By on September 3, 2019

2019 Mazda Mazda3 front quarter

With Labor Day in the rearview, the grim prospect of winter now rears its ugly head. For many of you, it’s no big deal. It might rain. You’ll have to put on a light jacket before leaving the house. For others, Mother Nature awaits with several gigatons of snow and ice.

Suddenly, that two-wheel drive vehicle that served your needs just fine throughout the summer is no longer king of the road. Sufficient, sure, but not ideal. Bringing all wheels online would improve your car’s winter prowess and boost driver confidence (possibly by too much of a degree), yet few passenger car makers think of adding it to models lacking boxy, cargo-happy bodies.

If AWD is something you covet, would its presence sway you away from a crossover and into a normal car?

Clearly, this question doesn’t apply to Subaru buyers.

As passenger car sales fall, some automakers have begun sweetening the pot with lower-end hatches and sedans outfitted with four-wheel motivation. Mazda added it to its next-generation 3 for 2019, as did Toyota with its Prius AWD-e. The former sports a mechanical connection; the latter, an electrical one. There’s also AWD coming to the Mazda 6 in the near future.

Of course, move way up the ladder and you’ll find a bevy of premium automakers, especially the German ones, ready and willing to toss you AWD for extra cash. The rekindled interest among more pedestrian makes is a relatively recent thing, a tactic aimed at boosting appeal and slowing the models’ sinking sales trajectories.

2019 Toyota Prius AWD-e - Image: Toyota

While essentially useless in normal, dry-road driving (added weight and reduced fuel economy is a strike against it), AWD is something you might want if FWD plow cramps your go-fast manner of driving — especially if dirt and gravel outweighs asphalt in your neck of the woods. If you’re in the snow belt, getting up to speed will become a breeze with AWD, assuming you’re not a dick who keeps his or her worn summer rubber on year-round. Yet in the case of the Mazda and Toyota, adding AWD doesn’t turn your vehicle into a bounder-leaping, creek-fording off-road brute. It doesn’t turn either vehicle into a taught Teutonic sports sedan, either, though Mazda earns kudos for its commitment to fun-to-drive.

Is there car out there, either FWD or RWD, that you’d actually feel compelled to buy if the automaker offered it with four-wheel motivation?

[Image: © 2019 Chris Tonn/TTAC]

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67 Comments on “QOTD: AWD to the (Sales) Rescue?...”


  • avatar
    nels0300

    I’ve had both AWD cars with all seasons and FWD cars with snow tires.

    My AWD car had real AWD, not the reactive systems most “AWD” vehicles have these days.

    It was a 2013 Subaru Impreza manual transmission. It was always AWD, it didn’t wait for the front wheels to slip.

    Besides the occasional big snowstorm here in Minnesota and trying to drive up our un-plowed driveway, it wasn’t really necessary….but it was FUN. Drifting around corners, doing 360s in empty parking lots, going sideways down the street, I couldn’t wait for it to snow. I don’t think an automatic, reactive AWD car would be as fun.

    My current car is a FWD car, Elantra Sport, that I put snowtires on in the winter. It stops better than the Subaru did in the snow, but it’s not nearly as fun in the snow. The Subaru with all seasons would still out accelerate the Elantra in the snow, even with snow tires. The Elantra is infinitely more fun 95% of the time when it’s not snowing.

    • 0 avatar
      notapreppie

      Your analysis of Subaru AWD systems is outdated and incorrect.

      The center diff in MT Subarus is a viscous coupling. In normal, non-slip conditions, it has a torque split of 50/50, just like an open differential. When there is a speed difference from front to rear, the difference in speed causes the fluid to heat up and solidify. This is where the limited slip functionality comes from. The wheels have to slip before it engages. The engagement is typically gentle and not easily noticed but the slip is there.

      The automagic and CVT models had an electromechanical system. Since this is a computer controlled system, a certain amount of proactive behavior can be built into the software that can’t be done with the entirely mechanical viscous system. Whether or not it works better is another discussion.

      • 0 avatar
        nels0300

        Yeah, and in snow, all of the wheels have limited traction, so not sure what your point is.

        • 0 avatar
          notapreppie

          The point is that you’re saying the Subaru viscous AWD system isn’t reactive and it very much is. Depending on the conditions and situation, it can be quite a bit slower to react than modern microprocessors (which have gotten very, very fast).

          I think the only AWD system that isn’t reactive is probably the TorSen (or similar helicals) but they all have the problem of behaving like open diffs if one or more tires has too little grip.

      • 0 avatar
        nels0300

        Also, the software in the automatics doesn’t know if there is snow on the ground.

        What “proactive behavior” is built into the software? It’s not talking to the weather channel.

        • 0 avatar
          gtem

          “What “proactive behavior” is built into the software? It’s not talking to the weather channel.”

          detecting throttle input, speed sensor data, g-sensor data to dial in some torque to the rear even from a stop. That’s what a lot of them have been advertising anyways.

      • 0 avatar
        APaGttH

        All I know here in the PNW there are A LOT of stuck Subarus in the mountains because people think, “it’s OK, it’s a Subaru,” and don’t take other factors into consideration.

        His point is your system is “reactive” so to speak. You’re both being pedantic – your use of the word “reactive” is misguided. All AWD systems are “reactive.” They need a slippage event at some wheel to do something.

        Your point is the system is 50/50 split under normal driving conditions.

        His point is all systems are reactive.

        • 0 avatar
          notapreppie

          Just to keep heaping on the pedantry (it’s like a drug), a 50/50 torque split is different from a 50/50 power split.

          • 0 avatar
            nels0300

            I understand that the manual trans has a viscous coupling and it acts like a open diff, but the default setting on the manual trans Subaru is 50-50 unless one wheel(s) is spinning faster than the others. Immediately off the line in a snowstorm, it starts as 50-50.

            The automatic doesn’t.

          • 0 avatar
            PrincipalDan

            Aren’t all the CVT Subarus 60/40 by default?

            60% of power going to the front BTW.

            I’d be much more interested if it was 60% of power going to the rear by default.

      • 0 avatar
        Frownsworth

        Torsens of the helical variety and newer can often be fitted with a preload, which removes the open-diff behaviour with one zero-grip wheel. In fact, the WaveTrac Torsen has a speed-differential-dependent preload. In addition, modern brake-based torque vectoring and differential lock like e-diff or EDL can mitigate the open-diff behaviour of standard Torsens.

        On a separate topic, I do think the crown gear differential by Audi is similar but superior to the old viscous coupler differential that Subaru still uses. Also, there once was the VTD, which Subaru silently discontinued.

  • avatar
    thegamper

    This is a question I recently had to ponder. Being in the Detroit suburbs, there is really only a handful of days a year where there is measurable snow on the road. Where I live, plows do a pretty good job, roads are generally salted, and when they arent, every one is driving 5 mph including all the brodozers and AWD crossovers. It still doesn’t help you stop last I checked and you would be much better served by skipping the AWD and buying snow tires. Certainly, if you live in a rural area where plows and salt do not frequent, or if you tow with any regularity, this changes the calculation a bit.

    The other 360 days a year, it is really pretty pointless for a commuter vehicle in an urban, suburban setting that is relatively flat. It adds weight, reduces your mpg, adds cost to the vehicle. Personally, I am sick of getting poor mpg in my large family hauler with AWD and opted for FWD this time around. I plan to equip with snow tires this year and will probably be better off.

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      Same for me in the Pittsburgh area. I’m unwilling to tolerate higher purchase cost and higher operating costs for a 3-5 day a year benefit.

    • 0 avatar
      Mike-NB2

      I second this opinion. Not many people need AWD but for some reason a lot of people think they do. And I write this as someone on the Atlantic coast of Canada where winter is a real thing. We get a mix of snow, rain and freezing rain which cause mayhem maybe 12 days per year. I’ve only had an AWD vehicle once and didn’t see any significant difference. Quite honestly, when a RAV4 or CR-V comes up behind me at a red light too quickly my thought is “I hope they have winter tires” and not “Gee, they have AWD. This’ll be fine.”

  • avatar
    dividebytube

    I get along with a RWD car here in West Michigan, where lake-effect snow is aplenty. Winter tires help, of course. And I thankfully only have to drive in the city or I can work from home. But the idea of an AWD Mustang sounds odd to me.

    My wife just got an old Infiniti M35x as her beater car and will appreciate the AWD, especially since her job requires her to do some traveling. But I would still prefer that she have winter tires since the braking and handling will be improved over the current all-seaons when the roads turn to crud.

    I still remember driving a RWD BMW 325i in the middle of a rain-turn-to-ice situation. AWD and 4WD vehicles all over the place – many in the ditch. People going too fast in bad conditions, trusting too much in their AWD. I could feel – even with the Blizzaks – the rear of my car wanting to slide out so I kept scrubbing my speed, slowing down until I could get off the highway. The icy country roads were a safer place to be.

    • 0 avatar
      PrincipalDan

      The icy country roads were a safer place to be.

      My grandfather owned a 67 Mustang and a similar vintage Bronco. His factory job was roughly a 30 min one way commute (in good weather) from his house in the country. When the weather was poor he took the Bronco.

      He said that when the roads were too icy and slick he’d put it in 4×4 and drive across fields or along the shoulder for better traction.

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      “People going too fast in bad conditions, trusting too much in their AWD.”

      ^^ This. The most smashed-up cars post-winter are the AWD ones. 2WD gives the driver a more honest assessment of conditions.

      • 0 avatar
        MartyToo

        We all have all wheel brakes and they don’t work well in the snow or on ice. A certain percentage of AWD doofus types seem to forget this each winter. At least it makes for some comedy if they just end up in the snow bank. Not too funny if they crash into me or one of my friends.

      • 0 avatar
        Lou_BC

        “People going too fast in bad conditions, trusting too much in their AWD.”

        The most common vehicle to be involved in a wintertime single vehicle roll over is a SUV. I’d say pickups are next on the list. 4×4 and an empty box is always a recipe for disaster with anyone not familiar with trucks or worse, they think they are excellent drivers.

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    At certain power levels I want it.

    As you get closer and closer to 300 hp and/or 300 lb ft of torque in a sedan or wagon I think it is awfully nice to have, especially if it a system that is always sending some of the power to both ends of the vehicle.

    A system that can torque vector (combined with a decently low center of gravity) is a BLAST on an on ramp or a curvy road or just making a hard turn from one street onto another when its a time of day that traffic is almost nonexistent.

    A “slip and grip” system where things are FWD until crap happens?

    No thanks, you can keep it. I’d rather be FWD.

  • avatar
    DedBull

    My wife has had 2 crossovers now.

    The first an Outlander Sport which I would deem a 4WD vehicle. It had a button in the console for 2wd mode (front wheels) 4WD auto (front w rear assist) and 4WD lock ( power to all 4, rwd bias). I had Blizzaks on separate wheels, and drove in 2WD mode 95% of the time. It made my wife happy to be able to reach down and push that 4WD button.

    This spring we bought a new 4Motion Tiguan. This is an automatic AWD system with a Haldex setup. I am interested to see how it behaves in the snow, assuming it will remain in FWD mode almost full time.

    While AWD was a selling point, the primary reason she chose a crossover was visibility. Every time my wife drives my Jetta she complains about lack of visibility, and about the doors being shorter than in her car. She refuses to drive a minivan, so a crossover it was. Given the choice between an AWD sedan and an AWD crossover, in her eyes the crossover would win every time.

  • avatar
    spookiness

    I live in the mid-Atlantic where we get snow but usually not a lot all at once. I had AWD once and would not pay for it again if given the choice. My current car is the first I’ve had with FWD and traction & stability control, and with good Michelin all-seasons it works great.

  • avatar
    dal20402

    Here in Seattle, AWD is not going to save you in slippery conditions. It’s hilly and our weather is such that if there is snow (which is rare) there’s almost always ice. The only solution when it snows is not to drive. And I live close enough to town that I don’t have to.

    But in the mountains, having AWD can often get you out of a legal requirement to mount chains. (Snow tires, of course, matter much more for actual traction — but I’m talking about the legal requirement.) So for that reason alone I’d like to have one AWD vehicle. And my Highlander fits the bill, even though it can only provide 63 hp max through its rear traction motor, and there’s no physical driveshaft between the main drive system and the rear wheels, so it’s really “FWD with rear assist.”

    • 0 avatar
      dal20402

      Forgot to actually answer the question. We wouldn’t be swayed to a sedan by AWD, although a wagon would be a possibility. We discovered from real experience that a sedan would not fit all the bric-a-brac we like to take with us on road trips, mostly kitchen and outdoor equipment.

    • 0 avatar
      Scoutdude

      Yeah not having to put on chains to get over the pass is a huge advantage in the areas where they can be required for 2wd vehicles but not for AWD/4WD. It only takes one accident (usually caused by a yahoo going too fast, often in a 4wd) for them to require chains even though the conditions aren’t really that bad.

      I do disagree that it is otherwise useless in Seattle. As you mentioned there are a lot of steep roads and FWD vehicles can struggle to get moving when the streets are wet, so even a slip then grip system can be of an advantage w/o snow on the ground. However an AWD or gas and go system is much better.

      My normal route to my work on Capitol Hill when coming from home is to take S Charles between Rainier and 20th. Then closer to work up E Roy from 23rd. In my 2wd vehicles it can be difficult to get going again on rainy days if I have to stop for someone coming down the hill. (No it isn’t cheap tires, Pilot Sport A/S 3+) while there is zero problem with AWD or a gas and go 4wd system. And I’m not the only one as I see others with similar problems on that and many other streets.

      • 0 avatar
        dal20402

        Yeah, that’s true, it can be helpful to start in the wet on some of the steeper streets, although I can remember only one time when I had real trouble in a 2WD car (manual transmission Taurus SHO with aging tires on James St, between 4th/5th).

        I often bike through the intersection of Charles/Hiawatha Pl, and occasionally consider heading up Charles on my bike just for the exercise, but haven’t actually done it yet.

  • avatar
    Lie2me

    Although not absolutely necessary, I still find AWD systems preferable in snowy situations. If it’s available why not go for the AWD for extra assurance on bad roads? Not only snow, but where I live there are plenty of dirt/mud roads that AWD can help with as well. These days there is hardly a mileage penalty with AWD and a lot of initial costs can be recouped with the better resale. Add to this the increased ground clearance of crossover/SUVs and with the proper tires you have a vehicle that’s ready for most any type of road condition. I like that

  • avatar
    Nick_515

    I am considering the Golf Sportswagen, and thinking of getting a manual before they get phased out (and the plum warranty gets reduced for the 2020 models). Problem is, AWD is bundled with the 1.8T which I want, while FWD is the 1.4T which is very efficient, but for my needs a bit more power is preferable to the additional fuel economy of the smaller engine. I suppose what I am trying to say is, 1.8T FWD would have been my favorite, but AWD is for the ride.

    Based on my own research, as well as some comments by the commentariat here, I put Vredestein Quatrac 5 tires on an older vehicle I just got as a runaround. I am looking forward to the snow to see if they are the solution I’ve always been looking for. All seasons with the snow symbol. If they are… I’d regret having AWD ina car with the power levels of a Golf.

  • avatar
    gottacook

    Regarding Mazda: Over the years, various Mazda models were offered only as FWD in the United States although they were available with AWD elsewhere in the world. When we were wagon-shopping in early 2003 to replace our 1990 AWD Legacy wagon, we ended up with another Legacy; we would surely have considered the Mazda 6 wagon, but the U.S. didn’t receive the AWD version.

  • avatar
    dwford

    For most drivers, AWD is nothing more than a money wasting placebo for “scared driver syndrome.” You know, the people hunched forward in their seat with a death grip on the steering wheel, like they are terrified the car will flip over at any moment. In most parts of the country, AWD is only really helpful a few days a year, but people pay extra upfront and extra in gas for the privilege. And then in reality they just stay home from work on the snow days anyway.

    The drivers who actually need the extra grip are buying 4WD vehicles.

  • avatar
    Land Ark

    If the Mazda6 was offered with AWD I may have ended up with that instead of my IS300.

    I fell in love with AWD during a blizzard driving my otherwise terrible Audi A6. It got itself out of a snowdrift above the bottom of the doors when I pulled over to clear my iced-up wipers.

    I bought my Legacy wagon in part because I loved everything about it, but also because my job required me to be at work regardless of the weather. Every time I drive it in the snow it reminds me how happy it makes me to know I won’t get stuck.

    Whether or not I feel the same way about the IS remains to be seen. It doesn’t feel as sure-footed in the wet as I’d like.

    • 0 avatar
      Lie2me

      “Every time I drive it in the snow it reminds me how happy it makes me to know I won’t get stuck.”

      ^^This, every time I’m out during bad road conditions I am reminded why I prefer AWD vehicles. It’s there when you need it most and when you need it most you sure are glad it’s there

    • 0 avatar
      slavuta

      I once got caught in a blizzard when I needed to leave Boston. I was supposed to wake up 5AM and beat most of the snow. I ended up leaving nearly 7 AM when snow was at full strength because damn boston snowplows berried me. Between Boston and Hartford, I don’t think there was less than 6 inches of snow at any time on my way. My Mazda6 was the fastest car on the road. I passed all AWD cars, all subarus. Visibility was so bad at some places that it was the only thing why I was more cautious at that time. On uphills I would just pass all I can, get into the middle of the road and 45-50. Mazda 6 did great on its truck tires.

  • avatar
    APaGttH

    Our primary motor pool is all AWD or 4WD. The Lacrosse is AWD and the system is excellent. The Subbie is AWD and the Avalanche is 4WD.

    When I found the Lacrosse I wasn’t looking for AWD, but it was a nice to have. In the case of the LaCrosse, even if you get the 20″ wheels with adjustable dampers, only the FWD version gets the GM HiPer strut front suspension.

    The one major dislike – the FWD Lacrosse (2017-2019) smashes the EPA sticker with ease – the AWD version struggles to achieve Mulroney.

    • 0 avatar
      PrincipalDan

      But Buick’s AWD system is rather satisfying to drive. The harder you push it the more fun you have.

      Tis most unfortunate that most of the customer base will never go harder than about 4/10ths of the cars capability.

      • 0 avatar
        APaGttH

        Very true. I have the active dampers and in sport mode the 3700ish pound Buick is more spritely than its weight and power numbers would indicate. The AWD system also provides a speed advantage – it’s faster 0 to 60 than even the Maxima in part due to the extra traction.

        The Super Epsilon Impala/Lacrosse and the P2XX Lacrosse are extremely underrated. The biggest misses:

        1) Interior plastics needed to be a higher quality. They didn’t have to put leather on the dashboard, and it is more stylish than the Impala, but there is too much hard plastic

        2) Some basic “near luxury” options were missed that are on other Buick models. No heated rear seats at any price point (I’d never use them, but the principle), no power folding mirrors (what?), no side shades for rear passengers manual or otherwise, no power close trunk, and no rain-sensing wipers (which I would never use also).

        3) The headlights suck. S-U-C-K. Should have gotten LEDs, and given it has HIDS there is really no viable way to improve their output. Seriously, they S-U-C-K.

        4) No highs, no lows, it must be Bose.

        5) No stop/start disable. It isn’t an issue for me as the system is imperceptible 95% of the time, but like most other people I am pretty convinced it doesn’t do much to improve fuel consumption.

        But when it comes to driver and passenger comfort, driveability, and surprisingly performance (with the 3.6L V6), it is a very competent sedan.

        If you remember the “road trip for under $30K” thread, the Lacrosse was picked by a lot of the B&B.

        I was reading this weekend that there are only about 1K Lacrosses left on dealer lots across the US.

        • 0 avatar
          PrincipalDan

          No stop/start disable. It isn’t an issue for me as the system is imperceptible 95% of the time, but like most other people I am pretty convinced it doesn’t do much to improve fuel consumption.

          If there was no credit given for it on the EPA cycle the automatic stop start (or ASS as the gentlemen on the Buick Forums like to say) would disappear tomorrow.

          I’ve gotten into the habit of shifting into manual mode and back to drive at every stoplight. That keeps the engine running.

    • 0 avatar
      Featherston

      +1 to you, APaGttH, for owning up to the MPG issue. I get very tired of reading “there’s really no difference” in these AWD threads. If I were to go to someone and say, “Give me 3% of your salary; there’s really no difference,” he or she would howl.

  • avatar
    Jerome10

    It’s a selling point. But would I buy a car just because of that, probably not.

    Live in Idaho mountains. AWD is really a nice-to-have here. In town, most days you don’t need it. But it is nice to just hit the gas and the car goes.

    The kicker though is if you ski or snow mobile etc. head just 30 minutes out of town after a snow and the trailheads aren’t yet plowed etc. there have been multiple times I get up there with my corolla s and go home. If I can borrow my old mans Lexus RX on Blizzaks, I go skiing.

    The ground clearance is probably the biggest. But even then sometimes you just gotta blast, and ground clearance and AWD get you skiing where a corolla can’t.

    Lived in West Michigan when younger. There… meh. It is nice again kn starts but you can get by without it.

    There is also a difference if you get road salt vs sand. Midwest seems a lot of wet and slush and bare pavement on main roads. Here they don’t use salt so we get a lot of packed snow with sand sitting on top. But again I think this is where the correct tire shines more than AWD.

  • avatar
    ajla

    Aside from the BRZ, any Subaru on mid-level all-season tires is basically unstoppable and if you drive in bad weather without AWD you will probably die.

  • avatar
    jack4x

    There is no car I would wish for AWD in.

    I would however have paid extra for an auto setting in the transfer case of my Super Duty. Where I drive in the lake effect snow belt, it is very common to see drifting snow and partially covered roads. In this case, you don’t really want to be in 4 Hi or 2WD all the time, and switching between them is annoying and distracting while trying to focus on the road. My old Avalanche 2500 had a “set and forget” 4WD Auto for this type of situation, and I miss it.

  • avatar
    eggsalad

    Living in the desert southwest, I have the opposite problem. I really like the form factor of the Impreza hatch, but AWD is useless here, so I’ll never own one. If a FWD version existed, I’d buy one.

    • 0 avatar
      Jon

      Mr. Egg

      Yep. Here in Phoenix, there is no good reason to operate an AWD car. I look at the folks driving Subarus (or any AWD car) with AZ license plates, and wonder why they wasted their money on something AWD.

      The greater concern here is overheated fluids (under maintained) and bald and/or underinflated tires in the summer.

    • 0 avatar
      slavuta

      Thats right. For Impreza AWD is not needed. Not enough power, no tire burning. But whole load of complexity including tire rotations, etc. Now you can’t have different tires in the back and front, etc.

  • avatar
    SilverCoupe

    The Cadillac V series was never a serious consideration for me compared to Audi due to the lack of AWD. They had too much horsepower to put down on the street with just RWD, especially in wet or snowy conditions. But yeah, they would have sold what, maybe a hundred more?
    I am sure they did the math before they made their decision.

  • avatar
    statikboy

    If all new traditional sedan/hatch/wagon/coupe availability went to AWD it would drive me deeper into used car purchasing.

    — Enjoyer of mountainous winter driving 5 months of the year.

  • avatar
    raph

    I just don’t live in a place where AWD would be handy and I don’t really street race so again its not a feature I lust after.

    I’m also not a big fan since AWD seems to be a rallying cry for every bench racer out there wishing for some sort of automotive technological singularity where everything is AWD with a slush-box or robo-manual or just has an electric motor at each wheel in an effort to get the lowest possible 0-60 time and navigate every corner with the throttle pinned in their imaginary race.

  • avatar
    brn

    Yes, the usual amount of AWD bashing that is frequently found here.

    I have a FWD sedan and a 4WD (center locking diff, so I guess it’ OK to call it 4WD) CUV. The sedan has better tires.

    The CUV isn’t only gobs better in snow. It’s better in on ice. It applies power to the rear before slippage. It has torque vectoring to improve dry weather handling. It doesn’t spin the tires when flooring it (it also has no power, unlike the sedan).

    Yep, let’s hate on AWD. I wish I had it on my sedan.

    • 0 avatar
      Lie2me

      2WD vs AWD is a never ending debate here and always will be, for whatever reason people either love it or hate it. Your AWD CUV sounds like a good system, what make/model is your CUV?

  • avatar
    slavuta

    I don’t feel the need for AWD. The only reason I’ve got AWD Highlander is for resale. Because everybody wants AWD Highlander. I would rather have RWD Mazda6 wagon. Speaking of that picture above – CX30 can’t come fast enough for Mazda.
    Now, if you have 228HP GTI, it could in fact benefit from AWD.

  • avatar
    danio3834

    The Neon and Caliber SRT-4 would have benefited from AWD to help get the power down and helped with driving dynamics under power. I would have been interested in one of those if AWD was in the mix because they’re a FWD torquesteer spinfest.

    Otherwise, I’ll take 2WD in daily driven get around cars. Better fuel economy, less upfront cost, no need to replace all 4 tires at a time, fine in the snow with the right tires.

  • avatar
    Flipper35

    Here in SW Wisconsin our family has no AWD cars. Our SUV does have Blizzaks for winter and my DD has pretty good all seasons. If the weather is bad, like a blizzard, I stay home. I had a full time 4WD with a locking center diff Ramcharger when younger with big meaty tires and it was fun off road and did fine in the winter, but for 362 days a year, putting power to all four tires is not needed. I once drove the Cobra replica with 4″ of snow on the roads because a friend wanted a ride in November when visiting from Oklahoma and never had an opportunity to ride in one before.

    AWD/4WD works for some people though as it can keep them from spinning out as easy as a RWD car and can help you get going in the deeper stuff. If you are smart enough to put real winter tires on it is probably the safest option in severe weather. I just have no need for it here. They clear the roads well enough there isn’t an issue so why pay the extra fuel and up front costs of AWD?

  • avatar

    My current car is AWD (Fusion) and I live in San Francisco bay area. Is it necessary? No. But I enjoyed performance and sound during test drive, it was more fun to drive than FWD version I had before that. But at expense of higher fuel consumption and more complexity – more things to break over time. The funny thing is that when I lived in Russia I owned only FWD cars (with winter tires though) and it was snowing and slippery most of the year, like from November to April. And here am I in sunny California driving AWD car just for fun. How ironic.

  • avatar
    whydidithavetobecars

    I my wife wants a crossover with awd. Would love everything to have awd option on every car, if you don’t want one, don’t buy it, but don’t tell me I don’t need or want it. We ski and cross the mountains in winter a bunch. Will get a set of winters, probably studded, and go kick ass in the snow.
    Replacing a 05 Passat 4motion wagon that was rear ended. Great in the winter and road trips but generally blah around town. wife didn’t like how low the vw felt (she’s 5’7” so not a midget). Have an odyssey (great for us in town), another passat (fwd kid car) and a suburban 2500 4×4 (fun to park at the mall + 12 mpg) as well that is a 4th vehicle. Will probably get another snooty German maintenance mobile.

  • avatar
    ToolGuy

    On a recent extended road trip, I did some careful study of stereotypical Subaru drivers. Stereotypical = numerous stickers, vehicle coated in sacred dust from dirt roads in Federally-appropriated National Parks, non-aerodynamic accessories hung in the airstream. These drivers seem to be generally mechanically disinclined (ex. consciously ignoring the clanging fan shroud interference issue when stopped at a crosswalk). So if you tell them they need AWD and AWD is the thing, they will purchase your AWD, they will attribute the successful completion of their last journey to AWD, they will witness to everyone how AWD is a life-saver, and they will pay the AWD fuel economy premium and the AWD repair bills without complaint.

    The surprising thing was, with Subaru’s recent market growth, they are now selling vehicles to non-stereotypical buyers (vehicle freshly washed, no stickers or one high school/sports team sticker, no accessories mounted on top of the vehicle). These drivers are not to be trusted, since their behavior has not been fully cataloged at this time.

    (To answer the question, I don’t need AWD because of where I live.)


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