All wheel drive necessary

Joined
Sep 25, 2002
Messages
2,513
Location
Richmond, VA
I think front wheel drive is just as good as anything unless you live in the mountains or a rural area that frequently gets deep snow accumulations. I have been in Richmond, VA for 18 years and never had the need for 4WD except 1 time. In 1996 we got pounded with 1 1/2 feet of snow and I got stuck in the driveway. Once I shoveled the driveway and got out of the subdivision I was OK. I have snow tires on separate rims for the Cavalier and it does very well in the snow. [Cheers!]
 
Joined
Feb 13, 2003
Messages
1,357
Location
California, USA
AWD is necessary when horsepower exceeds the ability of the front wheels only to handle it. Front wheel drive is fine for light four cylinder cars, not some of the latest heavy, high power cars. Cadillac is taking a better approach by returning to rear wheel drive, a much simpler and more efficient approach for the majority that do not need to drive in snow. My BMW does surprisingly well with rear wheel drive and proper tires, but for heavy snow, the F-150 with part time 4x4 is what I drive.
 
Joined
Oct 9, 2004
Messages
6,494
Location
New Braunfels
quote:
Originally posted by MAJA: Ford is designing AWD into more and more vehicles. See link: http://www.autofieldguide.com/articles/wip/0305wip05.html Most, if not all, Subarus and Jeeps with AWD, and now more Fords will be available with AWD. Is this really necessary? Granted, I do not live where there is snow, so dont know the perils of winter driving. But history shows they werent necessary in the past. Are our roads going to be turning back into dirt, or, pothole filled, needing AWD to navigate, and if so, what of our tax dollars specifically going to road maintenance? This move towards AWD, with its associated complexity and lower efficiencies seem to be the wrong direction in these times of higher energy costs and lower efficiencies. Are we going to "consume" ourselves into poverty, and diminished national security (due to our energy trade deficit). Is anyone else concerned about these relatively inefficient AWD vehicles and big 4x4 Suvs and trucks filling our already crowded streets? Also, parking spaces designed for "cars" now being filled by trucks or suvs driven by people not knowing how to park a big vehicle. Two spaces being used by one big vehicle are more prevalent. And drivers of big vehicles are becoming more aggressive. I guess I just need to vent.
I will buy an AWD if it's between a 2wd and an AWD vehcile. I have AWD in the mitsubishi and simply love the traction. (it doesn't treally snow in South Texas but we have plenty of rain storms, dirt roads and sand drifts to deal with though. **** and I have a 4wd truck for really getting off the pavement. And doing work. I suppose I could do it all with a civic and a trailer, nope I couldn't. I don't really care what everyone else drives. None of my business being a free country and all.
 

JHZR2

Staff member
Joined
Dec 14, 2002
Messages
46,629
Location
New Jersey
95% of the cars that have AWD offered dont offer enough power/performance to see any benefit during normal or jackrabbit acceleration. The only ones I can think of that actually benefit are the audi S4 (and if there is an S6 or 8), the Subaru STi, Legacy GT turbo, and Mitsu Lancer. More of the cars would feel a difference in handling but it isnt that wonderful... get a properly tuned rwd BMW (even a cheapo one) out against anormal (non lancer or STi) AWD car and the BMW will give a run for the money. What people dont understand is that tires and skill make the all weather handling prowess evident. An AWD car with summer tires in the snow will be no better (and probably worse) than a fwd car with snow tires... Add on the fact that its another transfer case, differential, drivesaft set, etc to maintain, you get reduced economy etc., etc. and I have to wonder what most people are thinking. I always have to laugh when I see people in AWD cars or 4x4 trucks and SUVs getting into accidents during snowstorms. Most all of them are caused by their own vehicle, not another 'inferior' fwd/rwd vehicle loosing control. I have a good off-roiading truck with a nice driveline, and when its snowy and lousy out, Im one of the slowest vehicles on the road... Doesnt matter that I have tires on my truck that carry 'snow tire' designation, 4x4, locking diffs, etc. The only time that I can see that AWD/4x4 really comes to help (for most people, NOT those who drive to work sites, drive regularly on unimproved roads, etc) is if youre an early/late shift worker, emergency worker, nurse, doctor, etc. who has to come and go in any and all conditions, and are often out on the road before the roads get plowed. The (usually) added ground clearance and traction improvement may improve mobility. But, in reality, how many people have those driving profiles? My saab gets around in snow less than 6 inches as well as my chevy truck. Snow tires give the saab more traction to resist loosing control when I try to break it free in the snow, but all in all, I can count on the FWD, MT saab to get me anywhere in the snow that I could count on my truck for, so long as the snow doesnt cause the underside of my car to scrape... After all, if people in Sweeden can get around fine in FWD saab cars, than why cant we? (flame suit on) JMH [ March 22, 2005, 10:50 PM: Message edited by: 59 Vetteman ]
 
Joined
Dec 19, 2004
Messages
7,430
Location
beaver land EH?
IMHO it's pretty much always the "false sense of security" that drives the car market these days, thus leading to all sorts of troubles: (1)SUVee for sokker moms simply because they are much more "Crash-worthy"? I'm afraid not. Ever wonder why Explorer blows their tires on the Hiway? (almost 100% of them that blows out their Firestone tires on the Hiway rolled over) (2)SUVee during a snowstorm? I used to live in the north where snowstorms are harsh and we managed to get by on FWD with snow chains rolling at 45kms/hr. Guys with utterly ugly ego on 4WDs would fly by us on the hiway, only ended up in the snowbanks or ditches afterwards. Coincidence? TRy hitting black ice with a 4WD/AWD and you'll wonder why there are some folks who still drives a FWD. (3)driving habits: I see more bad drivers dashing through redlights in their SUVees/4WDs simply because they think they are "safer" when hit.
 
Joined
Dec 9, 2004
Messages
242
Location
Connecticut
Alright let's tone this down a bit here gents as we seem to have gotten to a bash the suv people which is a seperate issue altogether.. AWD is a benefit in all kind of conditions,snow is one yes but how about rain slicked roads,sandy roads,even dry roads with an over exhuberant driver,no matter what the condition if you give the driver added control it's a definite plus.I think Ford will see the benefits of offering this option/feature to it's buying populous.. Maniac drivers,bad parkers are not limited to AWD vehicles and it's a little ridiculous to make that kind infrence,as well as the people who complain of poor gas mileage who do 75 plus on the highway,jack rabbit starts,etc,etc...
 
Joined
Jun 15, 2003
Messages
36,728
Location
ME
If an AWD sedan at 25ish MPG gets someone out of an SUV getting 17, then I am all for it. It's just another choice on the market. Note with Ford's advertising the "command seating position" they know their market. I work in television; if I don't show up for work at 5am, there is no broadcasting for that day. Yet I make it through Maine snowstorms with a Front wheel drive Saturn wagon and 4 cheap store brand snow tires. Plow operations are intermittent that early, especially on town roads. But if my undercarriage is out of the snow I make it through. With powerful sedans and wagons (Chrysler leading the pack) returning, I bet a segment of people who wanted V8 power or image (one can get a 300 with the lousy 2.7L V6 or potent Hemi) will transition into something closer to the ground. The underpowered (as I have read in reviews) Ford AWD models cater to the "security blanket" crowd.... a different tangent of the "trade your SUV for me" marketing angle.
 
Joined
Mar 14, 2003
Messages
8,711
Location
Nothern USA
I have been driving FWD since 1981 and I do encounter snow. I do not recall a situation where 4WD would have meant the difference between going and not going. Now there were many times when 2 more inches of ground clearance would have been a much bigger help than 2 more drive wheels. There are even times I took my RWD truck because it had much better ground clearance. That was especially true with the 92 Grand Am GT and its low air dam. Not even 10 drive wheels would have pushed that through 10'' of wet snow. Remember ''Ford, more road hugging weight''? You make more money selling what people want, than what they need.
 

Al

Joined
Jun 8, 2002
Messages
19,302
Location
Elizabethtown, Pa
Well..buying overpriced vehicles and inefficient vehicles is what we do in this country. I'm sure AWD has an advantage in driving security in snowy conditions. But a good driver in a FWD will be fine in most cases. I would think the difference between getting stuck bewteen AWD and FWD is not a whole lot. I have driven 4WD's in winter for 25 years and they still get stuck and slide off of the road. And yes I realize that AWD's are better handlers than 4 WD's. But 4WD goes "where AWD fears to tread" [Smile] My vote..not worth AWD (to me)
 
Joined
Mar 20, 2004
Messages
4,378
Location
Camas, WA
I rarely had problems getting around in snow and never had problems on ice with a Honda Civic that had studded tires. I live on hill and have often encountered ice on top the hill and dry roads on the bottom. A few times in deeper slush I still had to chain up. 'Studless' snow tires on a Taurus have been pretty much the same results, I still have to chain up in depper slush, but the studless tires don't as well on smooth ice close to freezing as the studded tires. In the last ice storm my 4wd 3/4 ton truck with studded tires did fine until I stopped on a back road, another truck was trying pull a car out of a ditch, and my truck started slowly sliding towards the edge of the road. I chained up and didn't have any further problems. On the rest of the way home the only vehicles that I saw out were larger 4wd trucks with chains. When I got back to work a couple of days later I overheard some people saying that even with chains on their cars they were sliding, I guess because they didn't have the weight to dig into the ice. I'll be installing heavier studs for the next year, and will always carry my chains during the winter. People are obviously free to buy and drive what they want, but I do get grumpy when I see people doing 360s in front of me on the interstate, which I did, because they were driving too fast for the conditions and didn't make any apparent effort to improve traction, and they end up possibly making me pay for their lack of concern.
 
Joined
Oct 9, 2004
Messages
6,494
Location
New Braunfels
I think to many blanket statements are being made. The general public thinks that they are all good drivers. In most cases we all have bad habits when driving and the only way you become aware of them is when a passenger or "observer" tells you. Blaming the vehicles that people choose on poor driver education is not the answer. It should be more difficult to obtain and maintain driving licenses, but there is too much money involved in getting as many people on the road as possible so that's not likely. Drive defensively is all I can say.
 
Joined
Sep 16, 2002
Messages
622
Location
42.4N 85.7W
Is it necessary? Duh! Of course not, but neither is more than 70 horsePower. Bought my first Subaru in '89, haven't bought anything since. One man's trash........... Dave
 
Joined
Sep 28, 2004
Messages
113
Location
Erie,PA
Coming from REAL snow country, I know that front wheel drive with good snow tires is just fine. I get miffed at the number of people who still believe 'all-season' radials are made for snow. They are not! I saw more 4wd vehicles rolled over into ditches this winter than ever before, and they far outnumbered cars in the same situation. I was right behind a woman who hit an icy patch with her Grand Cherokee and flipped it into a deep ditch. When we got her out, I noticed the tires were 'all-season'. 4wd did her no good with crappy tires.
 
Joined
Mar 14, 2003
Messages
8,711
Location
Nothern USA
quote:
Originally posted by pa04prius: snip... I was right behind a woman who hit an icy patch with her Grand Cherokee and flipped it into a deep ditch. When we got her out, I noticed the tires were 'all-season'. 4wd did her no good with crappy tires.
Did you also note whether she even had it in 4WD? Until you pull the transfer case lever, it is just one more treacherous RWD.
 

DJ

Joined
Jan 12, 2004
Messages
749
Location
New London WI
Even the dreaded rear wheel drive is fine in snow and ice with a competent driver. I have a 96 Caprice and a 95 Roadmaster Wagon, the Caprice with snows will put a 4wd with all seasons to shame and the wagon does decent with all seasons but then again in daily trim with me it it the thing is a good 4900lbs. [Eek!] , throw some snow tires on it and I see no problem with 8-10inches od snow. Both cars are posi too again a good thing if you know how to drive. If you are a mash it when it slips type of driver stick with a front wheel drive a posi RWD car will have you going in circles literally. I have many a mile logged in Michigan's Upper Peninsula there are some forum mebers on here from up near where my parents live and they can vouch for the Kewenaw Penninsula's 180" average snowfall [freaknout] . Maybe getting my license while living up there contributed to my adverse weather driving abbilities and comfort in RWD or maybe I am just not a sheep that believes in the "superiority" of FWD. Nothing can replace good rubber and driver skills. Another thing to consider is todays tires while more advanced than years ago are also on overage harder for longer wear, not a good thing in snow, so while 20 years ago allseasons may have been OK todays harder compounds are a compromise some will work better than others.
 
Joined
Dec 21, 2004
Messages
894
Location
Sudbury, Ontario
A Topaz or any other front wheel drive can handle snow up to 8 inches deep depending on snow density. Snow drifts won't be a problem if you are moving at a reasonable pace. If you live right at the bottom of a steep hill and can't take a run at it you will be needing AWD. Even if you do have AWD or 4x4 it is not a good idea to be travelling much faster than the rest of the traffic. Steve [ March 22, 2005, 11:59 PM: Message edited by: srivett ]
 
Joined
Jun 14, 2004
Messages
542
Location
South Central Texas
Ford is designing AWD into more and more vehicles. See link: http://www.autofieldguide.com/articles/wip/0305wip05.html Most, if not all, Subarus and Jeeps with AWD, and now more Fords will be available with AWD. Is this really necessary? Granted, I do not live where there is snow, so dont know the perils of winter driving. But history shows they werent necessary in the past. Are our roads going to be turning back into dirt, or, pothole filled, needing AWD to navigate, and if so, what of our tax dollars specifically going to road maintenance? This move towards AWD, with its associated complexity and lower efficiencies seem to be the wrong direction in these times of higher energy costs and lower efficiencies. Are we going to "consume" ourselves into poverty, and diminished national security (due to our energy trade deficit). Is anyone else concerned about these relatively inefficient AWD vehicles and big 4x4 Suvs and trucks filling our already crowded streets? Also, parking spaces designed for "cars" now being filled by trucks or suvs driven by people not knowing how to park a big vehicle. Two spaces being used by one big vehicle are more prevalent. And drivers of big vehicles are becoming more aggressive. I guess I just need to vent.
 
Joined
Feb 1, 2003
Messages
1,565
Location
palm beach
no, awd is not needed. however it is a very nice thing to have. think of that 1 time every 5 or 10 years that you get stuck in the mud on the side of the road in youre 2 wheel drive car. it eventually happens to everyone. if you have awd, you can pull out of most anything. or pull others out of most anyhting.
 
Joined
Mar 16, 2004
Messages
7,256
Location
USA
No its not necessary but market demand rules and a perceived need exists. I believe it was a good marketing move however for luxury car makers with RWD, ie BMW, Mercedes and Jauguar, it was essential as they lost sales to Subaru and a bit of Audi in the winter areas. It does lead to lower efficiency, ie my Subaru WRX only achieves about 24 MPG on premium although commuted daily at 75MPH average highway speed. I have it but really don't need it. I have such abysmal OEM tires (Bridgestone RE92's) on the car I prefer to drive my wife's old 96 Civic in the snow with its Winter specific Nokian WR tires. I cannot wait to replace the tires on the WRX.
 
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