QOTD: Which Model Needs to Get a Grip?

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
qotd which model needs to get a grip

Tuesday morning, as a fresh dumping of snow blanketed your author’s region, we discussed a crucial (and obvious) ingredient for safe winter driving: winter tires.

Far less crucial for day-to-day safety, though still valuable, is another automotive feature — one that regularly sees new car buyers slap down several thousand dollars extra at the dealer. In many cases, the feature immediately goes to drivers’ heads, instilling them with a foolish overconfidence in their vehicle’s mastery of the laws of physics.

We’re talking about all-wheel drive/four-wheel drive.

On the first slick night of the season, following barely an inch of the slippery stuff, the degree to which AWD/4WD tricks drivers into feeling like Superman was made abundantly clear by a very crowded on-ramp. Crowded, but not moving. As I passed the ramp, heading home late one night, I could see three premium crossovers doing what all-wheel-drive premium crossovers shouldn’t. Sitting motionless, costing their owners money.

It seems the first driver didn’t anticipate the vehicle’s lack of grip while navigating the tight curve, leading to a spinout. The second driver, piloting a very similar vehicle, was apparently unable to stop in time, leading to an expensive steel kiss. The third driver, obviously trailing the first two a little further back, didn’t make contact, but the road condition was not sufficient for the driver to bring the CUV to a safe halt. No, this one left the road and headed off into the bush, where it sat dejected, unable to extract itself.

Four-wheel traction did nothing to help prevent this crack-up, but grippier tires and reduced speed could have saved the day. Still, when the snow grows deep and the time it takes to claw your way up to speed grows longer, all two-wheel-drive vehicle owners long for extra traction. For all four of their vehicle’s wheels to work as a team. For the ability to pull and push all at once.

So, today’s question is this. With so many vehicles in our crossover-heavy world offering four-wheel motivation, which model’s missing out. Which vehicle offered only in two-wheel drive needs an AWD sibling?

There’s a few obvious suggestions. For example, the popular Kia Soul doesn’t have an AWD option, and seems to sell quite well without it. The recently introduced Toyota C-HR also shuns a rear differential. The upcoming Nissan Kicks? Front-drive only. But maybe your suggestion is less obvious. Perhaps your desire for AWD isn’t motivated by the thought of driving in deep snow — no, you’re thinking of powering through that bone-dry corner without oversteer or understeer, leaving all others in your dust.

Let’s hear your suggestions.

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3 of 68 comments
  • Davefromcalgary Davefromcalgary on Dec 14, 2017

    This is the wrong question. One of the reasons I was attracted to Mitsubishi is they do transverse economy AWD properly, by allowing it to be switched off completely, (by the driver!!), put in an auto slip and grip mode, and have a setting that puts 60% to the rear up to something like 30 kph, for deep snow and donuts. Even though I hate transverse layouts, this selectability is a fantastic feature for a guy with a malfunctioning brain like mine. I like it even better than the technically superior longitudinal symmetrical Subi AWD. Lots of cheap AWD systems can barely put enough power to the rear wheels to pop over a curb. The question should be who even values this. THIS is the real marketing gimmick. Example, you say? Pretty much any GM transverse AWD except the Regal, which to my understanding has a more robust PTO and feeds power to the rears on acceleration. Ive seen way to many Terrains and Acadia's stuck in snow with their back wheels twitching like the legs on a bug you just hit with poison.

  • Lightspeed Lightspeed on Dec 14, 2017

    Three winters ago, I drove my RWD Cressida 50KM on the freeway, in a blizzard, at -25C, in about 4-6inches of snow. I was able to cruise at 80-90kph for the 50KM journey. During that trip I counted 11 vehicles in the ditch, three upside-down. Every single one of those was AWD/4WD. WTF!

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