Which car.....The Best Traction in Snow, Ice or Rain?


I am turning in my Audi A4 Quattro.

As I understand it, between a Torsen differential and the ABS system, the A4 Quattro would divert power to the tire that had traction if the other 3 tires were spinning.

No white knuckling driving experience for me in rain, ice or snow.

What kind of car or SUV (besides the Audi or Hummer) will give me the same kind of traction, safety and security as the Audi did?

Front Wheel is out of the question having had a SAAB that performed miserably in under the same kinds of conditions ascompared to the Quattro Audi.


Subaru AWD and audi’s are considered the best.


AWD SUV’s like RAV4, Subaru, and Honda etc …also equip your new car with the same type of tires that you had on the SAAB…tires make a big difference with traction and handling.


Subaru’s AWD system is definitely better than the one found on the CR-V. And, if you can find one of the upscale Subaru models that have the Variable Torque Distribution system, rather than the usual Subaru system, that is even better.

I would question mshugna’s advice (“also equip your new car with the same type of tires that you had on the SAAB”), since you state that the SAAB performed miserably in slippery conditions. It is possible that the tires on that SAAB were part of the problem, in addition to the fact that FWD is not as good as AWD when the going gets bad.

Personally, I recommend the Michelin X-Ice tire, which, in combination with my car’s Variable Torque Distribution system, Traction Control and ABS, makes for a car that is incredibly capable in bad winter conditions.


At the Audi price level, BMW makes a complete line of AWD cars, including a station wagon. Infiniti makes the G35X AWD sedan and some SUVs. Lexus makes the IS250 in AWD and SUVs. Lexus and Infiniti should be more reliable and cheaper to repair than either Audi or BMW.


By a FWD econo-box and stay home on bad days. It’s a LOT cheaper than buying and maintaining a AWD car for 10-15 days a year…YOU might feel secure in a $35K AWD wonder car but what about the moron behind you in the Cavalier with bald tires and no insurance? How do you make HIM stop??

Likely any car with real winter (not all season) tyres is going to out perform any AWD or 4WD in snow or ice.  

Remember AWD and 4WD will help get you out of the ditch that you slide into.  Winter tyres will help keep you out of the ditch to start with.   AWD and 4WD will not help you stay on the road or stop better.


My Subaru Legacy wagon sometimes drives me crazy with little problems, but I have to admit its AWD system is one of the most sophisticated, and best, on the market.

I’ve yet to spin a wheel in winter driving conditions. The car just goes. Uphill, downhill, around corners. Snow, ice, slush, it just goes. I live a mile from the main road, and it’s uphill all the way. My Legacy has always made it home, regardless of the conditions.

I have a 4WD Ford Ranger, too. Unless the snow is REALLY deep, the Legacy outperforms the Ranger every time.


I disagree on your stability statement with AWD. Equip a vehicle a vehicle with the same tires and you will find cornering stability much better a decent AWD system like that equipped on Subaru, Audi and Acura SH-AWD. The Acura system was so good(designed to enhance handling on dry pavement) that testers on frozen lakes were able to disable the vehicle stability control and perform things such as easing off the throttle during a turn and the vehicle’s AWD straightened the car out. Other AWD luxury cars compared (BMW & MB) spun out of control. Basically, these top tier AWD’s shift power to the appropriate tire based on current conditions.

Many passive AWD systems(part-time as needed) are simple 2WD(typically FWD) that kick traction on to rear wheels when needed and too late for stability. Basically to get you out of the ditch as you say. Volvo, Ford, Mazda, Honda, Toyota use this system. It does have the benefit less fuel economy penalty however do not impress owners too much when stuck. I have witnessed a few of them in sloped snow/ice covered ski slope parking lots.

I have 20 years experience driving AWD(mainly Subaru) and one Audi and FWD vehicles in New England winters.

Stopping I totally concur on not improved with AWD.


Where do you live that you think you NEED a AWD system??

My wife has NEVER had a problem getting around in her Accords or now Lexus with fwd and decent all season tires in NH. There has NEVER been a time she’s EVER NEEDED a 4wd/awd system. Do you live on Tug-Hill Plateau in Upstate NY???


Growing up in white mountains we needed AWD/4WD to get out of our poorly treated driveway. Even FWD’s with winter tires could not get out once the snow started to melt then freeze since it turned to ice. Currently at my now passed grandmother’s place(family estate), its impassible at times to get across a private gravel driveway 1/4 mile+ since it drifts in with snow or turns into a block of ice and then snows on top. FWD loses muster when the surface below is frozen. Prior to this driveway there is a 2 mile uphill with gravel that turns to pure mud & running streams occasionally, its “maintained” by the town for 6 homes. Its not top priority and I notice FWD’s during the mud season parked at the bottom of the hill some years. Our Subaru and my families other Subaru’s have never had an issue getting up this or thru any snow.

People have their individual situations and the person is not asking whether they need AWD or not, simply which is the best.

Some people simply like AWD and the hassle free traction associated with it. They may not need just as much as your wife does NEED a Lexus when a basic 4 cylinder or even loaded Camry will do. Its just a personal preference.


I think your dismissal of FWD based on experience with one car, with who knows what kind of tires, is probably unfair. With that said, Subaru is the company with all models being AWD and pretty decent reputation. I assume you don’t want another Audi? Why not? The answer to that may influence the answer to your question.


OOPs…should have said Audi


I try to stay on top of the multitude of tests of AWD vehicles. Agree with various posters that the Subaru Legacy and Outback have some of the most sophisticated and user-friendly AWD systems, at an affordable price. Having said that, the Acura AWD sytem, combined with dynamic stability and traction control is probable the best of the high-end systems, and performs as well on dry, wet and snowy/icy pavement. It scored the highest in a recent test. The Mercedes owners will likely say the 4-Matic is the best, but at that level they’re all quite good. The Acura system is not meant for off-roading, however. It is best on a high speed drive over the Rocky Mountains in February.


I agree with Ranck . . . I’ve driven FWD cars since the 1970s and have never been stuck, no accidents. The difference (with a FWD) for me is a good set of tires and a lot of driving sense . . take it easy and anticipate tough situations. Even then . . . that nutball in the Cavalier with bald tires is out there, so maybe think about staying home as Caddyman suggests on the really bad days would be a good idea. Rocketman


People have their individual situations and the person is not asking whether they need AWD or not, simply which is the best.

Most people DON’T NEED AWD. They may want it, but don’t NEED it. And I contend the OP probably doesn’t NEED AWD. He’s substituting a vehicles increased traction with driving skills. It’s better to get the driving skills first then if you NEED AWD by all means go ahead. I see too many people who have no idea on how to drive in snow and buy a AWD or 4WD vehicle thinking that they NOW have the vehicle to take them where they want to go. Then the first snow storm they get in a accident because they lack the skills. Driving skills is 90% of driving in snow…the vehicle will make up the other 10%.


If the poster is more comfortable with AWD then why not have it. My close friends wife has driven 15 years in FWD vehicles and very whiteknuckled and petrified in winter storms due a vehicle hitting her back when she was 17 nearly pushing her off a bridge.

She got a 2004 Passat 4motion (AWD) with traction control, vehicle stability control, ABS and interestingly crappy all-seasons and still drives very slowly but is about 100% more confident since the vehicle never slips. She stills drives slowly and carefully but is not scared to go out when she has to.

I feel the same way about AWD, you definitely can get by with FWD but it sure makes it a lot easier. I feel really bad when I have to stop to take a left on the steepest part of a hill to turn into my driveway. After waiting I simply take off event free from standstill uphill in 6"+ snow in my Subaru WRX or Legacy I watch some cars and trucks have to back down or spin and crawl shifting about trying to restart on a snow covered road.