Winter drivers: Is AWD a 'must have' in snow and/or icy winter driving?

TheAirman

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I'm searching for advice from owners who drive FWD Encores in snowy climates. I'm looking to buy an Encore and wondering if the FWD handles well in snow or if you wished you had gone with AWD. As a sub compact it doesn't have the weight of a standard SUV so maybe getting stuck in snow isn't an issue. AWD is more $ obviously and maybe it doesn't make a difference, but then maybe it does. Any advice is appreciated!

I wish Buick had more AWD Encores with heated seats besides the high end $32K-35K model (that's $5K more than I want to pay). My Chevy Cruze (LT) had them standard.

I went two states over just to find a front wheel drive ONLY, completely loaded Encore with every option. Every Encore sold around here is an AWD model.

In my area, Pittsburgh, it snows, but usually little ones, so the roads are sometimes snow covered with an inch or so, but sometimes we get the 3 or more inch snows also. And you don't need AWD in the Encore.

As soon as I bought mine I got 4 steel 16" wheels from a Cruze, some Blizzaks and four TPMS sensors, plus the cheap TPMS sensor registering tool. The Encore goes very well in the snow with 4 snow tires and only FWD. I never had one bit of problem. I have a bad schudule and work odd hours and even got home one night after a foot of snow. I had to shovel my way into the garage, though.

With 4 good snows in the Encore, you really don't need AWD. At least I don't. But if you live in an area that gets those big snows, like around the Great Lakes, that go higher than the front lip of the car, then all bets are off
 

TheAirman

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I tell folks if it's a new car or new tires the best thing to do on the first snow is find a big unplowed empty parking lot. Stand on it and see how it tracks and when it's up to a safe stopping speed slam on the brakes and don't let up to get how it feels with the anti-lock braking. Best time to find out how things handle is before you really need to find out how they handle LOL.

Great advice, and that's just what I do.

With the 4 snow tires on, and on a snowy country back road that is curvy and slightly uphill, and with no other cars around, I like to whip the steering wheel and see what the Encore will do. It's hard to do because it goes against all that you learn about driving a car. Not to deliberately put it out of control.

But the Encore tracks perfectly and is virtually impossible to skid it skidways or out of control. As soon as it senses any skid sideways the traction control (StabiliTrak) brakes the one wheel it needs to to pull you right back straight. The modern traction control in cars is amazing, and on a snowy road you have to experience it. If you're brave enough.

Braking and stopping in the snow with ABS must be practiced too. Until you feel it, you'll never know what it will do.
 

Zeroboostbuick

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I live in a area where we get the most lake effect snow from Lake Huron and I've never had a need for AWD. But if I lived in a hilly area things might be different.
 

2007LucerneCXL

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Poor driving cannot be compensated by a great vehicle, so please stay home for the day LOL.
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OldWhiteChevy

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Great advice, and that's just what I do.


The modern traction control in cars is amazing, and on a snowy road you have to experience it. If you're brave enough.

Not the StabiliTrak in my '12 Cruze. It is essentially useless, yet the dealer tells me it is functioning properly. Even the basic (non-StabiliTrak) traction control in my '04 Malibu worked better than the system in this car. In fact, that's the main reason I'm considering some kind of AWD crossover.
 
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