SUV or AWD for harsh winter driving? (Denver: move, budget)
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Now really, Fuzz ... "studded snow tires are the original snow tires" ...
not hardly. the "original" snow tires were just open block tread tires of virtually identical rubber and construction as the regular year 'round tires. Studded tires came out in the 1960's ....
"you shouldn't notice much difference in dry weather performance for snows"
I had to pick myself up off the floor over this one. If you're driving good quality hydrophillic rubber compound snow tires (the only ones to get ... see the reviews) ... then these tires don't work very well on dry pavement when it comes to stopping, tire wear, or handling. And you don't have to be a racer to notice the difference in normal prudent driving up in the mountains at 75 mph on I-70. Again, check the reviews of the tires ... and try to get specific tire reviews on the car of your choice, yes it makes a difference in the results.
Yet another dumb question...if one were to have two sets of tires - summer and snow, where does one keep the off-season tire if one is not lucky enough to have a garage? Obviously the bedroom closet is out. Do you rent a storage unit? Or are snow tires pretty much purchased each winter?
Geez. Planning for hurricane season is a piece of cake compared to this.
don't let people make you think you need more than you need; denver/CO driving (outside of the higher mountainpasses or well off the beaten path) is basically very tame requiring little preparation. a front wheel drive with all season mud and snow (M+S) tires would work fine, given that they have enough tread life left. roads b/w denver and blackhawk are generally well maintained and frequently traveled - the snow will seldom (maybe never) be deep on the road. people love thinking they need AWD and 4WD when they don't need either. sort of a "bigger's better" or "love my new toy" mentality, it can seem. or maybe overcompensation for lack of skill. whatever you have for tires or a vehicle, once you get used to it in snow, will be fine in most circumstances (maybe unless it's a rear wheel drive). just try not to drive yourself into a snowbank. personally, the best vehicle i've ever had for the snow was a front wheel drive subaru XT with nothing but M+S tires; the worse was a 4X4 SUV (higher center of gravity and a little more fishtailing of the rear driven wheels made it less predictable, while the front wheel drive could be driven out of most any situation with a little touch of the accelerator). a 4X4 will have an advantage in deep snow (say > 5 or 6" on the road - EXCEPTIONALLY rare around denver; even if a foot's fallen on the ground, most of the roads very very seldom have more than even an inch or two), an AWD with snows will have a bit of that advantage (unless the snow's rather deep - say 7"+, which you may very well NEVER see on the road) in similar conditions, and otherwise, the front wheel drive with M+S and some skill on your part will be more than enough (maybe even advantageous). snowtires will usually suffer in performance (relative to a decent set of all season M+S tires) on the dry roads that you will usually find around denver, e.g.. before going out and spending an extra $5000 on the AWD version of a car, or an extra $500 on fancy snow tires, (and who knows how much MORE $$ on gas due to the diminished fuel economy) i'd recommend going to a big, empty parking lot on a snowy evening with whatever you already have and driving around for a while trying to get the car to do a few different things - that practive would probably be the best investment of any of the above.
Last edited by hello-world; 08-12-2007 at 12:09 PM..
We moved here in 1980 with a ten year old, rear wheel drive Chevy Camaro and a two year old, front wheel drive Ford Fiesta (no longer imported, smaller than my current Honda CR-V). We did fine. We actually never had an all-wheel drive vehicle until my Honda 4 yrs ago, by which time we weren't going to the mtns much any more. I drove the Fiesta around Adams, Arapahoe and Jefferson counties as a visiting nurse; didn't have much trouble. The few days of really deep snow, the office was closed. We got studded tires once; when they wore out we didn't replace them with same. They are illegal in many states of the midwest, for one thing. For another, they weren't all that helpful.
I used all-season tires.
And I drove *very* defensively.
There are a lot of idiot drivers out there, especially the ones hello-world mentions, who drive humungous SUVs to compensate for lack of skill.
cil ... the worst part about the "humungous" SUV's is that they're actually poorer performers on the icy conditions that prevail when the roads are really slick. Most of the folks I know that drive them subscribe to the theory that there's more mass to protect them when they get into a crash .....
I generally agree with hello-world's post. You do not need an SUV for winter driving -- almost all vehicles you'll see spun out on the side of the road will be SUV's.
And yes, you can drive in the mountains all winter with all-season tires (I did it). BUT, snow tires do provide a very noticeable advantage. And if the OP is going to be commuting daily to BH for work, I'd say it's probably a good investment -- he may not have the luxury of staying away if the weather is bad. And snows (combined with good driving skills) can provide that much added safety.
The OP does not have to get snow tires right away -- he/she can spend a few months in the winter driving on all-seasons -- and if he/she does not feel comfortable, they can always switch.
Consumer Reports has some good reviews/ratings on snow tires (as opposed to all season tires), as well as the tire retailers, and the owner's clubs for many different cars (BMW Roundel, MB Owner's Club, just to name two who do excellent on car tire testing ....).
I know in my experience that a set of Blizzaks won't last 12-13,000 miles on the cars I drive (yeah, high horsepower MB diesels, or a '72 2002 120 HP BMW, or my '97 160 HP Subaru Legacy Outback ... all tire-shredding screamers, right?), Dunlop 'pics won't go 15,000 miles. The best true hydrophillic snow tires I've run are Gislaved's (now Nordfrost), and they're fuel eaters (2-5 mpg reduction in fuel economy compared to my summer tires) and don't last much more than 20,000 miles on my cars (or my customer's cars, either). If I take the snow tires off after the winter driving season, I achieve much better handling, less noise, and much better fuel economy on all my cars. I regard that as improved safety and economy for my vehicle operations ... and I drive over 50,000 miles per year. (My customers, collectively, drive well into the many millions of miles per year, so I do have a pretty good anecdotal data base to draw upon firsthand).
Last edited by mdz; 08-12-2007 at 05:19 PM..
Reason: removed content dealing with previous poster's comments
yukon ... with care, a set of snow tires will last several seasons if you only run them on the car during the winter driving season.
You'll need to store the removed tires over the summer season if you have a tire shop dis-mount them and install your saved summer tires.
Ideally, it may pay to acquire a second set of wheels for your car and have the other season set of tires mounted on them. Then it becomes a simple matter to reinstall the appropriate set of tires.
You may find that some years will have an abundance of early season snow, and the be dry for months. In that case, it's a real advantage to be able to swap out the wheels/tires as needed instead of using up the limited life of the snow tires on dry pavement conditions.
You will also benefit from improved fuel economy, handling, and braking to have the snow tires off your car when not needed.
I guess I'm a practical nerd of a mom. All of my friends drive around massive
SUV's , but I like my mini-van (except for the fact that it's a Ford). I've seen AWD Toyota Siennas--now that would be suitable in Colorado, no?
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