Story in Consumer Reports on winter driving

The current issue of CR (Nov 15) has in interesting article on winter driving “Get a Grip”. It made the following points:

• Braking distances are about 5 times higher in snow with all season tires.

• Braking distances are about 2 times higher in snow with winter tires.

• AWD / 4WD does not help in braking or curves.

These are fairly obvious, but need to be restated frequently.

But they also compared 3 SUVs on ability to handle snowy winding roads.
And the Forester handily beat the CRV and RAV4.

…and, in addition to their own comparison tests of the Forester, CR-V, and Rav-4 in the snow, they also published the results of their polling of readers regarding satisfaction with the AWD system on their own vehicles.

Their “best in snow” list (best is listed first) is:
Subaru Outback
Subaru Crosstrek
Subaru Forester
Audi Q5
Chevy Suburban/GMC Yukon
Jeep Wrangler
Chevy Tahoe/GMC Yukon
Jeep Grand Cherokee
Toyota 4Runner
Ford Expedition

Their “worst in snow” list (worst is listed first) is:
Nissan Juke
Nissan Rogue
Hyundai Tucson
Nissan Pathfinder
Kia Sorento
Infiniti JX/QX 60
Acura RDX
Cadillac SRX
Mazda CX-9
Mazda CX-5

I think many people make the incorrect assumption 4wd or awd help in steering and stopping.

I think many people also assume that they can drive faster with 4WD or AWD. Most of the wrecks that I saw on the side of the road, especially on hills, in Maine and Alaska were drivers with 4WD or AWD vehicles. 4WD and AWD are just better at getting you going on snow or ice. After that…all bets are off.

RE the Best/worst in snow, the CRV and RAV4 must be in the middle somewhere…

Interesting that the Hyundai was rated so poorly, I was considering buying that at one point. But those lists are quite subjective, although the Subaru’s matched the test drives.

I guess the tests were conducted with the same snow and all season tire’s, is that correct? It seems reasonable for the snow tires since they have to be mounted. But the all seasons might be the OE tires. I don’t subscribe to CR.

I guess the tests were conducted with the same snow and all season tire’s, is that correct?

The braking tests were done on a CRV, with original all-season tires.

The driving tests were done with the 3 models listed, on standard all-season tires.

I Read The Report And Found It Interesting And Agree With Bill Russell’s Observation and Admonition Concerning the article, That, “These are fairly obvious, but need to be restated frequently”.

I live and almost always drive in a very rural area with little or no traffic. I’m not making this comment as a reason not to buy winter tires for enhanced steering and braking in adverse conditions, but I have to wonder, as I do with all my cars equipped with ABS, traction stability, etcetera…

What happens if I was driving in traffic and stopped suddenly? In addition to wondering if the driver behind me is texting, eating, putting on make-up, etcetera… Does he/she have ABS, winter tires, tires with good tread ?

I think it a good idea to equip one’s vehicle with whatever will add safety (within a reasonable cost range), but Watch your rear-end!

Too bad we don’t have a method for forcing drivers to leave adequate space between their vehicle and the one ahead. Tail-gating becomes an even bigger problem when road surfaces become slippery. That old “one car-length for every ten mph” (from my old driver’s training days) could easily become “3 car-lengths for every ten mph.”

The problem is that if you employ safe following distances, it’s like being a one-man army. It seems some drivers pay no attention to how closely they follow other vehicles.


CSA, no question about the problems that tail-gaiting causes. Just read about the occasional 100 car pileup in fog or snow conditions. You know that 90% of those drivers were driving too close for safety.

I remember last year driving N on I 95, I came across a patch of heavy fog. I pulled over to the breakdown lane and continued at about 20 MPH till I was clear of the fog. But all that time, cars were wizzing by at 70 MPH, almost bumper to bumper. All it would take is one issue, someone applying the brakes, and there would have been a multicar pileup.

I don’t know why people drive like that. It’s easy to say they are idiots, but they are not.

“I don’t know why people drive like that. It’s easy to say they are idiots, but they are not.”

Those folks may be Rocket Scientists, or may be very learned in many areas of knowledge, but when it comes to driving, I think that they are…idiots.

But why are 90% of drivers idiots? Education? the rush-rush mentality?

I agree with the conclusions of the CR article on winter driving. I live on a steep hill with a cross-street at the bottom of the hill. If I can’t stop I either hit a car or go across the street and into a deep drainage ditch. Therefore stopping traction is a real important factor for me.

I have an '03 Honda Civic that I run Michelin X-Ice tires for the winter. Stopping is very good even it this difficult situation. I also own a '01 Toyota Sequoia that is fitted with regular (all season) tires. While I have no issue going up the hill, coming down and stopping is very dicey and outright dangerous. I believe all season tires just don’t equal a good winter tire in stopping traction as proven by the CR tests results.

The tires on the Sequoia are about 2/3 worn, still plenty of tread to be legal. I plan to replace them soon with Michelin X-Ice tires and I will leave them on year round. I expect the 4WD with the winter tires should give me all the traction I need on the Sequoia. The Civic really does well in snow, but when there is slush and deep ruts of heavy wet snow the Civic gets tossed around quite a bit and the Sequoia will do better in these conditions.

Probably another reason I don’t subscribe anymore. Like how do you use information like that? In Minnesota, most of the winter driving is done on dry pavement. When you get a storm, you slow down for the conditions and in a few days the roads are clear again. Of course in town can stay snow covered but you’re only going 30 mph anyway.

We’re probably going to end up with the Acura RDX since that’s what the wife wants but it was interesting its so far down on the list. Of course the AWD is more like positraction on two axles so that might have got it lower. At any rate in Minneapolis, they said they don’t even stock the 2wd versions anymore.