Snow tires or AWD?


#1

I have narrowed down my choices for a new car to a Mazda 5 or a Subaru Forester.



I need more cargo room for my dogs than my current 2007 Sentra offers.



I like the Mazda 5 a lot, but am wondering how it will compare in the snow to the Forester’s AWD? I would put snow tires on the Mazda, but am concerned about being able to get around well in the winter.



Any thoughts or suggestions on how the Mazda with snow tires would compare to the Forester AWD (without snows)?



Thank you!


#2

Good: Forester with all-season tires
Better: Mazda (or Sentra) with winter (not “snow”) tires
Best: Forester with winter tires

End of story on winter driving.


#3

I’d feel better driving a Mazda 5 with winter tires over a Subaru Forrester with the factory equipped tires. AWD on Subaru is more $$ for maintenance over time, less mpg, needs to have 4 matching tires (an issue if one tire goes flat and needs replacement), replacing transfer case and/or differential(s) can be very expensive.

If you like the Mazda 5 get and enjoy.


#4

Knowing where you live will help.


#5

Snow tires. I put them on my Mazda6 and I can drive circles around a Subaru in the snow.


#6

Never buy an AWD car you intend using in the winter without including snow tires. An AWD car w/o snow tires has better acceleration traction than a 2 wd car with snow tires. What does that mean ? It means you’ll be driving too fast for your traction capabilities when it comes time to stop and turn. It can become more of a problem for the unaware.

You wouldn’t think of putting crappy traction tires on a Vette then trying to drive 150 mph on a track. Why put all seasons on an AWD and then drive it beyond the capabilities of it’s tires ? Would you put standard half ton truck tires on a 3/4 ton truck and use it for heavy loads ? The more the potential a car,truck has in any area, the more care you need to match that performance. It’s really dumb to do otherwise with ANY vehicle; tractors, trucks, cars etc.

Besides, snow tires on steel rims rotated in spring and fall cost less over the life of a car in total tire expense then all seasons in an attempt to drive them year round. I won’t bore you with the math, but we who actually do it prove it in snow country many times over. BTW, a good AWD car will have LESS tire wear than most fwd cars. You need not be any more concerned about tire care on an AWD car then you should on a fwd car if you follow common sense recommendations for tire use for ALL cars…it’s the same ! Hills may be the big concern in your decision to buy an AWD and not just winter conditions alone.


#7

Sure, if the Subaru is stopped or has crappy all season tires which you may have implied but not stated. I believe it’s a fallacy to think you can keep up with any modern awd car starting or handling in slippery conditions with a comparable modern 2wd car with the SAME tires. To imply otherwise should be noted how. Otherwise, I feel there is no need for anyone to ever buy a 4wd/awd vehicle, and instead, buy a Mazda6 with snow tires.


#8

In keeping with the actual thread, i was speaking of Subarus with all-season tires, as most Subarus would have.


#9
[i] but am concerned about being able to get around well in the winter. [/i] 

You should be, but you should be far more concerned about avoiding accidents in the winter.  AWD and 4WD will help you get on and down the road.  However neither will help you stay on the road or help you get out of the ditch.  

 Winter tyres will help both.  However, do consider that no matter what tyres or drive type you have, winter driving has safety issues.  Those are issues the choice of car can not make go away.

#10

To imply otherwise should be noted how. Otherwise, I feel there is no need for anyone to ever buy a 4wd/awd vehicle, and instead, buy a Mazda6 with snow tires.

For 95% of the country I’ll agree with you…but that 5% where 200" snow/year is the norm…awd/4wd really comes in handy.


#11

“However neither will help you stay on the road or help you get out of the ditch.” you mean all these years I’ve been getting out of ditches with my 4wd/awd cars and trucks with snow tires, and all I needed was snow tires ? I wish I knew that thousands of dollars ago.
Can’t think of an awd auto maker who doesn’t claim their system helps handling and steering on slippery roads. One, Audi, even claims that engine braking is more effective with their awd system.


#12

However neither will help you stay on the road or help you get out of the ditch.

And that is so wrong…Been driving 4wd vehicles for 30+ years…and I can’t tell you how many times it kept me on the road during snow and ice storms…


#13

MikeinNH…We do this EVERY YEAR with "flatlander’s and their fwd cars who live in Florida/Georgia (sarcasm,over simplified and exaggerated of course) who keep comparing AWD/4wd cars and trucks without snow tires to fwd cars with snow tires. The modern AWD car handles, accelerates and engine brakes better than it’s fwd counter part with the same tires. The last time I looked, accelerating was a safety feature too. If those attributes don’t make you safer (given good driving habits) then a huge sham has been placed upon the buying public and you and I should feel ashamed of ever buying one. I hang my head and will now plow with a fwd Escort.


#14

Glad you mentioned the FWD Escort. My 85 was great in snow with old tires. I did have the hood open a lot…


#15

Oops, forgot to mention that I live in Des Moines. We tend to have pretty nasty snowy winters, not as bad as where I grew up in upstate NY or in areas northward, but still pretty bad.

As I said, I grew up in New York, so am well accustomed to safe driving in the winter, but want to take as many precautions as possible in the winter. I had a 95 Subaru Legacy that was wonderful in the snow, but at this point agree with many of the posters who have brought up the assorted additional costs of AWD…

All great points from all of you! I really appreciate the feedback!


#16

Stupid question alert: What is the difference between “winter” tires and “snow” tires? I thought that snow tires ARE winter tires? Please enlighten.


#17

As for getting out of a ditch with 4wd…

I’ve pulled at least 20 cars out of ditches with my 4wd vehicle…


#18

When it comes to comparing a Subaru with a Malibu, I would argue a possible cost savings. More reliable car than a Malibu, which is still a good buy, yes.


#19

If you get winter tires, get them on their own set of rims, it’ll make changing them over that much easier.

Visit tirerack.com to shop for both