Author Topic: Comparison Test: AWD vs FWD Family Sedans on Ice  (Read 12012 times)

Offline Autos_Editor

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Comparison Test: AWD vs FWD Family Sedans on Ice
« on: January 29, 2013, 06:31:02 am »


Subaru proves it is the Legacy's chassis as much as the all-wheel-drive system that gives it superior winter performance.

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Offline nlm

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Re: Comparison Test: AWD vs FWD Family Sedans on Ice
« Reply #1 on: January 29, 2013, 08:37:24 am »
Good article that shows the benefits of weight distribution!

Offline JohnM

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Re: Comparison Test: AWD vs FWD Family Sedans on Ice
« Reply #2 on: January 29, 2013, 08:54:42 am »
AWD is massive overkill for just about any civilian application.  FWD and good (or great)  rubber will handle anything a Canadian winter can throw at a driver.

Having said that, I'd be partial to a limited slip FWD car if available.  FWD is basically 1 wheel drive.  Despite this in my 100s of thousands of km of winter driving, most of it in hilly snow country, I have yet to get stuck with good snow tires on.

Yes, there have been white knuckle moments but these were when underway when 4 wheel brakes were critical and, most of the time, when ice was involved so really only studs would have been the best solution.

AWD gives a more assured feel when starting up or negotiating slow corners on slippery surfaces but this feel doesn't justify the weight, complexity and fuel expense IMHO. 

An all electric car with 4 hub motors - maybe that is a different story.

It's nice to see Subaru get a good write-up for chassis dynamics.  They dare to be different and I had really good luck with the two I owned.  I hope they continue to do well and maybe move further back off the beaten track.  One-upping the Camry and Accord in this segment at their own game is an impossible task.

Cheers,
John M.

Offline Shnak

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Re: Comparison Test: AWD vs FWD Family Sedans on Ice
« Reply #3 on: January 29, 2013, 09:06:16 am »
AWD is massive overkill for just about any civilian application.  FWD and good (or great)  rubber will handle anything a Canadian winter can throw at a driver.

I couldn't disagree more. Being stopped in a slight incline is all it takes for a FWD vehicle to spin its wheels trying to go forward, causing you to slide towards the ditch as you lose all traction. I know, I've experienced it many times this winter with my Sonata. I take the Sportage out as much as possible whenever there are signs of snow or ice, and the next vehicle that replaces the Sonata will be AWD.

Offline Canadiain

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Re: Comparison Test: AWD vs FWD Family Sedans on Ice
« Reply #4 on: January 29, 2013, 09:26:51 am »
I write this as a Subaru owner for the last 12 years.

AWD is nice to have, and it gets you going in the snow and ice with no drama or hassle.  BUT, it does nothing to help you stop in a hurry, and due to its ability to find every bit of traction on the road it can give a false sense of security about how slippery a road is until you have to slam on the brakes in a hurry.

As the general public we dont drive on closed tracks day to day where there are no serious consequences for overstepping the limits.  I like my Subaru and would continue to have cars with AWD as it takes some of the stress out of winter road trips, but my daily driver is a Honda Civic, with winter tires and traction control, and Ive never been stuck in that yet.

Its should be pointed out that the AWD in the manual and automatic subarus is different too.  The tendency of the Automatic transmission subarus Ive had is to get tail happy when power is applied as once the front starts to lose traction power is sent to the back.  Now, its kind of fun to drift under power, but with no LSD as standard in the lower spec models you can (theoretically)  get in a situation with the automatic where one wheel spins and all the power goes there. The system in the manual transmission subarus with 50:50 torque split is a lot more predictable I suspect.

The bottom line though is that AWD is no substitute for caution and engaging your brain in the winter.
« Last Edit: January 29, 2013, 09:34:13 am by Canadiain »

Offline hemusbull

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Re: Comparison Test: AWD vs FWD Family Sedans on Ice
« Reply #5 on: January 29, 2013, 09:30:27 am »
There gona be all the time two sides: gainst and in favour of AWD. I'm just wondering why Subaru doesn't try in Canada the same they do overseas - to offer cars with limited slip differential...without AWD?

Offline Snowman

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Re: Comparison Test: AWD vs FWD Family Sedans on Ice
« Reply #6 on: January 29, 2013, 09:41:11 am »
AWD is massive overkill for just about any civilian application Yes and we like it.

Offline bombastic

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Re: Comparison Test: AWD vs FWD Family Sedans on Ice
« Reply #7 on: January 29, 2013, 09:42:35 am »
Honestly I could not find any value in this article. Stating the obvious that AWD is better in snow? What a discovery. The competition was bland. Camry? Compared for handling? The article looks like an info commercial for Subaru. You can build the best handling car in the world. But if is ugly and has no style. Meh, the sales will be slow.
Bombastic

Offline Ace

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Re: Comparison Test: AWD vs FWD Family Sedans on Ice
« Reply #8 on: January 29, 2013, 09:59:58 am »
Hello ???...I'll bet 97% of the readers already know a Subie will drive circles around any FWD vehicle on the market. Next time ask your friends at Subaru to include maybe an Audi A4 and Infiniti G37x !

Offline whaddaiknow

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Re: Comparison Test: AWD vs FWD Family Sedans on Ice
« Reply #9 on: January 29, 2013, 10:01:55 am »
Honestly I could not find any value in this article. Stating the obvious that AWD is better in snow? What a discovery. The competition was bland. Camry? Compared for handling? The article looks like an info commercial for Subaru. You can build the best handling car in the world. But if is ugly and has no style. Meh, the sales will be slow.

Agree that the article was useless in the way that it didn't provide any actual numbers as to how much better the symmetrical awd and balanced chassis are. The only thing I found was the Accord requiring several car lengths more to stop which again was completely useless as we have no idea how many car lengths it took to stop either car. Several car lengths is nothing if it took 500 car lengths to stop either car.
Also, what would have been the result had the traction control and stability control not been disengaged? (You know, the way the cars are driven by 99.999% of the drivers out there). Ah, right, that wasn't why Subaru organized the event.

So, other than stating the obvious, it offered no value. I respect Subaru for what hey do and offer in N/A so it's not a knock against the manufacturer.

Offline Canadiain

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Re: Comparison Test: AWD vs FWD Family Sedans on Ice
« Reply #10 on: January 29, 2013, 10:04:35 am »
Did they have the same tires on?  Surely the only factors affecting how fast a car stops are the rubber, the mass of the vehicle, and how fast its going?   All things being equal AWD makes no difference to stopping distances???

Offline SaskSpecV

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Re: Comparison Test: AWD vs FWD Family Sedans on Ice
« Reply #11 on: January 29, 2013, 10:09:08 am »
The bottom line though is that AWD is no substitute for caution and engaging your brain in the winter.

That should be stamped on every Canadian dashboard.  But in addition to AWD, you can add "winter tires", "stability control", and any other electronic safety aid.  Too many folks seem to forget that THEIR OWN thinking (or lack thereof) and decisions while driving are the single biggest factors affecting vehicle safety...

Offline Northernridge

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Re: Comparison Test: AWD vs FWD Family Sedans on Ice
« Reply #12 on: January 29, 2013, 10:11:16 am »
Victory for the Subaru marketing team! Interesting article but it does sound just a little like you drank the Kool-aid.

A head-to-head test on a snow covered ice race tack provides a winning environment for the Legacy. You should take the same cars and conduct a real-world AWD vs FWD test in the GTA and report back.

I'm not down on AWD – I drive one – it's just that this seems more like a PR stunt.
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Offline redman

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Re: Comparison Test: AWD vs FWD Family Sedans on Ice
« Reply #13 on: January 29, 2013, 10:11:27 am »
Thanks for the article. I found that FWD vs AWD is a question that many are discussing this time of year.

As a Subaru Forester owner for over 10 years I may also offer some insight.

The decision to me depends on your amount of driving and location. Ten years+ ago the winter weather in the G.T.A. was colder and arrived with more snow (I'm shocked at the difference within even a decade). The snow around here drops less frequently, lower levels and literally disappears within days.
I have found for my intercity drive within Mississauga that a good set of winter tires on my RWD has been sufficient for my commute. At times only snow on street going one way to or from work. The roads are literally cleared within 6 hours.

There is no doubt that Subaru AWD is superior to FWD in heavy snow and ice but it comes with added costs and weights. For me it's no longer justifiable for my drive and geographical area.

(Anyone want to buy a Ariens blower ?)
« Last Edit: January 29, 2013, 10:29:56 am by redman »
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Offline mixmanmash

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Re: Comparison Test: AWD vs FWD Family Sedans on Ice
« Reply #14 on: January 29, 2013, 10:14:21 am »
Did they have the same tires on?  Surely the only factors affecting how fast a car stops are the rubber, the mass of the vehicle, and how fast its going?   All things being equal AWD makes no difference to stopping distances???

The rubber was the same on all 3 vehicles.  Better weight distribution can make stopping distances better.

Offline Fobroader

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Re: Comparison Test: AWD vs FWD Family Sedans on Ice
« Reply #15 on: January 29, 2013, 10:22:14 am »
AWD is better than FWD on ice and snow......next up water is wet and fire is hot. Only a moron would disagree that FWD is somehow better in slippery conditions than AWD. A Subaru with winter tires would be about as safe as someone could get as a winter vehicle......just make sure that the one you buy has an LSD in the rear axle for traction and fun.
Keep the change you filthy animal.

Offline johngenx

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Re: Comparison Test: AWD vs FWD Family Sedans on Ice
« Reply #16 on: January 29, 2013, 10:26:27 am »
Hello ???...I'll bet 97% of the readers already know a Subie will drive circles around any FWD vehicle on the market. Next time ask your friends at Subaru to include maybe an Audi A4 and Infiniti G37x !

Subaru is putting the Legacy up against its competitors.  Are people shopping a $24K Legacy with an A4 and G37x?  Doubtful.  The Camry and Accord are the large volume players in the segment, and Subaru is attempting to differentiate their product with AWD and chassis design.
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Offline Ace

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Re: Comparison Test: AWD vs FWD Family Sedans on Ice
« Reply #17 on: January 29, 2013, 10:37:04 am »


Subaru proves it is the Legacy's chassis as much as the all-wheel-drive system that gives it superior winter performance.

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Unless you are comparing the Subaru Legacy to other AWD vehicles, how can you conclude that its the chassis that enables it to handle better? ???

Offline johngenx

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Re: Comparison Test: AWD vs FWD Family Sedans on Ice
« Reply #18 on: January 29, 2013, 10:43:07 am »
Evidently Ace didn't read the report.  There was a commentary about handling under braking and no-power where the AWD provided no assistance and the Subaru was superior.  It noted the better chassis balance and weight distribution.

Offline NoTo

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Re: Comparison Test: AWD vs FWD Family Sedans on Ice
« Reply #19 on: January 29, 2013, 10:57:23 am »
The bottom line though is that AWD is no substitute for caution and engaging your brain in the winter.

Couldn't agree more - BUT...we're not talking about avoiding getting "stuck" as the sole benefit of AWD (and Subies in general).  My corolla with snow tires tracks quite well, hasn't ever been stuck, but does not stay nearly as stable while driving.

AWD is not absolutely mandatory to drive - I learned to drive in a 1992 Toyota Previa (RWD, offset mid-engine, regular all-seasons) that was just horrid in the winter (snow or otherwise).  Never had any accidents with it, but that doesn't mean that I always had control of it despite what I deem to be defensive driving.

With my Forester, good snow tires, and early braking techniques that controls traffic behind me, I can focus more on knowing what's around me, and I can avoid getting into situations where I need to make emergency manoeuvres. 

Hence, AWD + Snowies may not be absolutely necessary, but they sure do make winter driving a LOT safer and more predictable. 

And as for people having a false sense of security with AWD and/or Snow tires, those d-bags wouldn't drive any better without winter aides.

As far as 'increased fuel consumption' goes with AWD, look no further than the upcoming 2014 Forester (yes, I'm obsessed) - gets better fuel economy than the new FWD Rav4 and even the new Forester XT gets similar economy (better in the city) than the AWD, significantly less powerful Rav4.

Point - stop making excuses and thinking AWD isn't useful.  It's not mandatory, but it certainly has its uses.