QOTD: AWD to the (Sales) Rescue?

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
qotd awd to the sales rescue

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.

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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  • Whydidithavetobecars Whydidithavetobecars on Sep 04, 2019

    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 4x4 (fun to park at the mall + 12 mpg) as well that is a 4th vehicle. Will probably get another snooty German maintenance mobile.

  • ToolGuy ToolGuy on Sep 08, 2019

    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.)

  • VoGhost I'm clearly in the minority here, but I think this is a smart move. Apple is getting very powerful, and has slowly been encroaching on the driving experience over the last decade. Companies like GM were on the verge of turning into mere hardware vendors to the Apple brand. "Is that a new car; what did you get?" "I don't remember. But it has the latest Apple OS, which is all I care about." Taking back the driving experience before it was too late might just be GM's smartest move in a while.
  • VoGhost Can someone Christian explain to me what this has to do with Jesus and bunnies?
  • Del My father bought GM cars in the 60's, but in 1971 he gave me a used Datsun (as they were called back then), and I'm now in my 70's and am happy to say that GM has been absent from my entire adult life. This article makes me gladder than ever.
  • TheEndlessEnigma That's right GM, just keep adding to that list of reasons why I will never buy your products. This, I think, becomes reason number 69, right after OnStar-Cannot-Be-Disabled-And-It-Comes-Standard-Whether-Or-Not-You-Want-It and Screw-You-American-Car-Buyer-We-Only-Make-Trucks-And-SUVs.
  • 3SpeedAutomatic Does this not sound and feel like the dawn of ICE automobiles in the early 20th century, but at double or triple speed speed!!There were a bunch of independent car markers by the late 1910’s. By the mid 20’s, we were dropping down to 10 or 15 producers as Henry was slashing the price of the Model T. The Great Depression hit, and we are down to the big three and several independents. For EVs, Tesla bolted out of the gate, the small three are in a mad dash to keep up. Europe was caught flat footed due to the VW scandal. Lucid, Lordstown, & Rivian are scrambling to up production to generate cash. Now the EV leader has taken a page from the Model T and is slashing prices putting the rest of the EV market in a tail spin. Deja vu……