New Car for Minnesota - Must Have AWD / 4WD

MegaMan001MegaMan001 CRNARochester, MNRegistered User regular
Just moved back to Minnesota with the little lady and we'd like to get a second car for the winter, especially for her 30 minute commute.

Probably should have AWD or 4WD or is this the same thing?

Other than that, safety is paramount. We won't be using it for longer road trips, we have a Toyota Matrix for that, so gas mileage isn't a huge factor.

Definitely automatic transmission.

Any thoughts?

I am in the business of saving lives.


  • see317see317 Registered User regular
    Found an article that states some differences between 4WD and AWD:
    I'm not a car guy, but it seemed to lay out the differences clearly enough that I could understand.

    Personally, I drive an automatic front wheel drive vehicle, and so long as I don't do any offroading, it works pretty well for Colorado winters.

    Ringo wrote: »
    Well except what see317 said. That guy's always wrong.
  • MegaMan001MegaMan001 CRNA Rochester, MNRegistered User regular
    edited September 2014
    I appreciate the idea about front wheel drive, that's what we've always used, but she took a job with Planned Parenthood so she may have to drive in shitty weather to care for patients and I thought AWD would be better?

    EDIT: Than you for the article on AWD v 4WD, easy to follow along and it looks like AWD would be a lot more applicable to our situation.

    MegaMan001 on
    I am in the business of saving lives.
  • UsagiUsagi Nah Registered User regular
    edited September 2014
    Subaru anything

    I've been super happy with my Impreza, my brother's wife loves her Outback

    Usagi on
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  • mtsmts Dr. Robot King Registered User regular
    We have a newish forester that I like alot. Has good pickup fits a ton and takes a convertible car seat in the back easily. My only complaint is the gas mileage though it isn't terrible and I think the newer models are better

  • NotYouNotYou Registered User regular
    I have a subaru crosstrek I enjoy a lot. It doesn't have a ton of power. If you head to the mountains you'll be crawling up steep roads. However, I think at the price it's the coolest AWD car you can get.

    One thing to keep in mind, when you're driving in the snow a lot, a 2 wheel drive car with snow tires is probably going to perform better than an AWD car with regular summer city tires.

  • schussschuss Registered User regular
    Yeah, Subaru for the best option. Get snow tires no matter what, as they'll make a HUGE difference. I just bought a forester if you have any questions on those.

    L Ron Howard
  • MegaMan001MegaMan001 CRNA Rochester, MNRegistered User regular
    How much would I expect to pay for a solid set of snow tires? Is it worth buying new rims and shit or do I pay annually for someone to put the snow tires on my existing rims?

    I am in the business of saving lives.
  • A Dabble Of TheloniusA Dabble Of Thelonius It has been a doozy of a dayRegistered User regular
    Subaru is a very solid choice.

    We ended up getting an AWD Nissan Rogue when we were up in the mountains. Had great luck with it.

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  • L Ron HowardL Ron Howard Registered User regular
    Welcome back to MN! I'm in Saint Paul, so if you are in the Cities and want more specific information, let me know.

    For snow tires, I'm of the opinion that you can't spend too much money on them. I consider them a basic safety necessity. Snow tires that make your car move and stop moving will help prevent you from getting into accidents; be it either stopping before hitting cars or swerving without losing control.

    As an example, my dad buys premium snow tires for both his and my mom's cars. I've been riding with him as he's taken off from a stoplight casually while the jackass in a pickup truck spins all his wheels in all season tires. All season tires are better than summer tires, but if they're not mud and snow rated, they're going to be worthless when it snows. You're going to be more unsafe than normal when it's snowing before the roads have been plowed. Unfortunately, his snow tires only last like two winters before he has to buy more. I have to replace mine this year, but I'm waiting until November for that. The set I'm looking at is somewhere between $600-800, but there's still time so I can shop around and find a good deal.

    Also, remember that there will be ice. As happens every year around here, the roads are plowed first, but sometimes they don't put down salt and/or sand, so the roads turn to ice as cars drive over them. This is really common at the beginning of the season. There are lots of bridges where people get stuck when trying to go over them. I've had it happen to me (last time I actually used all seasons in the winter, btw). It's mostly a thing that happens in the cities instead of on the freeways, because towns are always caught with their pants down for whatever stupid goosey reason. There will be a good chance you'll stop at a stoplight and be unable to start again, so keep that in mind. All seasons, in my experience, are WORTHLESS on ice.

    As for AWD, on ice in all seasons, it just means all four tires spin instead of just two. You still don't move.

    And as for getting another set of rims, that's really an issue of how much you have to spend and how much of an inconvenience it is for you to go and get them replaced. The place I go to is like $60-70 to do all of them. A little more than $120 a year to replace tires is nothing, compared to getting another set of rims.

    One last thing, if you're looking at Subaru, get it sooner rather than later. With Summer dying down and Fall about to arrive, everyone is going to want a Subaru, so the prices will be going up due to a lot of demand, if they haven't already. Barring that, get GOOD winter tires for your FWD vehicle, and take it really, really slowly. Start in second gear, and be gentle with the throttle when taking off from a stop.

  • mtsmts Dr. Robot King Registered User regular
    i would probably just get a separate set of cheap steel rims for the snows if you have the storage space.

    that will allow you to:
    1. swap them yourself
    2. avoid any unnecessary wear and tear on your regular tires and rims

  • EWomEWom Registered User regular
    Everyone around where I live is absolutely nuts about Subaru Outbacks. It is by far the most popular vehicle in this part of Montana... and for most of the year it's great. One heavy snowfall though, and they, like all other cars, are stuck. 4wd/Awd makes no difference if you are high centered on not that much snow.

    I drove a Chevy Blazer for years, and pulled many many outbacks out of / off of snow/banks. I only got stuck once in the Blazer, and it was when we got nearly 3ft in one night. I ended up high centered on a drift.

    After that I drove a full size Dodge Ram; and even trying my hardest to get stuck in the snow I never could. When the city basically told everyone to stay at home because the roads are undriveable due to a late season snow storm and the plows wouldn't be out for quite awhile.. the truck blasted through it like it was nothing. Many Subarus were stuck in the middle of the road.

    Now I drive a Ford Escape, and love it. Handles great, has 4wd, just enjoying it overall.

    If where you're living has a history of deep snow, and the plows don't run all the time everywhere you need to go; I would go against a Subaru, at least the Outback/Baja. Not sure if the forester is actually any higher off the ground than the other two so can't comment on those.

    Whether they find a life there or not, I think Jupiter should be called an enemy planet.
  • Donovan PuppyfuckerDonovan Puppyfucker A dagger in the dark is worth a thousand swords in the morningRegistered User regular
    Get a Subaru (Legacy wagon?), and a second set of wheels for your winter tyres. Use good quality winter tyres during winter and then just swap your wheels out for spring and summer. It's easier than having tyres de-mounted and re-mounted twice per year, and seeing as you're going to want to keep your unused tyres during the months they're not on your car, it's not like you'll be saving space or anything anyway.

  • Donovan PuppyfuckerDonovan Puppyfucker A dagger in the dark is worth a thousand swords in the morningRegistered User regular
    Subarus are fine in snow. It's more about how you drive.

    This guy drives like an idiot in 15-18 inches of snow and does just fine.

  • NoquarNoquar Registered User regular
    +1'ing a Subaru AND/OR a solid FWD car - 27+ years of experience in Alaska. No vehicle is impervious to the snow, and all vehicles will get stuck/high-centered at some point depending on what you do. Get a second set of tires for whichever you choose. I loved our Outback to death in any weather, but I also drove - and still do - a 2001 Chevy Malibu through all sorts of snowy/icy weather and with intentional driving and a good set of snow tires - preferably with studs - she'll do just fine.

  • ThundyrkatzThundyrkatz Registered User regular
    +1 for Subaru, great all around car. Had several for years.

    This year we got into a tiff with the local dealer and decided to try something else. We also needed a bigger car. We got a Honda CRV and it has been great also.

    And that video up above with the guy plowing through the snow... I tried that once in a Subaru too! long story short, it is a special kind of hell trying to dig the snow out from under your car until your wheels touch the ground again, in your business clothes. :s

  • JebusUDJebusUD Adventure! Candy IslandRegistered User regular
    It's more about how you drive than what you drive. 4 wheel drive only helps you go, it doesn't help you stop. Got to slow it down. Get the nice tires. Hundreds of people are killed every year in winter traffic accidents. Thousands are injured or have their property destroyed. Don't push your luck. If it is really bad then stay home.

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    Guess it always comes down to.
  • schussschuss Registered User regular
    MegaMan001 wrote: »
    How much would I expect to pay for a solid set of snow tires? Is it worth buying new rims and shit or do I pay annually for someone to put the snow tires on my existing rims?

    I just paid about $600 (a little less) for 4 winter tires + steel rims from Tire Rack. If you're going to keep the car long-term, it's a good investment. Otherwise, you may want to mount/unmount, though be aware that will add up over time.

    Best winter tires I've found are Dunlop Wintersports, but going with General Altimax Arctic this time (heard great things) this time. Blizzaks tend to be soft, Michelins are great but wear quickly, pirellis are useless.

  • BouwsTBouwsT Wanna come to a super soft birthday party? Registered User regular
    +1 Subaru, they are reliable as all hell and the AWD is very nice to have in the winter. First car was a 1991 Subaru Legacy, Current is a 2010 WRX STi. I will be a die hard for life. If you have any questions on a particular year/make/model, feel free to PM me. I've got a lot of resources available to me for reliability reports, etc.

    Also, winter tires and wheels are an investment. You're going to get what you put in out of them. If the car is a temporary fixture in the family, consider just swapping the tires onto your stock rims... If you're planning on keeping it for any more than two years I would seriously consider buying new or used wheels for the winters. It's better for the life of your tires and saves you time/money in the long run.

    I have had great luck with my Blizzaks, and they've just released a new WS80 for light car applications. I've also heard awesome things about Michelin X-Ice products, but have no hands on experience. There are a ton of good reviews on Tire Rack and similar websites, educate yourself and purchase based on your budget. As always, ANY winter tire is going to get you better performance than an all-season option. Most winter tires are going to have better than average snow traction ability, but the money invested is really going to help with your ice traction, which is what I put the most value in. Especially when it comes to highway driving.

  • MegaMan001MegaMan001 CRNA Rochester, MNRegistered User regular
    This is a lot of great information and we're going to test drive the Subaru Outback and the Forester this weekend, but I think the Outback is going to be better for our needs.

    I am in the business of saving lives.
  • ArtereisArtereis Registered User regular
    We love our Nissan Juke. Apparently a lot of other people do, too, because the dealership keeps sending us mailers asking to buy it back from us.

  • lunchbox12682lunchbox12682 MinnesotaRegistered User regular
    More Subaru love here. My opinion from Vermont and Minnesota living is that AWD, good all seasons, and attentive driving is good enough for the suburbs and cities. Outside of that or if you know you will be dealing with worse, get the snow tires. Chains are also a possibility if you are rural.

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