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Snow and safety what car?

I will be buying a used car soon and I wonder what everyone thinks is a good used car for snowy conditions in chicago suburbs and also nice and safe for teen to drive . Is it possible to get safe and good in snow with good mileage or not? Do I sacrifice one for the other? Comments, please! I am considering Subaru Forester, Honda CRV or Pontiac Vibe. . . .

All 3 good, I bought my teen son a used Forester because of the safety ratings, and I didn’t add in the snow factor. Subaru has the best AWD.

Sorry texases, but as much as I too think AWD is good, I feel I must say repairs are more costly and if one tire gets damaged, ALL 4 must be replaced at the same time to avoid costly transfer case/center differential repairs.

I think we know who will be paying for them.

The Forester is far and away the best in the snow, but you pay the price in the form of the tire issue, not-great gas mileage and only so-so reliability. If you lived somewhere that you’d be driving in mountainous snow and/or completely unmaintained snow I’d want the Forester, but for Chicagoland with it’s flat terrain and very proactive snow removal it’ll be overkill. Either the CR-V or the Vibe should be fine, even in their front wheel drive forms, especially if you get a set of winter tires. Depending on where your teen will be driving it and how confident you are in their abilities, the higher center of gravity on the CR-V might be of concern, although they’re not nearly as bad as most larger truck-based SUV’s in that regard.

Sure, it will cost some more. I don’t mind, driving from 16-19 years is probably the most dangerous thing he’ll do, ever. I sure would buy it if snow was a factor.

The safest is equipped with winter tires(factor in price using tirerack.com) and has electronic stability control. Forester only had stability control in most 2008 and all the very popular 2009 redesign.

CRV has stability in latter gyrations and the Vibe in some models.

Vibe with winter tires & stability control will beat the rest in MPG.

I agree with Andrew. Safety for me means not having an injury accident. AWD and FWD will do little or nothing to keep you from having an accident. It may help you get out of the ditch after you slide off the road, but there is nothing about FWD or AWD that will keep you from sliding off the road or into the car stopped in front of you.

Stability control is a step in the right direction as far as car safety goes. Winter (not all season) tyres are a big help. Driver skill and temperament would be the most important factors IMO.

BTW I used TireRack for my winter tyres. They delivered them to my door mounted on new rims and in a few minutes I had them on my car.

Safety Is The Feature You Want. Good MPG Is The Feature You Don’t Need.

Safety to me means a car that will keep occupants safe in a collision. Larger cars are generally better at this, just check insurance cost ratings. Having really good traction and a car that is “good in snow” translates into higher speed driving by teen-agers. Most of the cars that are off the road and/or rolled here are 4WD or AWD vehicles. They are the ones that pass everybody on icy roads. Most cars I have owned are “good enough in snow” and I have put a teen-ager through this experience from age 16 to 21 successfully. Finding an area to teach traction/loss of traction, skid control, accident avoidance, and speed control are a must.

Are you planning on paying for the gasoline? I never did. Better MPG translates into more miles driven and more joy-riding and risk exposure. Most cars I have owned are “good enough in MPG”.

I’d make my number one priority getting as safe a machine as possible from a collision standpoint. Not all accidents are the fault of the driver, as I can attest, personally. My son trusted me to make him safe if he screwed up or some other driver did. I accepted that trust and put him in a larger car that had excellent traction and safety and we have six months of snow and ice covered roads. He was safe and I slept better. The mileage thing wasn’t a problem even though we live 20 miles from town and school. My kids have always had jobs.

I explained to my son that I would provide insurance, but he would pay any increases that are caused by any chargeable tickets or accidents and we discussed with our agent what those might cost. One of these could end driving altogether.

How well have you demonstrated safe driving and adherence to driving laws? How mature and responsible is this teen? I think these were the biggest factors in teen-age driver safety for us.

Some of us learned to drive in snow without FWD, AWD, ABS, stability control, airbags, or even disc brakes, for Pete’s sake. I wonder how we managed to survive? We should all have been killed in horrible winter crashes.

Some of us learned to drive in snow without FWD, AWD, ABS, stability control, airbags, or even disc brakes, for Pete’s sake. I wonder how we managed to survive? We should all have been killed in horrible winter crashes.

Isn’t that the truth!? Seriously, when I was learning to drive in Northern New Jersey the state would give you a learners permit for the 3 calendar months before your birthday month. I was born in March, which means I was learning in Dec., Jan. and Feb. . . . in a '67 Mustang. Possibly the worst passenger car for snow and ice. It taught me how to manage traction and inertia. Oh, yeah, it was a stick shift. The good news is it was a 6 cylinder, the V8s were worse. Snow tires definitely helped!

Anyway, the point is that learning to drive in Winter conditions is important. It’s not the same as regular driving. You have to think ahead farther and do things in a much more “gentle” fashion. Wheel spin is the enemy and to be avoided if at all possible. Locking up and sliding is also to be avoided. Once your teen has learned these things, just about any car will do.

Your 3 car choices all sound fine to me. I’d prefer the Subaru because of the AWD, especially if it’s a stick shift. I’ve had good experience with Subarus, but watch out for the 2.5 Litre engine in some years.

I put my kids in old Volvos for their first cars. They have passenger cages like tanks, with excellent energy absorbing structure on both ends.

Also, those sweedes know a thing or two about building cars for snow and ice…

I agree with the statement that AWD may not be a good thing. It makes it too easy to get the car up to a speed at which the car will not corner or stop. A 2WD car, preferably RWD, reminds you every time you press the gas how slick the road surface is. My kids learned in RWD stick shift cars, with chains in the trunk for ski trips.

Seriously, when I was learning to drive in Northern New Jersey the state would give you a learners permit for the 3 calendar months before your birthday month. I was born in March, which means I was learning in Dec., Jan. and Feb. . . .

In NY you get your permit on your birth month. Mine was November…so same boat…I got my permit during a 8" snow storm. And that year in upstate NY we had a good amount of snow…(over 300" that year). Unfortunately it snowed too much and I didn’t get to drive a lot. Just too dangerous.

As for Chicago. Not too impressed with the snow they get there. I don’t think AWD or 4wd is needed. Any decent fwd vehicle will easily get you around.

Having really good traction and a car that is “good in snow” translates into higher speed driving by teen-agers.

That is SOOOOO TRUE…A car that has ENOUGH traction to get them from point A to point B is fine with me. It’ll make them better drivers.

The best thing you can do with a teenager driver…is TEACH THEM HOW TO DRIVE. And I don’t mean drivers ed. I took my daughter and my oldest son out to a parking lot and rural roads during heavy snow falls. Teaching them how to drive in adverse conditions. Spent HOURS doing this. And we went into a ditch more then once. Better under these circumstances. They both now have a good experience in driving in snow. I trust both of them. My youngest…I can tell now…when he’s old enough to get his license…I’m going to let my wife teach him. I may end up ripping my hair out.

Mike In NH, Does Mrs. Mike IN NH Have A Lot Of Patience?

How’d she like to teach my soon-to-be-driving daughter? That would keep me from ripping my hair out! It should be fairly easy. She knows practically everything.

What car ?? WHAT TIRES ?
Make absolutely sure you put on the right TIRES for winter driving. I don’t care what vehicle you’re in, TIRES, TIRES, TIRES can make or break the winter driveability. I know this first hand with two identical Explorers,a 91 & 92, the TIRES on each of them were different and made an absolutely huge difference in their bad weather ability.

I have to echo, “TEACH THEM HOW TO DRIVE”. Last week I sadly read an article in our paper that described the death of one local high school student and the injury of another. There were three of them in a car. The story was that a woman swerved to avoid a rabbit and the car ended up sinking in a lake. The young man managed to free one woman, but not his girlfriend. If driving is the single most dangerous thing a teen will do, you better be prepared to spend many hours in safety training sessions.

Before she was allowed to drive without supervision, she should have been prepared to take the life of a small animal to avoid risk to herself and her passengers. This, obviously, had not been drilled in.

The wife has a LOT more patience then I do. My oldest…she wasn’t a problem…My middle…he was OK…but took longer…My youngest…“OH GOD…HELP”.

I grew up in the Chicago area and quit buying snow tires when all season radials came out, that was with rear a wheel drive car. Having lived in th nw burbs and never having a problem I would think any front wd car will get you through just fine. They plow and salt and if you have to have 4wd to get around in Chicago there is probably no place to go. I have never seen Chicago and the burbs as a 4wd only situation, and think you are over thinking the situation. Learn to drive in the snow and have a shovel in the trunk just in case.

I agree with this; any front driver will be fine in a non-hilly area. You can go one better with antilock brakes and yet again with stability control but I can do just fine without either.

Front wheel drive cars are so much better in winter than rear drive cars but reliable winter road maintenance makes that just a backup measure. I have gone through the transition; have owned both.

Modern all season tyres are very good, but they should be called three season tyres. For those of us who life in areas that snow is an issue should get real WINTER tyres. These are not the same technology of the old snow tyres. They are far better. Just as good radial tyres are much better than the old bias ply tyres the winter tyres are far better than all season on snow and ICE.

The poster asked about equipment for snow safety. All-seasons and snow safety do not belong in the same sentence, sorry.

People mistake the ability to get going as the sole purpose of snow(winter) tires. They help with that respect. However the most important factor is incredible control in a turn and stopping. Chicago gets patches of sheer ice like anywhere else. After reading about a local girl who spun out on the ice into a 18 wheeler in my locale and is in a coma(well after roads on I95 cleared but refroze at night) I think winter tire would have helped. Excess speed was not a factor.

If given the choice, I would rather drive a RWD car with winter tires(not snow) in a storm vs a FWD with the best in snow all-seasons. Not even comparable.