Top 10 All-Wheel-Drive Vehicles
Cars that can safely carry you through the snow and ice season.
Not all vehicles are created equal when it comes to winter driving. A car has to start, accelerate, handle and stop in a confidence-inspiring manner when faced with slick or slushy roadways. Vehicles equipped with all-wheel drive have a distinct advantage in this regard.
Basically, AWD is a full-time 4-wheel-drive system (all four wheels receive torque from the engine simultaneously) that employs a center differential that allows each tire to rotate at different speeds. This independent rotation eliminates problems associated with basic 4WD systems when driven on pavement, such as driveline binding and wheel hop. Note that AWD is not only useful in the rain and snow — it is also great on dry pavement as well, improving handling and stability.
Unfortunately, not all AWD systems are the same; some are more efficient and balanced. In truth, though, a good winter machine is designed to tackle inclement conditions from the onset, down to small details that make a big difference when snow, ice and bitter cold reign supreme.
Winter Driving in Their DNA
Some carmakers have, by necessity, developed great expertise in adapting their products for winter driving. It had to come naturally to Swedish brands Saab and Volvo, for instance, whose engineers developed cars in a climate where temperatures dip below freezing for much of the year, and where snow and ice are the rule, not the exception. It was by no means a simple matter of traction, since both automakers, now American-owned (Saab by GM and Volvo by Ford), came to all-wheel-drive quite recently.
Saab and Volvo took great care in equipping their cars with fast and powerful heating and defrosting systems, wipers that could take the abuse of minus-30-degree temperatures and even carpets that could contain and endure salty slush and all the filth that winter in the real world brings. Thankfully, the Swedes are by no means alone in making their vehicles truly winter-ready nowadays. Yet, some are better than their rivals in this respect.
Here is an eclectic collection of automobiles, broken down by vehicle segment, that are particularly adept at handling winter.
Small Car: Subaru Impreza 2.5i 5-door
Nothing in this class can touch the Impreza in terms of roominess, stability, safety, practicality and sheer value. The standard engine is a rock-solid reliable and increasingly pleasant 2.5-liter 170-horsepower "boxer" four banger with a 5-speed manual gearbox. Subaru's signature Symmetrical All-Wheel-Drive system will get you through even the worst winter. The 5-door hatchback is our pick, but you can also get an Impreza sedan. And if you want more power, Subaru will gladly sell you a 2.5 GT or WRX with turbocharged versions of the same engines with respective outputs of 224 and 265 horsepower.
Midsize Sedan: Ford Fusion V6 SE AWD
The Fusion is one of the best-kept secrets among the throngs of midsize sedans on the road. Built on a solid platform shared with the previous-generation Mazda6, it has the distinct advantage of all-wheel drive over its distant cousin. Sharp, linear steering feel and a good driving position, combined with stable and balanced handling in all conditions, are dominant traits. The Fusion even has quadruple windshield washer nozzles for the nastiest bits. Power is delivered by an unremarkable 3.0-liter 221-horsepower V6 engine, thankfully redeemed by a good 6-speed automatic gearbox. Environmental Protection Agency fuel-economy ratings are 17 mpg city and 25 mpg highway.
Luxury Sedan: Acura RL
Acura's flagship luxury sedan has been anything but a hit in terms of sales, but it's quite the ticket for winter driving. Its trump card is an exceptional all-wheel-drive system that continuously shifts driving torque to the wheels, front to rear and side to side. The result is stability in even the nastiest cold-weather conditions. The RL is powered by a lively 3.7-liter 300-horsepower V6 engine coupled to a smooth-shifting 5-speed automatic gearbox. Performance is never a problem either, with a zero-to-60 mph time just under seven seconds.
People Carrier: Toyota Sienna LE AWD
No vehicle can carry people as efficiently as a minivan, but in the snow they typically aren't so good. Thanks to an all-wheel-drive option, which is unique in this segment, the Sienna is an exception to the rule. The cabin can seat seven people comfortably with ample cargo space, and you can have lots more by flipping the third-row seats flush into the cargo-bay floor. The 3.5-liter 266-horsepower V6 engine and 5-speed automatic gearbox provide strong acceleration with a zero-to-60 mph clocking of less than eight seconds.
Modern Wagon: Subaru Outback
Raising the body of an already good wagon by a few inches for added ground clearance and adding some cladding and meatier tires for a rugged look was a stroke of genius, and Subaru's best move ever. More than a dozen years on, the Outback stands alone as the elegant, practical, comfortable, solidly built and reliable forebear of crossovers. The base model is powered by Subaru's ubiquitous 2.5-liter 170-horsepower boxer 4-cylinder engine with the added attraction of a PZEV (Partial Zero Emissions Vehicle) rating, second only to ZEV (pure electrics) as the most environmentally friendly. A 5-speed manual gearbox is standard, and a 4-speed auto box is optional. And if you need or want more oomph or muscle, check out the 2.5 XT Limited's 243-horsepower turbocharged engine.
Must-See on MSN
I totally agree with Subaru on the wins in the categories they won in.
If you actually go onto Subaru's website to see how thier Systematic all-wheel drive system operates, you would probably think again on how you chose your cars. Not biased here or anything, but in the first video in the link below, the results were certified by the United States Auto Club that mostly deals Mopar (or dodge), an American based company.
You can go to youtube.com to see the difference between Honda (Real Time), Toyota (On-Demand), Ford (Intelligent), Nissan (Intuitive), and Subaru (Systematic).
The free rolling wheels are to similate ice.
Four Wheel Drive
We live in an evergreen state, a state with beautiful landscape. The best way to get to the beautiful landscapes is to have a four wheel drive car. I will tell you why, with the experience I had. One time, my brothers and me were going to Yale lake and my brother skid and crashed and there was no service so we were stuck for six hours with his two wheel drive car. This experience has taught me that four wheel drive cars are much safer on and off road .
First of all, why should you get a four wheel drive car? It is so you don't get stuck in mud. When we went to the woods, my brother’s truck was on two wheel drive and we tried to get up a hill and we couldn't and we got stuck. So my brother turned on the four wheel drive and got up the hill instantly with no problems. A four wheel drive car is strong enough to pull out your car out of mud or ditch and sometimes even help a two wheel drive car out also. That is one of the reasons why you should get a four wheel drive car.
Secondly, four wheel drive cars almost skid resistant. The four wheel drive is set up that the four wheels are spinning at the same time and there is less chance to skid. Especially around the Vancouver WA area. Sometimes the weather gets very ugly out here. I know someone that was driving with his brother and skid and crashed very badly. It took him three weeks to recover from the crash. If you don't want these kind of consequences to happen, you should get a four wheel drive car.
Thirdly, if you have a four wheel drive car, then the total power adds up. Power is a big part in cars especially when you go mudding because in this situation, you don't want speed but power. In addition, when you need to cross a river or a creek it is impossible to cross without a four wheel drive. Also you have a less of a chance of rolling over. Once we were driving and their was a road wash out and the only way to get though it was to go on the very side. I don't know how we would've got through if not for the four wheel drive car that my brother had. These experiences taught me that four wheel drive cars are better.As you can see, four wheel drive cars are much better and have much more benefits than a two wheel drive car. I know that we wouldn't of had these accidents if in some cases we had a four wheel drive car. Therefore, I don't want these accidents to happen to you so I recommend a four wheel drive car for the safety of your life.
So I've heard that Acura makes an extremely nice AWD system. The MDX is evidently very strong in this category. I would agree that Subaru makes a great AWD, but don't leave out Audi on these arguements. Audi makes an excellent AWD system. Personally, this article is really bad....I'm wondering if certain car companies paid good money to have their vehicle listed as "the best."
Obviously, one can make the argument about 4x4 vs. AWD. Personally,I would just buy a Toyota 4Runner and call it a day. The 4runner is a beast of a vehicle and is extremely capable on road / off road, in the snow, or mud, etc...
I currently drive a Nissan Pathfinder LE 4x4 and LOVE it. Vehicle comes with 4 drive-trains. 2WD, Auto, 4x4 High and 4x4 Low. Not all 4x4 are created equal either.
If you don't need to tow - or don't care about 4x4 - I would go with an Acura MDX or something of the like. If you are a man and want a nice truck/rig that can tow a little, but has unreal off road / snow capabilities - but a 4runner. This will be my next vehicle. Trail edition!