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Moving to South Dakota from Louisiana

Hello all,

I will be moving from hot and sunny Louisiana to South Dakota to attend a graduate program. As most might figure there is very little snow in the south, and when there is everything closes down in a hurry. For this reason learning to drive in the infamous white stuff does not occur very often. My question is what vehicles (that are affordable on a college budget) have good handling in ice and snow? I was looking at a Kia Sorento or Sportage for an SUV and a Toyota or Ford extended cab pickup.



You don’t need AWD or 4WD in South Dakota. What you need is winter tires on whatever car you have now.

I own a 1986 Toyota pickup that can barely survive the 70 degree winters we have here. That’s why I am trying to find a newer vehicle.

Yep, pretty flat, what are you driving now?

I’m with Uncle T 100% on this. Much of what you’ll encounter in South Dakota will be ice covered roads, and winter tires are imperative for ice. It’s not the big blocks that make them work, although those will be imperative for snow, but the siping that creats lots of edges to catch on the icy surface.

I speak from having lived in North Dakota for three years. I speak from experience.

So basically any dependable vehicle with snow tires?

Yes, a FWD economy car (I have Civic) with “winter” tires will do very well. The vehicle isn’t as critical as the tires. Winter tires are designed with rubber that says softer at cold temperatures. Snow tires aren’t always compounded with the softer rubber. While it might seem the terms winter and snow are interchangeable, it is best to purchase “winter” tires. They will have a “snowflake” symbol on the sidewall. Bridgestone Blizzack are very good, MIchelin Ice X are very good, and Nokian makes outstanding winter tires.

I agree with @Uncle Turbo - FWD + good winter tires is all you need. I drove 12 years in Anchorage with a VW GTI, never got stuck or slid off the road. I moved there from Dallas, no real snow driving experience beforehand.

You can get good winter tires pre-mounted on rims, delivered in the fall to your door, from Swap them on when the snow flies, you’ll be all set.

When I lived there, all I had was rear wheel drive and snow tires. Never even had snow tires on my VW. All my relatives there either have FWD or 4WD. None of them have separate winter tires. I’m not going to dispute the value of four winter tires, its just that no one in Minnesota or South Dakota that I know uses them. SD is a little less aggressive on sanding in the winter than Minnesota, so the non interstate roads will be slippery and rutted longer, but if you are in town like the three main universities, no big deal. Tune ups and wearing warm clothes are more important. I’m kinda glad myself, I didn’t take that bank job out in the middle of nowhere.

Pickups would be worse in snow, especially 2wd versions, as their back end will get out of place rather quickly. Look for something with traction control and decent ground clearance. A/4WD isn’t needed, but does help quite a bit

You should make it fine in any vehicle, as I lived in Grand Forks ND with a 2wd pick up truck. The plows do a good job, more important than awd or 4wd is a block heater. Cars without them tend not to like to start at 25 below! The parking lots typically have outlets to plug in your car.

As a current resident of SD I’ll have to agree with others on the winter tires. Get a good FWD car buy a set of winter tires and your all set. It seems those who insist on having 4WD are the first ones you will see in the ditch, and often times on their roofs! (especially the SUV’s) I think over confidence comes into play there. Unless you plan on off road driving I wouldn’t go that route.

DfromSD, I agree. I’ve begun to believe also that drivers believe that if they have superior traction from a stop they’ll also have superior traction when braking, turning, and driving on slick roads. They take off fine so they think they’re fine. They perhaps don;t realize that 4WD doesn;t helo them stop, and even though they have plenty of traction to take off they still need to slow down and give themselves extra space.

To expand on what DfromSD said, get 4 winter tires, not just 2