By on January 10, 2014

Image courtesy Escape City

Recently, while searching through some, ah, Japanese-market literature left in a bathroom stall by a former TTAC E-I-C, we found out something so shocking that it cannot possibly be true. Did you know that the Toyota RAV4 was initially designed from the ground up to “destroy” the Jeep Wrangler?

According to our sources, Toyota became obsessed with world domination of the Tri-Delts-Going-To-Theme-Parties demographic. Correctly identifying that the Jeep Wrangler had easily dispatched potential adversaries as thoroughly capable as the Suzuki Samurai, the company decided to throw its global resources behind “Project Young Truck”. Over $3.4 trillion dollars were spent to create a clean-sheet effort that would dominate the Wrangler in every possible way. Hundreds of young women were kidnapped from southern-state universities and forced to participate in million-mile re-enactments of stopping by the “U Store” on the way to Sigma Chi. (The Sigma Chi house, naturally, was constructed by copying an existing Sigma Chi house to the very last detail, at the cost of one billion dollars. The cost of importing authentic American fraternity vomit alone was in the seven figures.)

With just ninety days left to go before release, the “PYT” had cleared all quality hurdles. But then tragedy struck. To make it easier to understand, we’ve translated everything from a recorded conversation in the document into standard American English, including the names.

Frankie, Chief Engineer Of The PYT: See who’s knocking at the door.

Johnny, Assistant Chief Engineer: Sure. (Opens Door)

Cooter, Chief Engineer Of Pre-Existing Off-Road Vehicle Projects About Which Everyone’s Forgotten: (Rushes In) Thank god I found you in time! Why did you locate your primary engineering facility on the dark side of the Moon?

Frankie: Ummm, it…

Johnny: Well…

Frankie: I seem to remember it costing more and therefore being better. So what’s up?

Cooter: I heard you just spent three trillion dollars to make a Jeep Wrangler competitor!

Frankie: A Jeep Wrangler destroyer, you mean. Our car has a titanium V-11. The Jeep Wrangler is powered by engines found in junkyards around Greater Toledo.

Cooter: (Whistles Appreciatively) That sounds very sustainable, though!

Johnny: Shit, you’re right. Frankie, let’s arrange to have half a million titanium V-11s buried in the Marianas Trench so we can recover them and use them responsibly.

Frankie: Like I’m not already dialing the phone on that! (Shows phone)

Cooter: Never mind all that now! What’s important is that we have already built such a vehicle! It’s been on sale for years!

Johnny: Say what?

Cooter: Yes! It’s called “Land Cruiser” and it’s the best!

Frankie: I don’t ever recall seeing one.

Cooter: That is because, prior to taking this job, you were a sanitation assistant!

Johnny But, when you think about it, isn’t that exactly the kind of job in which you’d see something like that?

Frankie. Yeah. Johnny’s right. Sure you’re not thinking about the Nissan Patrol?

Cooter: You idiots! Here’s our current brochure!

Frankie: (to Johnny) Holy crap, you see this? We have a four-speed auto in the Corolla now.

Johnny: Suddenly, it’s 1993! Haven’t been future-shocked like this since seeing Blade Runner!

Frankie: You know, he’s right. We do make a Land Cruiser thing. In fact, we make twelve of them, all slightly different. I can’t tell the difference. Why is this one called “Amazon” and this one called “Prado”? Do you have time to go over this with us?

Cooter: You see! The “PYT” must be stopped!

Johnny: He’s right. Otherwise, we’ll have one of those situations like we had when we were trying to sell the Cressida and the ES250 at the same time in the United States.

Frankie: Cooter-san, we most humbly ask your help. We have a product to deliver in ninety days that can’t be anything like a Jeep Wrangler, and we spent all but about $400 Million of our original budget. What do we do?

Cooter: (Thinks quietly) I’ve got it. Corolla with long suspension arms and short wheelbase. Tall body. Easy as pie to do.

Frankie: Yeah… YEAH! That’s the ticket! And we’ll whip up some kind of open-diff one-wheel-drive system to make it relevant to Californians who like to be seen owning 4WD trucks!

Johnny: But how about, for the price leader, we just leave the back diff carrier empty?

All together: Whoa.

THE END

That story doesn’t seem very plausible at all, does it? I mean, who could confuse an Amazon and a Prado? But regardless, since that day on the dark side of the moon, the front-wheel-drive CUV has been with us.

I’ll tell you a secret: When I see an open diff carrier in the back of an Escape or similar, I feel a smattering of additional respect. Why bother with a bunch of expensive, delicate hardware that you might never use? And with fuel economy increasingly leading the discussion in this segment, the pumpkins are disappearing as the market mixes change.

What say you, B&B? Does a CUV need AWD? Is it a nice-to-have? Does it brand the owner as a dummy? Did we lean on the “PYT” joke too hard?

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98 Comments on “QOTD: You Want A Pumpkin In The Back Of That Turkey?...”


  • avatar

    I’m going to say that during the recent “snowmageddon” event, or as we who live in Buffalo called it, “Tuesday,” that the AWD in my little Torrent was great to have. It was confident and competent out on the ice, a real pleasure to drive.

    By contrast, a woman I work with who has an FWD only Equinox told me that her CUV was an abosolute slug in the snow and that she had all kinds of problems keeping it in line.

    • 0 avatar
      Syke

      Having lived in Erie, PA 1968-77, I thought that latest ‘snowmageddon’ event was something a Buffalo denizen would call ‘summer’. You’ll get real summer the year after the Bills win the Superbowl.

      Come to think of it, we didn’t have AWD back then. Somehow, we got thru the winters without much trouble. Driving a Chevy Vega, followed by a Monza 2+2.

      • 0 avatar
        fincar1

        …and when you consider that the average Monza 2+2 didn’t have room in the wheel wells to put chains on the rear tires, that’s saying something. Still made it through the winters though with that and a 76 Cheyenne short-box pickup.

  • avatar
    ash78

    Well, you’re no David Mamet, but you’re much more entertaining then Chekov. Maybe we could call this Thornton Wilder’s “Our Truck”

    Pumpkin is awfully generous to a bunch of cars running around with grapefruits and tangerines, connected to the rear wheels with halfshafts much thinner than my…um….halfshaft.

    My old lady’s wagon is a gas hog, thanks in part to a true mechanical 50/50 Torsen system (early 2000s Audi system). Do we really need this in a place that gets 2″ of snow a year? Not really. The rear glass/steel and drivetrain do help balance the car a bit vs its FWD sedan counterpart, but at the expense of overall speed and economy — due both to weight as well as drivetrain friction. But OTOH, it was the only configuration that allowed for an IRS, which is worth it for the ride and handling alone.

    But as any longtime AWD owner can tell you, the complexity of the system (leaks, problems, fluids) is a lot higher than with 2WD. But I never, ever break traction on this thing, not even on wet hills from a dead stop. Honestly, if I were buying today, I’d never ever consider it — even for snowbelt drivers, FWD with the correct tires is going to be almost the same thing. Unless I lived with snow for more than 6 months a year, I can’t imagine it being a good long-term value proposition for an everyday road car.

    • 0 avatar
      olddavid

      No love for a southern playwright with the word “car” in one of his titles? How about Stella? Only on TTAC would my brain have to recall an obscure reference to a dead Russian. Or even a homespun American.

    • 0 avatar
      wmba

      I’ve owned six AWD vehicles since 1988. Never had the slightest trouble with the AWD systems, not even an oil drip, on any of them.

      And two were Audis.

      I’ve said it before, so might as well say it again. AWD is great. My drives of vehicles from Accord to Abarth to CLA in the last 18 months prove that traction loss in FWD vehicles happens on dry roads if you goose it, let alone in wet or snow.

      Sure, back in the ’60s, I managed to get around in winter with a RWD Volvo. Then in the ’70s and ’80s, I survived FWD Audis. Then I got AWD, and it was obviously better. My hobby was 1/8 scale RC gas car racing in the 80s. Won the Canadian championship in 1988 with an AWD model. The RWD couldn’t keep up.

      As an engineer, I look at things differently, perhaps. But having internet experts telling me AWD is useless or of no value is utter rubbish. And yes, I always put snow tires on the AWD cars, so no BS about all seasons please.

      It strikes me that peopke argue insanely for no reason beyond arguing without, in many cases, any experience other than their intellectual superiority derived from not understanding what they do not understand

      • 0 avatar
        NMGOM

        Hi wmba – – –

        Please see my entry at 1:35 PM, January 8th, 2014, on:
        http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/01/hammer-time-the-cars-of-the-cave-bears/

        All things considered, AWD is OK, but not as spectacular for comprehensive driving as claimed.

        Decent tires, good weight distribution, manual transmission, RWD, and proper driving skills are perfectly fine. I guess the latter is what is missing from our near-absent to non-existent driver education nowadays. I often wonder of the CUV/AWD craze is caused by people who literally have no knowledge of advanced driving techniques, and no practice to forming driving skills.

        Your present company excepted, of course… No offense intended.

        ——————–

        • 0 avatar
          burgersandbeer

          Whenever this argument happens, the side arguing against AWD always handicaps it in some way. It’s either RWD w/studded Hakkas > AWD w/bald Capitol all seasons, or RWD and mad driving skillz > AWD and incompetent “soccer mom.”

          With the same driver and same tires, AWD offers more of an advantage in the messy stuff. It’s like the 2wd crowd needs to constantly justify why they didn’t buy an AWD car. 2wd with good tires is perfectly fine for most people most of the time. It was my preference when I lived where it snowed. The roads were consistently plowed and my job did not require me to be onsite at all costs, so AWD was overkill. That doesn’t mean it wouldn’t be better if I had to drive in a blizzard.

          • 0 avatar
            Power6

            Yeah it is some sort of inferiority complex, they feel their driving skill is in doubt.

            These people have clearly never been stuck in downtown Boston in a good ol nor’easter. Some of those 2WDs are not going anywhere snows or not when the plows can’t get around. But AWD rarely gets stuck, you can stuff it in any snowbank to park if you need to. I’ll be the first to admit you don’t use it often around here, I drive a FWD with snows right now, but if you need/want to be able to go places no matter what the weather…you need AWD.

          • 0 avatar
            05lgt

            They’ve also missed the Audi history in Trans-Am. And why WRC class structure is the way it is, even on asphault. Let them run a RWD in rallycross … against 4wd cars. it’s tired, it’s based in ignorance, it’s not going to change.

  • avatar
    JMII

    The only part of this article that is even remotely believable is that it was written by Zombie McQuestionbot.

    My parents have a first generation Toyota RAV4 and they certainly got the NVH from the Wrangler copied perfectly.

  • avatar
    IHateCars

    Well the original RAV4 did have a half soft top and kinda looked like a Samaurai and or Jeep type vehicle. I still see a few first gen RAVs in the wild.

  • avatar
    krhodes1

    I don’t really see a “need” for the overwhelming majority of people for vehicles that are used exclusively on pavement. There are certainly edge cases where AWD is helpful, but they are the exceptions. But it is a nice earner for companies, so why not offer it? *I* wouldn’t pay for it, but many people will. Personally, I just use snow tires.

    Yes, the joke was a bit much…

  • avatar
    racer-esq.

    “Hundreds of young women were kidnapped from southern-state universities and forced to participate in million-mile re-enactments of stopping by the ‘U Store’ on the way to Sigma Chi.”

    Anyone familiar with “Japanese-market literature” will know that it could have ended much worse for them.

    There is nothing that original about a “Jeep” being unibody or front and rear IRS: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/M151_MUTT

    Or not having the rear diff: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Citro%C3%ABn_M%C3%A9hari

    Toyota already directly knocked off the Jeep with the original Land Cruisers, trying to accomplish the effect of a Jeep, but from a different starting point, was a more interesting experiment.

  • avatar
    sportyaccordy

    Appropriate tires > AWD

    • 0 avatar
      KixStart

      Yes. Better to put one’s money into snow tires than AWD.

      The only thing that AWD provides is false confidence.

    • 0 avatar
      Vulpine

      AWD AND appropriate tires is better than either of the above. There are still times when even “appropriate tires” are not enough and times when AWD is not enough. That’s when full-time 4WD WITH appropriate tires has the real advantage–but ground clearance is the biggest advantage then.

      • 0 avatar
        Mandalorian

        Why not snow tires AND AWD. Driving in the winter without AWD/4×4 is like taking an SAT/ACT test without a calculator. Did lots of people do it before the tech was mainstream? Yes. Can it be done perfectly well without it? Yes. But is that really a smart proposition? No.

        • 0 avatar
          davefromcalgary

          If I might venture to suppose, many people do enjoy cars, and while more and more cars are becoming available with AWD, its still slim pickings compared to CUVs, SUVs, pickups, etc.

          If I WERE interested in a CUV at the moment, I would get it with AWD (and equip it with winters)… and a stick. I guess that means, hello Forester.

        • 0 avatar
          krhodes1

          Even though I own just such a beast (Range Rover on Hankook iPikes), for 95% plus of people, it is a complete and utter waste of money. AWD is a three-fold bite – you pay more upfront, you pay more at the gas pump, and God help you if any of it goes wrong. Realistically, if you live in the typical urban/suburban areas that the majority of CUV drivers live in, JUST snow tires will get you anywhere you need to go. If the roads are so bad that they won’t, STAY OFF THE ROAD! Because some idiot in a less well-equipped vehicle will take you out.

          The only reason I own the beast is that it tows for a living in the summer, and if you are going to have a winter beater/fourth car, it might as well be a big honking 4×4. But I don’t *need* it to get around in the winter. Mostly it means I can slack off snowblowing the driveway for a while even if we get 3′ of snow. :-)

          • 0 avatar
            Power6

            Meh you are talking about “need” as if that drives vehicle purchases, why must AWD justify “need” yet you own what like 3 cars for one guy IIRC and the most useful is an expensive BMW wagon right, a Corolla totally would do it for you, you don’t “need” handling, larger tires just kill your fuel economy right?

            You do seem to be one of the reasonable ones krhodes so not just directed to you, those who say you don’t need AWD should be railing against all performance cars because they are clearly wasteful and not needed. I bet exactly none of the 2WD-er than thou” crowd owns only what is “needed” and nothing more. AWD is more useful than a map light, or a butt warmer or whatever.

            I’ve always liked when I have an AWD car, at least I could look forward to winter for something. WRX was particularly great, dry wet or slick, never at a loss for fun. I can see the draw for the peace of mind of just having a little AWD SUV or whatever.

            I like smoking the plow trucks from the lights in our Outback XT ha. bring on those balanced RWDs with their snows, the Outback will rock you in the snow at every turn, and I have taken the Bridgestone winter driving course, what all professional training have you had??? (I also spent my youth sideways in every storm in a Delta 88 ha)

          • 0 avatar
            krhodes1

            @Power6

            Actually, I have five cars for one guy. Different vehicles for different purposes. The BMW is the most general purpose of any of them, and I saw no need to order it with AWD. I agree that wants are different than needs. Just be honest about what is a want and what is a need.

            Did your sister have snow tires on that Turbo Beetle? Guess not.

            I applaud you for being one of the few smart enough to run snow tires on a Subaru. So many of them end up in the ditch every winter.

            As for training, I did the O’Niel winter rally school about 15 years ago.

          • 0 avatar
            Power6

            OK so we are in agreement we all have more than we need and AWD is hardly a case of gross conspicuous consumption.

            Yeah no snows on the turbo Beetle, still I am not sure if it would have mattered. Agreed snows on AWD for me, I like to stop and turn.

            I want to do the O’neil school some day!

        • 0 avatar
          KixStart

          Because AWD costs more and hurts your fuel economy whether or not you are using it, so there’s a distinct disadvantage to it.

          If you live where the streets get plowed in tolerably reliable fashion, you don’t need it.

          There’s bunches of AWD vehicles here on the street for people who want to “be prepared.” Of course, “be prepared,” to my mind, is to make sure you’ve got what you need to get through the storm at home before the storm hits… rather than drive in it to get what you need.

          • 0 avatar
            Power6

            Hmmm my sister promised to feed some cats up in Arlington heights for a week. Big storm hit us on the weekend, she went over there in her turbo Beetle, could not get up the hill to her friends house. Roads were plowed but the storm was on going. She came over to my place, we took my then snow tired WRX on over there. Stuffed it into the driveway to let the plows by (parking ban) probably 10-12 inches unplowed.

            I can’t say the cats would have expired one day with no water/food, nor can I say the turbo Beetle wouldn’t have made it with snows, though this is very steep road. It is inappropriate to “work up a speed” in a very residential urban area to get a 2WD up a hill, not to mention a bit unsafe. Guess my sister didn’t want to take a chance killing her friend’s cats while she was on vacation.

            I used this same car many times to get to the datacenter in Somerville where my employer housed equipment. Not really required, but there were some pretty bad stormy nights I needed to go over there. Streets must be chosen carefully to not have too much grade heading there from Arlington. With the WRX I didn’t have to think about that.

            It’s not like I was going to clear out the shelves of milk and bread, that stuff is for 2WD-ers. Us AWD grab coffee at Starbucks after parking in the unplowed lot in Arlington center (they never plow it always cars in it they can’t)

            Totally not “needed” but what do we really need in life, we all have more than we need in America. If it makes you feel better to have a little more than you need what is the big deal. I am sure I could find some euqipment on your car that is “not needed” and “hurts your fuel economy”

            This talk about all the drivetrain issues with AWD like diffs be blowing up all over the place LOL some people are just out of touch with logic and reality I guess.

        • 0 avatar
          Maymar

          Remember those original brick caluclators? Imagine having to carry one of those around with you everywhere you go, on a chain around your neck, whether or not you’ll be writing the SAT in the next six months. You have to keep this brick calculator with you at all times, even if you’re not using it, because reasons.

          Now, granted, if you’re driving something suitably worthy where there’s a dry weather traction/handling advantage, why not. But if that AWD’s going to be of no use six months of the year, why carry that extra weight around unless you absolutely need it (even in Canuckia, I don’t)? At least snow tires, I can leave in the garage over the summer.

        • 0 avatar
          CoreyDL

          We get onto “AWD + Tires” way too much around here. Any article where AWD/4×4/Differential/Tires is mentioned turns into “AWD + Tires.” We need to quit this.

  • avatar
    krazykarguy

    There are plenty of SUV’s with 2WD and a differential carrier out back that appears to be missing something.

    I always chuckle when I see a 1st generation Honda Pilot, rocking a bare carrier and saddled with a single outlet exhaust, just so EVERYONE knows you’re cheap. FWIW, 2WD Pilots are pretty damned rare – I only spot one about 3-4x a year in my neck of the woods…

    • 0 avatar
      Carrera

      Depends were you live. Most Pilots in Southern states are FWD only. It is actually pretty darn hard to find an AWD one in Florida. I tried to purchase an AWD CRV in Florida before my move to Canada but it was impossible. I had to settle for a Ridgeline which came standard with AWD.

      • 0 avatar
        CoreyDL

        It’s like trying to find a Town Car with heated seats in the south!

        • 0 avatar
          PrincipalDan

          @CoreyDL, I once sat in a 1999 Town Car on a used lot in Gallup, New Mexico that had everything BUT heated seats. Memory drivers seat, heated outside mirrors, but no headed seats. I wasn’t even aware you could order heated mirrors as a separate option from heated seats in those days.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            They split up all the options, even in that damm Cartier! It annoys me to see Cartier versions here in Ohio with no seat heaters, just that cheap plastic blank there instead.

            The Lincoln dealer here had, last year… you ready for it?

            Cypress Edition with heated seats and no landau. Looked good in photos, $2700. So I go look at it – the tires are flat and it’s got rust issues under the rear fender trim, which is sagging. Utter disappoint.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            I can’t remember if the non factory special editions such E&G’s Congressional/presidential used Signature or Cartier trims, but I would assume the one you looked at was fairly loaded. If the dealer doesn’t care enough to even pump up the tires before they show it, then then prob don’t want it. $1500 (and walking away after the rejection) probably would have bought it, and then a grand or so later in a rear coil kit and tires you’d have a nice classy hoopty.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            I’m fairly certain all the non-factory specials used Signature trims. I went to the lot when it was closed, to get a view in natural habitat. Back of the lot with flat tires, waiting for the auction block I suppose. I wouldn’t have wanted it with the rust, since I’d be buying it for almost just the paint color. The trim sagging was the rear fender black plastic trim strips, there to protect paint from rocks on that huge overhang.

            But the tires issue tells you something about how Montgomery Lincoln operates.

          • 0 avatar
            PrincipalDan

            @28-cars-later, the Presidential/Congressional, super-duper padded top editions that I’VE seen are crap shoots. I’ve even seen a few that really had no options over a base car other than the cheesy logos and fake convertible top. (The Grand Marquis that had that treatment done to them were even a few GS models with cloth interiors!)

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            I saw a Grand Marq Black Tie Edition that I liked once!

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            I’ve seen the cheesy almost plastic padded roofs on base CV/MGMs too but it seemed like the TCs 90+ had better cloth roof treatments in general and were always somewhat loaded, 89 and earlier almost always had the cheap looking factory half landau roof.

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    I don’t know what this article even was supposed to be, but assuming its true Toyota was looking into building a true small 4×4 at one time I think its pretty cool.

    Note to Toyota, while a Wrangler-type competitor may not pan out I’ve got something that might. In the 80s you sold a small truck (literally listed as Toyota “Truck” on wikipedia but listed under Hilux) which in shortbed form is slightly bigger than a Corolla, I know because I occasionally drive one. This 87 is as stripped as they come I4/manual transmission/2WD, manual steering, bench seat, north of 240 on the clock and my mechanic plans to drive it indefinitely as he put 350K on an earlier 85 and sold it running for $1500. The area I grew up in used to be littered with these and S10s, Tacoma’s not bad by any means but its much bigger and doesn’t live up to what the truck I’m describing is: small, I4/manual, bone simple utility truck. You couldn’t fiddle with the Corolla and make one out of it?

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Toyota_Hilux

    • 0 avatar
      KixStart

      I keep thinking there must be a market for a small truck such as you describe and the automakers stubbornly keep refusing to make one.

      Alternatively, Toyota could downsize the Tacoma, roll it back to where it was in 2001 or so.

      • 0 avatar
        Vulpine

        Agree whole-heartedly. I don’t need or want a full-size and even today’s mid-sizers are larger than I want. The old early-’80s vintage compacts really were the best for a lot of people.

        • 0 avatar

          I’m with you on that. I actually would love one like the old VW Rabbit pickup from the ’70s. Front wheel drive, a small fuel efficient motor and a box in the rear. No need for true hauling, but having a small bed in the back would come in pretty handy.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        Hanging out on TTAC you gain alot of insight on the industry. Despite all of the additional hurdles I think what holds it back is lack of shared platform. If there was a way to downsize or share the existing Tacoma as you suggest, it starts to look more attractive from the accounting standpoint.

    • 0 avatar
      racer-esq.

      “You couldn’t fiddle with the Corolla and make one out of it?”

      A pickup based on the Corolla, which shares its platform with the xB, is very doable:

      http://special-reports.pickuptrucks.com/2009/10/sema-preview-bowls-la-scion-xb-project-truck.html

      http://www.carscoops.com/2007/10/sema-scion-xb-l-con-city-safari-pick-up.html

      It looks like Toyota is worried about cannibalizing the Taco:

      http://wardsauto.com/ar/scions_compact_truck_100115

    • 0 avatar
      mkirk

      There was a Diahutsu Rocky (may have been the same vehicle with Toyota badges) version of the Land Cruiser in other (non-US) markets some time ago. The last Land Cruiser we got that could hang with a Jeep was the 80 series, though it was huge and gave way to the IFS 100 series in 1999. The 80 Soldiered on in South America until last year I believe but if you really want the Jeep competitor you need to import a 70 series or a Bandeirante (Basically an FJ40 built until 2001 I believe for South America).

  • avatar
    KixStart

    We owned some G1 FWD Rav4s. They’re about as close as you could get to what I really wanted, which was a compact wagon. Seating for 5 (if 3 are fairly small or very friendly), not too noisy, fairly good on gas. The extra ground clearance is occasionally helpful. They were pretty good on snow. Excellent visibility and incredibly easy to park. In spite of the short overall length, they had enough space for a decent amount of cargo (even a bit more if one removed the back seats). We got a lot of utility out of them.

    The only real drawbacks were that they were only “pretty good” on gas. At high speeds, long trips, you weren’t going to do better than the very low 30’s. And they were a little noisier than I like for extended trips but nowhere near intolerable. Whenever I see a Jeep with way-out-of-state plates, I often wonder how they could stand driving a thousand miles with all that noise.

    I’m glad Toyota didn’t build a Wrangler-Wrassler.

    • 0 avatar
      imag

      I agree. We have a FWD first gen RAV4 and it has gotten up a bunch of dirt roads that were not car-passable. It has that era’s dead simple interior and build, and it’s been so good to us that it will be hard to see it go.

      There seems to be this idea in the automotive press that “off road” only means rock crawling. A vehicle which cannot do the Rubicon is talked about as though it has exactly the same functionality as a car. That is simply not true; the vast majority of rough roads do not require a Wrangler or a Land Cruiser. They just need clearance and higher profile tires.

      Then again, most CUVs apparently never even leave the pavement, so the whole point is moot for them.

  • avatar
    Russycle

    The first week of December our streets were covered in snow that soon compacted into almost-ice. Our AWD Honda was definitely easier to drive than our FWD Pontiac, especially from a stop. Haven’t tried FWD with snows so I can’t compare.

    • 0 avatar
      TEXN3

      Our Accord with Michelin X-Ice snow tires stops and steers better than our 07 Outback with Geolander all terrains did. acceleration was the same, non eventful if you take it easy. The Pilot’s AWD system is quite good and more proactive than many other FWD based systems, it goes 50:50 from a start and gradually transfers torque back to the front as speeds increase. The Explorer does the same in giant snowflakes mode.

  • avatar

    I did once drive my ex-girlfriend’s Impreza (no snows) through a blizzard on the Merritt Parkway (Connecticut), for about 50 miles, before we drove out of it, and although I’ve never driven FWD (or RWD) with snows through similar conditions, if I had to drive through blizzards on a regular basis, I think I’d want the AWD (plus snows). Even with the AWD, it was white knuckle driving, with about 4 inches on the road (the plow had not been by).

    For regular driving, lets just say that the last two years I didn’t need snows–in Boston. This year, I sensed a harsh winter coming on, and I got ‘em, and I’m already very glad I did.

    My sister’s family drove from Pittsburgh to northern Virginia during the Snowmageddon event several years ago, in the Volvo XC90, which did very well.

    http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/driving-in-an-unexpected-winter-wonderland/

  • avatar
    Pinzgauer

    I live on the side of a ridge, and I have to go up a steep hill with a curve no matter which way I go out of my driveway. They also don’t do a great job plowing. FWD + snow tires has been all I have ever needed to climb those hills provided the snow is less than 6″ deep. If higher, I just don’t drive or I try to carry more speed, but its tough because of the curves.

    You just need more strategy when driving FWD + snows, and know not to stop in the middle of a big hill unless you’re ok with backing down it. The biggest advantage AWD gives is startup traction, and this is especially true on hills.

    I do also have an AWD + snow tires but at this point I really feel it is overkill unless I will every have to drive in 1ft+ of unplowed road, which is very unlikely. I will likely dump AWD on the next, and continue with just snow tires.

    • 0 avatar
      imag

      I have known a two folks who could not get up their driveways without AWD and snows. They had to lug around to AWD kit all the time just to get the last 100 feet to their garages.

      But then they both had AWD wagons.

  • avatar
    slow kills

    Is someone going to explain the PYT joke that Jack, I mean Zombie, is stymieing me with?
    I think that AWD is of vague merit for the ham-footed boob that is the average slushbox driver on a few days of the year.
    I heard some story of a repair shop that basically removed and resold the rear transfer cases or whatever from customers’ Explorers for resale and went uncaught for quite some time.

    • 0 avatar
      gtemnykh

      Well the ham footed boobs actually really benefit from gas-it-and-go AWD in the winter, there’s no throttle modulation needed to get moving forward in slippery conditions, then again the wide spread of traction control has taken care of that somewhat, right up until it cuts all power, period and you’re stuck sitting there like an idiot. In the past week in Indy I’ve pulled out 2 cars with my 4runner and a towstrap and pushed another guy free by hand. I have quite literally all of 5 cars whose drivers bothered to put snow tires on out here. Back in Ithaca it was a solid 50% it seemed like. I’m guilty as charged though, my 4runner is rolling on General Grabber HTSs. Lots of siping in the design but no replacement for proper snows.

    • 0 avatar

      PYT is short for Pretty Young Thing, as immortalized by Michael Jackson in the song of the same name on the Thriller album. If there was anything more to the joke, I didn’t get it either.

  • avatar
    danio3834

    Need AWD? Nah, not really. But 360s on the spot are really fun!

  • avatar
    fiasco

    Yes, anything that is a Toyota product must have AWD/4wd, or it will not go in the snow for beans. Mind you, my sample size is a borrowed 87 Corolla with bald all-seasons, an 88 4Runner with Brand-X snow tires running in RWD (competent in snow once you put it in 4WD) and a 2011 FWD Sienna with Nokian snows. The combination of ABS, traction control, stability control, an electronic throttle with brake override and an open diff made the FWD Sienna worthless uphill in the snow. Traction control off and it just spun one wheel, turn traction control on and it wouldn’t move. The AWD Sienna (even with craptastic run-flat no-season tires) is much better in the snow.

    • 0 avatar
      SpinnyD

      Our 2004 FWD Seinna goes anywhere and everywhere in the snow. And I have to go into WV to visit the wife’s family so that is WV mountian country during the hoildays. Maybe they changed something on yours.

      • 0 avatar
        fiasco

        Maybe something changed. If it had a limited slip diff the FWD would’ve been fine. But the traction control had two settings, stop or infinite wheelspin, and that’s no substitute for both wheels applying power.

  • avatar
    AMC_CJ

    I’ve driven in snow in anything from old 70’s RWD cars, new FWD cars, an old Jeep CJ7 and my new Liberty. My old Jeep has takes over a foot of untouched snow better then it does dry pavement. I’ve driven sideways down a few inches of snow on a slick road in my 78′. In the end, I always made it without much fuss.

    The way new CUV drivetrains are made, I’d go just FWD if nothing else to save on the hassle of future repairs of added, cheaply made and fragile “4WD” systems. But then again, I wouldn’t a CUV, I’d buy a real SUV. I like the fact that my Liberty has AWD, 4WD, and 4WD-low. Heavy rain, slush, light, snow, the AWD takes it on without a hitch, A foot of snow; 4WD, no problem. Time to tow a old motorhome that’s been sitting for 20 years in muddy barn; 4WD-low baby!

  • avatar
    grzydj

    This argument has come full circle, seeing how the Jeep Patriot, Jeep Compass and even by extension, the new Jeep Cherokee have basically copied the formula of the original RAV4. All of which can be had in FWD or AWD.

  • avatar

    Did anyone notice that the photograph is not of RAV4?

    The suspension looks vaguely similar to that of 4.2. 4.1 was way spindlier with tube lowers, while 4.3 has springs resting directly on arms. But 4.2 did not have a donut spare.

  • avatar
    Stuck in DC traffic

    Zombie McQuestionbot — “What say you, B&B? Does a CUV need AWD?”
    Zombie McAnswerbot — “Necessary? Is it necessary for me to drink my own urine?”
    Zombie McQuestionbot — “Probably not. ”
    Zombie McAnswerbot — “No, but I do it anyway because it’s sterile and I like the taste.”

  • avatar
    Domestic Hearse

    Japanese literature? Pumpkin?

    I had an entirely different vision in my head as to where this story was going initially.

    Can you please post some scans of said found Japanese literature for my own edification? Not being particularly familiar with the genre, it could be a learning experience for me and possibly the rest of the B&B.

    Thanks in advance.

  • avatar
    eggsalad

    The converse side of this is that not everybody wants/needs AWD. Aside from the WRX and it’s variants, Subaru can’t make a dent in the Desert Southwest market.

    I briefly considered making a Forester my next car, but I don’t want to pay the penalty in weight/complexity/MPG.

    • 0 avatar
      ash78

      That’s always the tipping point for me with Subie, as well. I want to like their cars, almost everything looks great, but the unnecessary AWD (and fuel economy often kill it). As I posted above, after living with a thirsty AWD car, I would never do it again if starting from scratch. It’s seen snow a couple times, but nothing major — mostly a lot of wet hills.

      Subarus are fairly rare in the South, but I can’t explain why they’re so ridiculously popular in Florida — except that maybe they’re just the legacy cars (pun!) for snowbirds who just haven’t traded yet.

      Occasionally I’ll see a Legacy GT wagon, which is like the Loch Ness monster here.

    • 0 avatar
      grzydj

      The 2014 Forester is pretty light for its size, and with the new F series engine, mated to a 6 speed manual, it gets pretty respectable fuel economy. Also has a fantastic AWD system.

      • 0 avatar
        eggsalad

        Respectable for AWD, perhaps.

        One of the other contenders on my shopping list is the Mazda CX-5 Sport, with FWD and a 6-speed.

        According to fueleconomy.gov, the CX-5 will save me $400/year in fuel over the Subie. The prices on both vehicles are essentially the same.

        Do I want to spend an extra $4000 over the life of the vehicle for a “feature” I neither want nor need?

        No, I do not.

  • avatar
    brettc

    I’m thinking Jack is under some *heavy* sedation from his 2009 Ford Lincoln accident and wrote this while he was lucid for a few minutes. Entertaining though.

    CUVs do need AWD to convince the potential buyer(s) that there’s a reason to justify the purchase of an expensive wagon on stilts.
    I personally don’t think AWD is needed 99% of the time. There’s a fuel economy hit 100% of the time and then the added maintenance/expense down the road when some component that makes it work fails. I guess other car companies need to start doing the decoupling thing like Chrysler is doing to at least improve the fuel economy somewhat.

  • avatar
    bills79jeep

    I’m beginning to think that the B&B holds snow tires on the same level as row your own brown wagons.

  • avatar
    troyohchatter

    All things being equal, 4wd is, of course, better. BUT, add dedicated snow/ice tires of the modern variety to the mix and I would say that, all things being equal as far as ground clearance, weight, etc; I would take the dedicated tires and 2wd over 4WD and all season tires any day of the week.

    The second issue with AWD is what I call “point of reference.” See, on a typical FWD car, the front’s break loose but the rear tires maintain grip, giving the driver a chance to recover. BUT, on packed snow, with modern day all season tires, both ends break loose and once that happens, you are f**ked.

    Go ahead, ask me how I know..haha.

    Now all of that being said, the 4wd system on the CR-V cost me 1MPG average and about 250 bucks in RT4wd fluid changes over the life of the vehicle. So, basically it’s hardly used but hardly cost anything, so why just have it. 4wd and ice tires trumps all comers when it comes to winter.

  • avatar
    Blackcloud_9

    All I know is…that was a lot of silly (and confusing) fluff to read through to ask if a CUV should have AWD.

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    “Recently, while searching through some, ah, Japanese-market literature left in a bathroom stall by a former TTAC E-I-C”

    So sloppy of Otto Von Sourpuss to leave Japanese Gentlemen’s Magazines in the TTAC throne room.

    AWD or NO? I’ll be shopping for a (used) big sedan in 2014 and given that even in the used market something like an AWD 2008-2009 Taurus is pretty affordable I’m debating that question myself.

    I think I’d rather have FWD or RWD for better economy the 355 days of the year that I’m not driving in crappy weather and buy mounted snow tires for the cold months. Cause here in NM November to April can be pretty damn cold (especially when the sun goes down) but we get maybe two weeks of snow in the total of a year. Snow which then melts within a day or two of falling.

    YMMV – what works for me may or may not work for you.

  • avatar
    Wheatridger

    Every now and then, my hundred-foot driveway gets covered with three or four feet of snow. I need four driven wheels then. I don’t own a snowblower, you see, and if I did, I’d have to do all that work myself. So I’m demanding AWD, with some ground clearance, on at least one family vehicle.

  • avatar
    Atum

    Wrangler killer? My mom’s RAV4 doesn’t even have AWD, haha.

    I’ve talked about my thoughts of AWD before, so I won’t repeat myself here.

  • avatar
    Zykotec

    The only place I really need 4wd on a regular basis,( we have 4-5 months of winter here) is the last 80 meters up to my house, a 16%incline, with a 60 degree bend in the middle, that starts in a 90 degree T-crossing at the bottom, so no chance of starting the hill with any speed. (Offcourse having 4wd lets me go places I usually tried to avoid before, and lets me take some shortcuts.) So I saw no reason to buy a full size SUV or dedicated offroader to use as a daily driver. When Honda made the CRV they didn’t understand why anyone would want 2 feet of ground clearance, or a high center of gravity, so they put the gas tank under the car, mounted the drivetrain as low as possible, and made a flat floor, and added even more luggage space when they put the spare wheel on the rear hatch.(not to mention the 1st two generations have quite small wheels, which mean no wheelwell intruding into the backseat) Add an opening rear window and you could still bring home 5 meter long 2×4’s. (I sadly can’t do that with the 3rd gen )

  • avatar
    hubcap

    This has been an utterly amusing thread. It’s fun watching youse{sic} guys debate whether AWD is better that FWD in low traction conditions when you know it is.

    Then we get the false dichotomy. AWD with all seasons is better than FWD with snows. Well yeah! But AWD with snows is better than FWD with snows. N’est-ce pas?

    Reminds me of when I starting flying glass cockpit aircraft. All the old, grizzled pilots would b*tch, moan, and complain about how real pilots flew steam gauges and these damn video game displays we’re gonna ruin the next generation of pilots.

    It was pure and utter bullsh*t then and it’s the same now.

    • 0 avatar
      Carrera

      Yeah really, I agree Hubcap.. This crap of RWD with a manual is better than FWD in the snow has to stop. I’ve seen RWD with crappy tires and I’ve seen FWD with crappy tires in the snow. Since it was in Europe, all cars had a 4 speed manual transmission . Guess which cars were always ending up in ditches? The RWD cars…always. Yes I know, Panthers are so good in snow that they normally tow snow plows out of ditches :)

      O course AWD is better when equipped with snow tires than anything else. Since I’ve moved to a very hilly, 4 seasons city, I realized how important AWD is. Lots of times, FWD or RWD guys spin quite a bit until traction control cuts power while I just cruise up the hill no problems. In lots of cases, the cars do have winter tires, but a big slippery incline can create problems for winter tires also. AWD on a small SUV doesn’t come with such a gas penalty like a 4×4 truck vs a 4×2. In my opinion, AWD is cheap insurance when one lives in a snowy climate. Lots of streets where I live almost look like San Francisco. Add snow and ice to that kind of an incline and AWD can be your only friend in that case.

      • 0 avatar
        krhodes1

        You live in an edge case. The overwhelming majority of people DON’T live where it is as hilly as SF with a good bit of snow besides. MOST of this country is pretty flat, actually.

        If AWD were FREE, I would say, oh HELL yes and have it on every car. But it isn’t free. It costs thousands up front. It can cost thousands to fix. It costs a bit in gas. It can cost a LOT in tires for some systems, especially if you have to replace all four due to damaging just one. All this for *most* people to get something that is truly beneficial a week a year or less, compared to just running snow tires on a 2wd car. The other 358 days it just costs money.

    • 0 avatar

      Hub cap and Carrera Thank you for writing what I was thinking. Lets be real, enthusiasts were upset when performance cars got autos (Ferrari Porsche) even thou in terms of all out performance they were superior to manuals. I think the AWD argument is much the same Yes its more fun to drive a 2wd car at it’s limits (same as driving a manual over an auto) but as far as arguing that a 2wd is somehow technically superior to a awd car (everything else being the same) is just being silly. Now there are some real world compromises including added cost and lost MPG but I think those are separate arguments much like getting the optional big engine or ordering the max tow package on a truck, do you really need it, maybe you do, but most likely not but you want it and when the time comes you get to use it its glorious .

      I drive an AWD car not by choice but because it was cheap. Now if I was buying new I would not go out of my way to buy an AWD but I understand the attraction after driving thru unplowed streets with six inches of snow and up hills with out the slightest bit of wheel slip.

  • avatar
    HerrKaLeun

    “Over $3.4 trillion dollars were spent ”

    Where are editors and fact-checking? Does the author have an idea of what money is? Toyota probably hasn’t generated that much money ini its entire existence. This is twice the federal budget…

    I hope this was meant to be satire. Or are you just pulling numbers and “facts” out of Google?

    Reminds me of austin Powers when Dr. Evil travels in time and asks in 2000 for a really small amount of money, as he assumes in 19060 it was a lot. and in 1960 he asks for so much, as hadn’t even existed back then.

    • 0 avatar
      Jack Baruth

      If you read all the way through, you will see that the money was used to place the project headquarters for the PYT on the dark side of the Moon.

    • 0 avatar
      panzerfaust

      A trillion here, a trillion there, next thing you know, you’re talking real money. I assure you this is not Satire, this really happened. James Cameron already found the V11’s in the Marianas, and is bringing them to the surface as we speak. I can’t wait for the docu-drama to be released in 3-D.

  • avatar
    panzerfaust

    “I seem to remember it costing more and therefore being better.” Isn’t that the mission statement of the Toyota Formula 1 team? Except in that case they were building a Ferrari destroyer in a shop that may as well been on the moon as far as most teams were concerned.


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