floor.

Tires will make a world of difference.

I’m from Wooster Ohio ( north central ) and learned on 2wd cars like dad’s chevy station wagons. He had winter tires for those. in Ohio we could seasonally change tires without concern. Now in New Mexico, AWD is the way to go…it snowed here May 2nd.

Sliding has less to do with drive system as others have stated, then good winter tires. Whether you go for an Edge or Sorento, given your frame of mind and slippery conditions, make sure it has traction/stability control which the Sorento should. If the Edge does as well, personal preference. That feature with winter tires is all you should need.
Traction control is close enough to AWD, most may not realize the difference if they aren’t in too hilly terrain. Try it out in slippery weather; it works well.

I’m pretty sure I have all-weather tires, but we’re ready to move on to a new car regardless of the Vibe’s performance. It sounds like as long as I have Traction Control and a set of winter tires, I’d be OK with buying the “cheaper” FWD model. Thanks for your suggestions.

Sounds like a good plan. Just remember, ‘all-weather’ tires can be good 3-season tires, but often don’t do well in snow, and almost never on ice.

Looking at the reliability data that I can see for these models at, you’re much better off with the FWD vehicle. Michael Karesh seems to be letting some multiple reports slip in, so I wouldn’t put a huge emphasis on total failure numbers, especially for models with low sample sizes, but the FWD models are consistently significantly higher reliability than AWD models. Ford, for example, seems to have more problems with AWD than anything else nowadays - Consumer Reports identified the same issues, IIRC - the FWD or RWD models are almost all very reliable, but the few models that they have below average are almost all AWD models.

That’s especially true with the Ford Edge. The AWD version has had problems with the AWD, problems (obviously) absent from the FWD version.