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Winter vehicle for family and ski use. - Page 5

post #121 of 148

AWD

Is AWD that necessary? I have a 4 wheel drive truck that I put into 4WD about twice a year. I drive the wifes SAAB when I ski and I go about 25 to 30 times a year and I have never had a problem in the mountains with that car. I always keep good rubber on it though. I drove over Vail pass last weekend in decent storm and I must a passed a half dozen Outbacks

When I put my truck into 4WD it is a huge resource drain; the gas mileage just plummets. I bet if I left it in 4WD the tranny wouldn't last 30K miles.

Continuous all wheel drive just seems like an enormous waste of resources and poses more mechanical failure risk.

I guess the new AWD are not continuous? Even if they are not something is impacting the gas mileage on those cars.
post #122 of 148
Quote:
Originally Posted by newfydog View Post
My clutch sucked from the day I bought it (2001 Outback). It slipped, shuddered, stunk.

I had the dealer look at it every time it was in for service, and they said it had no problem.

As soon as the warrenty went out, they needed to replace it. I noticed a lot of used Subarus list a recently replaced clutch.

I got 160,000 out of my '78 Subaru with no clutch work. The '01 needed brake rotors turned and a clutch before 60,000.
Your dealer did not take care of you -- there was a bulletin on a clutch "judder" problem that affected a bunch of Subarus from about 00-02. My parents had the clutch in their Outback replaced for free. I only knew about the bulletin from following the Subaru forums on Edmunds.com.

Interestingly, this problem also affected other makes (Mazda, Nissan, Honda, among others) that used the same clutch supplier. Subarus got a lot more notoriety for the problem because they used to have far more manual transmission models than the other makes.
post #123 of 148
Quote:
Originally Posted by jbuhl View Post
Is AWD that necessary? I have a 4 wheel drive truck that I put into 4WD about twice a year. I drive the wifes SAAB when I ski and I go about 25 to 30 times a year and I have never had a problem in the mountains with that car. I always keep good rubber on it though. I drove over Vail pass last weekend in decent storm and I must a passed a half dozen Outbacks

When I put my truck into 4WD it is a huge resource drain; the gas mileage just plummets. I bet if I left it in 4WD the tranny wouldn't last 30K miles.

Continuous all wheel drive just seems like an enormous waste of resources and poses more mechanical failure risk.

I guess the new AWD are not continuous? Even if they are not something is impacting the gas mileage on those cars.


Big difference between AWD and 4WD. For one thing, if you have true 4WD, then you can't easily turn on dry roads. AWD is a lot more efficient for continuous use, and it has the necessary differentials to allow you to drive figure-eights if you wanted to. Many AWD systems are really part time, meaning they are FWD until something happens to trigger a power shift. If they can keep the parasitic drag of the associated drivetrain crap low, AWD can have a pretty low penalty.

I don't know about anyone else, but when I have driven up to the mountain on a Friday night in a snowstorm, AWD vehicles are doing a whole lot better than anything else on the road.
post #124 of 148
Quote:
Originally Posted by Walt View Post
Another thing that really underwhelmed me about the Subies is that the automatic transmission versions don't allow you to lock it in second - it always started out in first, no matter what.

Not sure when you were looking, but my 02 Outback (4-speed auto) and 05 Outback (5-spd auto) both would allow you to start out in higher gears if you wanted to. I seem to recall that the 05 had some extra features for this, since it had the sportshift auto.
post #125 of 148
Quote:
Originally Posted by Finndog View Post
ANyone have an element? I like the car, the ability to throw bikes i the back, kayaks on top, and the interior being easy to clean and worry-free with dirt and wet clothes/gear. Although a little under powered and I live in NJ so we don't have real winter driving needs. Worse comes to worse, I could throw snows on it with the full-time 4wd, It should be OK. opinions? BTW, a new one loaded is 22,500
Small gas tank and mediocre gas mileage means the range is very poor. I forget what, but you can run the numbers. It wasn't a practical option for my typical ski trip drives -- too many gas stops would have been required.
post #126 of 148
Quote:
Originally Posted by skier219 View Post
Your dealer did not take care of you -- there was a bulletin on a clutch "judder" problem that affected a bunch of Subarus from about 00-02. My parents had the clutch in their Outback replaced for free. I only knew about the bulletin from following the Subaru forums on Edmunds.com.
.
Thanks--I figured as much, but it all came at a time when I was moving a lot and couldn't properly go after the issue. I'll remind the local dealer and friends for years to come. The clutch work was about two grand.
post #127 of 148

Venza?

What about that newToyota Venza? I haven't driven it, but it looked well-designed and can come in AWD.
post #128 of 148
Yeah, I have seen a couple Venzas on the road and they look nice. Not a big fan of the front grille, but the rest of the vehicle and all the specs look great. Car and Driver had a writeup on it an issue or two ago.

The Toyota Matrix (and Pontiac Vibe) AWD also look like nice ski vehicles for anyone looking at smaller cars. I saw a Matrix in the ski area lot yesterday and spent some time ogling it. Then I saw a new Audi TT Quattro with ski racks, and that REALLY caught my attention. For one person, that would make a sweet little ski vehicle and do double duty as a mid-life crisis sports car.
post #129 of 148
Quote:
Originally Posted by skier219 View Post
Big difference between AWD and 4WD. For one thing, if you have true 4WD, then you can't easily turn on dry roads. AWD is a lot more efficient for continuous use, and it has the necessary differentials to allow you to drive figure-eights if you wanted to. Many AWD systems are really part time, meaning they are FWD until something happens to trigger a power shift. If they can keep the parasitic drag of the associated drivetrain crap low, AWD can have a pretty low penalty.

I don't know about anyone else, but when I have driven up to the mountain on a Friday night in a snowstorm, AWD vehicles are doing a whole lot better than anything else on the road.

Keep in mind that most if not all cars with part time AWD also have traction and stability control system, and that is mostly what keeps them on the road in bad weather. AWD itself will do nothing to help in a skid or to prevent too much power from being delivered to the wheels.
post #130 of 148
Quote:
Originally Posted by skier219 View Post
Big difference between AWD and 4WD. For one thing, if you have true 4WD, then you can't easily turn on dry roads. AWD is a lot more efficient for continuous use, and it has the necessary differentials to allow you to drive figure-eights if you wanted to. Many AWD systems are really part time, meaning they are FWD until something happens to trigger a power shift. If they can keep the parasitic drag of the associated drivetrain crap low, AWD can have a pretty low penalty.

I don't know about anyone else, but when I have driven up to the mountain on a Friday night in a snowstorm, AWD vehicles are doing a whole lot better than anything else on the road.
4WD is for an off road vehicle, AWD is to keep you car from becoming an off road vehicle.
post #131 of 148
Quote:
Originally Posted by aschick View Post
Keep in mind that most if not all cars with part time AWD also have traction and stability control system, and that is mostly what keeps them on the road in bad weather. AWD itself will do nothing to help in a skid or to prevent too much power from being delivered to the wheels.
And none of those "features" can do anything if you don't have traction. High quality winter tires are needed to make these systems work at the highest possible level. Don't think they make them unnecesary.....
post #132 of 148
Yes those wonderful features. The cheap ones that decide to send power to the rear wheels and lift the front wheels off the ice when they are just beginning to understeer, just to make sure they loose all grip are lot's of fun to drive.

They work well for people who don't drive anywhere near the limits.

I admit the more expensive systems are better.

On the other hand it is always a difficult decision when traveling down the highway when your options are 4 wheel lock or two wheel drive and the conditions are variable.

I gotta admit I loved having 4-wheel lock on when I floored the 5.7 Hemi Pick-em up truck for passing on those slippery roads. There's something satisfying about having extra wheels clawing for traction and finding it.

Pontiac Vibe gets better gas milage though.
post #133 of 148
Quote:
Originally Posted by Philpug View Post
AWD is to keep you car from becoming an off road vehicle.
If you can't drive for sh_t.
post #134 of 148
to someone who mentioned the Forrester - my aunt has one. Slow with a poor ride on the highway and bad handling. But yes it has room for tall people at least. Just can't find a Subaru I'd buy yet ... although if you can stand them they appear to be durable.

The RAV AWD doesn't compare with the Audi. I run snows on all my vehicles (for braking and handling). Without it the high COG makes stopping and handling OK but FWD by default isn't the best. The system functions (similar to the CRV's from what I gather in design) but there are better out there, quattro being at the top of my list.
post #135 of 148
btw - saw that Venza at the dealer driving by today. Might have to look into that one at some point ... Toymotor crossover vehicle. Actually in the old days we'd call it a wagon but that's so cliche .

Yes the AWD comes with a price - weight and MPG. The default FWD systems do save in this respect. So there are trade offs to be made. Although the upside for feeling like you're driving a tank is I feel more secure driving it.
post #136 of 148
Quote:
Originally Posted by jbuhl View Post
If you can't drive for sh_t.
What a great post! Really enlightened everyone. I suspected none of us knew how to drive in snow, but I wasn't sure until you came forward and explained it.
post #137 of 148
I have a 99 V70 non-Turbo w/4 studded snows and it is nearly unstoppable in the snow. It's very comfortable and gets around 30mpg. I've test driven the Subies and they are great cars but if your used to the luxury of a Volvo your going to be disappointed w/their interiors. The way I look at it is the Swede's know how to make good cars that can run in the snow and most importantly...When it snows accidents happen and outside of a tank I'll take my V70.
post #138 of 148

awd

Quote:
Originally Posted by newfydog View Post
What a great post! Really enlightened everyone. I suspected none of us knew how to drive in snow, but I wasn't sure until you came forward and explained it.


I just been hanging out at TGR to long an it's rubbing off.

But I still contend for most people AWD is overkill,added expense and complexity. As good as my car goes in the snow with good rubber; It would take some special circumstance before I would buy AWD. Especially after I hear Substers talk about their repair bills.


I have to confess I owned a Land Cruiser for some time. Great car and we loved it. But about 5 years ago it became obvious to me that it was overkill. We just did not need that type of car and we wanted to get into something that got more responsible gas mileage. I think it's time for the American public to bone up and get responsible about buying autos that get better fuel economy.

20 miles/gallon is not good fuel economy.
post #139 of 148
The part time AWD systems on most vehicles create a 1 mpg penalty. In a RAV4 or CR-V you will still be in the top 20% of passenger cars for economy.
post #140 of 148
Quote:
Originally Posted by lbj832 View Post
I have a 99 V70 non-Turbo w/4 studded snows and it is nearly unstoppable in the snow..
Right on

I don't run studded but my car is similar. Front wheel drive, good tires and the majority of the weight over the front wheels and she goes great in the snow. Not so good gas around town but once I hit the hwy I get near 30.
post #141 of 148
Quote:
Originally Posted by aschick View Post
The part time AWD systems on most vehicles create a 1 mpg penalty. In a RAV4 or CR-V you will still be in the top 20% of passenger cars for economy.

Do you know where the part time is disengaged at? Does the front drive shaft still spin? Front axle still spin?
post #142 of 148
Quote:
Originally Posted by aschick View Post
Keep in mind that most if not all cars with part time AWD also have traction and stability control system, and that is mostly what keeps them on the road in bad weather. AWD itself will do nothing to help in a skid or to prevent too much power from being delivered to the wheels.
I agree traction/stability control can be a good thing, but I consider it a "nanny" of last resort, when the driver has either been caught by surprise or botched up big time. I do not think of them as being critical or required to keep an AWD car on the road. Though my current cars have these systems, many of my earlier AWD vehicles did not, and they drove fine in capable hands.

The better AWD systems will prevent too much power from going to certain wheels -- they can be proactive about shifting and transferring power. For example, one of Subaru's most basic systems will send power aft upon acceleration (when the vehicle squats and the front wheels unload a bit) and the SH-AWD system in my RDX transfers power to the outside rear wheel in corners, effectively overdriving it to reduce understeer and take power from the inside rear wheel (which unloads a bit). So I think the better proactive AWD systems can function intelligently by managing power before falling back on stability/traction control to handle the situation when something goes wrong.

I dislike traction control systems in many cases because they normally function by applying the brakes, and this greatly limits forward progress. This is used in lieu of a true limited slip diff, by applying brakes to spinning wheels and transferring power over to other wheels. The downside is that is eliminates half of the power being sent to that axle (Wikipedia has a good article on this for anyone who wants details). So exercise caution when you see AWD systems that are dependent on traction control -- they will suck in deep snow. They can actually reduce the power at each axle to 25% of the total power, and reduce total power going to the ground to 25% to 50% of available engine power.

My RDX has traction control (part of Honda's VSA) and I have to turn it off in deep snow or the vehicle will suck wind. I had the same experience on a rental Outback that had traction control. Luckily you can turn it off when you need to. I leave VSA on all the time, but turn it off before driving up a snowy hill or in any other deep snow situation where forward progress is important and the yaw/skid danger is low. The lousy thing about Honda's VSA is that you can't turn it off once it's kicking in, so you have to know and plan ahead of time and turn it off when it would get in the way.
post #143 of 148
Quote:
Originally Posted by jbuhl View Post
Do you know where the part time is disengaged at? Does the front drive shaft still spin? Front axle still spin?
Typically it's a viscous-coupling or clutch-pack in the center diff (which is often integrated into the front transaxle case). This determines whether or not the rear driveshaft and axles are being driven or just freewheeling.

Most part time AWD systems always send a small amount of power aft (5-10%) in order to offset frictional losses in the driveline (keeps the rear machinery from acting like a "drag").
post #144 of 148
Quote:
Originally Posted by jbuhl View Post
Especially after I hear Substers talk about their repair bills.
I don't normally keep vehicles more than 80-100K miles, so this isn't exactly long term data, but the 5-6 Subarus I owned never required anything more than standard maintenance, tires, etc in that time. Other than a clutch recall fixed under warranty, my parent's 00 Outback went well over 100K with no major repairs or costs (I think it got to 130K or 140K when they sold it).
post #145 of 148
Quote:
Originally Posted by jbuhl View Post
Is AWD that necessary?
It depends on where you live. In WA I really like having AWD so that I never have to worry about putting chains on. If you live somewhere that chains laws either don't exist or are rare, then you don't have to worry about that. When I lived in OR, I had snow tires for my FWD car 'cause that was an acceptable substitute for chains according to the DOT. WA and CA don't agree, they say chains or AWD when the chain restrictions are in force.

Having driven a good bit in both AWD and FWD with snows, I think that AWD helps tremendously in getting you started and climbing hills, but obviously it doesn't help you at all when it comes to turning or stopping.

Is AWD necessary? Nope. Is it nice to have? Absolutely.
post #146 of 148
I liken AWD to fire insurance on my house. Have I used it? no. Am I going to cancel it? no.
post #147 of 148
I owned a Jeep Cherokee years ago. Though I had fun with that vehicle in the snow, I came to the conclusion that 4/A WD just wasn't necessary. Good tires, however, ARE necessary.

Not all all-season tires are created equally. I've been using Goodyear Assurance Triple-Tred's on my vehicles for the past couple of years, and they work almost as well as dedicated snows.

That said, my BMW 328i (rear wheel drive only) is getting old enough that I decided to put it into ski commuting service this year. With studded snows on the back and traction control, I've had no problem commuting from Co Spgs to the mountains this year (WP/MJ, Copper, Steamboat). Even took off early one weekday when schools were closed (it was DEFINITELY too dangerous to drive a mile up the road to the school, but it was fine driving up for opening day at Mary Jane in my RWD e46!)

4/A WD is certainly an advantage. I just don't find it worth the added expense and inefficiency.

Gotta go listen to the Broncos press conference introducing Josh McDaniels...

AM.
post #148 of 148
My favorite ski car was a '82 Audi 4000S, FWD. Great mileage and range, seated 4, ski passthrough, never got stuck. Had some weird intermittent thermostat problems in the summer, but that was never an issue during ski season.

Sold it to some friends after 8 years/135,000 miles; that was just the warmup. They then drove it another 12 years or so, mostly on a 175-mile daily roundtrip commute. The odometer broke around 300,000 miles, but they got it well above 400,000 miles before it finally gave up the ghost.

If I was in your boat, I'd look at a VW Jetta Sportwagon TDI.
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