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Barbara from Weatogue *Simsbury* CT

Dear Tom and Ray,

I have to politely, but firmly disagree with you and Barbara from the fantasy village of Weatogue CT. Her question revolved around a domestic dispute regarding which is better in snow - her Acura RDX or her Harvard-educated husbands Subaru Forester. Tom and Ray, you agreed with Barbara that her RDX was better due to its higher ground clearance and locking center differential. This is false! Don’t you guys have a senior web lackey who can look up things on (Am I allowed to mention Edmunds??) Anyway, if you look it up, you’d see that the Forester has significantly better ground clearance, at 8.7 inches. While the overall taller RDX actually has only 6.3 inches between the road and it’s fragile bits. The Forester also has an arguably superior CoG due to the horizontally opposed engine and lower overall height. Also, the basic “which is better in the snow” factor you both completely ignored was the fact that the good Doctor’s Forester is a stick! A manual is always the better choice in foul weather as it offers much more control than even those automatics that allow you some shift control. Lastly, this will require some fact checking- but I do believe that manual transmission-equipped Subaru’s come with a limited slip center differential.

Yes, I’m sure you guys figured it out already- I’m a Subaru loyalist… I wear LL Bean clothing, I go cross country skiing, I vote Democratic and my wife is a Pastor. But she works for Yale, so by going out on a limb to defend the honor of a Harvard man is a clear demonstration of my passionate loyalty toward Subarus.

Thanks for a great show!!

-Geoffrey Isabelle

New Haven Connecticut

I’d pick the Subaru…

I wonder what kind of tires come with a turbocharged MDX? Couldn’t be a high performance tire that would be like a greased bald tire on snow?

Wonder what OEM tires are on the Sube…maybe a good all season radial that would allow the little Sube to run circles around the MDX in the snow.

I really have to agree with Geoffrey. Having driven through a number of blizzards with a stick shift Subaru, I’m really surprised you’d say the RDX is better. The manual 50/50 split means the Subaru is almost unstoppable in winter weather. Both have all season tires and for real winter driving could benefit from snow tires. The RDX is a decent winter car, but between the two I’d take the Subaru any day.


The other factor that is being ignored is relative weight. The Sube weighs ~ 500 pounds less than the Acura. It takes less force to change the momentum of a smaller mass. I have lived and driven in every mountain range in the west for many decades, and driven both and can tell you that unless you are busting through drifts the Subaru is absolutely a better car in the snow. Unless you are trying to look good that is.


Don’t manual tranny Subarus still have locking center diffs? I know they used to, at least into the '90s.

I just listened to the repeat of the show a few minutes ago and they do not mention the type of tranny on the Subaru. So, it might be manual or might not.

Anyway, I think either car would be fine, though I’d prefer the Subaru for myself.

Yes, I agree with Geoffrey. We are talking about the 2009 Forester according to the show. Not only does it have more ground clearance, all Subaru’s of that year also come with their version of electronic stability control (VDC is what Subaru calls it)

Manual Subaru’s have a viscous coupling center diff and a similar LSD diff in the rear.

Her husband is mistaken as the Forester is not “lower to the ground” but the center of gravity is lower.

Geoff is correct. I’ve driven both cars, in snow, and the Forester is better. Higher ground clearance, lower CG, and the AWD system is the best in the world.

The Acura’s nice, but there’s a reason Subies are so popular in the snowy parts of the world.

As others have noticed, they do mention that the Subaru is a ‘standard’, so it is manual transmission. I am voting for the Subaru too, more controllable power delivery, more controllable transmission, more ground clearance, lower center of gravity and 681 pounds lighter (3250 v 3931). The AWD system on the Subaru is also very sophisticated and proven through many world rally championships.

EXACTLY! It’s a manual. The good thing about a manual is that you have so much more control over how much power is going to the wheel. If you start to slip in 1st, you can put it in 2nd or 3rd to try to gain traction. She never mentions the transmission in her RDX, and I’m betting it’s automatic and the way she said he had a “standard” transmission was almost a clue that she’s under the impression an automatic is better. And of course, if you’ve ever driven a manual and lost traction and been able to regain it by shifting, you know a manual is far superior in slippery conditions.

I think Tom and Ray need to defend their position on here, or admit they were wrong on air.

Hi there,

I live in Germany and recently I saw a show on TV called “Car Switch”. A manager of some company switched his Porsche Cayenne Turbo with a small Suzuki of a ranger. Both 4x4s. The ranger took the Porsche for a spin in the woods and got stuck in the mud right away and had to be towed out by a friend. The main reason why he got stuck in the first place was the weight of the Cayenne. Besides all the technical magic and tricks and anti blocking system and whatnot gagdets it was simply too heavy!

Tom and Ray gave points to the RDX because it can be shifted into 4 wheel drive from all wheel drive. 4 wheel drive (locked center differential) should never be used on pavement,it will slide the wheels and cause you to skid, it will cause the car to want to rotate in icy conditions. It is for off road and getting unstuck only.

Tom and Ray, you chuckleheads.

Suby pluses:
*Higher ground clearance
*Manual transmission
*Lower weight
*Lower CG

RDX pluses:
*Comfier seats (while you are waiting to be towed)
*More interior room (so you can store more food/blankets to survive your stranding)

In no way is the RDX the better car in the snow. You owe it to your listeners to correct this travesty, to avoid little children freezing to death while on ill-advised RDX trips in the snow. Tommy, Raymie, do it FOR THE CHIlDREN!!!

-Paul, in Belmont, California

First, the discussion of ground clearance on independently sprung vehicles is irrelevant and more load dependent than solid axles. The depth of the snow and the conditions at hand will determine “which is better” in snow. For years we had a Subaru Legacy and a 4Runner with all the drive train bells and whistles and can confidently make the following assertions.

In general, a more carlike Subaru will be better in slippery conditions w/o concern for snow depth as their center of gravity is lower and they handle better in all conditions. As the snow depth increases, the advantage is given the locking differentials, increased ground clearance and off road type characteristics as well as for better heavy load handling. only a truck can do this with locking center…Subarus need not show up.

Go figure ! Both one sided arguments are wrong as to which is “better in snow”, T and R 's included.