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I'm moving to southern New Hampshire. Do I need AWD?

I am going to purchase a new car in the next month. I will be moving to southern New Hampshire in August. I am getting lots of different opinions about whether I need to purchase a vehicle with AWD. Can anyone give me some advice? Also with or without AWD, do I need snow tires?

I’ve not lived in NH, but I lived 12 years in Anchorage with a FWD Rabbit with winter tires. Never got stuck. Ever. AWD might be a little better (I also had a 4WD Jeep, which I did get stuck going way off road).

You don’t have to have it. Front wheel drive cars without low profile tires will usually run well in snow. Winter tires will help a lot. If I did not live in Maine in the middle of steep hills, I would not have a 4WD pickup. I lived in Northern Maine for 21 Winters and never had anything but two wheel drive cars.

Bee’s Knees, From What Location Are You Moving? Do You Drive In Snow And Ice Now?

I live where it becomes very nasty in the long extended winter season and We’ve never needed it or wanted it. Usually when it gets to the point that it would be desirable, the State Police have ordered everyone off the roads except emergency vehicles, the place you’re going is closed, or the visibility is so poor that nobody should be out there. The 4x4s and AWDs are the cars off the road, rolled and stuck here most of the time because their drivers think the extra traction gives them a license to fly.

Need? No

Desirable? Yes

FWD with 4 modern snow tires is a very good choice. I had a 2wd pickup that could not go up a sight grade with all-seasons even with weight in the bed. Four Blizzaks and it went OK. Now I have a 4WD truck and I will never go back.

It also depends on you local area. How many hills we you enconter, steep driveway, how well does your town plow? We are in the longest stretch this winter without snow…12 days in a row without snow. Southern NH gets some good snows, not as much as the North Country, more than Boston

You do not NEED all wheel drive, but if you don’t mind the reduction in fuel mileage it might give you a little extra security. I really appreciate my Subaru’s AWD system when there’s snow on the ground. The rest of the time it’s just dead weight.

Having AWD does not cancel the laws of physics, however, and cannot provide traction where there is none. AWD will get you moving but it won’t help you turn or stop, you still have to drive slowly and carefully, and allow plenty of distance to stop.

What you need, regardless of whether you choose AWD or not, is FOUR winter tires. Tires make more of a difference in winter conditions than drivetrain configuration. I’d say, 99% of the time you could get by with a standard vehicle with four winter tires. The other 1% of the time you should just stay home.

Will you be driving in rural areas a lot or just in town?

NO ONE here can tell you if you NEED AWD. That’s a decision you will have to make based upon your driving habits and expectations. Are you a plowman and have to get to your equipment in inclement weather? Are you a home healthcare provider like my daughter who lives in NH, and must serve some patients in remote areas?

How independent are you if you do get stuck…which if you’re careful will seldom if ever occur with 2wd where you plan to locate? Hills and $$$$$ you have to spend are a huge considerations.

All that said, if you do get AWD, IMHO, I feel there is a greater need for winter tires with them because of the added speed they afford and the conditions you will attempt to drive in that you never would in 2wd. Some how for some drivers, the “coefficient of friction” between your car and the road is inversely proportional to the their driving IQ.

Good luck and study up on all the different systems before you decide.

Yea they get a fair amount of snow there, but some areas don't get much and some a lot.  In either case they have snow plows there.  Unless you are at the end of a long dirt road that will not be plowed, I really don't think you need AWD.   

Winter tyres would be a good idea however.

Remember that AWD does NOT keep you on the road or prevent you from sliding into the car in front of you (Winter tyres for that) but it is good for getting out of the ditch after you slide into it.

Remember that AWD with winter tires does help keep you on the road better than 2 wd with winter tires and can help prevent you from sliding into the car in front by driving around it; and they help get you out of the ditch when Joe drives you off the road with his out of control 2wd car.

Do you NEED AWD? No you don’t.

If I asked you if you NEEDED 5 million dollars, the correct answer–technically speaking–would also be a “no”. However, I am very sure that you would enjoy the comfort and the security that all of those bucks would provide.

Think of AWD as added comfort/security helping to ensure that you can get to where you want to go, when you want to go there. Despite what some people on this board will tell you, AWD DOES help to keep you on the road when traction is poor. The exception to this is when someone with AWD or 4WD believes that he can defy the laws of physics, simply because he has 4 driven wheels, rather than just two. That, of course, explains all of the Blazers, Explorers and Jeeps that are upside down in a ditch, while I motor past them at a rational speed.

Each winter, I mount my set of 4 Michelin X-Ice winter tires on my AWD Outback–which is also equipped with traction control, ABS, and vehicle stability control (anti-skid system). Could I get by without the winter tires? Sure, I could get by, but I prefer to do better–in all aspects of life–than just “getting by”.

I think that I deserve the luxury of having superior traction in poor road conditions, and perhaps you feel the same way. If not, that is fine. It all comes down to how much you wish to treat yourself to in the name of safety.

Just in town.

Good snow tires are 90% of winter driving. AWD is four wheel go, not four wheel stop or four wheel turn. I’d rather drive my RWD BMW 328 with four Blizzaks than my wife’s Audi A4 Quatro with all season tires here in Colorado. Spend your money on good snow tires rather than a new car and drive sensibly. Most of the vehicles I see off the road are 4WDs who fail to realize the laws of physics.


Keep Things Simple If Possible.

4WD and AWD vehicles cost more, have more parts, (more moving parts), more components to wear and break, get fewer MPGs, and require more maintenance. We hear horror stories on this site about people damaging a tire by accident or developing a defect in a tire and having to replace all four tires just to keep all the drive wheels in sync and happy.

I live in a very rural area twenty miles from town in an area with very long, severe winters and I have only needed front-wheel drive, my wife like-wise. Since you will do most of your driving in the city, I say keep it simple and choose a nice FWD.

Put Blizzacks on your wife’s car and she’s much safer than you.
The gain in safety and control on ice and snow from putting winter tires on a modern AWD is even greater than the gain on a 2wd because the capabilities are so much greater. If you owned both and have, I feel you would agree.
VDCdriver and I seem to approach winter driving in snow ctry the same way. We max out on the traction.
Too many people try to REPLACE the “inconvenience” of winter tires with AWD; big mistake. Do both…

Remember that AWD with winter tires does help keep you on the road better than 2 wd with winter tires and can help prevent you from sliding into the car in front by driving around it

How do you figure that? Stability control can help, but AWD??? I have never seen any evidence that AWD will help keep you stop faster or help keep your under better control of your car. Do you have any evidence or theory about that?

Where in southern NH?

I’ve driven in southern NH for 37 of the last 41 years. If you’re moving to the areas in the mountains, say Jaffrey or Peterboro, I’d recommend it. The drive over 101 by Temple mountain can often get downright treacherous. For most of southern NH you don’t need AWD.

Yes, since you’re apparently inexperienced in winter driving I recommend good winter tires on all four corners.

“How do you figure that? Stability control can help, but AWD??? I have never seen any evidence that AWD will help keep you stop faster or help keep your under better control of your car. Do you have any evidence or theory about that?”

Where did I ever say it helped you stop ? But…
Like I’ve said in your other post…if you don’t drive an awd car in winter, there is nothing I can say that will convince you that modern awd aids steering control. That’s how my awd cars work…how does your’s ?
Again Joe, it’s like me trying to debate with my buddy who flys about how his his plane handles and I don’t even fly one.

I have a 4WD truck, and a have driven many AWD cars and the AWD is 4 wheel go. Unless your AWD is also all-wheel-steering, it doesn’t do squat for turning and stopping, how would it?

Dagosa, you tagged this to my post as a reply, but your comments and my post are on entirely different subjects.

Did you tag this to the wrong post inadvertantly??