Edmunds Answers

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  • avatar morin2 02/21/10 3:06 pm PST

    I saw the same news clip as crazedcommuter and another one just as silly with a Miata driver getting repeatedly stuck in the snow. Ridiculous - those cars did not belong on the roads.

    The Mini would be fine for 99% of the time. These winter storms have been the worst in history for this region. The only thing comparable might have occurred in 1772, according to diary entries by Geo. Washington and Thos. Jefferson. They have far exceeded anything that has been recorded since official records have been kept (about the 1880's).

    Minis often come with standard equipment tires rated for summer use only. Some also come with larger wheels that make the stiff ride even worse. While its possible to put more appropriate tires and wheels on a Mini for winter driving, it means keeping 2 sets of wheels/tires - which means you need someplace to store them. Of course, the low ground clearance means you should not go out even with decent snow tires if there is more than about 4" of snow on the ground.

    My suggestion would be: If you like the Mini, get one but keep it in the garage when it snows & catch a ride with a real 4x4 on those rare days. If you had your heart set on one, you would really kick yourself if you didn't buy it and we had no real snow for the next 10 years. On the other hand, any subaru would be far superior in snow. But again, you are limited by ground clearance - and these snows should have grounded subarus as well. My 2 subarus stayed in the garage until the plows were finished. The subaru AWD has benefits when we don't have 30" of snow too.

Answers

  • ryans93 02/21/10 1:49 pm PST

    With good tires, I'm sure it'll be just fine. I live in central NY, and I know that winter weather can be unpredictable. Since it has front wheel drive, you shouldn't have any more difficulty than an average car, like a Honda Civic. The low ground clearance might be a problem, however.

    If you're looking for reliable transportation in snowy areas, it's hard to beat a Subaru. I have an '02 Outback, and there's nothing like it in the snow. I'd highly recommend looking at one.

    No matter what car you get, it's absolutely worth the investment to get a good set of snow tires. I have General Altimax Arctics on my Outback, and they're excellent and reasonably priced. Those or the Firestone Winterforce would be my recommendation.

  • crazedcommuter 02/21/10 1:50 pm PST

    I Live outside of Washington, DC. During the recent round of blizzards I was unable to get to work so I spent much time watching DC news stations on snow reports. It seemed that a majority of the cars stuck in the snow and/or spinning their tires in DC were Mini's.

    During the 2nd storm a live camera was focused on an intersection with a gas station. A Mini was attempting to make it to the station and was assisted with pushes from pedestrians 3 times without success. Tires just spinning in the snow. At one point the news anchor quipped, "Please, if you have a Mini stay home until the roads are cleared."

  • morin2 02/21/10 3:06 pm PST

    I saw the same news clip as crazedcommuter and another one just as silly with a Miata driver getting repeatedly stuck in the snow. Ridiculous - those cars did not belong on the roads.

    The Mini would be fine for 99% of the time. These winter storms have been the worst in history for this region. The only thing comparable might have occurred in 1772, according to diary entries by Geo. Washington and Thos. Jefferson. They have far exceeded anything that has been recorded since official records have been kept (about the 1880's).

    Minis often come with standard equipment tires rated for summer use only. Some also come with larger wheels that make the stiff ride even worse. While its possible to put more appropriate tires and wheels on a Mini for winter driving, it means keeping 2 sets of wheels/tires - which means you need someplace to store them. Of course, the low ground clearance means you should not go out even with decent snow tires if there is more than about 4" of snow on the ground.

    My suggestion would be: If you like the Mini, get one but keep it in the garage when it snows & catch a ride with a real 4x4 on those rare days. If you had your heart set on one, you would really kick yourself if you didn't buy it and we had no real snow for the next 10 years. On the other hand, any subaru would be far superior in snow. But again, you are limited by ground clearance - and these snows should have grounded subarus as well. My 2 subarus stayed in the garage until the plows were finished. The subaru AWD has benefits when we don't have 30" of snow too.

  • tikimonger 03/06/10 1:51 pm PST

    I have an '08 Mini Cooper S 6-speed and I added the Dynamic Stability Control and Limited Slip Differential ($500 each), plus got the all-season run-flat tires, instead of the summer tires. This was all in an attempt to make the car winter worthy. It didn't work.


    I've been stranded in my house for a week at a time, unable to leave. My neighborhood is almost never plowed, so I have to wait until it's been packed down enough to try and venture out. I work from home 4 days a week, which has been a blessing and allowed it to not be as big of a deal, but I still need to go to the grocery store, the gym, etc. Our other vehicle is a RAV4 AWD, but my husband drives that to the office everyday, and we often are going in different directions and need to be out at the same time, which means I need a vehicle I can get out of my garage. I just don't like the feeling of not being able to leave if I wanted to. There have been a couple of times this winter when I could not get to my mom's house when she was very ill — and she is only 3 minutes from my house!

    If my driveway has more than an inch of snow, I can forget about getting into my garage. It's not steep, but there is just enough incline that it's very hard to get up without a big rolling start from down the street. When I finally make it to the garage, I have very little control over "where" in the garage I end up, and that doesn't work well when there's another vehicle in the garage! The tires spin a lot and it's almost impossible to get it moving on slushy snow, which makes it dangerous when you're trying to get through an intersection and unable to get traction. The lack of ground clearance is another problem.

    I love my Mini!! I spent months picking out the accessories and it was the first car I ever ordered with just what I wanted. I asked about how it would drive in the snow, and everyone said, with the equipment I was getting, it would be fine. Well, it's not. I've had it two winters, and I'm looking for a new vehicle with AWD. I would love to hold out for the new AWD Countryman, but probably won't for a couple of reasons: 1) It's going to be very expensive, and 2) If you order one, they won't be here until February 2011 (that's from my Mini sales rep). That means almost another complete winter of being stranded.

    Of course, I'll probably sell it, get an AWD wagon of some kind, and then next year it won't snow. That's always a possibility in the mid-west — the winters are very unpredictable. If I had it to do over, I would not have bought the Mini.

    Prior to my Mini, I've owned a lot of AWD or 4WD vehicles — just about every model of Subaru, a couple of Grand Cherokees, an Audi A4, and a Volvo V70. It really is amazing the difference AWD and a couple more inches of ground clearance make! As the winters seemed to get more and more mild in central Ohio, I finally thought it was safe to venture out to a front-wheel drive vehicle. Of course, the Mini isn't just any front-wheel drive vehicle. Many of them do fine in the snow. The Mini (at least the turbo model), however, has so much torque, it's just really hard to drive in the snow. The 6-speed probably doesn't help, either. I've thought about snow tires, but then you're stuck without a spare (I don't think they make run-flat snow tires. If they do, they would be really expensive!).

    So, I hope this helps you. I hate to be a party pooper, because the Mini is such a sweet ride most of the time, but vehicles are expensive, and I should have remembered the 1st goal of a vehicle -- to get you from point A to point B in most situations. Style should be 2nd to that.

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