Edmunds Answers



  • MrShift@Edmunds 04/14/08 8:21 pm PST

    Depends what you mean by "trouble in the snow".

    If the problem was going up steep inclines, then yeah, AWD will outperform FWD or ESC.

    However, if the problem is that the snow was too deep and piled up under the car, nothing short of a high clearance truck is going to navigate snow that's say 8" or higher.

    If the problem was slipping on level ground on snowy roads, AWD might help, but very often an excellent set of dedicated snow tires will do wonders on a FWD car with ESC.

    I have a Subaru right now and it's very good in snow but I also have snow tires just for that occasion.

    Also keep in mind that NO CAR is good on sheer ice, even if you had 10 wheel drive. Even military tanks can't do sheer ice.

  • joolee8503 04/14/08 8:40 pm PST

    By "trouble in the snow" I mean the tires would spin when accelering even with a small amount of snow and had trouble getting up small inclines when it seemed other cars had no problems. It seems to react poorly to snow (sorry for the bad explanation, I'm not very car-literate...hence, why I'm here). My dad is pretty set on me getting AWD and I trust his opinion, but in the end it's my final decision. Do you think that getting a car with ABS and ESC and adding snow tires can be sufficient? I also read that the Subaru Outback is going to get a major redesign in 2010 with possibly a more fuel efficient engine. Do you this this is reason to NOT get one just for the AWD and do the above mentioned with ABS/ESC/snow tires? Thank you so much for your time!!

  • winsan 04/15/08 12:30 pm PST

    I would asssume you were accelerating gently in the snow. It sounds like your tires don't have good traction in the snow.
    AWD is good for starting the car in the snow. However, AWD doesn't help to stop it; ABS does.
    Normally, ABS is part of the ESC system. ESC also engages the engine and the drive system so that you can control the car better whenever the system detects that the car is out of control.
    Hence if you get a car with AWD and ABS, you're good enough in the snow. Much better if the car has ESC.

  • Stever@Edmunds 04/16/08 4:17 pm PST

    I had a light FWD sedan during a few month stay in Madison years ago but left before the snow flew. Went back to Anchorage, where I drove FWD cars and minivans exclusively for many winters with dedicated studs or winter tires. The most important thing is the tires, unless you have a steep driveway to negotiate all the time.

    Now I'm in Boise and snowboard a lot, so I'm driving a Subaru (with good tires). If I didn't go uphill so much, I wouldn't miss the AWD too much, although it came in handy during a snowy road trip last Thanksgiving across the Rockies.

    I'd like ESC but my cars are older and that wasn't an option. I really like having ABS brakes.

    My priorities are tires first, driving sense next (stay home in a storm in other words), and then AWD. My '97 Outback gets ~22 mpg in mostly suburban driving, if that helps.


  • trikev19 05/11/08 2:04 pm PST

    Buy good winter tires. With the right tires, you shouldn't have any trouble. Fuel costs associated with AWD vehicles make them impractical unless you're traveling off road.


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