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Invest in new car for Colorado living?

My family recently moved to Fort Collins, Co from Athens, Ga and in tow brought our 2 cars…Honda Odyssey 2003 and Toyota Camry Hybrid 2007. Both vehicles have all weather tires on them and have driven fine in the snow here in the flat foothills. My husband is content with what we have for the most part and enjoys riding his bike and walking in the flat areas in Fort Collins. I, on the other hand, see the mountains in the distance and want to venture there for skiing, tubing with the kids and other mountain activities. I don’t feel like I can get up into the mountains in the winter with the vehicles we now own. Thus we are having a marital debate about what to do. Will snow tires be adequate on the odyssey? Or should we invest in a new vehicle? AWD or 4wheel drive? What would the best vehicle? subaru vs toyota vs honda? Any advice is greatly appreciated Thanks

new care ?

That’s ‘car’, I think.

A set of winter tires on rims (Michelin X-Ice are great) would be the way to go, they’ll get you to the ski resorts pretty easy. In a year or two you’ll know if you need something more. I had 12 years in Anchorage with a FWD VW GTI, winter tires, no problems.

Most of the time with snow tires you will be OK. You want snow tires on all wheels. Michelin Xice are great, Blizzaks are great but some feel they wear out too quickly. Talk to you neighbors to see what their opinion is, they have been living through this. Sometimes the weather gets so bad that the roads are closed to only 4wd and or chains. But I will bet that only happens occasionally and they get the roads cleared soon enough.

If you’ll be sticking to the main roads, I think you should try good winter tires before doing anything else. They should be quite a bit more capable than your all-season tires.

I’ve never used winter tires in Minnesota but in your case, I think that would be a minimal thing to do. I really am not familiar with the Odyssey so have no idea how adequate it will be in heavy snow. I’m thinking your next car should be an AWD one at any rate. Colorado can get lots of heavy snow so one thing to consider is being up there in the mountains on a clear day only to have a storm come up dropping a foot of snow for your departure. The weather man is your friend.

No need to change cars; I would just get good winter tires and make sure the battery is up to scratch. We live near the Rocky mountains and have an engine block heater for those cold weekends in the mountain lodges, as well as Michelin X-ICE winter tires.

In cold weather regions the roads are plowed regularly, something that won’t happen with surprise snow storms further South.

We have friends who live in Colorado and they use their Odyssey to go hunting and skiing and they do just fine.

You could always go to the website as a good reference for good winter tires. They have a good consumer feedback section.

“Invest in new car for Colorado living?”

I’m sure you meant invest spend. With a few exceptions, collector cars, antiques, famous or rare cars, cars are not an investment. They are a liability. Invest your money in something with a chance at a return on your money and drive what you have, as others have suggested.

If one plans travel in the mountains based on having AWD or 4WD as contrasted with FWD and good tires then one can count on risky travel. Rather, plan travel around weather forecasts, and be vigilant. AWD and AWD vehicles are not invincible and can still get one into trouble. Sometimes nothing will provide safe ground transportation. Mother Nature rules.

I have skied in the Rockies many times, not in quite a while though, but when I first went there travel was more difficult than it is today. Many of the problematic passes have been made safer. A strategic tunnel here or there makes all the difference. Also, better weather forecasting and better snow removal equipment and techniques are available.


Well the Odyssey is 13 years old so at some point it will need to be replaced. I understand your point with the term “invest” but I use it a little more loosely as a term to increase efficiency, pleasure, or comfort, even though there will not be a monetary gain.

I used to drive my 61 Ford Galaxy to the local ski resort all the time when I was a high school student, never had a problem. I had to be careful to avoid rocks that would get plowed into the road is all. The roads were plowed of course, but many times there was another 8 inches of snow by the time it took between plowing. Well, now I think about it, one time I was going up a steep narrow snow-packed and icy canyon road and a VW Beetle was coming down, and the Beetle lost traction. VW Beetles at the time were rear wheel drive, all the weight in the back, good for uphill, but no good for downhill stopping. Anyway that darn Beetle slid into my poor Ford Galaxy and bent the front fender. Of the Galaxy, not the Beetle. No problem, a bent front fender just shows you are having fun is how I thought about it. A little whack with my 3 lb sledge unbent it mostly anyway. Snow tires all around with steel spikes is the only way my Ford sedan was different from the way it came from the showroom.

Later on I switched to a 4WD Ford truck, and that was better than the sedan, but not that much. Mostly just the extra ground clearance as far as travelling on plowed roads. Off road it was the only thing that would work of course.

If it a dangerous situation chains or 4wd will be required to proceed, now it does not usually take more than a day to clear roads, and I guarantee you will see more makes and models of cars and tire configurations that made it there somehow.

When I lived in the Rockies, we had a Dodge van (rwd, scant weight over the drive wheels) and a first-gen Corolla. The Corolla needed chains occasionally (we lived at the top of the mountain) and the van did fine regardless.

Occasionally there would be a huge snow storm that would close the road to our house to everything but the grader they used to plow it (because a normal snowplow couldn’t make it up the road). Then we’d just call work/school and explain that we were snowed in.

Long story short: Get winter tires, you’ll be fine. Since you don’t HAVE to be in the mountains for work/school/home, you can just avoid them when the snow is really bad.

Interesting. I took my drivers test in a snow storm in our 61 Merc. I don’t remember having a problem at all in the snow with it except had to stop and clear the rear window a couple times. I can’t remember but don’t think it had snow tires on the rear either. Must have been pretty good snow cars.

There is a difference between flatlander winter driving and mountain winter driving, though. The pucker factor goes up by a few orders of magnitude when you slide even a little bit and the edge of the road is the top of a 1,000 foot cliff.

There was that one year my dad was heading down the mountain and slid and ended up resting on the frame teetering half on and half off of the edge. He ended up crawling out via the back seat because the front doors had no land under them. Fortunately a neighbor with a winch on his 4x4 happened by and pulled his car off the edge for him.

Mountain winter driving is nothing to screw with, especially if you get off the main roads where there may or (more often) may not be anything like a guard rail between you and a very long drop. I definitely wouldn’t go up there without a set of chains in the trunk, and I’d think long and hard about going up there without winter tires unless I 100% knew the roads were down to dry pavement.

Heh heh heh. That reminded me, we had our 57 Ford and were at the top of Mt. Evens. My Grandmother was always with us and my sister, mom and I decided to hike down the first hill instead of driving. My dad and Grandma then drove down. The first turn was a hair pin with the sheer drop off and the trunk flew open. My dad just stopped the car, put it in park, and the parking brake on, and got out to shut the trunk. It never fazed Grandma and dad always liked flying. I think I was glad we walked down.

Some good snow tires and don’t worry about it. I’ve been to CO many times even in the winter in 2WD cars with all season tires and never had any issues. If there’s a blizzard going on then it’s time to resort to Plan B; staying at home.

For many years the Aspen, CO police department used FWD SAABs although I think eventually they converted to Volvos and maybe Toyotas.

At a SAAB dealer where I once worked there’s a number of SAAB owners (including the dealership owner) who routinely made winter trips to NM and CO ski areas in FWD SAABs with all season tires on them. They all made it back alive including my ex boss… (darn it.).