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All wheel drive, four-wheel drive, is it really necessary?

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Old 01-05-18, 01:51 PM
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Stroock639
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Default All wheel drive, four-wheel drive, is it really necessary?

obviously if you work as a beach patrol then yes it is, but as far as the vast majority of us are concerned, i'm not so sure...

very frequently i'll have someone looking to lease a cheap vehicle as their "station car" (car literally just to go to and from the train station) and i will always suggest the corolla as it is possibly the best station car. if anyone says no immediately it's usually because of the lack of AWD and then we move onto the rav4. the rav4 is about $125 a month or so MORE than the corolla, and to spend nearly $5,000 more just to have AWD on a car that gets driven about that many miles a year for the maybe 3-5 days a year when it really snows just seems so unnecessary. not to mention the corolla also gets significantly better gas mileage and probably insures for less.

i only bring this up now because the northeast just got hit with the "bomb cyclone" and nearly a foot of snow in places. que: playing around in the snow with 4x4s... i don't have a 4x4, but last winter i did spend $500 to swap out the rear axle on the vic with a limited slip diff... i also put the original snow tires it came with back on and threw some extra weight in the trunk, and that thing had NO PROBLEM keeping up with my friends old explorer. like, it's actually pretty good in the snow lol... it seriously impressed me with the amount of heavy snow it just kept plowing through. even a new SUBARU briefly got stuck where the vic just had no problem going through.



of course if you intend on driving through any seriously deep snow or any actual off-roading you definitely need AWD or a 4x4, or if you're trying to do graceful 4 wheel drive snow drifting



but i just think so much money is wasted because "oh it snows twice a year so we need an AWD suv or crossover"... is anybody else out there surviving just fine without AWD?
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Old 01-05-18, 02:20 PM
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Wow I think your friend has done that before. Looks like fun!
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Old 01-05-18, 02:43 PM
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RAV4 is not 4WD. Itís all wheel drive

That all said, I have been fortunate to have a 4WD pretty much my whole life. I like the idea that you can just drive in any weather condition and not worry about it. It is not needed but it helps. If I got snow tires on either of our SUVs, it would be even better.

But snow tires on a car are very good and are probably better than all season with AWD.
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Old 01-05-18, 03:07 PM
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Originally Posted by LexsCTJill View Post
RAV4 is not 4WD. Itís all wheel drive
That is true.

Though in today's lingo its seemingly one of those interchangeable and broad terms. Like saying Kleenex when you mean tissue. Saying the Explorer is an SUV when its truly a CUV. AWD/4WD tends to get the same treatment, even though there is usually locking diffs and transfer cases on 4WD vs AWD. I appreciate when people say it correct, but when I hear people say the other version, I can usually decipher what they mean.
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Old 01-05-18, 03:24 PM
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The two things about RWD in the snow that are difficult are:

1. Getting started from a stop, especially in any sort of upgrade.
2. Controlling throttle around curves, and knowing how to correct an oversteer condition brought about by throttle induced yaw. Skid control makes a huge difference here.

On all season tires, #1 can be very difficult to overcome. Driving in the snow with other traffic around is very unpredictable. When you can plan for acceleration points and hills and such thats one thing, but when you get stopped by a light or by other cars in a bad spot where you have to accelerate off from a stop with even a little uphill grade, such as going across an intersection, etc...you're in trouble with RWD. Once you're moving, RWD/AWD all very similar. FWD presents challenges in the snow when moving people don't understand, dynamic issues of having the only steering wheels also be the wheels that apply throttle.

Tires are really important. Good snow tires will help tremendously with problems 1 and 2, and will also help with stopping, which no type of drive system helps with, and is arguably the most important aspect of safely driving in the snow.

Thats the nice thing about AWD in my climate though, where we only get some snow every year and perhaps once a year I may get stuck out and have to drive in real snow, if even that. You just don't have to worry about it, as Jill said.

Waiting on delivery of my RWD LS460L to replace my AWD LS460, so thats something I'm going to have to deal with going forward. Without snow tires (which in my climate make no sense), my LS460L just won't get driven in the snow, which is how I approached snow driving with the LS400 and LS430.
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Old 01-05-18, 03:33 PM
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Originally Posted by SW15LS View Post
Waiting on delivery of my RWD LS460L to replace my AWD LS460, so thats something I'm going to have to deal with going forward. Without snow tires (which in my climate make no sense), my LS460L just won't get driven in the snow, which is how I approached snow driving with the LS400 and LS430.
It's probably negated by the increased weight of the L, but your new RWD LS will have 386hp vs 367hp on the AWD
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Old 01-05-18, 03:37 PM
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I try not to drive in snow, period.
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Old 01-05-18, 04:11 PM
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Jeep has couple different options which will make the car drive in 4X4 mode or AWD mode. Best AWD is Subaru symmetrical AWD witn X mode; Crosetrek, Forester. And Acura SH-AWD, Audi Quattro.
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Old 01-05-18, 04:17 PM
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Originally Posted by LexsCTJill View Post
RAV4 is not 4WD. It’s all wheel drive

That all said, I have been fortunate to have a 4WD pretty much my whole life. I like the idea that you can just drive in any weather condition and not worry about it. It is not needed but it helps. If I got snow tires on either of our SUVs, it would be even better.

But snow tires on a car are very good and are probably better than all season with AWD.
Originally Posted by Stroock639 View Post
if anyone says no immediately it's usually because of the lack of AWD and then we move onto the rav4. the rav4 is about $125 a month or so MORE than the corolla, and to spend nearly $5,000 more just to have AWD on a car that gets driven about that many miles a year for the maybe 3-5 days a year when it really snows just seems so unnecessary.
i thought i made enough of a point to not say the rav is AWD not 4WD but oh well. let me tell you though, when you push the button to lock it into permanent 50/50 power split mode the rav can do snow very well. regardless it's good in the snow and maybe it's in my head but that button definitely seems to make a difference.



as far as i understand, pushing that creates the equivalent of a locked center differential
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Old 01-05-18, 04:22 PM
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Originally Posted by theory816 View Post
I try not to drive in snow, period.
Are you afraid? When it snows and cold you just try to stay home?, LOL! In olden days it snowed lot and many days it was very cold up here. Lately I haven't started a snow thrower in years. This year we got old
winter back due to polar vortex. We just came out of deep cold and snow as of New Years day. When my kids were small often they had snow day which means school is off. Once my wife drove them to school driving 1 ton 4x4 van. At the school there was no one outside coming/going. When she turned the radio on they were announcing snow day.... The van was used to tow our camping trailer not a daily driver.
Personally I believe in climate change. I can grow apple trees now, rose bushes survive winter, Grape vine lived 3 years almost made it once. Start seeing lot of bugs we never seen before.
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Old 01-05-18, 04:25 PM
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Originally Posted by Stroock639 View Post
i thought i made enough of a point to not say the rav is AWD not 4WD but oh well. let me tell you though, when you push the button to lock it into permanent 50/50 power split mode the rav can do snow very well. regardless it's good in the snow and maybe it's in my head but that button definitely seems to make a difference.



as far as i understand, pushing that creates the equivalent of a locked center differential
So the locking differential basically as you say makes the power 50/50 to each axle. Without it, the system vectors power back and forth, though on the RAV4 and RX it's biased towards the front and sends power back where torque is needed. I'm not sure about the RAV4, but on the RX, that button is ONLY good up to 40 mph. If you hit 41 mph it will disengage. So it's meant for lower speeds in Inclement weather.
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Old 01-05-18, 04:26 PM
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Originally Posted by SW15LS View Post
knowing how to correct an oversteer condition brought about by throttle induced yaw

in all seriousness i think that actually comes in handy (besides just messing around), i can get the vic around some very tight turns in the snow just by giving a sharp tap on the gas to quickly swing the back around. but yes, if you aren't experienced or aren't expecting it suddenly having the back swing out can really throw you off and lead to a crash.

this is also the double edged sword aspect of a limited slip diff, the back swings around far more easily and quickly than with a regular open diff, but it just lets you take much more advantage of whatever little traction there is. without the diff the vic would be just about as unusable in the snow as the LS, which i make ANY attempt to avoid using in snow at all cost lol
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Old 01-05-18, 04:26 PM
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The hard core 4WD with a low/high range and lockers front and back is basically too much for even suburban driving situations in deep snow/uncleared side streets. But I can guarantee that even the very capable Crown Vic with winters, will run out of ground clearance or will run into enough deep snow that its rear wheels will not let it power out of trouble.

The modern AWD systems are the best but here you have to be careful if you're in a vehicle with the "slip n grip" systems, or you have true AWD which is engaged all the time. Audi used to have this and Subarus have this. Having the side to side or "symmetrical AWD is absolutely the best.

I figure it's better to have some sort of system that can power all four wheels and not need it vs not having such a system and absolutely wishing you had while you wait for the tow truck to come get you unstuck. Where I live you would currently be in deep slushy snow that is just about a foot of uncleared snow sitting on the side streets after a severe cold snap. FWD with winters will get you through but even there, it's a little dicey in spots. AWD goes through that easily.
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Old 01-05-18, 04:28 PM
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Originally Posted by Hoovey2411 View Post
So the locking differential basically as you say makes the power 50/50 to each axle. Without it, the system vectors power back and forth, though on the RAV4 and RX it's biased towards the front and sends power back where torque is needed. I'm not sure about the RAV4, but on the RX, that button is ONLY good up to 40 mph. If you hit 41 mph it will disengage. So it's meant for lower speeds in Inclement weather.
pretty sure it disengages at 25 mph on the rav, yea like you said it's pretty much only meant to help get you unstuck or at low speeds
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Old 01-05-18, 04:34 PM
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Originally Posted by MattyG View Post
The hard core 4WD with a low/high range and lockers front and back is basically too much for even suburban driving situations in deep snow/uncleared side streets. But I can guarantee that even the very capable Crown Vic with winters, will run out of ground clearance or will run into enough deep snow that its rear wheels will not let it power out of trouble.
yes of course an actual suv or even crossover that can send power to every wheel will be better but unless you have a seriously gnarly driveway or spend the 2nd half of your commute driving on unpaved rural roads. if you can only have ONE car then i'd say a rav4 or subaru would be a great choice, i'm talking about people who just use their car to drive the maybe 2-5 miles each way to the train station or don't live very far away from their job. obviously i could drive the vic into a field and get it stuck pretty easily but that's not the type of conditions i'm talking about here
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