Originally Posted by Mr. Crab
littered with 2wd cars off the road
I was driving back from Whistler to Seattle (in a fwd mini van). The roads looked kind of wierd and I was getting a bit close to the vehicle in front of me so I lightly touched the brakes. I heard this clicking sound. It was the anti-lock system engaging - we were driving on sheet ice. EVERY vehicle that was on the side of the road were 4wd/awd. Fundementally driving, and even stopping, is all about traction. The main factor in traction is the road contact via the tires - for stopping weight is also a big influence. On paved highways 4wd/awd is overkill except for extreme performance vehicles (I had an old Audi S4 with 325hp but the tires were too wide for safe use in snow country). Off road vehicles are different, and somehow we've been convinced by the various auto marketting departments that we want off-road type vehicles for on-road use. Incidentally I just got back from an off-road adventure in my Subaru awd. 4wd/awd have a marginal benefit for traction to get going, and some bigger vehicles have better ground clearance for getting through snow (which would be too deep to sensibly drive in anyway), but have much worse braking performance.
On the other hand the OP asked about Utah. The more metal 'protection' the better. To hell with performance.
ps. I live in snow country and I get good chains. They cost $100+/pair but take 5 minutes to put on. Keep a mat, gloves, light (another $20) and it's almost a pleasure to put them on. For less than $150 you end up with better snow performance than any 4wd/awd driven by the flatlanders and have a sensible vehicle for general use. Another investment would be to get a driving class rather than pay for features that have perceived performance characteristics generated more by marketting deparments than reality.
A fun article on this topic (including this ... Ron Wulff, a California Highway Patrol public affairs officer, told the Sierra Sun:
"Most of the vehicles that we find on their sides or roofs are four-wheel-drive sport/utility vehicles, which makes me think that the drivers of those cars aren't realizing the limitations of their vehicles
.") can be found at http://weeklywire.com/ww/01-19-99/na...r_shelter.html
with some real data, generated locally, on stopping distances