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!
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 email@example.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.