By on December 9, 2013

Jay writes:

Professor Mehta,

I have some friends that are moving to Colorado from native South Florida. They’ve never lived in a 4 season climate let alone driven in snow. They own outright a 2007 2WD Suburban (80k miles) L33/LS1 FTW. The other car is an Acura TL he drives for work.

Since I’m the resident car guy, they’ve asked for advice. Should they trade the Suburban and get her a CPO X5 (her dream car)? Or buy an MDX, RX350 AWD?

My thought is they should keep the Suburban, at least for the first winter, and put a really nice set of Blizzaks on it. That way they can learn to drive in snow, and get a feel for what kind of vehicle would thrive in their new town (commute, traffic, snow etc).

After all, if it’s horrible, they can always mosey down to the dealer and trade out. It’s also my concern that AWD would be seen as a cure all and/or bring overconfidence on the road. I told them AWD doesn’t do squat with braking. Am I giving proper advice? What do you think?

Don’t let Sanjeev anywhere near this Piston Slap!

Sajeev answers:

When I was a wannabe-car designer in Detroit, a friend (rural Ohio native) explained why he almost never used four-wheel drive in his Blazer.  He liked the control of a RWD power train, eliminating understeer with tail wagging oversteer as needed. Because, as you mentioned, AWD can inspire overconfidence…and understeer into something unforgiving.

That said, Detroit did plow/salt the roads when needed. And when it really, really snowed, you didn’t want to go outside until the plow could keep up. Such is metropolitan city life: there’s a chance your friends don’t need a 4×4/AWD SUV…unless they live on a real steep hill. Or they live in a suburb with less frequent plowing. Or…

Take it from me: your advice only goes so far with others (especially when that advice is horrible – Sanjeev) so if they either want OR need an AWD vehicle, they should test drive the X5 and some others, and let them buy whatever they want.

See if they’ll put Blizzaks (or similar) on the ‘burb, because it’s the smart use of their money.  That might be enough to make them believers.

Send your queries to sajeev@thetruthaboutcars.com. Spare no details and ask for a speedy resolution if you’re in a hurry…but be realistic, and use your make/model specific forums instead of TTAC for more timely advice.

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224 Comments on “Piston Slap: Is The 2WD ‘Burb Ready for The Snow?...”


  • avatar

    Definitely depends on location, something you can’t know unless you’ve lived there. I live where roads are pretty well plowed and people aren’t scared of the snow so the surfaces stay fairly warm. When it’s bad enough to cause trouble, as stated in the post, I just want to stay home. I’ve also lived where there wasn’t such good service. I had a FWD car and got around well enough. A few winch outs, but in these areas you are typically less than 5 minutes from someone with a real truck and chain coming by who will help, but I also had to walk my half mile “driveway” several times.

    The only other consideration I have is trade in value. I’ll bet a 2wd burban is fairly desirable down in Florida. Up on the Rockies they’ll loose a big chunk of trade in value. If they want a newer car anyway, they are better off doing the deal now when they can trade in a desirable 2wd ute and buy a indifferent AWD ride.

    • 0 avatar
      Detroit-Iron

      I think trade-in should be a big consideration. Whether or not the “I don’t need no new-fangled ‘four wheel drive’ to get get through no durn snow” crowd are right, I think a 2wd Suburban is going to be tough to sell in CO.

      • 0 avatar
        Reino

        Exactly. While it can be capable with the right tires and driver, it will be very hard to sell when the time comes. Better off selling it in Florida for a better price.

      • 0 avatar
        ellomdian

        As a Native Coloradan – They MAKE SUBURBANS IN 2WD?!?!

        BLASPHEMY!

        Assuming they are moving to Denver, while there should be no major issues driving 363 days out of the year, there will likely be 2 days that it is a concern. Most people stay home on those days.

        The biggest issue with transplants here is not the “what if I get stuck, I need 4WD” – its the “I don’t understand how physics work and I am a bad driver in good weather.”

        Whatever you end up with, wait for a good snow, take it to a big open parking lot at midnight (Home Depot is the best) and put it sideways repeatedly. Figure out how fast you go before it slides, how long it takes to slow and stop.

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      Hit the nail on the head here. I have a feeling they won’t like a 2WD Suburban in the Rockies. Nobody else does, ha.

      I’d vote MDX, the RX is a bit small if they’re used to burb capacity.

    • 0 avatar
      fincar1

      A lot of places in Colorado are down on the flat. The Suburban with good winter tires would do fine there. But if they will be living in the mountains, or if they like to ski, snowboard etc, that may be a reason to consider an AWD vehicle.

    • 0 avatar
      hubcap

      I don’t know why you’d not want them to have every advantage available so I’d recommend an AWD drive train. Doubly so if they live in a mountainous/hilly area or if they plan to hit the slopes.

  • avatar
    Hoser

    I concur with Blizzaks on the ‘Burb. That will get them around as well as all-seasons on an AWD SUV.

    • 0 avatar
      BC

      I think people here are severely over estimating a suburban’s prowess in the snow. While in high school, my folks had a RWD suburban living outside of Chicago. I had a blast as a 16 yr old idiot tooling around in the snow, but I would not recommend depending on a RWD suburban as a daily driver. Simply, It SUCKS in the snow. The distance between the front wheels and rear wheels is so long that once the rear wheels start losing traction, the SUV doesn’t stay straight. It is very easy to get the a$$ out to the side just driving around a residential neighborhood. You will continue to propel forward with the engine and driver in the right lane, but the tail end could be sticking out into oncoming traffic. Personally, I think FWD is plenty for most people, even if they live near the mountains. A RWD suburban is not a good snow car. In fact, it is downright dangerous. They need something else.

  • avatar
    Kenmore

    I would encourage their availing themselves of every technical advantage a modern drivetrain has to offer. RWD (plus extra rear weight and Blizzaks) is adequate for a lifelong snow-belter like me but my experience includes countless events and alarms that you wouldn’t wish on your friends.

    Give them every advantage… tell them to go modern. They don’t have time for a learning curve.

    • 0 avatar
      Toad

      Agreed, especially since this vehicle is for his wife. If his wife is anything like mine she is not interested in learning the dynamics of proper RWD operation on ice and snow; she wants the thing to go forward when she pushes on the gas and slow/stop when she pushes on the brake. Any education on how she is “suppressed” to drive on snow with RWD only will cost a lot of money in body work, vehicle depreciation, and increased insurance rates; hopefully nobody will be injured or killed in the process.

      For that reason I would suggest buying the vehicle with the most drive wheels and safety nanny’s you can afford. You want to keep your spouse safe and your vehicle intact.

      Ignore the armchair driving instructors/marriage counselors; it is your job to keep your spouse, kids, passengers, and other motorists as safe as possible.

      • 0 avatar
        Kenmore

        ” it is your job to keep your spouse, kids, passengers, and other motorists as safe as possible.”

        Bottom line. The only time I ever assert myself as “the Daddy” is when safety is an issue.

      • 0 avatar
        Vulpine

        At that point, Toad, I’d tell her, “No driving during the winter. Period. Car is grounded until the temperature rises above 40°.

        • 0 avatar
          Toad

          Vulpine, in 1930 that may have been plausible. In 2013 not so much unless you have a very unusual household (or no experience being married in a developed nation).

          It would be a lot easier to live with a new Subaru than wife who is under home confinement for 5 months.

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            Then don’t complain when your insurance rates skyrocket. Without real driving experience in slippery conditions, she’s almost guaranteed to crash. Take her to the nearest church/school parking lot before you let her behind the wheel. At least there all you have to worry about is her crashing into the building or the lamp posts and maybe, just maybe not risking other people’s lives as well as her own.

        • 0 avatar
          28-Cars-Later

          Ah, but how wise is it to effectively ground a driver in your household?

          Playing devil’s advocate say your wife/gf/whatever actually had taste and drove a *real* car and you said something to the effect of: “Honey that 400hp monster could kill you in ice/sleet/slush, let’s garage it till the spring” and she agreed (bc you actually care about her safety). Now you’re doing all of the driving, all of the time. As much as I’d like to play the non-alcoholic, non-wifebeating, Ricky Ricardo to her Lucy, I’m too damn lazy to shoulder 100% of the responsibility.

          • 0 avatar
            hubcap

            I’s sure you could pick up an Exterra (sp?) or something similar for the winter. Hell, if by *real* car you mean a M3, ZL1, Corvette, 911 et al. you could probably spring for a WRX.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            Whats “real” and not is purposely vague in my statement, but the idea was no matter what the S.O. is driving is it wise to keep a licensed driver in your household off the road?

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            That really depends on how good a driver that wife is. I certainly wouldn’t let MY wife out in the snow, not even in my Jeep–because she’s only now learning how to drive and has absolutely no experience on snow and ice. In the example I used, sending someone out who, ” is not interested in learning the dynamics of proper RWD operation on ice and snow; she wants the thing to go forward when she pushes on the gas and slow/stop when she pushes on the brake,” is almost guaranteed to crash and possibly kill herself without skid-pad training of some sort. And nowadays it is almost impossible to find an empty parking lot to practice in.

          • 0 avatar
            Zekele Ibo

            Damn, you guys are sexist. What a ridiculous load of tired old misogynist tripe. What is this, the 1950s? Maybe she’d be fine but the husband will crash at the first snowfall!

          • 0 avatar
            Lie2me

            Here’s a cigar and have a shot of whiskey, this is where you’ll learn how to be a real man… as long as the wives and GFs aren’t looking over your shoulder and reading what you wrote

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            What always kills me about whomever makes the “1950s” argument is they always assume “now” is where its at. Postwar United States to the average person was one of the richest and most powerful times in the history of civilization, but it was so “bad”. Oh sure plenty of stuff really sucked about the period, but those who make an argument against it usually imply US society sixty some odd years ago was akin to living in the Dark Ages.

          • 0 avatar
            Zekele Ibo

            >> Postwar United States to the average person was one of the richest and most powerful times in the history of civilization (…)

            “Average person” meaning “male” and “white”. Keep believing the myth if you want.

          • 0 avatar
            Lie2me

            Dude, three TV stations on one B&W set, average one bathroom per household, one telephone per household, often on a party line… It was grim

          • 0 avatar
            Lorenzo

            @lietome, there were more than 3 stations in the ’50s. It’s just that there were more on UHF, but people didn’t even know it! If they did, they either didn’t have one of those circle antennas or didn’t know how to jiggle them (or fine tune the UHF dial) to get all those educational stations. There were also more than 3 VHF stations, if you knew how to tape an antenna extension cord to your rabbit ears and knew how to dangle them just so from the window curtain rod.

            For those who think the ’50s were an age of meek women and cave men, realize it was all an act, that the Man Of The House (MOTH) made resolute decisions only after quietly ascertaining what the Little Woman (FLAME) wanted, if he knew what was good for him. People who themselves believe in myths shouldn’t throw myth accusations.

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            Consider this, Zekele Ibo: I have been driving for over 40 years, in Germany, Norway, the American southwest, the American southeast, the Rocky Mountains and now the American Northeast Corridor. I’ve driven on almost all forms of snow and ice imaginable to drivers short of actual ice racing. My wife, on the other hand, has only been driving for about two months–as a student in a driving school from which she gets her last behind the wheel training this coming weekend (weather permitting).

            The only vehicle we own she is currently capable of driving is an automatic transmission Ford F-150 long-bed pickup truck. A one-wheel-drive pickup truck. Additionally, we’ve already had 5″ of snow this week and are expecting as much as 5″ more tomorrow plus another chance on Saturday. Now: under those conditions, would you let YOUR wife drive the only vehicle she’s capable of driving?

            I’m not being sexist, I’m honestly concerned about her driving skills in unusual conditions. The lady who is at question in the article above apparently has absolutely zero experience in slippery conditions and I honestly don’t care HOW effective all those ‘nanny systems’ can be, they’re not going to prevent her getting out of shape at just the wrong time. They can help, yes, but they can’t drive the car for her–yet.

          • 0 avatar
            mikey

            @Vulpine….I have driven through 44 Canadian winters.

            No way would I let somebody I cared for driving a rwd F150 out in the snow, unless they had a whole lot of experience.

          • 0 avatar
            Lie2me

            @ Lorenzo, Well since no one had UHF tuners on their TVs a lot of good UHF broadcasting was. Perhaps that’s why they all went bankrupt by the end of the 50s

          • 0 avatar
            Lorenzo

            @lietome, actually, since you brought it up – there were UHF tuners on some but not a majority of sets in the early ’50s, and the UHF stations went bankrupt because the percentage of sets with UHF tuners went DOWN, drastically, during the ’50s. The biggest set makers were also the owners of the big networks, like RCA/NBC and they didn’t want their VHF network in competition from UHF stations. Other manufacturers were pressured into making sets without UHF tuners, until the FCC mandated the tuners in the ’60s. It was a conspiracy!

          • 0 avatar
            Lie2me

            Like I said, we had three TV stations, oh, and PBS, but nobody watched it

  • avatar
    chainyanker

    “Inspiring overconfidence” is a B.S. argument. Why not go back to bias-ply tires and drum brakes lest you become overconfident?

    • 0 avatar
      Lie2me

      +1 Not to mention traction control, stability control, ABS etc.

    • 0 avatar
      krhodes1

      Given the number of SUVs and Subarus I see in the ditch every winter, I don’t think it is a BS argument at all. He hits the nail on the head – AWD helps you go, it doesn’t help you stop or turn.

      I got to try my new to me Range Rover in a couple inches of snow last week. On the all-season Yokohama Geolanders (a relatively aggressive tire) it WENT just fine – but all hitting the brakes did was activate the ABS and the thing plowed on like the Titanic. Put the Hankook iPikes on and it STOPPED. You need a lot of traction to stop 5K lbs.

      That said, I would trade the Suburban in FL for resale value reasons. But get snow tires for whatever replaces it, AND the Acura.

      • 0 avatar
        Truckducken

        +1 krhodes

        Snows (not all-seasons) and a set of chains = good to go.

      • 0 avatar
        olddavid

        Amen. A two wheel drive Suburban will be an outlier in Colorado. A recent Murilee post about the late RamCharger reminded me of a 2WD unit that approached a second year in dealer inventory. Much more marketable in Florida.

      • 0 avatar
        chainyanker

        Still not proof of “overconfidence”. You’ll generally see many times more 2WD vehicles stranded in the same weather. People always point to anecdotal examples of a 4×4 they saw in a ditch and are ready to throw the baby out with the bathwater and declare AWD/4WD a gimmick that gives the driver a false sense of invincibility which causes them drive like lunatics. Really, they’re going to drive that way no matter what the vehicle because they’re just poor winter drivers. Everyone I’ve ever met understands that AWD won’t help you stop better but will get you out of the driveway, through snow drifts, up that tricky grade, and let you accelerate through that intersection with the cross-traffic sliding right at you.

        • 0 avatar
          Vulpine

          Actually, it is proof of overconfidence. Just watch how those particular 4x4s were being driven BEFORE they went off the road! The problem isn’t the vehicle, it’s the driver. A bad driver will wreck no matter what kind of vehicle they’re driving.

          There are times when hard-locked 4×4 WILL help you get stopped much better than ABS–because it tends to force all four wheels to rotate at near the same speed and preventing ABS from assuming you’re stopped as you slide through that intersection. It’s happened to me and I lost all trust in ABS when it did. Now I want to turn it off on all my vehicles in icy conditions.

          • 0 avatar
            Scoutdude

            There is no doubt that for some drivers the fact they are able to accelerate from a stop in the same manner that they can when the road aren’t slick makes them think that they can drive exactly the same way they do the rest of the year.

            A witnessed a great example a few years ago when the roads were covered with snow for an extended period of time in my area. The exit for my neighborhood ends at a T intersection. Like many neighborhoods the speed limit is only 25 mph, though many go much faster. There was a lady who had a Range Rover that I personally saw with her front wheels in the ditch across the street not once, not twice but 3 times because she was going too fast or tried to stop way too late to be able to the stop sign.

            Of course that does not mean that everyone who drives a 4WD or AWD vehicle will be lulled into the same over confidence. Personally I’ve never ended up in a ditch in any of my 4WD or AWD vehicles, but I also have never done it in any of my RWD vehicles either.

          • 0 avatar
            Carlson Fan

            When the roads get icey especially on the intetstates/highways, it’s always the non 4WD vehicles spinning out and sliding into the ditch. I can’t tell you many times I’m running down the highway, locked into 4HI, and someone will come past me in a 2WD vehicle and sure as shit a few miles dowm the road they are sitting in a ditch or up against a guardrail. Meanwhile the slick road surface that caused them to spin-out(often the highways can go from plenty of traction to glare ice instantly)and wreck, my 4WD truck went right over, never losing its footing or composure.

          • 0 avatar
            eamiller

            The car you experienced this with must have had a very primitive ABS unit. Most modern cars have longitudinal accelerometers to model the stopping behavior and activate ABS when wheel speeds and longitudinal deceleration don’t match.

      • 0 avatar
        hubcap

        “Given the number of SUVs and Subarus I see in the ditch every winter, I don’t think it is a BS argument at all. He hits the nail on the head – AWD helps you go, it doesn’t help you stop or turn.”

        This is truth but still why wouldn’t you want the most capable piece of equipment for the conditions? The fact that some people don’t realize (and really maybe they do but where merely traveling too fast–isht happens) that AWD will not help you stop doesn’t negate the fact that for wintry conditions its just more capable.

        This reminds me of how many people say PowerPoint sucks but what they really mean is the misuse of PP sucks…and it does.

    • 0 avatar
      Advance_92

      They’re the ones left in the ditch because they normally roll and can’t get back out. I see lines of them on highways every winter. The biggest problem in Colorado and Denver in particular is that few people get snow tires. They have money for a truck but not on a second set of wheels and tires.

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      They’re already going to be flipping their $#!@t and panicking at all the snow they AREN’T used to seeing in FL. So don’t needlessly fan the snow flames with 2WD. AWD FTW.

      Don’t nobody got time for a 2WD Suburban in the Rockies anyway. Realizing they hate it after a season, and losing a couple grand of value up there.

    • 0 avatar
      05lgt

      AWD & snows & anit-skid, anti yaw, single wheel braking with drive by wire traction control. BTW, whoever keeps saying AWD coesn’t help you turn needs a lesson from 1988 Transam racing or any years WRC. Without regulation preventing it, would F1 be RWD?

  • avatar
    PonchoIndian

    Blizzaks and a Suburban will be more than fine for them. I did two (NH/MA/ME) winters with Blizzaks and a 2000 Trans Am and it was awesome in the snow.

    That being said, if they are really really set on getting 4wd/awd they might want to think about doing it before the move. A RWD Suburban will be a harder sell/trade in snow country and a 4wd/awd replacement will probably have an inflated price, at least this time of year. If they do the switch-a-roo in the warm snow free climate of the south they will probably make out better on the deal financially.

    PS. They should still get Blizzaks on whatever they replace the Suburban with…Turning and stopping are much more important than going in the white stuff.

    • 0 avatar
      racebeer

      You too?? I’ve driven both a 98 Firebird and a 01 T/A in the snow here in Minneapolis using Dunlop Winter Sport tires. Have never had any trouble getting around, even in some of the worst stuff. So I agree with a good set of winter tires. We also have 2 AWD vehicles in the stable and they aren’t that much better than the F-Bodys on winter tires. As I tell my friends, with the RWD you at least get the choice of which end of the car hits the snowbank first.

      • 0 avatar
        danio3834

        Especially with F-bodies, it’s all about the tires. Driving them on the Eagle F1s in the snow is a baaad idea, lemme tell ya.

        • 0 avatar
          davefromcalgary

          There is a 2000ish Z28 tooling around the industrial park where I work on Firestone Winterforce tires. The thing does really well.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            Hey by the by, my new car has got Goodyear Eagle RS-A’s on it. My dad gave me a little speech about how he hates Goodyears, and how they get loud and hard earlier.

            But they’re more quiet than my Turanza’s I had on my last car, and it went pretty well in the snow. They’re nearly new tires though, so I’m not expecting them to fare well. Don’t know how many miles are on em, as the dealer didn’t have any papers. I’d guess under couple thousand miles though, as the little fringy things are all over the sides still.

            I shall replace them I think with the MVX4.

          • 0 avatar
            davefromcalgary

            Hey Corey, Remind me again where you live? Does the weather get around freezing much? And what did you buy again?

            I had an 04 Mazda 6 for about 4 years, it came with Michelin Pilot MXM4s. They turned to freaking hockey pucks in cold weather.

            The MVX4 is the Primacy line, they may be better, but in my experience the touring all season Michelin’s don’t do well around 0 degrees C.

            I actually think RSAs are reasonably ok tires. Don’t know how well they age though.

            Have you considered looked into Michelin Pilot Alpin at all? They are a sporty winter tire, and are rated pretty well by those running a lower profile tire.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            I live in SW Ohio, freezing from late November through early March, really.

            My avatar is my new car, 09 M35x with 245/45-18. Replaced my GS430 precisely because of snow issues.

            I’ve never looked into the Alpin, as I feel like I’d prefer a good all-season with pro-winter capability.

          • 0 avatar
            Scoutdude

            @ Corey, there really isn’t an all-season tire with “pro-winter” capability. Fact is that non-winter tires traction drops off significantly the colder it gets. Winter tires are designed for optimum performance when temps drop below 40 degrees. For a car like yours I’d highly recommend 2 sets of tires a set of ultra high performance summer tires and a set of winter or performance winter tires. Quality UHP tires perform much better than AS in the dry and wet and quality winter tires perform just as well as AS tires in the wet and much better than AS tires when the temps drop or there is ice and snow on the road.

          • 0 avatar
            davefromcalgary

            Sorry Corey, I gotta agree with scoutdude. Plenty of all seasons rock tread patterns that are adequate at evacuating snow from around them, and hense clawing through snow, but its the rubber composition that will let you down around or below freezing.

            That being said, I remember you complaining the GS had trouble dealing with slush and snow…The M37x should in all likely should do better, especially with a more aggressive tread patterned all season. They will be louder though. And, the type of rubber, even in an all season, that will go on an M37 will likely still not have that aggressive a tread.

            I think a second set of rims with Pilot Alpins or an equivalent really is your best bet. That way you have gobs of grip in the winter, and can fit proper summers in the warm weather and really get the most out of that car.

            A coworker of mine has Pilot Alpines on his 328i X-Drive on its stock rims. I hear good things.

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            I’m not going to say anybody is right or wrong here and I’ll definitely state that if you can afford it, a good set of winter tires is recommended, but not everybody can afford it–even if they keep the tires from year to year in a protected location.

            What I will state is that I’m using a set of Bridgestone Dueler Revo 2 tires where I live and so far can’t complain about their grip and handling on northeastern snow and ice. To be honest, where I live gets an average of only about 20″ of snow per year, so obviously I’m not in true snow country, but I do live where too many people try to drive snow and ice as though it were dry road–especially those in 4x4s. In 4Hi one wheel slips momentarily, but the LSD on front and rear has yet to let me lose control at safe speeds.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            I don’t think I’ll be getting winter tires/wheels this year, as I just spent all my money on this dang car. I would have a place for the winter tires – in my basement, which is mostly empty.

            We’ve had snow since last Friday (about 8″), and it snowed again on Saturday morning and again this morning. I will say I drove up my sloped driveway with 3″ of powdery snow on it without an issue. Normally I would have shoveled it, but I didn’t know it was going to snow in the morning, and didn’t allot time to do it.

            So maybe next year I’ll spring for some Alpins.

      • 0 avatar
        PonchoIndian

        You bet. I had a hard time getting anyone to sell me snow tires for it. They kept telling me to “not bother it won’t go anywhere anyway”. Well it turned out to be the best car I’ve ever driven in the snow. I would pass stuck cars at stop lights all the time and get the wtf look from them.

        Decent weight distribution, lsd rear end, traction control and snow tires.

  • avatar
    raph

    How are the roads in Colorado? Is it a mix of paved and unpaved? I’ve only ever been to Denver and then only in the summer during a business trip so I’ve never had the chance to explore.

    If they are moving to a rural area something more aggressive might be prudent. A BF Goodrich All-Terrain is extreme weather rated ( has a snowflake and mountain branded into the sidewall to let you know ). Although there would be penalty to ride comfort.

    • 0 avatar
      AlfaRomasochist

      You’d be amazed. Out here in the wild wild west we have paved roads, indoor plumbing – heck, in lotsa places they’ve moved the privies INSIDE the buildings! Nosir, no more heading out to the outhouse for us.

      Yeesh.

      • 0 avatar
        Lie2me

        Until it rains and washes all the roads away

        • 0 avatar
          raph

          I’m just curious, my mom’s home town is in north western PA and they have mix of paved and unpaved roads. Here in SE VA just 17 miles from the city there are unpaved roads on which groups of houses are built.

          >> shrugs << I guess you city slickers in Colorado got it like that. Paved roads for everybody.

          • 0 avatar
            hubcap

            To add, how often, if ever do you put on chains?

          • 0 avatar
            dts187

            I didn’t think your question was out of line. I live and work in WV and Southern PA and there are plenty of unpaved roads.

            The BFG All Terrains are real popular around here.

      • 0 avatar
        bikegoesbaa

        In Colorado they actively convert paved roads back to gravel by dumping it on them by the truckload every Winter.

        • 0 avatar
          Lorenzo

          They used to do that in the CITIES in Massachusetts, but it all washed into the drains and they had to claw it all out every Spring. The cities then discovered car-melting salt, and now save a bunch of money on drain cleaning. They just blamed the salty runoff into rivers, bays, and lakes on “industry”, driving them and their jobs to the south.

          • 0 avatar
            PonchoIndian

            Lorenzo

            Storm-water is regulated by the Feds, not the state. Pollution has little to do with driving the industry out of MA, it is more like the taxes, illegals and strongly “left” government that drive them out of the state. Much of MA is still living in the 80′s when Digital and Wang (among others) were the center of the tech world/industry and New England was a huge player. Unfortunately it’s all gone now but the state government still acts like it is a great place to do business.

    • 0 avatar
      Scoutdude

      The BFG AT is one of the only tires that can be used year round that carries the snowflake on the mountain symbol. It is a good choice if they have it in a size that will fit your vehicle. Of course being a “truck” tire means that they are not available for most cars.

  • avatar
    ash78

    Buy something AWD in South Florida BEFORE they leave, maybe. Florida seems to have a unsually high level of Subarus, for some reason (not like CO, but still really high for a flat state of mostly grid roads). Might be a worthwhile consideration before moving somewhere that AWD commands a premium vs a discount/neutral. I’ve seen up to a $2k difference between the values of a single AWD used car between the South and the Northeast, all else equal.

    Honestly, pretending it’s MY family: As a native Floridian who moved to the hills & mountains as a teenager, I think they’ll be plenty terrified by the idea of driving in 3 dimensions vs 2 (WTF is topography?!). Add snow to the mix and you might as well have a 16-year-old who just got his license. Go with all the tech you can find.

  • avatar
    NormSV650

    It’s all about the driver, not the shoes. I used to pop drifts on the highway with my C5 Corvette on Dunlop M3. With the transmission attached to the rear axle once over about 40 mph, the weight transfer would allow pulling away from any pickup on the highway. One night I could it make closer than a mile from home due to heavy wet snow. Knowing a Corvette and snow makes owners shutter, I mounted the snow cables and proceeded slowly to my garage.

    But there are no hills in Ohio that become heavily snow covered like Colorado. The higher elevation is ripe for turbo-4 add in an AWD system from Borg Warner that disconnects the rear axle at 37 mph like my Buick Encore and you’ll have the most efficient gasoline-AWD sold. My girlfriend says the interior and blows away her one year old Forester.

    The FWD systems with AWD added can power through slush and still maintain direction in turns like going through intersections when the you find yourself going straight with a turned steering wheel.. Only way to get it to fish tail or tank slap is to start from a stop with the steering wheel turned and the stability and traction off. Mostly due to only 50% of the power going to the rear wheels.

  • avatar
    highrpm

    I live in Michigan. My wife has driven several 2WD Grand Cherokees over the years. I owned a 2WD Expedition at one point.

    These vehicles do great in the snow. They have tall, skinny all-season tires. They have ground clearance. I never got stuck or had any issue with any of them.

    I preferred the 2WD for its slightly better fuel economy and relative simplicity (less parts, more reliable).

  • avatar
    xtoyota

    Boy are you wrong…….. just got back driving through an ice storm (TN, KY, IL) Many many cars in the ditch. We started counting car and trucks when entering IL. 32 SUV & trucks and finally stopped counting them………….. MOST with 4 wheel drive

    • 0 avatar
      Avatar77

      That’s because of stupidity, not 4WD. People forget that 4WD/AWD only helps them accelerate better in low traction conditions, it does not help them stop or turn* any better. This the “overconfidence” another poster was mentioning.

      *4WD/AWD may help a driver turn better if they know what they’re doing, but most people don’t.

      • 0 avatar
        Vulpine

        Agree… and disagree, Avatar77; It really depends on the driver. No matter how good the vehicle is, a bad driver won’t do any better with AWD than they did with 2WD.

        However, a 4×4 system that actually locks front to rear, even with limited slip, can help you slow down as well as accelerate simply because it prevents the ABS from assuming you’re at a dead stop as you slide down the hill. Any wheel at all getting traction will force the axle to turn, releasing the ABS to again try its thing. 2WD and the typical AWD doesn’t quite give you that capability.

    • 0 avatar
      WheelMcCoy

      I see this supports the “inspires overconfidence” argument.

      A Canadian friend shared a similar observation driving from Toronto to NY in a snowstorm. Careful driving in his front wheel drive Honda Accord with *winter tires* made it past many SUVs stuck in ditches.

      • 0 avatar
        davefromcalgary

        Its true. Calgary to Edmonton gets really bad, and typically the majority of ditched cars are 4×4 trucks and SUVs, and even minivans. I think 4WD/AWD inspires over confidence, but given the amount of minivans I see in the ditch, I think the sitting up higher also inspires overconfidence, because you can see over the blowing snow at road level.

    • 0 avatar
      Scoutdude

      The problem is too many of the current SUVs and 4wd trucks have “Automatic” 4wd. What happens is the system senses the rear wheels going faster than the front and engages the transfer case. Then after a time of all the wheels turning at the same speed it disengages the transfer case and the vehicle is in 2wd again usually at the most inopportune time. Yes many of the systems have a setting that locks it into 4wd but many drivers don’t have a clue that they need to do that.

    • 0 avatar
      Carlson Fan

      How much you wanna bet most of those trucks and SUVs weren’t in 4WD when they slid into the ditch. I have never, ever had one of my 4WD vehicles lose traction and spin out while driving down the highway. That happend countless times in my 2WD vehiclles.

    • 0 avatar
      JuniperBug

      In Quebec, it’s the law to have snow tires in the winter. It’s not the law to have AWD. There are reasons for this.

      Before the law was passed, I had an old VW that I never thought I’d keep long enough to go through two sets of tires, so I drove on my all season performance Dunlops. I got by, as did many others, but any time I was a passenger in a snow-equipped car, I was crapping gold ingots because there was no way I thought we’d be able to stop and corner the way we did.

      In short: if you drive on snow with any sort of regularity, and in some cases even if you don’t, buy winter tires. If you keep the car long enough to go through more than one set of tires, it basically costs almost nothing extra, and it makes all the difference in the world.

      People will make all kinds of excuses not to do it, and they’ll be wrong.

      • 0 avatar
        bikegoesbaa

        Is the reason that the law was written before full-time AWD systems were widely available?

      • 0 avatar
        Zekele Ibo

        I live in Quebec – we have 6 months of snow per year. Today we had 15cm of snow, as it was falling heavily during the afternoon the roads were not clear as I drove home tonight. I have snow tires but no AWD in a regular subcompact (Mazda2). Absolutely no need for AWD at any stage of the journey. AWD helps traction, but doesn’t help either braking or steering.

        Coming back to the original question, the problem is not that the ‘Burb is 2WD, but that it is RWD. Rear-wheel drive is harder to master in the snow. Front-wheel drive is easier and better in slippery conditions. As others have noted, it would be OK with practice and maybe some driver training, but the lower resale value in the snow-belt means that changing to a FWD or AWD now would be a better overall choice. Whatever vehicle, snow tires are a must.

      • 0 avatar
        burgersandbeer

        Sadly, Caltrans R1 chain control means snow tires or chains unless you have AWD. There is no mention of tire requirements on AWD vehicles for R1. Following their requirements to the letter, they are theoretically OK with something like a WRX on summer tires.

        • 0 avatar
          Scoutdude

          Yet you still must carry chains in that AWD/4WD vehicle and if you are towing a trailer you then must use chains.

          • 0 avatar
            burgersandbeer

            As far as I can tell, AWD/4WD only need to carry chains for R2.

            http:// http://www.dot.ca.gov/hq/roadinfo/chcontrl.htm

          • 0 avatar
            Scoutdude

            The way I read it is that AWD/4WD vehicles must carry chains in chain control areas means that like 2wd vehicles they must have them at all times, not just when it is in a R2 situation. Note part of their definition of snow tread tires requires a minimum of 6/32″ of tread to be still be considered snow tread tires.

  • avatar
    danio3834

    I wouldn’t blow out the ‘Burb just because they’re moving to CO. I guess if she really wants an X5, that’s good enough reason, but I wouldn’t do it because a 2WD Suburban wouldn’t cut it.

    I think the OP is on the right track with a good set of snow tires. When I had my Suburban, I only used the 4WD when it was absolutely necessary. When the roads were snow covered, or even had a few inches, I drove it in 2WD like Sajeev’s friend because it was still easy to control, with good tires it still had plenty of traction, and driving around in 4WD just eats up fuel.

    So the 2WD Burban will cut it just fine in the snow with good tires, but here’s another thing to think about. The psychological aspect. Most people in the snow belt have a gravitation toward 4/AWD because of that fear of snow and the (false) sense of security of thinking they’ll never get stuck. So if your friend moves to CO THEN sells the 2WD Suburban, they’ll take a much bigger hit than if they sell it in South FL where 2WD trucks are common. Something to think about.

  • avatar
    Onus

    I’ve been driving a RWD f250 in New England for 3 winters.

    Tell them to get some snow tires and they will be good. Snow tires on a 2wd vehicle will beat awd on all seasons.

    Though a 4wd with snows. Fantastic. Had another f250 with 4wheel drive and snows. Thing would drive through 3 feet of snow just letting off the clutch.

    My truck rocks 235/85r16 so they are pretty dang skinny so that helps.

  • avatar
    Acd

    Sell the 2wd Suburban in Florida where there is a market for it; you’ll get more for it there than in a snowy, northern climate.

    • 0 avatar
      supablowas

      Exactly; I can’t imagine there’s a good market for a 2wd behemoth where there’s snow. 2wd trucks or suvs don’t sell here much in eastern Canada; it’s essentially considered pointless. Especially rwd 2wd which is unnerving to inexperienced drivers in snow. I am pleased not to have to go help her get out of a parking lot, etc, or the resultant stress from her not being able to get up a hill. Snow tires are a must no matter what config.

  • avatar
    BigOldChryslers

    I drove a RWD fullsize 1984 Chevy passenger van and my dad drove a RWD 1988 Suburban for many years. We live in the rustbelt. Both vehicles only ever had all-season tires on them. Never had any issues with control or getting stuck in the snow in either vehicle. I agree that winter tires on the Suburban will be fine.

  • avatar
    Astigmatism

    I don’t get the argument that 2WD + snow tires is at least as good as AWD + all-seasons. These people are moving from _FLORIDA_; they don’t have a lifetime of growing up on slick roads to fall back on, and aren’t going to know their car’s limits in the snow until they’re already sideways (or sliding backwards). For the sake of everyone else on the road, they should have AWD _AND_ snow tires. Agree with the other posters suggesting that they sell the Suburban in Florida (bonus: then they’ll only have one car to ship (or drive) to Colorado), and buy whatever AWD SUV they want once they reach snowville.

    • 0 avatar

      To distill what the B&B has written: AWD may help in accelerating from a standstill, but it doesn’t do much once the vehicle is rolling. More to the point, the fallacy of AWD superiority in these regions gives people false bravado/beer muscles.

      • 0 avatar
        Astigmatism

        I think chainyanker has responded to the “false bravado” argument, but if it makes you feel better, then have the OP give his friends a stern talking-to. The ultimate point is, a modern AWD system plus snow tires is still better than a decade-old RWD system like the Suburban’s, particularly on hills (which they have in Colorado), and frankly these folks need all the help they can get.

        • 0 avatar
          davefromcalgary

          @ Astigmatism,

          Theres no doubt that a modern AWD system with snows will perform better than RWD with snows. The issue is (in my experience at least) that a majority of people will refuse to buy snows because they have AWD, thus sacrificing the superior braking and handling aspect provided by winter tires.

          • 0 avatar
            racebeer

            My friend, you just nailed it. They most likely WILL NOT buy special winter tires, and the All Season ones will not perform all that great compared to winter only tires. I have one AWD vehicle with All Seasons, and I swear the Trans Am does better on the Dunlop Winter Sports than AWD on those tires. However, if the depth is more than 4 inches, the superior ground clearance of the AWD vehicle makes it a better choice until the roads are somewhat cleared.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        Well put.

      • 0 avatar
        wmba

        ” To distill what the B&B has written: AWD may help in accelerating from a standstill, but it doesn’t do much once the vehicle is rolling. More to the point, the fallacy of AWD superiority in these regions gives people false bravado/beer muscles”.

        No doubt that is why the Cobalt in front of me understeered right off the road on a slippery corner into a guardrail, This on the narrow country road I live on. I merely pulled up and went to help. I drive a Subaru.

        It constantly amazes me that people with no a clue what they’re on about keep touting the superiority of RWD/FWD to AWD in snow. I had an Audi Coupe, FWD with winter tires all round, followed by an Audi 4000 quattro AWD, winter tires all round. Same body underneath. The quattro was far superior in snow and on ice in every way imaginable.

        But the armchair experts like to deny these things with the benefiit of no experience and their superior intellect, perhaps in a roundabout way trying to impress us all with their superior driving skills.

        These folks would argue the hind legs off a donkey, and with as much effect on the way things actually are.

        • 0 avatar
          davefromcalgary

          wmba,

          The difference in your example is that you had winter tires on your AWD vehicle. The B&B are comparing AWD with all-seasons to FWD with snows.

          AWD with winter tires is clearly the best option.

        • 0 avatar
          Maymar

          How many people are trying to argue that FWD/RWD is better than AWD versus trying to point out that with a good set of tires and common sense, FWD and RWD are far more capable than they’re given credit for, and maybe it might be beneficial for someone who’s never driven in the snow to have to think about what they’re doing, instead of assuming the magic differentials of awesomeness will sort it all out?

      • 0 avatar
        Wacko

        I always tell people that AWD in winter can just kill you faster.
        Then they just look at me with the WTF face.

      • 0 avatar
        Lie2me

        AWD helps in a lot of situations other then forward acceleration. Only those who have considerable experience with both 2WD and 4WD in a variety of road and driving conditions know well the capabilities of both. Those people would probably suggest that any help from the techno-mechanically advanced autos of today could only help these folks with their transition

        • 0 avatar
          Scoutdude

          It is true that 4wd or AWD does help you turn in snow, if it is not an automatic system that doesn’t disengage itself when all the wheels are turning at the same speed again. With a good AWD system or a 4wd system where you can lock it in 4wd, keeping the wheels all turning at the same speed makes the car track through a corner much better. In fact what actually happens is that because of the geometry of going in an arc the 4wd helps make the vehicle turn as the rear wheels want to spin at the same speed as the front they will cause the vehicle to turn.

          In the days before ABS it also helped you stop under control as it worked to keep all wheels turning at the same speed.

          • 0 avatar
            Carlson Fan

            Exactly! My 93 Toyota PU locked into 4 HI was night and day on snowy, icey roads, compared to running in 2WD. So those who say 4WD doesn’t help you stop better have never driven a 4WD vehicle on snowy, icey roads. Absolutely it helps you stop better because you can make better use of your available traction.

        • 0 avatar
          davefromcalgary

          @Lie2me

          AWD and advanced electronic/mechanical systems (Traction Control, Yaw Control, ABS, Torque Vectoring, etc.) are all great systems for sure. No one is denying that. But they only work if when the computer directs the system to spin/brake a tire, that tire grips.

          I really don’t think any one here recommending winter tires is saying these systems are worthless. Just worthless if all they do is spin their tires.

    • 0 avatar
      Scoutdude

      One of the problems is that many SUVs are outfitted with 20′s and pseudo performance tires that are really wide and likely near bald because they are going to get every mile possible out of them since they are so expensive to replace.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        With so many [pedantic] regs on the OEMs I wonder how the giant wheel/thin tire thing slipped by (for safety reasons)?

        • 0 avatar
          Scoutdude

          Well a lot of the SUVs I see on the road on 20s or larger are riding on aftermarket wheels, usually with bargain basement tires, and not OE wheels and name brand tires.

      • 0 avatar
        davefromcalgary

        Part of the issue I think, is that with stock wheel and tire combos getting bigger and bigger, the OEM rubber is less and less capable in the snow. Consider, the Dart comes with up to 18″ rims, with next to no sidewall. Compare ten years ago. Same goes with something like the Accord or Altima. 18′s in a lot of cases, with more performance oriented rubber.

  • avatar
    radimus

    If they really want to bring the Suburban to CO they’ll most likely be fine as long as they use good tires and common sense. Extra bonus points if the Burb has the G80 rear diff. For a while my family would spend Christmas in a cabin in the middle of a NE US state forest accessible only by “No Winter Maintenace” dirt roads. We made that trip many times in a 2WD 1980 Suburban. If the road conditions were too bad my Dad would stop, chain up, and keep on truckin’.

    However, I concur that selling the Burb in FL where there’s a market for it and getting something with AWD would be a more practical option, but the statement about good tires and common sense applies regardless.

    • 0 avatar
      davefromcalgary

      Great call on the G80. Its amazing the difference a locking diff or LSD make.

      • 0 avatar
        racebeer

        Agreed … I think that is one reason the F-Body on winter tires does fine in the slush. LSD with RWD beats FWD with an open diff anyday.

      • 0 avatar
        bomberpete

        Geez, how did Americans get along all those years with big RWD sedans on snow tires and chains? It’s amazing that more of us didn’t die.

        Seriously, isn’t this kind of candy-ass? If I could survive many Buffalo winters in a ’74 Plymouth Duster with bias-ply snows at the rear, a modern 2WD Suburban on good snow tires with a set of chains “just in case” will work just fine.

        I suspect the real issue is that the wife wants an X5 as part of the move. And if I’ve learned nothing else, don’t fight something that will make a woman happy.

        • 0 avatar
          Lie2me

          Yeah, I remember getting those big ol’ RWD cars stuck in the snow or doing 360s through an intersection, or my favorite, sliding backwards down a snowy hill bouncing off everything in between… good times, man, good times

        • 0 avatar
          Toad

          Anybody who wants to drive a ’74 Duster (in Buffalo, in the snow no less) is welcome to it. The rest of us who don’t (much less have our wives do so) will comfortably be in our AWD cars with air bags, ABS, etc.

          I would not be too crazy about my wife trying to put snow chains on any of our cars either.

          As my grandfather used to say, “the best thing about the good old days is that they are gone.” In regards to driving in snow he was right.

          • 0 avatar
            Carlson Fan

            No kidding, who wants to screw around with snow chains. Sitting on the side of the road in the cold and wind, trying to put them on while your gloves become wet and cold from all the road slop. What a PITA. If I had to do that just once in my life, no cost for 4WD would be too high! And hopefully the chains never break and trash the vehicle.

          • 0 avatar
            bomberpete

            Hey I’m no retro grouch – a lot’s changed in 30 years for the better. Taking a spin — literally — with a ’74 Duster in Buffalo snow would be freaky. The point is that we did it as best we could.

            If those Florida folks equip their 2WD Suburban with first-rate snow tires, they will have a pretty decent ride for CO winters. They can also avoid the hassle of maintaining an aging X5.

            But that’s just using logic to assess someone else’s needs and/or desires. The reality of this outcome may be something else entirely.

          • 0 avatar
            highdesertcat

            ” a lot’s changed in 30 years for the better.”

            bomberpete, I don’t know about that. My wife’s 86-yo dad recently bought a new 4×4 Suburban to replace his 1973 4×4 Suburban that had the 454 and the THM400.

            The new one is a dog. No two ways about it!

            There was no way to salvage the old one though. I had done everything in my power to keep it roadworthy but could not do it.

          • 0 avatar
            radimus

            I’ll see your bet and raise it with a 78 Chevette.

  • avatar
    el scotto

    The wife wants an X5? They should trade the 2WD Suburban on a 4WD Suburban LTZ. Black, tinted windows, wife gets a new vehicle. GM dependability and cheap parts. Win-win.

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      Your recommendation for everyone is a black Suburban with tint. If you want a BMW, or to scare people at a gas station, get a black Suburban. Guns usually a bonus.

      You didn’t answer the question of the OP.

      • 0 avatar
        el scotto

        CoreyDL, a black suburban is the answer to everything! Valet parking? It’ll be parked out front. Going skiing? That’s a no-brainer. Need to haul a horse trailer with ease and comfort? Yep. Four guys, four sets of golf clubs and a beer cooler? You bet, with frosty cold ac running. Your significant other wants to full out tailgate where she’s an alumnae? Yep, you can carry enough stuff to start a small restaurant and lots of booze. To me they’re in an overlapping Venn diagram of reverse snobbery, utility, and dependability. YMMV, but you don’t care about MPG when you’re filling up dual tanks.

      • 0 avatar
        danio3834

        I was thinking a Panther with snow tires would be ideal myself…

        • 0 avatar
          Scoutdude

          Particular one with Traction Control. Add in 50lbs or so in the trunk and they have no problems going in the snow. Personally when we get snow I’ll stop by the store and grab a 50 or 60 lb bag of dog food and leave it in the trunk until the snow clears. Then it will eventually get used up.

        • 0 avatar
          hubcap

          “I was thinking a Panther with snow tires would be ideal myself…”

          The Horror! But I’m not a member of the Panther admiration society. How ’bout a WRX?

  • avatar
    kosmo

    I love playing around in snow with a good RWD car/truck, but this is (presumably) a middle-aged woman with NO snow driving experience, and probably NOT an auto enthusiast.

    Get her AWD with every available electronic nanny. And, for snow driving, go easy on the power. No V8 X5.

    And put Blizzaks on that!

    Double this advice if they are moving to a densely populated metro area, where they will have to worry about others drivers, as well.

  • avatar
    DC Bruce

    First off, if you’re in snow country, you need snow tires for winter driving no matter which, or how many, wheels are driven.

    IIRC, the 4wd system on the Suburban is the crude, “part time” version with no center differential. Not really the most effective system. While I agree that someone with a lifetime of experience driving in snow can do just fine with RWD and snows, someone who has zero experience in snow will not. Living in Washington, DC, which sometimes has a lot of snow and sometimes has none, I see that every day as the latest crop of southern newcomers discover what its like to drive in snow. Sure, I had an uncle who lived his life high up in the mountain towns west of Denver; and he did just fine with a succession of RWD Chevvies and snows. But he had a lifetime of skill and experience doing that (and a manual trannie to control the amount of torque being fed with the wheels) . . . and he’s been dead for several years. That kind of experience and skill is, literally, dying out.

    For these folks, I would suggest acquiring an Acura MDX with its SH-AWD system that vectors torque individually to each wheel. These folks need all of the electronic nannies and aids available to keep them going. Either that or a newer Jeep Grand Cherokee with the more sophisticated, terrain adaptive version of its AWD system.

    And definitely the sale price of the RWD Suburban is going to take a hit if you try to sell it in snow country.

    • 0 avatar
      Astigmatism

      I was going to suggest the Acura system as well, if she’s looking at luxury SUVs. I’d also cross-shop the E320 4MATIC and the Volvo XC70; we used them (with snow tires, of course) to visit family in the New Hampshire hills through utterly hellish winter weather, and I always appreciated sitting a bit lower and having a bit more control than I felt I did in the family Silverado.

    • 0 avatar
      Scoutdude

      Not having a center differential is a good thing when driving on snow. The problem is that the GM 4WDs have an “advanced” electronically controlled 4WD system with an “automatic 4×4″ setting. That engages the transfer case when it senses enough rear wheel slip. Unfortunately once it is engaged all the wheels turn at the same speed and the system disengages, usually at an inopportune time. The systems also have a 4×4 mode that locks it into 4WD but most people don’t know that they need to do that when driving in snow.

  • avatar
    OneAlpha

    It’s been my experience that drivetrain layout and tire selection have no bearing on winter performance – it’s all in the driver’s skill level.

    I’ve been in an actual US Army HMMWV that got stuck crossing a stream, but I’ve managed to get around in both my S-10 2WD and my 5-speed-converted Crown Vic, through fairly impressive snowstorms on half-bald tires, going up and down hills. And I’m really not that good a driver.

    A friend once opined that, “all four-wheel-drive does is get you killed farther from civilization.”

    • 0 avatar
      Landcrusher

      Lol, I have had an even more convincing experience passing mud stuck Hummers and CUCV’s in my 2WD Nissan pick up, but I got a different conclusion. It’s not that equipment doesn’t matter. The reality is that poor skills and judgement and failure to pay attention can always overcome any advantage of equipment or tech.

  • avatar
    87 Morgan

    As a resident of CO with many years of retail automotive experience I would implore the owner to sell in Florida.
    Can they drive the burb here, sure, might even be more fun honestly. But, buying a set of blizzaks is throwing good money after bad.
    Burbs are family cars, who err on safety every time. A 2wd burb out here is sale proof paper weight. Whenever they look to trade they are looking at book less half because every used car manager knows they will have to sit on it and then ultimately sell it at auction for a loss six months from now.

  • avatar
    DDayJ

    Tires, tires, tires. A few years back when I still owned both a Saab 9-3 (with Blizzaks) and an Audi A4 Quattro (with all season tires) the Saab performed much better in the snow despite being just FWD. But the Audi was a lot more fun to play around with in the snow.

  • avatar
    Rasputin

    I taught my daughter how to drive in a used Miata. My theory is that new drivers should have 1)Only two seats – less distraction from passengers and 2)Manual transmission – the driver must pay attention to driving.

    Anyway, she’s off to college in Roanoke VA – the South, but west in hill country where they do get enough snow a few times a year to make the Miata’s rear end act a little “squirrelly”, but certainly not undrivable. Having lived in the Adirondacks for 30 years (’65-’95) driving a succession of RWD sports cars with snows on the rear and doing just fine, imagine my surprise when Tire Rack would not sell me 2 Blizzaks – they only sell sets of 4.

    Turns out it’s the lawyer’s fault, as usual. Seems the manufacturers “recommend” buying 4 (of course they do, it’s great marketing). It also seems that anyone who sells only 2 snows can be successfully sued for not insisting that the customer buy 4. Welcome to modern America.

    In the case of Jay’s friend, I agree that the driving situation should determine what they do. The recommendation to try the Suburban and trade it in if it doesn’t work out is good. Throw a couple hundred-pound bags of sand in the rear and keep the tank at least half full. Unless they are moving into the mountains, the Suburban should work fine.

    • 0 avatar
      Lie2me

      I thought the same as you about the four winter tires vs two. It has been proven to me that four are much better then two. Tire Rack has a pretty write-up on their site explaining this

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        When I used snow tires, I always had two on the front and never changed the rear (on FWD cars). I now just use all seasons.

        • 0 avatar
          Scoutdude

          People putting snow tires only on the front of FWD vehicles are the reason that no one will sell you only 2 snow tires now. Doing so makes for a vehicle that is highly likely to go off of a curve backwards when the lightly loaded crappy tires can’t keep up with the highly loaded good tires.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            Thanks for the reply, I personally never experienced such an issue although I put sandbags in the trunk and always drove with conditions.

          • 0 avatar
            Scoutdude

            Tire rack has a couple of articles where they tested FWD vehicles with 4 snow tires and 2 all seasons on rear and 2 snow tires on front.

            http://www.tirerack.com/winter/tech/techpage.jsp?techid=164&currentpage=123

            http://www.tirerack.com/tires/tests/testDisplay.jsp?ttid=153

          • 0 avatar
            Rasputin

            Well, when you talk about FWD you are starting the conversation with “crappy”.
            I was speaking of RWD, snows on the rear, & decent all weathers on front. Obviously, having snows on the front will be an advantage. The question becomes one of cost/effect. Unless you are rallying in Finland, the benefit is not worth the cost, at least on my Miata, IMHO.

            BTW, found a local guy who sold me 2 snows.

    • 0 avatar
      hubcap

      ” My theory is that new drivers should have 1)Only two seats – less distraction from passengers and 2)Manual transmission – the driver must pay attention to driving.”

      I agree. My oldest daughter will be driving in a few years. I’ve always felt that having no backseat or a backseat that’s so small and uncomfortable that on one would be willing to spend much time there is idea.

      • 0 avatar
        Rasputin

        Teach her how to drive a manual. It’s a disappearing skill set that she will appreciate as she grows.

        Edit: Oh, and don’t rely on “driver ed”. Spend some quality time teaching her. Young people today treat cars as appliances to get them from A to B. Get in, put it in drive, start fiddling with the “entertainment”.

        Also, if you live where it snows, an hour spent in an empty slick parking lot is invaluable.

        • 0 avatar
          Vulpine

          I fully intend to teach my wife–just as soon as she feels comfortable on the road with her pickup truck AND she has her license. She’s already aware of the advantages in speed control a stick gives you and she’s already had some minor chances to off-road in our Jeep. In fact, I intended for that to be her testing car for her license, but she’s having trouble getting the feel of the clutch (races the engine before the clutch pedal is far enough out to engage).

          Regretfully (but understandably) my state REQUIRES certified instruction to at least teach the basics. The last time she drove with her instructor, said instructor was amazed at how well she parallel-parked the school’s Ford Focus on her very first attempt. Had to do with her training for parallel parking was in an 18-foot-long pickup truck. Her last behind-the-wheel with her instructor comes this weekend (weather permitting) and the instructor has already said she really doesn’t need the time due to her already evident practice.

  • avatar
    noxioux

    I almost never use 4×4 in my Pathfinder in the snow. Only if the surface streets are so packed or slick that it’s tough moving through the intersections.

    RWD just gives you so much more control once you get the feel for it. Plus it’s fun as hell when you get a chance to play a little.

    I don’t know how the Suburban would be, but unless they’re in an area that’s buried in snow from November to March, they should be OK.

  • avatar
    AlfaRomasochist

    A 2WD SUV in snow country has about the same resale value as used beer. Dump it before the move.

  • avatar
    manbridge

    Drove an 87 2WD for years here in CO. Open diff too. Did fine everywhere with good tires unless having to go from a dead stop on a hill. Resale would’ve been hard. I ended up donating it to some Ukranians around 2000.

  • avatar
    Lightspeed

    I live in Edmonton where snow is on the ground for 6-months of the year. Both mycars are RWD (Lexus GS and Cressida)I get by OK with Michelin XiCE2 snow tires. But, if this city had any hills i’d probably have one FWD or AWD car.

    • 0 avatar
      davefromcalgary

      Can they handle 105 St northbound up out of the river valley? If they can handle that, they can probably handle pretty much anything.

      • 0 avatar
        Lightspeed

        Funny you ask, I used to work halfway up that hill when I drove a Malibu Maxx. Now i’m really selective which days I might go up there. I know there are many days the Lexus just wouldnt make, although the Cressida might. I still think I should swap the Cressi for a 4Runner or Tacoma.

        • 0 avatar
          davefromcalgary

          I almost rented a place halfway up that hill. Boy am I glad I didn’t.

          Not because of the slope of the street itself, but 1) I hate downtowns and 2) The angle between the street and the parkade was unnavigable unless you had a Jeep’s worth of approach angle. (sarcasm, but only just)

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    Posi/locker or no? GM did throw those into many of their rear ends on the full size SUVs and trucks. Might be a real beast (in a good way) with snow tires and a traction aiding diff.

    FWIW when driving a school district 2wd Suburban (2008 or so) in heavy driving thunderstorms on rutted paved roads whenever the system detected something wrong it would cut power and brake the wheel that was slipping. Kinda UN-nerving in a hydroplaning situation.

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    Keep the Suburban for the long trips folks seem to make out west and pickup a small light FWD or AWD beater, something you can toss sandbags in as needed.

  • avatar
    dswilly

    I have no problem driving sketchy cars in snow, in fact I like the challenge..at times. My wife on the other hand wants nothing of it, nor do I want her challenging mother nature without the best tools for the job. She drives the X5. DSC (stability control) is the other component not mentioned, lots of cars have it, not all equal. The X5’s system is excellent.

  • avatar
    08Suzuki

    Considering I live in Colorado, AWD IS helpful.

  • avatar
    Landcrusher

    Snow conditions vary greatly by location in CO. Beyond the differences in actual snowfall, different local governments vary greatly in services.

    The most important thing for new ice drivers is traction control, not 4wd.

    Above, the used car issue was raised, I would call a couple dealers and check on that. I suspect in rural areas that may be true, but Denver may not find it to be an issue.

    BTW, Denver natives love to tell people it doesn’t snow there. This is only true relative to Aspen or Steamboat. Relative to any place normal in the world it snows just plenty.

    • 0 avatar
      WaftableTorque

      When I’m on ice, I actually turn off traction control on my RWD if I want to maximize acceleration. Traction control has to be much more aggressive on RWD than FWD because wheel spin can cause fishtailing. But it also means you never get to the meat of the ice and snow traction, which actually increases with wheel spin.*

      *There’s an article where a snow tire engineer actually says as much, but I’m too lazy to find it right now.

      • 0 avatar
        danio3834

        This is the most effective approach when on ice. Traction control only works when there is some traction to control. When there’s none, you’re better off to let em spin and rock it.

        In my experience driving RWD cars with summer tires in the snow, pulling away from a stop with the traction control enabled results in no forward movement because the TC system has reduced power so much and applied the brakes so frantically.

        • 0 avatar
          jmo

          Only if you have a limited slip differential. With traction control, the brakes are moving the torque to the wheel with the most grip. With no traction control and an open diff, by definition, the power is being routed to the wheel with the least grip.

    • 0 avatar
      Landcrusher

      You guys have been living in the snow too long. The most important thing for new drivers on ice is traction control. I know I said it but you guys didn’t really think about it. Consider the meanings of the words – new, drivers, ice, and important.

      Let’s reduce the chances of them wrapping around a pole and then let them figure out how to get going when stuck. If they can’t get unstuck, they can stay home.

  • avatar
    ktm_525

    In the words of Captain B McCrea of the Axiom: “I don’t want to survive. I want to live.” Yes you could get by with a 2wd with winter tires but just think of the fun of a 4Wd Burb shod with the same!

  • avatar
    Conslaw

    Do they really have a need for a Suburban-sized vehicle? If they don’t if they trade down for something smaller and cheaper to run, albeit with 4WD/AWD they may make up in lower cost-per-mile most of what they lose on the trade. If they need a Suburban-sized vehicle,then it’s largely a matter of money, do they have it? do they want to spend it on an AWD vehicle vs. something else?

  • avatar
    SteveMar

    Living in Minnesota, this week’s weather has once again convinced me that snow tires are the key to dealing with nasty winter weather. My Volvo 850R wagon has snows — nothing fancy, just Firestone Winterforces — and it gets through hill and dale just fine. Granted the hills and dales here are much smaller than in CO. I too have watched AWD cars with all seasons careen into the ditch.

    But, I would agree that a RWD Suburban would be low on the resale list here. If they want to try it, I think they would be fine with snow tires on the vehicle, but they will take a hit when they sell it. Otherwise, go for something modern with all of the electronic doodads and get snows for the winter wackiness. AWD is fine, but I have lived in the snow belt all of my life and gotten where I need to go in FWD and RWD cars. So AWD, while nice, is not a necessity.

  • avatar
    mnm4ever

    I am from Florida so I know nothing about snow driving except what my northern family tells me. Every time someone asks this type of question we get 100 comments about how RWD is fine, no need for AWD, etc, because of the snow tires. If I was moving to the snow belt, and I was going to buy snow tires anyway, then why wouldn’t I get snow tires and AWD to be the safest and most confident?? It doesn’t even pass the common sense test.

    Now that being said, I do not think an X5 is the answer to safe snow driving. Do they even make 22″ snow tires? Sounds to me like someone is just trying to use this move as an excuse to justify buying a BMW. I think the real question is what is their budget? A used Burb doesn’t have much resale value in FL from the ones I see advertised, so while it will probably be worth even less in CO, it isn’t worth much here either. If they want a winter car, and don’t want to spend a lot on it, they probably can just keep the Burb, put snow tires on it and use it when the weather is bad. But if they want a new car anyways, then get it now before the move and yes, get something AWD and buy a set of snow tires for it as well. BMW? Lexus? Acura? That’s the age old question and there is no right answer, sounds like she wants a Beemer so if they can afford it then why not? Personally I think they are all overpriced, I would probably get a Subaru, or more likely use the snow as an excuse to get a Raptor. :)

    • 0 avatar
      Lie2me

      To respond to your first statement. Having recently moved north from Florida, but being originally from the north, what you suggest is the sensible thing to do. I know the difference and I’m happy with my 4WD decision.

    • 0 avatar
      hubcap

      A Raptor would be great. Definitely would be on my list as would a WRX but my wife wouldn’t want either so if she wants an X5 I say get the X5.

      • 0 avatar
        mnm4ever

        My wife likes the Raptor but wouldn’t drive one, she would probably want a Land Rover again, that was a great snow vehicle the one time I used it in the snow in West Virginia. I actually forgot we drove in snow in DC too, had a cpl blizzards when we lived there but I didn’t drive until after the plows ran.

    • 0 avatar
      dswilly

      Our X5 has 18″ wheels and its an excellent snow car. Only the Miami X5′s have the 22″ wheels.

      • 0 avatar
        mnm4ever

        I live in FL so most of the X5′s have the 22s. I have seen a cpl with the base wheels, they don’t look right on them, completely changes the look of the car IMO!

  • avatar
    Kendahl

    Even if they do decide on the X5, I recommend an extra set of wheels with real winter tires for it. (Something cheaper than Blizzaks will do.) I did that myself after many winters with our Subaru Legacy on all seasons. The improvement on slick surfaces was astonishing. I now believe tires are more important than the drive train configuration.

  • avatar
    Mikein08

    Take the advice of someone who lived in Colorado for 22 years, in
    suburban Denver (Lakewood) and farther out (Conifer). A 2wd
    suburban with blizzaks will NOT get you around effectively in the
    snow (besides which blizzaks are ungodly expensive and usually last
    only one season). Sell the 2wd suburban in Fla. before moving – there’s
    no market for them in CO. A good awd vehicle is preferable to a 4wd
    vehicle – my wife’s awd oldsmobile bravada would go thru snow when my
    4wd f250 ford with limited slip would not budge. I strongly recommend
    a subaru forester with non-turbo engine and auto tranny and good tires.
    They’ll go basically anywhere. Of course, nothing is good on ice, or
    in truly deep snow. And you don’t really want an expensive vehicle for
    snow and ice – you wouldn’t want your very expensive new car to get
    all dinged up by inexperienced drivers in rwd vehicles, would you?
    And remember, your paint and windshield are going to get treated very
    poorly by the gravel – yes gravel – that Colorado puts on the roads
    for traction (count on replacing your windshield yearly). Colorado
    can be a great place to live, but if you’re going to travel in the
    winter, you need a good awd vehicle which can take a beating and get
    you where you’re going.

  • avatar

    I am no expert but here where I live on the east side of the Sierras tucked in between the Whites. For most folks who are staying on the main roads and not commuting to Mammoth Lakes and such can live with a 2 wheel drive with a set of good snows. If you commute like I do, well I do have 1 all wheel drive Subaru Legacy with out ABS. It works fine if I have a few inches of fresh snow or ice, but not slush. With a good set of snow tires. Summer, well it gets summer tires and I wish people would not cheap out like this.

    ABS and snow is a really bad combination I might add, allot of the time. I am blessed with pre ABS cars and a massive cache of parts to keep them going.

    Run winter tires all the time or get a second set of wheels and avoid all seasons like the plague. Denver folks should do this.

    But I have a third car for when the going gets nasty up Wild Rose, or over 120 from Benton to 395. A older Loyal that has been done for off roading. Lift 27.5 x 8.50′s fresh franken motor. But the reality is, it comes out a couple times a year when it really gets nasty or I have to do a rescue or something and that is it. These are the times when NO ONE SANE would be on the roads, and all the salt shakers are tucked into bed and the police, sheriff and so on have been by the fire with the hound dog and there slippers on for a hour or more. But I have had to be out in it, more than once.

    Keep the Suburban with snow tires, they will be just fine. Get them two sets of tires if they decide to keep it. It might surprise them, hell the Peugeot 505 did fine in Denver in the winter with a set of snows.

    • 0 avatar
      Landcrusher

      I think you need to try a higher quality of ABS maybe? Our X3 ABS worked well on ice.

      • 0 avatar

        Point, So far the only ABS cars I have had were 2002 GMC (it was like a switch that came on too early) 95 Neon (Rubbish ABS) 94 Legacy. (Meh, it was ok) 03 Golf. (Meh again but passable.) So I cant say I have been involved with a real modern ABS system. But once you get up into the modern stuff you start getting the heavy hand traction control and such. Prefer to keep things simple around here, I have the tools and talent. Just not the wallet.

  • avatar
    azmtbkr81

    I made the mistake of holding onto my 2wd F150 when I moved to Colorado; problem is I didn’t grasp just how massive and step the Rocky Mountains are prior to my arrival. After a few hairy times slip-sliding up Vail Pass during a whiteout I traded it in for a 4×4.

    No one wanted to take a 2wd F150 in on trade even though it had low miles and was in great shape. 2wd trucks aren’t sold in Colorado and most people there don’t even know such things exist! I finally found a Nissan dealer who had a deal with a guy down in TX who would take all of his 2wd trade-ins but I received substantially less than I would have if I had sold it prior to moving.

    Skip the yummy-mummy mobiles and trade the Suburban in for a Subaru or Grand Cherokee prior to moving, winter will be much more enjoyable if you do.

  • avatar
    Swedish

    Volvo XC60 T6 (AWD standard) would a great choice and arguably would be safer, more reliable and cheaper to maintain than a BMW X5. The XC60 can be had in R-Design guise with 325HP/354LB of torque and is rapid and is noted for its great handling. The Germans have been trailing Volvo for DECADES regarding engineering their cars to protect drivers well in Small Overlap collisions as demonstrated by IIHS Crash Test results.

  • avatar
    Vulpine

    Personally, I don’t recommend ANY of those choices. Having lived in Denver myself, I remember the monthly blizzards and easy 30″ snowfalls even as late as Easter. I’ll grant the 2WD Suburban is a bad choice itself up to a point, but at least you can drop a couple hundred pounds of sandbags or something back by the tailgate and help. I drove it 2WD pickup out there just fine–when I loaded it down with a bed full of wet snow. That said, 4×4 or AWD are the better idea–with qualifiers.

    When a blizzard hits in that town, you need ground clearance. The typical AWD today doesn’t offer much more ground clearance than that Acura TL. 5″ to 6″ of ground clearance and an AWD system that actually sends the power to the wheels with the most traction would be better. Subaru is the most noted of these in a car-based model while Jeep’s Cherokee and Grand Cherokee can offer a little more comfort and capability.

    Even then, again having experienced this for myself, having that capability without the skills to handle them is just as bad or worse than sticking with 2WD. At least with 2WD you KNOW you’re on risky roads and drive like it; with AWD or 4WD you tend to get over-confident and simply can’t react quickly enough when you start to slide. I drove Wolf Creek Pass in a big Ford LTD on ice-covered roads and had absolutely no trouble while a novice in a Grand Wagoneer spun out and was only saved by the high snow wall on a curve.

  • avatar
    Landcrusher

    If the X5 is really the issue, try selling her on a Q5. Less expensive and trendier in CO than the Bimmer.

  • avatar
    fredtal

    I’m a few years from retiring to Sonora CA from Houston so I’m very interested in this subject. My problem will be the drive from the house to town is a twisty icy road. I don’t think I’ll really know until I move out there and experience it. For sure studded snow tires on all 4 will be used, and since I’ll be retired, I can just stay home.

    • 0 avatar
      Scoutdude

      Before you buy studded snow tires read this report. http://www.wsdot.wa.gov/research/reports/fullreports/551.1.pdf Do not that it is relatively old and the performance of the average ice and snow tire has increased dramatically while for the most part the average studded snow tire has stood still or lost ability due to the new light weight studs now mandated in many areas. If you check tests at Tirerack you’ll also see that there are tires out there now that perform better than the current Blizzaks.

      • 0 avatar
        WaftableTorque

        That’s an informative article, albeit in need of some multimedia pizazz.

        I did an impromptu brake test on glare ice in front of our home about 3-4 years ago from 10 mph, and my 4000lb LS430 with X-Ice XI2′s stopped in the same distance as our 3500lb ES300 with Primacy Alpins (~1.5 car lengths), while the 3200lb Camry with studded Hankook W401 Zavocs took almost a car length longer.

        It wasn’t a fair fight, because of different weights, contact patch sizes, and the Camry’s less sophisticated 3-channel ABS, but it did highlight that tire development keeps finding ways of improving winter tire performance while making them quieter, less squirmy, and better riding.

    • 0 avatar
      rpn453

      You guys need to check out the real tire tests: the Scandinavian ones. Nothing done in North America comes close. More than half of their drivers use studded tires because they tend to drive on slippery roads every day for about four months straight, just like I do in Saskatchewan. Here’s why we go studded:

      http://translate.google.com/translate?hl=en&sl=no&tl=en&u=http://www.naf.no/Forbrukertester/Dekk/Dekktester/Vinterdekktest-2009/&sandbox=0&usg=ALkJrhg0y1wfHanYO447GIcfqLM9U16UTg

      “The winter tire test for 2013 shows that after about 20 years of dedicated studless tires there is still a considerable gap between studless and studded on the most difficult road conditions, namely smooth ice.”

      The modern, lightweight stud, factory studded tires that are available in Europe are superior to what we get here. As far as I know, the only modern studded tire available in North America is the Nokian Hakka7.

      Russian testing found that relative performance is based on ice temperature. Studless tires perform much worse on warm, wet ice than in other winter conditions, while the performance of studded tires is consistent and predictable on all types and temperatures of ice. Studless tires do a little better than studded tires on really cold ice, with about 20% shorter stopping distances. The best studded tires put studless tires to shame on warm, wet ice though. The stopping distance of studless tires is about 150% greater than that of the studded tires in that condition.

      http://translate.google.com/translate?hl=en&sl=ru&tl=en&u=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.zr.ru%2Fcontent%2Farticles%2F16906-test_shipy_i_lipuchki_na_ldu_kazus_gradusa%2F

      What does Nokian think?

      “If you have non-studded winter tires, you need to be particularly careful at crossroads etc. where there may be wet ice or hard-packed snow. Studded tires are superior to non-studded winter tires on wet ice and hard-packed snow.”

      http://www.nokiantires.com/studded-or-friction-tires

      You never have to be all that careful with a good set of studded tires. They’re highly predictable.

  • avatar
    Bart 7001

    In terms of driving in snow, spent my youth in upstate NY (Rochester/Syracuse). I have driven in plenty of snow on both 2R, 2F and 4W, agreed in terms of tires, and powered wheels, find is kind of strange how some think they are experts. Not so young anymore and avoid it when I can. I think keep the truck and get snow tires, the issue no one can predict is the other drivers, which when we get snow in PHL now, less snow/ice but less experience drivers, makes it so much more scarier.

  • avatar
    drylbrg

    Are you actually advising that somebody who has never driven in snow, let alone driven in snow in hilly terrain, is ok in a nose heavy and torquey RWD truck? I wouldn’t want to be anywhere near them when the white stuff hits.

    • 0 avatar
      Vulpine

      You’re not going to believe me but yes, I would recommend 2WD over inexperienced AWD. Load the tail down on the 2WD Suburban and you have somewhat better traction over your drive wheels while what slip you do get tends to keep you from over-driving the conditions the way AWD can do. The drawback is ABS, which will let you just keep sliding along if for an instant all four wheels stop turning.

  • avatar
    otter

    Actually, Detroit _didn’t_ plow the streets until at least the next winter after that blizzard in January 1999!

  • avatar
    gtemnykh

    For highway driving, I think big SUVs with part time 4wd systems are far from the ideal. Generally, you’re not barreling through feet of powder, you’re driving at 55+ mph through a few inches of snow/slush. My Mazda with snow tires blows my 4Runner on very good all seasons out of the water. The Mazda is heavier, with a more even weight distribution, and with the narrow (215 cross section) snow tires, it cut through slush and is amazingly stable. The 4runner has wide 265 meats and less weight, so the front tends to float around more. I never really use the 4wd on either one given the higher speeds. A fwd (or better yet awd) midsize sedan/wagon with snow tires is the ideal in my mind. Heavy enough to be stable cutting across the slush that builds up between lanes, but without a tall cross section and center of mass to minimize the effect of crosswinds. A minivan with snow tires is also excellent. FWD, lots of weight on narrow-ish wheels.

    I would trade in the 2wd ‘burb in Florida where it is worth more, then buy a minivan/crossover in CO. AWD Sienna if you want a similar amount of space to the Suburban.

    • 0 avatar
      honda_magna85

      I agree with your comments.

      I live in Upstate NY and daily drive a civic. Its fine for 98% of the snowy/icy days. If the roads are really bad, say 6+ inches of unplowed snow I will take out the old toyota 4×4 pickup, lock in the hubs, and chug along in 4LO. Your not safely going above 25 or 30 mph in those conditions anyway.

      Should the roads clear somewhat later in the day the truck feels horrible at higher speeds, with its (relatively) wide tires floating over snow/slush then grabbing on the dry to give you an really uneasy ride. The civic with its narrow tires and weight bias over the front wheels cuts through slush with ease and basically goes where you point it.

      Some of the best vehicles in the snow are the early 90′s Buick Lesabre, Bonneville, etc. Heavy front wheel drive cars. Put the meatiest snow tires you can find on them and you’ll keep up with the 4×4 pickups.

      I also knew some people who drove subarus and never plowed/shoveled their 200′ long uphill driveway.

      • 0 avatar
        gtemnykh

        Right on, I’m from Ithaca originally and I second your observation of larger 90s GM sedans doing well. I had a 1990 Civic in high school that did decent considering it only had all seasons. However the back end was pretty unstable in heavy snow (slush) due to the lack of weight to cut down through the snow. We live on a hill so my childhood is full of memories of lines of cars getting stuck going up it. Many a car has ended up in our ditch in the winter, thankfully never our own.

        My family’s mazda MPV (rwd+fulltime 4wd w/center diff lock) used to be terrifying braking down our hills on worn all seasons. My dad is quite the cheapskate when it comes to cars. I finally convinced him to buy a separate set of steelies with Michelin snow tires and all I can say is WOW. I never even bothered to turn on the 4wd for most of my driving after that, unless it was particularly slushy and I was going uphill, and even then I did it just because. The mazda weighs about 4000lbs with good weight distribution front/rear. And for such a heavy car the wheels aren’t that wide. It makes for an incredible winter car. My 4runner is much more capable in an actual offroad environment, but in the winter it’s no contest. I’m debating getting dedicated snow tires for it, we’ll see.

  • avatar
    el scotto

    Something like this always brings out a vigorous debate among the B&B. I’m lucky, I work a flex schedule and can just take a snow day/delayed opening day off. I’d like to hear from people who have to be at work, LEO’s, first responders, medical personnel, power plant operators, etc; and what they drive for bad weather conditions.

  • avatar
    PonchoIndian

    All the commenters here need to know that a Suburban has more than 50% of its weight over the rear wheels. It is not a nose heavy vehicle.

    I think some of you are crazy adding more weight to the rear of your truck/car in the winter. Nothing like adding that pendulum effect on slippery corners to really spin you out with some gusto!

  • avatar
    Mandalorian

    Who the heck buys a 2WD Suburban? That is like buying a house without bedrooms or bathrooms. I know they are in Florida, but seriously?

    • 0 avatar
      fredtal

      I say the vast majority of Suburbans around Houston are 2WD. They are just big station wagons that can tow a boat or camper.

    • 0 avatar
      ajla

      If you live in South Florida and aren’t ever going to take it off the pavement, why not?

    • 0 avatar
      Landcrusher

      Who the hell asks a question like that?

      Okay, we are all guilty of typing without thinking, but that one is a pet peeve of mine. Equipment desirability definitely changes from place to place.

      • 0 avatar
        Mandalorian

        I take it you order chicken when you go to steakhouses.

        • 0 avatar
          BuzzDog

          I see this guy’s point…isn’t everyone just itching to buy a vehicle with a feature they’re absolutely certain they’ll never use?

          And why we’re on the topic, what about those asshats who live in the North and buy Corvettes and Mustangs, but not the convertible versions? It’s not my problem that you’d never put the top down, or that you see an advantage to a simpler vehicle…

    • 0 avatar
      danio3834

      2WD trucks and SUVs are very common down south where there’s rarely a need for it. Some people don’t want to buy more equipment than they’ll use.

      I once bought a Suburban from Texas for someone up here in the snow belt who wanted a 2WD version but had trouble finding a decent example locally. Down there you can take your pick from several on any corner car lot.

  • avatar
    Wheeljack

    I grew up in Colorado and go back there twice a year for several weeks at a time to stay with family. Let me tell you, Colorado is Jeep central. Forget the idea of the snooty X5 and get a nice Grand Cherokee Overland or Summit and you’ll fit in well.

    Sell the ‘Burb in Florida and buy the Jeep down there too. The discounts on 4×4 vehicles in Colorado dry up as soon as the snow flies. All the new residents panic and go out to buy a 4×4 during that first snowfall, seen it many times. Similar to what happens with snowblowers here in Michigan when the first significant snowfall hits.

  • avatar
    Scribe39

    She has a dream car — CPO X5. Every other bit of information is useless. Buy the damned X5 and make the lady happy.

  • avatar
    dswilly

    For all those advising taking a 2WD Suburban to the mountains, throwing a bunch of sandbags in it and calling it OK, go for it, but it’s far from good. That’s what we all did when we had no choice and they got stuck all the time. There are much better options out there. If you think that thing would be “OK” in mountain weather take it up to Georgetown for one of the ice driving schools and see how it shakes out. If you can even get it there on a snowy day.

    • 0 avatar
      Lorenzo

      For decades, people in the snow belt drove RWD cars and learned not to get stuck in the snow, or how to get unstuck. The big adjustment is for people moving out of the sun belt into the snow belt. I grew up in the northeast snow belt and relocated to So. Cal. It’s a far easier transition that way, and the reverse route is going to give Floridians many, many reasons to rue the day they moved. If I were them, I’d be planning a return to Florida after the first winter, in the same Suburban that took me to Colorado. This 4-season business isn’t for everybody.

    • 0 avatar
      Vulpine

      I agree with Lorenzo. I’m not saying that the sandbags is the BEST answer, but I do believe it’s better than any of the options listed in the original question. Those people need to learn how to drive on snow and ice before they try driving an expensive lifestyle car in it. When I learned to drive, RWD was just about the only option available and you learned how to handle it–or crash. I had the luxury of gaining access to a grass field shortly after a moderate rain (so the ground wasn’t exactly muddy) and learned to handle slides and skids when I was 16 years old. I learned how to make those J-turns work without a handbrake. I learned how to enter and get out of skids under almost every condition. Even then, I got caught out cold up on I-70 in the Rockies when a hailstorm laid pea-sized hail just over the crest of a hill and I slid sideways almost a quarter of a mile with the wheel turned hard over and my foot OFF the brake and gas. The road curved and I had a choice of broadsiding into the median, or trying to spin to back in. I chose the spin and did no more damage to car and passengers than blowing the bead on one tire. I drove back out of the median, swapped tires and continued the trip. No stability control or ABS would have prevented it. AWD MIGHT have let me pull out of it.

      As for the load over the back wheels? I later purchased a compact pickup truck and KNEW it would have skid issues on snow and ice. When I shoveled my driveway and sidewalk, I dumped it all in the back of the truck and drove everywhere with no trouble whatsoever–even when others were sliding all over the place. That weight DID help on a typically nose-heavy rig.

      However, my point is that you have to learn how to handle the conditions and expecting the car to do all the work for you is just plain dumb; you WILL end up in the ditch. Or ramming somebody else’s car.

      Oh, and I would have loved to attend that snow driving school, if I’d known it was there 30 years ago.

  • avatar
    rpn453

    “He liked the control of a RWD power train, eliminating understeer with tail wagging oversteer as needed.”

    Do we need to explain to the rally car drivers that they’re doing it wrong?

    Seriously though, how could someone own a part-time 4WD vehicle and have not figured out that they can throw it sideways with the throttle anytime they want either way, the main difference being that all acceleration occurs in slow motion in one of the settings.


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