Just a few random comments. First, this was a great summary and explanation of the options available in these vehicles. I imagine though, in the case of the AWD vehicles, most of them must have the traction control by now. We had a 2001 Dodge Caravan with AWD and quite frankly it was awesome driving in the snow. Once in awhile I would have to drive down roads with 4 to 5 inches on them during or after a storm, and other than the resistance felt from the actual snow, it was no problem at all. It tracked straight and did not slip enough to notice even when starting on steep hills. (Unless on pure ice, of course.) This from the description of how the AWD in it works:
Under normal driving conditions, the device sends up to 90 percent of the power to front wheels, so the minivan drives like a front-wheel-drive model. Yet when on-board sensors detect wheel slippage in front, the coupling immediately transfers some of the power — up to 100 percent, depending on the amount of slippage — to the rear wheels. By channeling power to all wheels, Grand Caravan AWD remains stable on wet or dry pavement.
But, it was still a minivan. You couldn’t go "four wheeling" with it; there just wasn’t the clearance or the power.
The thing is, as you mentioned, people seem to not only think they can drive "normally" during snow and ice conditions, (which was probably too fast to begin with), but they suddenly feel they are immune from the laws of physics just because there is a ‘SUV’ or ‘AWD’ designation on their vehicle. It doesn’t matter what you’re driving, if you hit a slippery spot going around a curve, the centrifugal force is going to do its thing and off the road you go. Stopping is the other thing. Just because you can go a little faster doesn’t mean you can necessarily stop any faster than that rear wheel drive car you left in the slush at the last set of lights, especially if your vehicle is heavier.
Winter driving is a learned skill I take for granted sometimes. The issue is fresh in my mind because I have a 16 year old son getting his license soon. The secret really boils down to: ‘’No sudden movements." Don’t take off fast. Don’t stop fast. Don’t go around a corner or curve fast, and leave yourself time to not have to be in a situation of stopping or cornering faster than the physics of the situation allows.
Last February we were driving back from Florida and hit a rare snowstorm in southern Virginia. I am always amazed at how many cars (most of them SUV"S of some sort) were backwards in the median strip or worse.
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