I drive a 2006 Corolla, and recently moved to Wisconsin. I drive 90 miles round trip every day for work. I had planned to buy a RAV4 before next winter, thinking a 4-wheel drive would be better for snow. I’ve now heard that a lower front-wheel drive sedan is actually better for snow than the small SUV’s. Any advice?
Your Corolla will be fine in the snow. Indeed, FWD vehicles are generally better in the snow, seeing as they don’t fishtail (as much) and are more predictable than RWD. Personally, though, I prefer RWD in snow. FWD tends to understeer (go straight) in snowy corners, while RWD cars oversteer (fishtail) in corners. I prefer to be able to turn a corner, than go straight into a mailbox or ditch. I have a Crown Victoria, and I suggest where it should go with the steering wheel, and I make it go that way with the gas pedal.
As for 4WD vehicles, they help you go, but they do nothing to help you stop. And larger SUVs can have a tendency to roll over in a skid, while a Corolla likely won’t. I say save your money and keep your Corolla. You’ll be fine.
Thanks! While I’m delighted to save the money - I had kind of looked forward to a good reason to get a new car, too!
You will be fine with what you have. Remember that the real problem with snow and ice is the ability to stop and to go in the intended direction. 4WD or AWD does nothing for either of those. In fact it may get you into trouble because you may get over confident.
The real challenge with snow is not getting out of the ditch, but avoid going in!
A good set of real winter/snow tyres not All Weather tyres would be a good idea. They make a great deal of difference.
Also remember that those parts of the world where snow is common just happen to have the proper equipment to keep the roads clear. The most dangerous place in the US in snow and ice is Miami Florida.
ABS and stability control are two great features for snow and ice.
Before you spend money on a vehicle that will burn more gasoline, invest in a good set of winter tires. Buy FOUR, not just two. You’ll be amazed at how well your Corolla will get around in the winter.
I recommend you get a spare set of rims and purchase a set of snow tires for them to do your winter driving.
The RAV 4 would be a nice car to have for making your trips. I drive a Subaru Outback myself and really like it for driving around in Alaska.
One thing you could think about doing is saving a monthly amount in a account set up for a new car if your current one is running ok. Then when it starts really needing some repairs you will have some funds to purchase the new car and won’t have to barrow as much then.
A set of four snow tires on a front wheel drive car is better than a set of all season radials on an all wheel drive car. All wheel drive will get you going well in snow but has absolutely no advantage for stopping, which is much more important. Snow tires will help you do both – go and stop.
If you can get to the plowed roads easily, you can drive just about any front wheel drive car. Just avoid wide tires. Your Corolla is alright in snow, but if you want to drive in four inches of snow early in the morning, an all wheel drive may be better. There are steep hills in town where I live and the front wheel drive cars don’t have much of a problem getting up and down, it’s the small rear wheel drive pickups with all-season tires that have trouble.
Honestly, I drive cars that I like to drive and keep an old POS jeep around for snow days. That way I get to drive what I like without being stuck with FWD, AWD, or 4WD on dry pavement. I also don’t have to worry about some idiot sliding into my real cars. When it snows I just use my (pre-dented) 4WD jeep, it’s ugly but it gets the job done. The classic “winter beater.”
i don’t know much about the weather where you live however i will say that if the tempature is concantly freezing and the road is frozen solid you should be ok, just like when you take a piece of ice out of the freezer, it sticks to your hands until it warms up and melts, then it gets slippery, so your FWD car should treat you good until the ice starts melting
But the ice from the freezer is slippery because there is a small layer of water on top of ice. On roads, there aren’t generally layers of ice beneath the water, since the salt melts the ice, and the sand adds traction. However, in situations where there is water on top of ice, no vehicle will have traction, regardless of what wheels are driven. This is what happens during freezing rain. You’d be better off skating.
Like the others said 4 winter tires/steel rims from tirerack.com .
A great suggestion for an incredible all-season that is the only one that is winter tire rated is the Nokian WR. They can be used both summer and winter.
I have owned three sets in NH and loved them on AWD Subaru and FWD Civic’s.
If you want good winter tires, Bridgestone Blizzak tires are pretty decent too:
I use Motomaster AW tires, an all-season tire from Canadian Tire, and they seem to have worked fine last winter on my 02 Accent.
Best cars for snowy weather are always AWD cars for commuting and the RAV 4 with Trac control etc. is an excellent vehicle. But, with gas prices the way they are…I’d keep the Corolla and prep it with dedicated winter tires and rims and change over in the spring. AWD’s are gas guzzlers 99% of the time they aren’t needed. 25 mpg in a Rav 4 just doen’t cut it anymore for all the commuting you plan. If you have the money, and safety is your primary concern…it’s AWD. And contrary to what others have said they help keep you on the road and are an aid to slippery road handling. Being practical, unless you need it EVERY day of the winter…keep the Corrolla IMO
" Honestly, I drive cars that I like to drive and keep an old POS jeep around for snow days. That way I get to drive what I like without being stuck with FWD, AWD, or 4WD on dry pavement. I also don’t have to worry about some idiot sliding into my real cars. When it snows I just use my (pre-dented) 4WD jeep, it’s ugly but it gets the job done. The classic “winter beater.”
That’s the best advice…winter prep a used Subie for the bad days, drive the Corolla the rest…if you want the headache of two cars.
At last…some one else that realizes the falacy of FWD being superior to RWD in slippery weather. It’s really driver dependent, experience, weight balance and winter preparation. Race cars need ultimate handling…not FWD. In experienced hands RWD/AWD is always better…FWD is better than RWD in one situation…backing up and out of a steep driveway.
That’s what studs are for…and driving slowly.
At last…some one else that realizes the falacy of FWD being superior to RWD in slippery weather. It’s really driver dependent, experience, weight balance and winter preparation.
All I can tell you is that when I owned RWD cars I carried chains and occasionally had to use them. I don’t have chains for the FWD cars, and have yet to need them. I kind of miss RWD when driving on dirt roads because its more fun, but on snow and ice it’s really a quite unsatisfactory way to try to propel a car.
I agree with the majority. You probably don’t need a different vehicle. But my suggestion would be don’t do anything until you get to Wisconsin. No state I’ve moved to (seven or eight of them) really expects you to reregister your car immediately. Once you get to Wisconsin, talk to your neighbors and look at what people drive. You’ll have time to figure out if you need a different vehicle and/or snow tires.
If snow removal and road treatment is decent and your driveway isn’t too awful, the Corolla will probably do fine. You may or may not need snow tires. I don’t bother with them because my driveway is not very steep and local snow removal (between me and the state highway system) is quite good. If I lived in a different part of Vermont or lived in a different house, I might need them and I might need AWD or 4WD.