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STM317
STM317 UberDork
9/1/21 4:41 a.m.

Plenty of minitrucks came with 4wd and a stick. Their SUV cousins (Explorer, Blazer, etc) often offered AWD options instead of true 4wd too if you want that. Sticks are less common with the SUVs.

JesseWolfe
JesseWolfe Reader
9/1/21 5:00 a.m.

First or second generation Touareg or Cheyenne, base model ( you don't need lockers ), 17" AT tires, severe snow rated.  Absolute monsters in snow and loose surfaces.  Unavailable with a manual transmission though.

ddavidv
ddavidv UltimaDork
9/1/21 6:28 a.m.

Snow tires. Because it's the only reason my S197 Mustang was better in the snow than the crapbox Focus I drove the previous winter.

As for cars that are truly unstoppable in the snow, from personal experience (and I'm talking PA snow, not wannabe VA snow):

Anyone who knows me knows that a Honda response is forthcoming to any "what car" thread.

AWD CR-V

When choosing an appliance, the answer is always a Honda of some variety. 

MadScientistMatt
MadScientistMatt UltimaDork
9/1/21 6:46 a.m.
Honsch said:

Without consideration outside of snow?

Fordson Snow motor.

I came here to post that, because it looks like it is the best vehicle for snow, ever. Wouldn't be very useful on pavement through.

Serious answer - if you are looking for point A to B transportation instead of to compete in the Sno*Drift Rally, some sort of AWD crossover like a CRV or Escape / Tribute.

Tom_Spangler (Forum Supporter)
Tom_Spangler (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand PowerDork
9/1/21 7:54 a.m.
JesseWolfe said:

First or second generation Touareg or Cheyenne, base model ( you don't need lockers ), 17" AT tires, severe snow rated.  Absolute monsters in snow and loose surfaces.  Unavailable with a manual transmission though.

I thought the base V6 Cayenne was available with a stick in the first gen? Good luck finding one, though.

I'm also assuming that snow tires are a given, but I can assure you that after 35 Michigan winters, 4WD/AWD does more than help you get moving.

I'll throw out an odd one. Mazdaspeed6. They were all manuals, and they are quick. Probably well under $10k, though I haven't looked at them in years. Weird AWD system, but you can't have everything.

ProDarwin
ProDarwin MegaDork
9/1/21 8:20 a.m.
ddavidv said:

As for cars that are truly unstoppable in the snow, from personal experience (and I'm talking PA snow, not wannabe VA snow):

He's a few random pics I have of wannabe VA snow.  Note that unlike PA, the infastructure to clear said snow in VA is a lot worse.  For both of these storms, our road was not plowed for many days.  During snowmageddon 2010 (28" of snow, then a 10" snow in the same week) the house also lost power for many days, which made being trapped there in a non-awd vehicle without snow tires pretty scary.

 

bobzilla
bobzilla MegaDork
9/1/21 8:25 a.m.

Best I've had was the 2001 Suzuki Grand Vitara. 

1988RedT2
1988RedT2 MegaDork
9/1/21 8:28 a.m.
Cousin_Eddie (Forum Supporter) said:

Anyone who knows me knows that a Honda response is forthcoming to any "what car" thread.

AWD CR-V

When choosing an appliance, the answer is always a Honda of some variety. 

That does appear to be a solid choice.  Anybody know the last year they put manuals in the AWD CR-V?

mtn
mtn MegaDork
9/1/21 8:34 a.m.
1988RedT2 said:
Cousin_Eddie (Forum Supporter) said:

Anyone who knows me knows that a Honda response is forthcoming to any "what car" thread.

AWD CR-V

When choosing an appliance, the answer is always a Honda of some variety. 

That does appear to be a solid choice.  Anybody know the last year they put manuals in the AWD CR-V?

According to FuelEconomy.gov, using their power search function, the last manual AWD CR-V was 2006. However, you could get the Element with that combo into 2010, and that was probably pretty damn similar if not identical drivetrain. I'd go with the Element myself.

ProDarwin
ProDarwin MegaDork
9/1/21 8:48 a.m.

Element is not a bad option.  They appear to be made of gold, and may even appreciate during ownership.

This is one of the nicest I have ever seen: for $10k:

https://www.facebook.com/marketplace/item/140600381570722/

 

Still feels weird paying that kind of money for an 18 year old car with 85k miles on it.  

 

Also, these seem to get terrible gas mileage, if that is a concern.  I imagine it isn't as almost anything AWD in this price range is going to be pretty bad.

 

 

dj06482 (Forum Supporter)
dj06482 (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand UltraDork
9/1/21 8:55 a.m.

Minus the manual requirement, our Rav4 is great in the snow, even on worn-out all seasons.  I like the smaller size and taller driving position, it would be a beast with dedicated winter tires.

We had an '00 Saab 9-3 and that was great in the snow with dedicated winter tires, even with the automatic. Those are pretty easy to find in a manual.

frenchyd
frenchyd GRM+ Memberand UltimaDork
9/1/21 9:14 a.m.
dps214 said:

Your profile says you live in VA so I'm going to go with "literally anything with snow tires and more than 3" of ground clearance". I mean I live in ohio and I'm not even planning on running snow tires this winter, just good all seasons.

All seasons really are not great in snow.  In light snow they may get you moving but they pack up with snow too much to give you firm traction. Going around curves and stopping. 
 Dedicated snow tires that go on once the temps are regularly below 45 degrees  and come off once temps are regularly  above 45 are your best bet safety wise. 
     You won't believe the difference a high histolysis  tire has.  It's not just the tread, it's the actual rubber used.  
    Yes the great ones are expensive,but they last 5 years + and just one accidents deductible  will pay for them.  Avoid the accident, buy the tires. Mount them on separate set of wheels and then you can mount them  yourself or if you buy them from a place like Discount tires they will mount and dismount them for free.  I like the fact they carefully hand torque each lug nut and confirm the low pressure sensor is working before sending you out.  All free. 

My current daily driver 2011 AWD Element gets 23mpg. It is an auto trans though.

I recommended the CR-V simply due to reasonable availability. The Element is harder to find and more expensive when you do. To be able and afford a late model AWD Element, I had to buy one with a salvage title and a whole lot of deferred maintenance. Texas, so no rust, but plenty of clunking and banging underneath both ends of the car that took multiple significant RockAuto deliveries to quieten down. 

iansane
iansane GRM+ Memberand HalfDork
9/1/21 9:30 a.m.

I beat the snot out of my b5 s4 last year and it was a blast. Power to enjoy snow drifting when I wanted and traction to just go if I needed to. Fairly maintenance intensive though... Realistically, I'd probably agree with the e30 ix. My rwd e30 with snow tires was almost unstoppable so adding two more drivewheels would've been amazing.

Curtis73 (Forum Supporter)
Curtis73 (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
9/1/21 10:04 a.m.

Everyone is talking about the best car for the snow, but that's like asking what the best knife is for cutting butter

All cars make torque and transfer it to the tires.  What makes a vehicle good in the snow are things like tires and how many driven wheels there are.  Weight is a factor, and gearing can have an effect, but it's all about the tires.

I had a 73 B-body that was awesome in the snow, and I had a 96 B-body that was helpless in the snow.  Of course, one had 235mm all season rubber and the other one had 285mm summers.  I also have an 06 Express Van with AWD that is more or less helpless in the snow because the PO put E-range highway rib tires on it.  I can go, but I can't turn or stop in the snow.

AWD is certainly a help, but 4wd is not really the proper tool for snow.  4wd is for off-roading or situations when you absolutely need torque to go to all wheels with traction.  That is not the usually the case with snow, and 4wd makes turning a PITA in the snow.

I contend that the best car for the snow is an automatic transmission, AWD (with a viscous coupling), LSD rear with skinny snow tires on it.  No studs.  Studs are for ice.

ProDarwin
ProDarwin MegaDork
9/1/21 10:17 a.m.
Curtis73 (Forum Supporter) said:

All cars make torque and transfer it to the tires.  What makes a vehicle good in the snow are things like tires and how many driven wheels there are.  Weight is a factor, and gearing can have an effect, but it's all about the tires.

and ground clearance.

All the grip & driven wheels doesn't help if you are trying to plow any snow more than 3" deep or so

JesseWolfe
JesseWolfe Reader
9/1/21 10:34 a.m.

I imagine modern electronics, such as traction control, stability control and ABS also play significant factors in heavy snow drivability.  Even more so on vehicles that have switchable mapped settings for those systems working in conjunction with AWD.

RX Reven'
RX Reven' GRM+ Memberand UltraDork
9/1/21 10:39 a.m.

I was in Minnesota during the Arctic Vortex of 2019.

Avis gave my an AWD Ford Fusion and being a California guy, I just accepted the inevitability of my pending death.

That wonderful little machine clawed and fought its way through drifts twice as big as it had any business attacking and never, ever let me down.

It would be my high honor to buy every engineer at Ford that worked on that car a beer.

Ian F (Forum Supporter)
Ian F (Forum Supporter) MegaDork
9/1/21 10:44 a.m.

Snow is one time when I really don't like my minivan - mostly due to the automatic transmission.  That micro-lag between pedal input and wheel movement doesn't normally bother me - except when driving in crap conditions. 

My 2003 TDI wagon is great in the snow. More so with snow tires.  

That said, the best snow vehicle I've owned was either an '82 Subaru 4WD wagon or an '86 Toyota 4x4 pickup. Both with manual transmissions. 

My Dodge Cummins wasn't bad in the snow, despite the weight. Again - manual transmission and Bridgestone W965 snow tires that seemed to allow that truck to defy the laws of physics. Good, since the axle-disconnect system was broken so the front drive axle never engaged.

No Time
No Time SuperDork
9/1/21 11:38 a.m.

If you're looking for a small, budget friendly option the Suzuki SX4 goes well in the snow, at least with snow tires. 

It's a small hatchback available with a 5 speed and AWD with driver selected modes.

-FWD - only front engaged as needed, rear does not engage even when whee spin is detected  

- AWD with auto engagement of rears, as front slip is detected  

- AWD with rear tires  constantly engaged.

 

Tom_Spangler (Forum Supporter)
Tom_Spangler (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand PowerDork
9/1/21 12:09 p.m.
RX Reven' said:

I was in Minnesota during the Arctic Vortex of 2019.

Avis gave my an AWD Ford Fusion and being a California guy, I just accepted the inevitability of my pending death.

That wonderful little machine clawed and fought its way through drifts twice as big as it had any business attacking and never, ever let me down.

It would be my high honor to buy every engineer at Ford that worked on that car a beer.

My AWD Fusion is decent in the snow, but the factory all-seasons, while adequate in dry and wet conditions, are absolute trash in the snow. No surprise. Several times I've considered buying a dedicated set of winter wheels and rubber for it, but it's looking like it's going to be gone in a year or less, so I don't want to make the investment at this point.

crankwalk (Forum Supporter)
crankwalk (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand SuperDork
9/1/21 1:02 p.m.
1988RedT2 said:

So, with August on the way out and winter just around the corner, what is everyone's choice for best vehicle for driving in snow?  Under $10k, and stickshift is ideal.  2WD need not apply.

 

 

Under $10k and a stick and a selectable transfer case. Never ever got stuck no matter the tire (muds or studs). I think you would do just fine in Virginia.

 

 

Curtis73 (Forum Supporter)
Curtis73 (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
9/1/21 1:14 p.m.
ProDarwin said:
Curtis73 (Forum Supporter) said:

All cars make torque and transfer it to the tires.  What makes a vehicle good in the snow are things like tires and how many driven wheels there are.  Weight is a factor, and gearing can have an effect, but it's all about the tires.

and ground clearance.

All the grip & driven wheels doesn't help if you are trying to plow any snow more than 3" deep or so

That reminds me of a story involving a 45' Prevost motorcoach when I was driving for a charter company.  I got off the Turnpike in Carlisle for a meal for the passengers and then got back on headed to Pittsburgh.  I was noticing that there weren't any plows or other cars.  They had closed the turnpike and somehow I slipped through the cracks.  A state police SUV tried to pull me over, but there was no way I was stopping and stranding 50 passengers in Somerset.  He eventually gave up, but the thing I remember most (other than having no idea where the pavement was) was that the front of the bus was hitting the 3' of snow and piling it up in front of the windshield.  Had to stop once in one of the tunnels to fix a windshield wiper which I splinted with some tape from the first aid kit and a Bic pen.

Those things were great in the snow but awful on ice.  So much weight and so little rubber by comparison, they were able to really get a bite on things.

bmw88rider
bmw88rider GRM+ Memberand UltraDork
9/1/21 2:25 p.m.

My best car for snow was my VW 4motion Sportswagen with a set of Michelin X-ice3 on it. My Golf R is just as good because basically it's the same AWD system and I have the same winter tires for it. That's why I suggested the arguably better A4 Quattro system. 

I went all over Colorado in my 2 Golfs with no issues at all. When I lived there, I was on the top of a hill that was a real mess in snow. More than 1 car would get stuck on it during the winter snows usually right in front of my house. About the only issue I ever had was with really tall drifts. If that was the case then the XTerra came out to play. It was better for drifts but not as good on lesser snows. 

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