My friend Bob sent me this link a while back when I was talking about our (delayed) car hunt:

Granted, this is an internal Subaru video, but it’s quite impressive. One of the main reasons that we’re leaning towards Subaru is that neither Clancy nor I have much ice-driving experience. I drove in the snow and ice when I was living in Deseret, but it was almost entirely freeway driving. We’re probably going to get studded tires for Clancy’s car for the winter months. Depending on whether we decide to stay in Arapaho and depending on our experiences there, we may go AWD for all of our vehicles or we may just make sure to have one. The biggest issue, besides local driving, is that the nearest major city to our soon-to-be home is Gazelem, Deseret’s capital city. I also may want to take trips to Deseret to visit our friends out there. It’s a tough road.

If anybody has any similar videos or some good AWD tests in which Subaru is out-performed, please share them. The only one I’ve found is a Swedish video in which the Subaru was out-done by an Audi, which is out of our price range. I tend to have a little more faith in Subaru than in Toyota and Honda and the like because Subaru does AWD almost exclusively whereas for most of the competitors AWD is just an option they have. Ford brags on TV that they have more AWD models than any of the competition, so I might give them a gander.

Ford has, of course, been on a real uptick lately with an increasing reputation for reliability and a lot of good will since they didn’t need the government bailout. It would figure that right about the time I move away from Ford that they become cool again.

Category: Road

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7 Responses to Subaru AWD

  1. Peter says:

    I have a 2006 Subaru Forester and really like it. One disadvantage of the AWD is that fuel economy is worse than what you’d expect for a car that size. I generally don’t get much above the mid-20’s.

  2. David Alexander says:

    Subaru does AWD almost exclusively

    IIRC, outside of North America, Australia, and Europe, Subaru sells their line up with front wheel drive, so while in this market, it may be AWD, in their home market of Japan, AWD is the “option”.

  3. Kirk says:

    Could it be possible that you’re worried about nothing? I grew up in Ohio, and we did just fine with a mix of rear-wheel and front-wheel drive cars. I would just go through the winter and see how things work out.

    As for the video, it’s possible that they didn’t rev the honda on the incline long enough for its rear wheels to kick in.

  4. trumwill says:

    One disadvantage of the AWD is that fuel economy is worse than what you’d expect for a car that size.

    Yeah, the mileage is pretty mediocre. That would be more of an issue if we lived in a place where I had long commutes. If I end up getting a job an hour away, I’ll probably only drive it in the wintertime.

    in their home market of Japan, AWD is the “option”.

    That could well be. Even so, they lean much more heavily on AWD than do others. It’s integral to much of their international marketing.

  5. trumwill says:

    I grew up in Ohio, and we did just fine with a mix of rear-wheel and front-wheel drive cars.

    The big difference between Ohio and Arapaho is topography. Within Callie, I’m not that worried about it. I got by in Deseret. The big thing is that unlike in Deseret, all roads to civilization involve passing at least one summit, usually the Continental Divide. So we want at least one car that’s going to be able to get us across the Continental Divide. We haven’t decided whether we’re going to do this for all cars or just make sure that we have one.

    As for the video, it’s possible that they didn’t rev the honda on the incline long enough for its rear wheels to kick in.

    It’s possible. I’d like to see more videos.

  6. cleared in hot says:

    As the owner of a Jeep with QuadraDrive(tm) I have to weigh in.

    #1 – Not all 4WD or AWD systems are created equal – they all have compromises somewhere. Know thy system, if you want to get the most from it.

    #2 – I think there is some advertising sleight-of-hand happening in this video…

    CRV – right at the 1:00 mark it is actually about to go right on up, but the driver comes off the gas – you can see the front wheels stop and the car settle back. Then the driver tries again, looks like he’s not giving it enough throttle to fully engage the rear*. I can do this in my Jeep too, but shame on them if they’re not really trying.

    HIGHLANDER – This one’s a winner. VSC** (traction control) is designed to limit the throttle in the event of wheelspin in order to regain traction. You almost always have some traction available, even on ice, but since this test is using rollers there will never be any “traction.” The VSC will always be limiting the engine torque, because it is chasing after “traction” that simply does not exist in this test scenario. And we’re supposed to be surprised that it isn’t “producing” enough torque to engage the rear wheels? See #1 above…Know Thy System. Turn off VSC and it will drive right up.

    PASSAT – I don’t know about VW’s claims, but to have “one wheel” traction you would need to have either locking or limited-slip differentials (Passat uses the ABS system to brake the slipping wheel, which causes the diff to redirect power to the wheel that isn’t slipping…it “simulates” a limited-slip diff using ABS) both front & rear. Again, are they giving it enough throttle to get the torque required at one wheel to drive up the ramp?

    All that said, in the tough stuff often a two wheel drive car with chains fares better than a four wheel drive without.

    * this can be counter-intuitive. Most of the time when you’re slipping, you want to reduce throttle, but in automatic engaging 4WD systems you sometimes actually need to increase throttle to get that system to engage.

    ** I had VSC in a V8 rear-drive Lexus. Good for snow, pain in the ass for normal driving. Nothing like pulling out into traffic, hitting a touch of water in the gutter, and having the throttle taken away from you for a couple of seconds while you’re stuck moving at 2 mph amd watching the oncoming traffic bearing down on you…

  7. trumwill says:


    The reason that the driver stopped at the 1:00 mark is that the test was supposed to be from a stopped position. The Forester was stopped, too. The difference is that the Forester was able to pick up from the stopped position to the zero-traction front and go forward (as was the VW). The CRV was not.

    The Highlander case, as you describe it, is more of what I was suspicious of. Designing the test because it would inherently put an otherwise equal or similar car at a disadvantage. And they chose the specific brands that they knew would fail that particular test.

    It’s difficult to know whether they gave the Forester a bigger push than the other cars. One of the reasons I would prefer an independent test. Even so, it got my attention.

    Tire chains are going to be a part of our plan.

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