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      12-20-2008, 09:34 AM   #1
ARES45
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AWD with All-Seasons vs. FWD with Winters

So depending on where my next PCS is going to be, we will be getting rid of the wife's 98 civic for something a little more all-weather friendly. Been looking at many small-mid size SUV's with the new toyota venza being on the top of her list. We are trying to determine if we want and AWD or if a FWD would work. I think the fwd would work fine 98% of the time even with just All-season tires on all the time. Her vehicle would be our 'we have to get somewhere in the snow vehicle.'

My question is this: In the snow/adverse conditions which would be better- a suv with awd and all season tires or a fwd with winter tires?

Growing up in Nebraska, I never really had any problems with fwd cars with all-seasons in the snow and I drove some unplowed gravel roads with 6 inches of snow in a buick regal. Is it really necessary to have awd?

Thank you for your knowledge and experience.
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      12-20-2008, 10:17 AM   #2
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I don't think awd is necessary if fwd is available IMO.

The Venza is nice but I can't get over the gear shifter. It doesn't mesh well with the center console.

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      12-20-2008, 10:26 AM   #3
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Thanks tuned1, there are a couple of aesthetic things I am not a fan of in the venza (ugly grill, gear shift), but it was very comfortable to sit in/drive so I would probably overlook the things I didn't care for.
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      12-20-2008, 03:21 PM   #4
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Here in the Northwest we are currently have 5-10 inches of snow depending on where you are. My wife has a '08 Scion xB that is FWD and shares the same 2.4 liter I-4 that many Toyotas have. It is currently equipped with the stock tires and I have to say it does exceptionally well in the snow and ice. Most current gen Toyotas come with some sort of stability/traction control that seems to help. With winter tires the thing would be a beast! Well, it would be even better...
I should mention my mom has an '08 V-6 Camry. It has a little bit of trouble getting around in the snow/ice but I imagine its the extra power. Manage it and your fine.
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      12-20-2008, 03:56 PM   #5
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The ideal set up for winter driving in snow and ice is awd and dedicated winter tires , using a -1 conversion.(narrower tire) , the next best is winter tires and fwd, then awd with all season tires. Remember stopping is important, read tire racks comparisions. A few years ago I read a review of a 3 series BMW being done in Michigan and they complained about traction in the snow. Then they switched to dedicated winter tires and reported it was " like driving an awd vehicle "
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      12-21-2008, 08:01 AM   #6
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The truth is where the rubber hits the road. A dedicated snow tire will always be superior to an all season tire in the snow. Trying to compensate for that by having AWD will make the all seaons seem better, but in really bad conditions, the ability of those tires to cope will be surpassed. Snow tires, however, are designed specifically to deal with that weather which means to allow the car to move safely. You can't compare with FWD because total weight and weight distribution can vary wildly and make all the difference. My best snow car was a CRXsi with all seasons. Why? 1100 pounds with 70% on the front wheels. Unless the snow was deeper than my bumper, nothing ever stopped me and I drove through blizzards in that thing.
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      12-21-2008, 09:00 AM   #7
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I have a 2000 Impala, and have been driving in Pennsylvania and Illinois winters for many years with snow tires. Absolutely no problems. In fact, I drove with Sumitomo HTR+ all-seasons for several winters, until I noticed I was having trouble getting up this one hill that was rarely plowed/salted properly. Your Regal with snow tires will be enough, unless you're deploying to Alaska or planning on getting a house somewhere on top of a hill in Montana with a gravel driveway or something.

My wife had an AWD SUV before we got married. She traded it in for a FWD Pontiac G6 GT a year or two ago, again with snow tires for the winter. She was a little unsure if she wanted to give up AWD capability at first, but she's had no complaints about driving in the snow with the Pontiac for the past two winters.

Because of all this, it is my belief that although AWD may give you some extra winter capability, it's a marginal benefit that I've never needed, and don't see the reason to justify the extra expense (extra up-front vehicle cost, extra maintenance for the AWD system, lower fuel economy due to the extra weight.)

Now, having said that, this may differ for you if you're going to be out in the SERIOUS snow country like the northern Rockies or Maine, or Alaska, and if there are times when you ABSOLUTELY must get through (e.g., have to get to the base in a national emergency. I can just work from home if I'm snowed in, the Taliban don't really give you that option some times....)
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      12-21-2008, 09:43 AM   #8
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Thanks for the advice everyone, I think the best route would be to go with fwd and use the money saved to get dedicated snow tires and wheels.
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      12-23-2008, 08:18 PM   #9
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i'd be worried about weight.

a fwd civic (or scion tc) only weighs what? 2900-3100 lbs (year depending). pulling that weight forward with two wheels means the tires dont have so much weight to pull. but hauling around a 4,000 lbs SUV there is a lot more resistance to movement.

I think either way you're going to be fine, but I really think AWD is going to be better.

have you considered a Subaru? IMO their AWD system is far superior to anything else out there and it's standard on all vehicles. obviously these are subaru corporate vids

http://www.1addicts.com/forums/showthread.php?t=20757 the test in the last quarter climbing the muddy hill is interesting.

(sorry, during todays ice storm, I kind of missed my old subaru for a bit).
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      12-23-2008, 09:25 PM   #10
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We have considered subaru, it is on the list of cars that still need to be driven. I think the subaru would be a better all weather choice, but I am not sure if we would be as happy with it day to day. The Forester has gotten great reviews, so we just need to drive it and see, but I would doubt the comfort will be as high as the venza, even if the dynamics are better.
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