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Best snow vehicle?

Nov. 22, 2020, 11:13 a.m.
Posts: 1083
Joined: Feb. 5, 2011

For those of you that have experience driving different types of vehicles in the snow, which would you recommend as the best between 1) AWD car/crossover (i.e. Subaru), 2) 4WD SUV (i.e. 4runner, Jeep), 3) 4wd pickup truck (assuming you have a bit of extra weight in the back)? Assuming that they all have proper snow tires, which type of vehicle would you prefer to be in if you were caught in a snow storm?

And a secondary question - is the difference between the best and the worst significant or are all 3 of those categories pretty close overall?


 Last edited by: Bull_Dozer on Nov. 22, 2020, 11:14 a.m., edited 1 time in total.
Nov. 22, 2020, 1:16 p.m.
Posts: 2026
Joined: May 2, 2004

I used to drive for work at a couple of jobs and have driven rear wheel drive vans, front wheel drive cars, all wheel drive SUVs(only a little), 4x4 trucks, and buses (rwd) up and down the sea to sky and around whistler+Callaghan. I think 4x4 truck or SUV win, especially if you are adventurous and wanna go up diamond head for example. I get by alright in my front wheel drive hatchback too, but it's not as good 4x4 vehicles, can spin out up hills if you're not careful.


 Last edited by: Kevin26 on Nov. 22, 2020, 2 p.m., edited 5 times in total.
Nov. 22, 2020, 5 p.m.
Posts: 1445
Joined: Feb. 17, 2009

The single biggest difference and most significant advantage that you can give yourself is a good set of quality Winter tires that are new or newer (if buying second hand) - the reason being that the tire compound hardens over time and you only get 3-4 seasons out of a set of tires before the material advantage reduces. 

As noted previously 4wd/awd will give you an advantage. If you’re looking at a FWD car, smaller footprint will be more stable.  I have a friend, former coach for the UBC ski team, would drive his hundai accent to Whistler every weekend for years and this was before the highway was upgraded for the Olympics, never got stuck, never had an accident. Always had great rubber.

Nov. 23, 2020, 8:29 p.m.
Posts: 1083
Joined: Feb. 5, 2011

Yeah I agree that snow tires are definitely very important - always had dedicated snow tires and always will. Are you saying that the actual vehicle doesn't make a big difference as long as you have snow tires?

Nov. 23, 2020, 9:59 p.m.
Posts: 39
Joined: March 28, 2018

If you're worried about being _caught_ in a snowstorm as opposed to just driving through the snow, a foldable mattress and winter bag made a huge difference to my stress levels.

As others have said, rubber will make a bigger difference than anything else. I've preferred SUVs to crossovers, but mostly for the added weight in the snow.

Nov. 24, 2020, 7:18 a.m.
Posts: 1083
Joined: Feb. 5, 2011

I'm not literally worried about being caught in a snowstorm... to be honest, the real question that I'm trying to answer is - I have an AWD unibody SUV (aka. crossover) and I like how it performs in the snow but want to get either a pick-up truck or something like a 4runner/Bronco in the future and curious how those would compare in the snow. I've done a fair bit of research on the internet and haven't found anything too concrete, but I have consistently read that AWD is often better in the snow. Like I've read a lot of things where people are saying "I traded in my Subaru for a pick-up truck and I miss how solid the Subaru felt while driving in the snow whereas the truck feels a bit sketchy". So if I am trading in my AWD crossover for a pick-up truck I'm curious how much different the performance in snow would be.


 Last edited by: Bull_Dozer on Nov. 24, 2020, 7:41 a.m., edited 1 time in total.
Nov. 24, 2020, 8:32 a.m.
Posts: 1781
Joined: Feb. 26, 2015

Besides the Subarus I have had the best vehicle I have driven in the snow was the Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution but they don't make it it anymore.

https://www.caranddriver.com/research/a32813969/best-cars-for-snow/

Nov. 24, 2020, 8:35 a.m.
Posts: 1083
Joined: Feb. 5, 2011

Posted by: Brocklanders

Besides the Subarus I have had the best vehicle I have driven in the snow was the Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution but they don't make it it anymore.

https://www.caranddriver.com/research/a32813969/best-cars-for-snow/

My current vehicle is actually on that list! Basically what I am getting at is that I ideally want a truck but if snow performance decreases considerably I probably wouldn't do it because that's quite important to me.

Nov. 24, 2020, 9:11 a.m.
Posts: 1781
Joined: Feb. 26, 2015

Posted by: Bull_Dozer

Posted by: Brocklanders

Besides the Subarus I have had the best vehicle I have driven in the snow was the Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution but they don't make it it anymore.

https://www.caranddriver.com/research/a32813969/best-cars-for-snow/

My current vehicle is actually on that list! Basically what I am getting at is that I ideally want a truck but if snow performance decreases considerably I probably wouldn't do it because that's quite important to me.

I was thinking I wanted to get a bigger vehicle because our Forester is small inside for gear.  It's a trade off I don't think I want to make when driving thru the passes in winter.

Nov. 24, 2020, 10:52 a.m.
Posts: 2026
Joined: May 2, 2004

Posted by: Bull_Dozer

Posted by: Brocklanders

Besides the Subarus I have had the best vehicle I have driven in the snow was the Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution but they don't make it it anymore.

https://www.caranddriver.com/research/a32813969/best-cars-for-snow/

My current vehicle is actually on that list! Basically what I am getting at is that I ideally want a truck but if snow performance decreases considerably I probably wouldn't do it because that's quite important to me.

I have not driven any cross over type vehicle but if there's a decrease going to a 4x4 truck it's gotta be insignificant, 4x4 trucks are great in snow.

Nov. 24, 2020, 11:24 a.m.
Posts: 15103
Joined: Nov. 20, 2002

IME as a road warrior up narth  which could be 5 months on snow & ice, an SUV has traction at lower speeds say < 80kph but becomes way more unstable at highway speed, every year I had many brown pants situations in a 4-runer I think because of the high CG combined with a short wheelbase.

A front wheel drive VW golf with really good snow tires felt way safer,

an ex cab 4x4 PU is probaby the best becuz of 4x4 capability but mostly the longer WB

Front wheel drive mini vans are actualy pretty good

I always use studded haks for the last 20yrs


 Last edited by: XXX_er on Nov. 24, 2020, noon, edited 1 time in total.
Nov. 24, 2020, 12:34 p.m.
Posts: 1445
Joined: Feb. 17, 2009

Posted by: wine+god

If you're worried about being _caught_ in a snowstorm as opposed to just driving through the snow, a foldable mattress and winter bag made a huge difference to my stress levels.

As others have said, rubber will make a bigger difference than anything else. I've preferred SUVs to crossovers, but mostly for the added weight in the snow.

I'm saying that good snow tires, studded when appropriate and permitted by law, will make up for the shortcomings of front wheel drive cars in the winter.  In Consumer Report's testing (https://www.consumerreports.org/cro/magazine/2015/09/do-you-really-need-awd-in-the-snow/index.htm) their 4wd crossover did about the same as a FWD camry in tests when both were equipped with new winter tires.

I think that you'd serve yourself better by being a cautious driver and checking your speed in winter conditions rather than be overconfident that your 4wd/AWD equipped vehicle may be up to the challenge.

Nov. 24, 2020, 12:44 p.m.
Posts: 2026
Joined: May 2, 2004

But if all things are equal; great tires careful driving etc etc a 4wd vehicle is much better. I used to drive a Honda civic work vehicle and with brand new winter tires it could not make it up steep hills in a (really) bad storm where a 4wd vehicle could. 

In that test it only said the Camry was about the same in braking where the drive type doesn't matter.


 Last edited by: Kevin26 on Nov. 24, 2020, 12:47 p.m., edited 2 times in total.
Nov. 24, 2020, 1:43 p.m.
Posts: 1083
Joined: Feb. 5, 2011

Posted by: Kevin26

But if all things are equal; great tires careful driving etc etc a 4wd vehicle is much better. I used to drive a Honda civic work vehicle and with brand new winter tires it could not make it up steep hills in a (really) bad storm where a 4wd vehicle could. 

In that test it only said the Camry was about the same in braking where the drive type doesn't matter.

I had good snow tires on my previous FWD sedan and currently have good snow tires on my AWD crossover/SUV and I feel a lot more confident driving in the snow in my AWD crossover... although it's also a much bigger and heavier vehicle too so not sure whether the AWD or the weight/size is the more significant factor.

Nov. 24, 2020, 1:46 p.m.
Posts: 1083
Joined: Feb. 5, 2011

Posted by: XXX_er

an ex cab 4x4 PU is probaby the best becuz of 4x4 capability but mostly the longer WB

Pick-up truck snow performance is what I am most interested in. Is it critical to add extra weight in the back? I don't have much experience with PU trucks but as a kid I remember being scared shitless driving in my friend's dad's RWD pickup in the snow... the tail was flying around all over the place! Obviously 4WD would make a huge difference, but I'd imagine that adding weight in the back would be pretty critical too.

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