We have lived on the side of a mountain for three winters. I drive a 2000 Mustang Convertible on dry roads, but I 'm not comfortable driving my husband's truck in the snow.
I am planning to purchase a reliable SUV for the winter and I am very confused by the AWD vs. 4WD options. My husband is telling me I must have 4WD as it can be switched off if not needed whereas the AWD is on all the time and is harder on the tires and costs more for gas. The car salesman that we are dealing with is telling him that the AWD automatically switches to front wheel drive if the AWD isn't needed, but we aren't sure if this is correct.
Most of my winter driving will be from Peachland to Kelowna/Penticton B.C. The worst part of my driving will be the climb from the highway to our street and to our driveway.
HELP!!! Who's correct?
Maybe your opinion can finally settle this issue. I am looking at an 2008 Subaru Outback, 2008 GMC Equinox, (both AWD), and a 2010 Ford Escape 4WD.
Thank you, Heather
All-wheel-drive (AWD) and four-wheel-drive (4WD) vehicles will always consume more fuel than a comparable two-wheel-drive vehicle. There are more pieces of mechanical hardware mounted to the vehicle that consume power from the engine.
Manufacturers market their vehicles using these terms in different ways, so you'll need to check out the specs of each vehicle carefully. But in general, AWD systems (sometimes called full-time 4WD) are able to power all four wheels - a useful feature when driving in slippery conditions. Some AWD vehicles constantly supply power to all four wheels (Audi and Subaru, for example), while others only send power when they detect slippage. You can't turn off this feature, as you can with some 4WD vehicles which can be part-time or full-time four-wheel-drive.
You should also check the fuel economy ratings for each vehicle you're interested in - that will tell you more than blanket statements from your husband or the car salesman.
Create on a checklist that will help you make your decision. Things to consider:
- What will we use the vehicle for most of the time?
- Is the decreased fuel economy worth improved winter mountain climbing?
- What will be the worst case scenario for you and your vehicle?
Any of my friends that might be reading this will no doubt groan and complain that I sound like a broken record but may I suggest you include the Hyundai Tucson in your hunt for the perfect SUV/CUV. The Automobile Journalists Association of Canada (AJAC) has tagged the Hyundai Tucson with " Best New SUV-CUV" (Under $35,000) for 2011.
Heather, by doing a little homework you will take much of the anxiety out of your hunt for the perfect winter mountain climber - and love the attitude of hangin' with your 'Stang through the summer.
Send your questions for Rob MacGregor to firstname.lastname@example.org