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Front-Wheel Drive or Four-Wheel Drive?


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J

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Discussion Starter #1
Hey all,

I am close to placing my order for the RAV4 and am having a hard time deciding whether to get a 2WD or 4WD. I currently live in Colorado (snow-belt) and later this year I will move to Georgia.

Are the 2WDs that much of a hazard in snow? What about rain? Are 4WDs considered safe in snow/ice/rain or when you break suddenly?

Arent all Civics, Corollas, Accord, Camrys 2WDs? Then why have this distinction in SUVs such that the 2WDs are not even offered in the snow-belt.

I am confused and am not sure whether its really worth it to spend the extra $1,400 and get the 4WD. Please advice.
 

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Hi Junky --

It really is a matter of preference in some ways, and I don't want to over-generalize, but most any 4WD vehicle should be able to overcome snow, sand, mud or similar slippery situations more easily than a 2WD given a knowledgeable driver behind the wheel.

Being able to gain tire traction from any one of four contact points on the road is not just twice the road holding grip. In addition to the traction control, Hill Assist Control and Downhill Assist Control in the latest RAV4, it also employs an electronic part-time 4WD system that is FWD until it detects wheel slippage, in which case it can send power to the rear wheels in a matter of milliseconds. (Staying in FWD keeps the gas mileage numbers higher)

In its best emulation of "low range", if needed, you can lock the transmission in a 55:45 front/rear split at the touch of a button, but it's only good up to about 25mph.
 

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AWD or 4WD isn't just about snow. Any time you round a turn and encounter black ice, wet leaves, gravel or any other loose debris on pavement, your vehicle can handle the rapid changes in traction much better when 4 wheels are in the equation.

When you go off-pavement, the reasons to have AWD climb. Gravel forest roads, muddy driveways - all are more easily and more safely handled with AWD.

In high performance driving, AWD makes it easy to go fast in challenging conditions.

And it does sometimes snow in the south.

I wouldn't own a vehicle without it.

John Davies
Spokane WA
 

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You have to examine road codes in Colorado, but in California and Nevada the main advantage of a 4x4 is that a 4x4 on snow tires are exempt from chain requirements. Driving around Tahoe involves significant changes in elevation, and so you have to put chains on and off all the time and it gets old quickly.

With 4x4 you have to pay for it upfront, you have to get winter tires in addition to normal tires, and you burn somewhat more gas on highway (this is actually the case even on a normal truck with locking hubs, simply because of greater weight).
 
S

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That fortunately is not the case in Oregon. If a vehicle has 4WD it is exempt from having to put on chains unless there is a partial road closure, then it is required. I go up to the mountains just fine with the standard OEM tires and haven't had the VSC kick in once :D
 
C

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First off, AWD/4WD WILL NOT help you stop any better. It is better traction in the rain and snow.

I've lived in Colorado for a few years now (1 hr north of you) and all of our cars are FWD (moved here from FL). There have been only two days (in March 2003 with the 30"+ blizzard) that I have not been able to drive one of my cars. One of those days, no one was going anywhere. The other day, a friend who came to pick me up got stuck with her 4x4 Pathfinder.

Also, out here, they are better at plowing and clearing the roads. If GA gets a little snow (what we wouldn't think twice about), the roads become really nasty and they close the airport. Also, there's a lot more ice back east than we get out here.

I, personally, would go for the AWD, but that's just me. We keep cars forever and I wouldn't want to say "darn, I wish I had gotten the AWD one" a few years from now. Driving out to go snowshoeing or skiing, it's just a little bit extra insurance, a little more security, as long as you don't overdo it. I don't think you'll compromise your safety at all by buying a FWD, especially one with traction control. Do look and see what's available out here, as I think the only way to get a FWD is with a base 4-cylinder, which may or may not be what you're interested in.

On a side note, the chain laws out here only apply to commercial vehicles, I have negotiated the Eisenhower tunnel and Vail pass with my FWD Camry with all-season tires when the chain requirement was in effect.
 
K

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Discussion Starter #7
Just bought my V-6 RAV4 with 2wd only. I've lived in West Virginia for over ten years and never had a problem with winter/wet conditions with front wheel drive vehicles.

The RAV4 4x4 system only works below 25 mph right? Guess it would be good if you got off pavement or into mud or heavy snow to get you moving.
 

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Not quite right. The lock works up to 25mph. The 4wd should work always on demand (the computer looks for slippage). [/quote]
 
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Discussion Starter #9
sstarrx3 said:
That fortunately is not the case in Oregon. If a vehicle has 4WD it is exempt from having to put on chains unless there is a partial road closure, then it is required. I go up to the mountains just fine with the standard OEM tires and haven't had the VSC kick in once :D
Not necessarily the case in CA either...depends how bad the storm is, but often if you have 4WD chains are not necessary, snow tires or not. This is from experience in Northern Sierra (I-80, Hwy 50). It is rare that 4WD+snow tires are required on the major highways.
 
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Discussion Starter #10
I live in the Low Country of South Carolina (flat).
I just bought a Rav4 V6 2WD.
It rarely snows here, rain is no problem and I don't go off-road.
I don't need a 4WD, so I didn't buy one. It's just more stuff to wear out and repair. I do most of my own repairs.

Today I replaced a timing belt & water pump on my '01 Accord V6.
Last weekend I replaced a water pump on my '99 Dakota V8.
 
R

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Discussion Starter #11
Go with the 4wd for sure !! Aids big time in snow and rain at speeds under 25mph. Also, MUCH better come resale time. Most people want that 4wd.
 
P

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the wife and i both bought 2wd because we don't do any off roading or live where it snows too much so that is why we chose not to get 4wd. same reason why we got 4 cyl. we aren't towing or hauling around anything but our daughter. we thought very economically when we made our purchases. it's all about what you use it for!!
 

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Don't really have a choice up here in Canada. Alll the Rav's are 4wd. They don't even offer the 2wd versions in this country.

Pat.
 

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I really don't know why I need 4WD here in Florida, but over north parts of the world I would definately got 4WD. No snow here, no mud...Nothing really slippery.
 

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Being Canadian I only can speek for the 4WD. The V6 in 4WD has little to no torque steer under hard acceleration. Posts here say that 2WD tugs pretty hard on the drive side with 270HP. If you bought the 4 banger and do not live in the snowbelt, then I cannot see any advantage to 4WD. Even a new driver should be able to contend with wet roads/leaves/loose gravel. If you opt for the V6 power then 4WD is a must IMO.

Cheers!
 

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willyspuddle said:
Being Canadian I only can speek for the 4WD. The V6 in 4WD has little to no torque steer under hard acceleration. Posts here say that 2WD tugs pretty hard on the drive side with 270HP.
Cheers!
I don't agree on the no torque steer issue at all. IMO my V6 4WD has a really strong torque pull when accelerating hard. Did quite a bit of passing on I 95 going to Florida from NY a couple of weeks ago and it was almost a scare every time. My husband couldn't believe it either and commented on it more than once. We both thought my FWD 2002 Grand Am GT had bad torque pull but the Rav4 more than matched it!
 

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suland said:
I really don't know why I need 4WD here in Florida, but over north parts of the world I would definately got 4WD. No snow here, no mud...Nothing really slippery.
I agree. People can say it's a matter of preference, but I think that if you live (or travel) in an area where you can have snow or ice road conditions then it's foolish not to get 4WD. The fact that it adds resale value in those areas is added value. On the other hand, if you live in Florida, for example, I see no need for 4WD, either for safety OR resale value, unless you plan to live in the South an sell in the North. :)
 
S

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Discussion Starter #18
Western Washington doesn't require 4wd unless going over the passes in the winter....lighter weight also.....we get 30 on the freeway and 23 around town with our I4
 

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If you are moving to Georgia get the 2wd.
It has LSD (Limited-Slip Differential) on the FWD. If one wheel slips the power goes to the tire that has traction instead of spinning the crap out of the loose tire and leaving the tire with traction siting there DEAD and doing nothing.
 

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skou said:
Western Washington doesn't require 4wd unless going over the passes in the winter....lighter weight also.....we get 30 on the freeway and 23 around town with our I4
do you have 4wd or 2wd??????????????
 
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