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Discussion Starter #1
We have been shopping for a small SUV. RAV4 is at top of list right now. We have never owned an AWD vehicle or an SUV.
Live in Northwest Indiana, 75 inches of snow/year, flat terrain.

Question is would FWD be ok or are we giving up a lot? I am wondering if with stability control and traction control, FWD will be fine. I know there are many enthusiasts here but we not be off-roading. We will use pretty much as modern day station wagon. We live in subdivision close to town, not in the country.

Thanks for any comments.
 

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FWD will be ok with decent winter tires. My current RAV is my first 4WD/AWD.

Apart from having more traction in snow and rain, on thing that I appreciate every winter is the fact the tires never skid from starting at a stand still at an intersection.
This is great for peace of mind.

I just did not like it when the traction control would just stop the car a foot from the intersection.

However, I still use snow tires with the 4wd.
 

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I was too cheap...

I decided against AWD primarily because I am too cheap...yeah I wanted better gas mileage and a lower overall purchase price, but I also didn't want to be forced into buying 4 tires every time.

If you have not had a 4WD or AWD vehicle, you may not be aware that most tire places (at least here in California) won't let you buy 2 tires at a time (if that is what you need), instead they will require you to buy all 4 because they say they have been sued for transmission damage because all the tires don't match. I do believe this is a valid issue so I'm not trying to say that they are wrong, but I could not get Costco to put 2 tires on my 4WD Suburban even though I could show them that it was not full time 4WD and that I had NEVER actually used 4WD with the vehicle.

I didn't want to deal with that again. Maybe if you are in need of those extra safety features of AWD it would be worth the added maintenance costs, but it isn't for me.
 

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Well, tires need to be fixed first. It's not like for every puncture, you'll change a tire.

If one tire needs to be replaced, I would just do that if the other tire on the axle is almost new. If the other tires on the axle is worn out I would change both. if the other tire on the axle is half worn, you also have option to shave the new tire to match although I don't really like this option.

I have 7 puncture in my 4 OEM tires, none have been changed yet.

On a permanet AWD, I would definitely change all 4 if the other 3 tires are worn out.
 

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Well, tires need to be fixed first. It's not like for every puncture, you'll change a tire.

If one tire needs to be replaced, I would just do that if the other tire on the axle is almost new. If the other tires on the axle is worn out I would change both. if the other tire on the axle is half worn, you also have option to shave the new tire to match although I don't really like this option.

I have 7 puncture in my 4 OEM tires, none have been changed yet.

On a permanet AWD, I would definitely change all 4 if the other 3 tires are worn out.

All great points, but I think you might be missing part of what I am saying. They would not give me the option to replace 1 or 2 tires regardless of what axel they were on. Their contention was that it was company policy to only replace all 4 tires if they were past a certain tread depth compared to that of the new tire.

My specific case was that I had an alignment issue with the front tires and they had uneven wear. The rear tires were in great shape, and around a year old. I was ok with replacing the fronts because the definitely had a problem, but I was not OK with spending another $500 to replace perfectly good rear tires just because all 4 tires needed matching tread depth.

Probably not a big issue if you are good about maintaining your vehicle, but as the years go by, lots of things can happen...

Just my reason for not wanting to deal with AWD...
 

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Just take off the 4WD badge off your car :)

If they gave me this crap, I would buy the tires and get them aligned somewhere else or take your business somewhere else.

You could also just get the tire/wheel off the car and get them to mount new tires. Do they have a policy about mounting tires without know which car it is going on? i would say they are spare tires for my 2 vechicles.

There is always a way out of these "policies".
 

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I live in Atlanta so I will not use AWD 90% of the time but:

1) We have a mountain home in North Carolina where it snows in the winters, and I definitely want AWD for those winter trips

2) We have a lake house in north Georgia where it can also get muddy in summers, and there are some trails that we take back to different fishing spots

2) I liked how the AWD model drove better, especially in sport mode

3) Resale is higher on AWD/4X4 models
 

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For 30 years I have been driving FWD / RWD cars. Never felt the need for 4WD / AWD. Until 2008 when I bought a 4WD (FJ Cruiser). Since then, I won't buy a car a 2WD car anymore. It's like ABS or ESP. Once you try it, it becomes a "necessity".
 

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I would have appreciated 4WD when I lived in rural Minnesota and Nebraska, especially in winter. RWD cars and trucks had traction and control problems on packed snow and on ice - but that improved greatly with studded tires until Minn. outlawed them.

Where I live in Oregon - 4WD is useful again when having to drive in snow especially in mountains, and also in occasional mud situations.
 

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I would have appreciated 4WD when I lived in rural Minnesota and Nebraska, especially in winter. RWD cars and trucks had traction and control problems on packed snow and on ice - but that improved greatly with studded tires until Minn. outlawed them.
Hey, I represent that remark... :thumbs_up:

I won't go without AWD on a new vehicle purchase.....it's a life saver in many circumstances during our Winter season here in Minnesota.
There's days I can't get out of my driveway without AWD (or 4WD).

If your in the snow belt I consider it a necessity....otherwise it's not really needed IMHO.
Besides, that AWD emblem is so cool! ;)
 

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What does that mean??? T/C does not stop a car.
The car starts moving and TC realises that one wheel is spinning. So it stops the wheels from spinning by that time you already in the intersection. I used to have to disable TC whenever I remembered to do that. I would prefer having the wheel spinning so that I can at least make it through the intersection. With my current 4WD RAV, I never disabled TC/VSC while on the road.

I only disabled TC/VSC when I purposely put my RAV in a snow bank.
 

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I bought 4wd so I no longer had to install snow tires. The 15" wheels on the Avalon were bad enough to change over spring and fall. I would really dread changing out 18" snow tires.
Nokian tires by the way, they are considered snow tires and have a flake on the sidewall.
 

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You will be fine with FWD. I lived in WI and MN for nearly 40 years and during that time had RWD, FWD, AWD, and 4WD cars. All were fine with the right set of tires. The extra expense for 4WD/AWD just isn't worth it. You pay more upfront and while you own it with reduced mileage and more wear/tear/maintenance cost. The single thing I found while living there that best improved my ability to travel in the winter was a good set of winter tires. Back then it was Blizzacks. I think Michelin's Ice are now considered the best. I always laughed at people in their 4WDs when pulling away from stoplights and they sat there spinning all their wheels while my little Accord with winter tires took right off. Save the money you would pay for the AWD and invest it in a good set of winter tires for your FWD vehicle. It will give you much better security and you too will laugh at the people with their 4WDs (who thought they were unstoppable) sitting in the snowbank.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
Many great responses. Definitely some things to think about. The snow tire route is a possibility I know they make a significant difference having had them before.

But never having had an SUV or AWD it is hard to say what is best in advance. Don't want to spend unnecessary money and have added weight however if it provides meaningful safety and comfort then it is money well spent.

Most of the dealer here have AWD in inventory (northern Indiana) but most of the sales people say they do not drive AWD vehicles.
 

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Fair - FWD w/ all seasons
Good - AWD w/ all seasons
Better - FWD w/ winter tires
BEST - AWD w/ winter tires
 

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I just struggled with the AWD vs. FWD decision, too, and ended up going with FWD.

My dilemma was that I live in Los Angeles where extreme weather is a non-issue. However, I do travel to the Pacific Northwest with plentiful rain. But, even in the Northwest, I am rarely off paved roads. Talked to my mechanics & tire guy....all of them said go with the FWD. Said AWD is best for snow & off-roading. More expensive to maintain. Plus you lose a bit of gas mileage. One of them said "you'll only need AWD if you're in a monsoon" :) But good winter tires on FWD will be just fine for wet weather. It was still a tough decision for me.

I might add...my old car was a Subaru Legacy AWD. Great car. Felt the AWD was wonderful in rainy weather. However, my husband's Highlander is FWD and also does great.

Best of luck to you. I'm sure you'll be happy with either.
 

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Resale is another huge consideration.....
Most dealers around here won't even take a 2wd SUV on trade <or will at a huge loss> as they sit on the lots way to long as most buyers want AWD.
But they will snap up a 4wd or AWD in a heartbeat.
 
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