Best small AWD to 'drive into the ground'

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Muddytyres
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Best small AWD to 'drive into the ground'

Post by Muddytyres » Wed May 22, 2019 5:32 am

I'm looking for which good winter handling awd I can drive 'into the ground' with the longest life/least maintenance and best gas mileage (holy grail).
My son's 2012 outback was just hit and totaled at college and I'm trying to decide what to either replace it with or get myself another car and give him one of mine (have a 2016 outback and 2018 crosstrek).


I have been a long time subaru owner:
Subarus- 7 total, fail at 200k (2010 outback-engine even after heads), 160k (2011 Outback-transmission then engine), wheel bearings in ALL of them starting at 50k, replacing all 4 in every subaru by 120k. Weird electrical issues/tech issues in 2018 Crosstrek, 2015 outback, eventually traded all but the two we ran into the ground.

I've had toyota- the ones I've had were scary bad compared to the subarus in the snow (highlander, rav 4) and yes, with good snow tires.

Honda- hearing these issues about engines really make me back off, and I love the old civics but they don't match with snow.

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sunny_socal
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Re: Best small AWD to 'drive into the ground'

Post by sunny_socal » Wed May 22, 2019 7:19 am

Why not get another Subaru? Sounds you use them pretty hard, IMO things like wheel bearings are a wear item and I've had to replace them as well occasionally. You're seeing typical high-mileage issues.

Toyota RAV4 (blah)
Honda Pilot (great vehicle)
Toyota Highlander (also great)
Honda Passport (could roll the dice on this one, looks nice!)
Volvo XC60! (We have an XC90 and love it. Expect some maintenance since it's a Euro)

Jack FFR1846
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Re: Best small AWD to 'drive into the ground'

Post by Jack FFR1846 » Wed May 22, 2019 7:28 am

Real AWD systems in cars narrows it to Subaru and Audi. The rest are "cosmetic" AWD that are there to get your money, then get you stuck.

For the ground clearance, I think you already know that both your Outback and Crosstrek have the same 8.7 inches (which I like to taunt small pickup owners with, since it's better than what they have). Subarus have all jumped up in fuel mileage, from what I've seen with our own Legacy, easily beating our 13 Crosstrek now with better than 31 mpg combined. While things have gone wrong with big Subaru systems, recent ones have been covered either by voluntary recalls with extended warranties (CVT transmissions) or by class action suit settlements (oil consumption). Personally, I've been quite happy driving around with a dealer Legacy for a week for the CVT replacement and for 2 1/2 weeks in another Legacy for the short block, valve springs and brake switch replacement in the Crosstrek. Subaru has taken care of me just fine.

Our next vehicle will be a Crosstrek manual. Just a matter of whether it replaces our 95k mile 13 Crosstrek or 09 Fusion FWD as we approach winter.
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Silk McCue
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Re: Best small AWD to 'drive into the ground'

Post by Silk McCue » Wed May 22, 2019 7:36 am

Jack FFR1846 wrote:
Wed May 22, 2019 7:28 am
Real AWD systems in cars narrows it to Subaru and Audi. The rest are "cosmetic" AWD that are there to get your money, then get you stuck.
Please educate me on why a Honda Pilot AWD is not "real AWD" and how exactly that manifests itself mechanically and operationally from Subaru and Audi.

I honestly want to know.

Cheers

3feetpete
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Re: Best small AWD to 'drive into the ground'

Post by 3feetpete » Wed May 22, 2019 7:38 am

I have a Hyundai Tucson. Only drove it in one snowstorm but it seemed rock solid. My trim level even came with a 4wd wheel lock like the old jeeps but I never felt the need to use it. I average 27 mpg on regular gas in the turbo engine. It was less expensive than the Japanese models and came with a 100k drivetrain warranty. The Kona is smaller but is a new model. Used Hyundai’s are a great bargain if you can find one you like. They depreciate faster than the Japanese cars. Americans haven’t caught on to how good they are

I own an Outback but will not buy another. Too many mechanical and electrical problems around 100k.

onourway
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Re: Best small AWD to 'drive into the ground'

Post by onourway » Wed May 22, 2019 7:39 am

It won’t, as you note, have the best winter handling, but the new Prius is available with AWD and it totally dominates on all your other criteria.

TheOscarGuy
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Re: Best small AWD to 'drive into the ground'

Post by TheOscarGuy » Wed May 22, 2019 7:53 am

Muddytyres wrote:
Wed May 22, 2019 5:32 am
I'm looking for which good winter handling awd I can drive 'into the ground' with the longest life/least maintenance and best gas mileage (holy grail).
My son's 2012 outback was just hit and totaled at college and I'm trying to decide what to either replace it with or get myself another car and give him one of mine (have a 2016 outback and 2018 crosstrek).


I have been a long time subaru owner:
Subarus- 7 total, fail at 200k (2010 outback-engine even after heads), 160k (2011 Outback-transmission then engine), wheel bearings in ALL of them starting at 50k, replacing all 4 in every subaru by 120k. Weird electrical issues/tech issues in 2018 Crosstrek, 2015 outback, eventually traded all but the two we ran into the ground.

I've had toyota- the ones I've had were scary bad compared to the subarus in the snow (highlander, rav 4) and yes, with good snow tires.

Honda- hearing these issues about engines really make me back off, and I love the old civics but they don't match with snow.
I am not sure where you are driving, that Toyotas were scary bad in snow. I can understand that since it is AWD and not 4WD it may not be as good, but I doubt in any of the Toyotas I felt scared driving in snow.
I can understand your thinking about Honda. I have two, but those were both prior to latest redesigns and were last MY vehicles for prior design, that have been pretty bulletproof.
I agree: why not another Subaru? Sounds like you generally had luck driving them for a long time.

TheOscarGuy
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Re: Best small AWD to 'drive into the ground'

Post by TheOscarGuy » Wed May 22, 2019 7:57 am

Jack FFR1846 wrote:
Wed May 22, 2019 7:28 am
Real AWD systems in cars narrows it to Subaru and Audi. The rest are "cosmetic" AWD that are there to get your money, then get you stuck.
Having used Hondas, I have to say that unless you are off roading this statement is factually incorrect. I know Honda does not have 4WD but never have I been left stuck in any condition. Generally folks getting stuck in snow has more to do with bad choice of tires, and bad driving habits. If you stay on roads, even a FWD vehicle would be good to get you where you want to go if you drive according to conditions.

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elcadarj
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Re: Best small AWD to 'drive into the ground'

Post by elcadarj » Wed May 22, 2019 8:08 am

Silk McCue wrote:
Wed May 22, 2019 7:36 am
Jack FFR1846 wrote:
Wed May 22, 2019 7:28 am
Real AWD systems in cars narrows it to Subaru and Audi. The rest are "cosmetic" AWD that are there to get your money, then get you stuck.
Please educate me on why a Honda Pilot AWD is not "real AWD" and how exactly that manifests itself mechanically and operationally from Subaru and Audi.

I honestly want to know.

Cheers
Typically the Hondas use Viscous Limited-Slip Differentials (VLSD)

"VLSD are fairly simple as far as operation, however they have some drawbacks in comparison to other forms of LSDs.

Advantages:

Allows for different wheel speeds on an axle, thus reducing tyre wear versus a locked differential (the same applies for all forms of LSD, but this style is particularly good for it).
Allows for torque to be sent to the wheel which has more traction.
Very smooth operating, typically won’t have the low speed clunkiness associated with other LSD types navigating in a tight radius (eg. parking lots).

Disadvantages:

Cannot fully lock up, the system requires a speed differential between the two sides in order to transfer torque.
As the internal gear fluid heats up (in cases where it’s being used too frequently), the effect of the LSD will be reduced."


Where Subaru and Audi typically use Torsen & Helical Differentials:

"Torsen and helical differentials work in a fairly similar fashion, using clever gearing to apply locking force to transfer torque to the wheel with more grip. They’re great for street use and even light track use, though they do have a disadvantage.

Advantages:

These differentials begin to send more torque to the slower-rotating wheel the instant there is a speed differential between them. Essentially, it reacts far quicker than a VLSD.
These are purely mechanical systems, with no routine maintenance required as the differential action is dependent upon friction throughout the gears.

Disadvantages:

When one wheel is in the air, a Torsen diff acts very similarly to an open differential, and very little torque is sent to the drive axle. For street use this is completely acceptable, but it may be an issue for more purpose built vehicles on the track."


Source: https://www.carthrottle.com/post/engine ... e-for-you/

So I take "Real" to refer to purely mechanical systems and "cosmetic" refers to hydraulic/viscous systems. Gears vs fluids.
Last edited by elcadarj on Wed May 22, 2019 8:11 am, edited 2 times in total.

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lthenderson
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Re: Best small AWD to 'drive into the ground'

Post by lthenderson » Wed May 22, 2019 8:09 am

Muddytyres wrote:
Wed May 22, 2019 5:32 am
I've had toyota- the ones I've had were scary bad compared to the subarus in the snow (highlander, rav 4) and yes, with good snow tires.
I have a RAV4 and I love the way it handles in the snow. Sure it isn't the same AWD system as the Subarus as several online videos will demonstrate but all involve essentially rock climbing situations. For crappy winter driving on roads, I really don't thing there is an appreciable difference except for gas mileage. FWIW, I've owned a subaru too.

Andyrunner
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Re: Best small AWD to 'drive into the ground'

Post by Andyrunner » Wed May 22, 2019 8:18 am

Not all AWD is the same. #1 is Subaru then I believe #2 is Mazda, the rest are a far far #3rd. This is what I have been told 2nd hand so no data.

Regardless, small AWD, Subaru legacy? The Crosstrek you said you had issues with but to me that vehicle's trunk is too small.

Silk McCue
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Re: Best small AWD to 'drive into the ground'

Post by Silk McCue » Wed May 22, 2019 8:24 am

elcadarj wrote:
Wed May 22, 2019 8:08 am
Silk McCue wrote:
Wed May 22, 2019 7:36 am
Jack FFR1846 wrote:
Wed May 22, 2019 7:28 am
Real AWD systems in cars narrows it to Subaru and Audi. The rest are "cosmetic" AWD that are there to get your money, then get you stuck.
Please educate me on why a Honda Pilot AWD is not "real AWD" and how exactly that manifests itself mechanically and operationally from Subaru and Audi.

I honestly want to know.

Cheers
Typically the Hondas use Viscous Limited-Slip Differentials (VLSD)

...

Thank you!

Cheers

Katietsu
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Re: Best small AWD to 'drive into the ground'

Post by Katietsu » Wed May 22, 2019 9:53 am

I think it might be useful to define winter driving. For instance, I live in an area with a 7 day road treatment plan. Living on a “day 3” road in a hilly area means that I need prepared to drive through over a foot of snow on occasion and a whole lot of mess more occasionally. On the other hand, my sister lives an hour north in a similar area but with significant resources budgeted for snow removal. She complains if a few hours have gone by without seeing a plow. She gets more snow but has less requirements for a winter vehicle.

I do not recall the various systems as I only pay much attention when car shopping. But there is a big difference in driving experience between a Jeep Grand Cherokee and a Toyota Highlander during a storm.
Last edited by Katietsu on Wed May 22, 2019 9:59 am, edited 1 time in total.

researcher
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Re: Best small AWD to 'drive into the ground'

Post by researcher » Wed May 22, 2019 9:58 am

Muddytyres wrote:
Wed May 22, 2019 5:32 am
I have been a long time subaru owner:
Subarus- 7 total, fail at 200k (2010 outback-engine even after heads), 160k (2011 Outback-transmission then engine), wheel bearings in ALL of them starting at 50k, replacing all 4 in every subaru by 120k. Weird electrical issues/tech issues in 2018 Crosstrek, 2015 outback, eventually traded all but the two we ran into the ground.

I love the old civics but they don't match with snow.
I'm curious why you would keep buying Subarus (7 of them!) after continually experiencing serious problems/flaws?
I would have switched brands after the first one.

You don't state where you live or why AWD is so important.
You also mention an affinity for Honda Civics, which I assume means you don't particularly care about ground clearance.

If so, my recommendation would be the new Mazda 3 Hatchback AWD or Mazda 6 AWD.

https://jalopnik.com/the-all-wheel-driv ... 1833495042

ohai
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Re: Best small AWD to 'drive into the ground'

Post by ohai » Wed May 22, 2019 10:03 am

OP, Subaru has traditionally been considered the best budget AWD system, since they have a native 50/50 architecture with a geared differential. Basically, it means there is no FWD bias like in most other cars. Honda, Toyota, and others typically are based on FWD platforms. However, they have electronic sensors that detect if the rear wheels are slipping. If so, an electronic clutch engages and send power to the rear wheels. This system is more efficient than Subaru's, and is therefore, likely better for most casual AWD drivers. However, since it's a part time system, it is generally not regarded as dependable in all situations. That's conventional knowledge anyway. I am sure these systems have gotten better over time and maybe they will be equal to full time AWD at some point.

Also, Toyota and Honda usually use better AWD systems for different cars. A more expensive car like Honda Pilot has a more sophisticated electronic control system than a cheaper car like CRV. Of course, if you upgrade to a real truck like Land Cruiser, you will get a real 4wd system that is more robust than AWD.

Audi "Quattro" is not the same for all models. Small cars with transverse mounted engines actually use Haldex part time AWD (same as VW "4Motion"). However, they still brand it as Quattro, which usually refers to the Torsen based system for larger vehicles with longitudinal mounted engines. Quattro also changed to an electronic system in the past couple of years. There was some kind of uproar about this, but I don't know how the new system performs relative to the old Quattro.

adamthesmythe
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Re: Best small AWD to 'drive into the ground'

Post by adamthesmythe » Wed May 22, 2019 10:05 am

The new RAV-4 offers two different AWD systems, one of which is supposedly better. I would be happy to hear about experiences with the better one.

Subaru no longer has locked 4WD and low range. I once had an old Subaru and it was great on ice/snow. Other than that I remember it as dutiful, maybe more stodgy-feeling that the RAV-4. I bought it used and it rusted out shortly after.

unstartable
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Re: Best small AWD to 'drive into the ground'

Post by unstartable » Wed May 22, 2019 10:29 am

Haldex bases systems have gotten pretty good. Have you considered a VW?

BackOfTheNet
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Re: Best small AWD to 'drive into the ground'

Post by BackOfTheNet » Wed May 22, 2019 10:52 am

What about a used Suzuki SX4? They are dirt cheap, reliable (only USA Suzuki made in Japan, other Suzukis are re-badged Daeweoos), and can be had with lockable 4wd.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HKpDIqE4WAc

btenny
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Re: Best small AWD to 'drive into the ground'

Post by btenny » Wed May 22, 2019 11:12 am

There are two 4wd alternatives to a Subaru that I can think of that be good for your needs. A small used Toyota 4x4 pickup would be a great vehicle for a college kid. It is a good 4WD system. It hauls lots of stuff for all those moves and helping those girls move. And you can expect it to last for 200K or more miles. It is cheap to maintain and buy.

https://www.autotrader.com/cars-for-sal ... tRecord=25

Or you could go for a nice used Toyota CJ Cruiser. It is probably the best 4x4 off road Toyota makes and it is the most reliable. They routinely last for 250K miles.

https://www.edmunds.com/inventory/srp.h ... radius=500

ChinchillaWhiplash
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Re: Best small AWD to 'drive into the ground'

Post by ChinchillaWhiplash » Wed May 22, 2019 11:17 am

Jeep Renegade Trailhawk? I like our 2015 Jeep Cherokee Trailhawk, 2013 Subaru Crosstrek (manual), and 2001 Porsche C2 Cabriolet. All work great in snow with good snow tires. Have had engine issues with all. Jeep and Sub covered under factory warranty.

lazydavid
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Re: Best small AWD to 'drive into the ground'

Post by lazydavid » Wed May 22, 2019 11:22 am

ohai wrote:
Wed May 22, 2019 10:03 am
Audi "Quattro" is not the same for all models. Small cars with transverse mounted engines actually use Haldex part time AWD (same as VW "4Motion"). However, they still brand it as Quattro, which usually refers to the Torsen based system for larger vehicles with longitudinal mounted engines. Quattro also changed to an electronic system in the past couple of years. There was some kind of uproar about this, but I don't know how the new system performs relative to the old Quattro.
The new System is called "Quattro with Ultra technology", and is used in the Q5 and A4/A5 now (both of which have longitudinal mounted engines). It's a part-time system where the vehicle is FWD under most driving conditions, and the computer decides when and how much to engage the rear wheels based on some algorithms. When power to the rear wheels is called for, clutches at the rear of the transmission and on the rear axle engage to the driveshaft. This can send up to 50% of power to the rear wheels. Audi claims this drives just like the traditional full-time systems, because while the system takes 200 ms to engage the driveshaft, they say the computer can use driving condition data to predict the need for AWD 500 ms in advance. I haven't spent much time driving one, so I couldn't say whether their claim holds true.

By contrast, the Torsen system used in the other Audis not on the MQB platform (A6 and up, Q7/8, etc) is a full-time mechanical system, which under normal driving conditions is rear-biased at 60/40. Engaging the clutches allows sending up to 75% of power to either end.

Interestingly enough (albeit not particularly relevant to this thread), the R8 supercar uses a haldex-based AWD. Essentially it's similar to the FWD-based system you'd see in a Golf or Jetta, just with the components at opposite ends of the car. The mid-mounted engine is attached to a transaxle that drives the rear wheels, and then there's a haldex coupler on the front axle.

ohai
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Re: Best small AWD to 'drive into the ground'

Post by ohai » Wed May 22, 2019 11:24 am

Ok, so basically, the new Quattro is also a Haldex system, but just one that Audi claims to be more effective than old versions.

lazydavid
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Re: Best small AWD to 'drive into the ground'

Post by lazydavid » Wed May 22, 2019 11:43 am

ohai wrote:
Wed May 22, 2019 11:24 am
Ok, so basically, the new Quattro is also a Haldex system, but just one that Audi claims to be more effective than old versions.
It's a little bit different, in that there's no fluid involved--the clutches engage mechanically--and the driveshaft doesn't turn at all in FWD mode. This is because there are two clutches involved, one at each end of the driveshaft. So it's a little more efficient. But yes, in terms of its limitations it's similar.

WhiteMaxima
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Re: Best small AWD to 'drive into the ground'

Post by WhiteMaxima » Wed May 22, 2019 12:35 pm

FWD 1 set of summer tyre + 1set or winter tyre > AWD

In that case, get a Honda FWD CRV or HRV, or Toyota Small FWD SUV

If you still want AWD, get a Subaru forest (you will still need a winter tire live you live in snow country)

Hamberders
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Re: Best small AWD to 'drive into the ground'

Post by Hamberders » Wed May 22, 2019 1:13 pm

The Mazda CX-3 AWD (25/32 MPG) and Subaru Impreza (27/36 MPG) are your best options. The Impreza gets slightly better highway gas-mileage than the Crosstrek (27/33 MPG). I think Mazda’s AWD system is pretty good. I’ve seen YouTube videos of the CX-5 performing well in roller tests.

ThankYouJack
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Re: Best small AWD to 'drive into the ground'

Post by ThankYouJack » Wed May 22, 2019 1:31 pm

WhiteMaxima wrote:
Wed May 22, 2019 12:35 pm
FWD 1 set of summer tyre + 1set or winter tyre > AWD

In that case, get a Honda FWD CRV or HRV, or Toyota Small FWD SUV

If you still want AWD, get a Subaru forest (you will still need a winter tire live you live in snow country)
I'm not sure about that. My Subaru is pretty incredible at getting going and stopping on ice and snow. You can feel the car working beneath you especially when you put it in X-mode. Night and day over my FWD Honda Pilot. I can't image snow tires would make the Pilot better than the Outback at getting going and stopping.

Once speeds get above 20+ miles an hour, the AWD doesn't see effective but man it's nice to have when other cars would be stuck.

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Re: Best small AWD to 'drive into the ground'

Post by onourway » Wed May 22, 2019 1:42 pm

ThankYouJack wrote:
Wed May 22, 2019 1:31 pm
I'm not sure about that. My Subaru is pretty incredible at getting going and stopping on ice and snow. You can feel the car working beneath you especially when you put it in X-mode. Night and day over my FWD Honda Pilot. I can't image snow tires would make the Pilot better than the Outback at getting going and stopping.

Once speeds get above 20+ miles an hour, the AWD doesn't see effective but man it's nice to have when other cars would be stuck.
Stopping is 100% tires.

unstartable
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Re: Best small AWD to 'drive into the ground'

Post by unstartable » Wed May 22, 2019 1:48 pm

onourway wrote:
Wed May 22, 2019 1:42 pm
ThankYouJack wrote:
Wed May 22, 2019 1:31 pm
I'm not sure about that. My Subaru is pretty incredible at getting going and stopping on ice and snow. You can feel the car working beneath you especially when you put it in X-mode. Night and day over my FWD Honda Pilot. I can't image snow tires would make the Pilot better than the Outback at getting going and stopping.

Once speeds get above 20+ miles an hour, the AWD doesn't see effective but man it's nice to have when other cars would be stuck.
Stopping is 100% tires.
There is some evidence that this is not 100% true.

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Re: Best small AWD to 'drive into the ground'

Post by RootSki » Wed May 22, 2019 1:51 pm

ohai wrote:
Wed May 22, 2019 11:24 am
Ok, so basically, the new Quattro is also a Haldex system, but just one that Audi claims to be more effective than old versions.
Volvo's have been using Haldex (BorgWarner) AWD systems since the early 2000's. The Gen4 Haldex on my XC60 has been nothing short of amazing in deep snow.

unstartable
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Re: Best small AWD to 'drive into the ground'

Post by unstartable » Wed May 22, 2019 1:52 pm

ohai wrote:
Wed May 22, 2019 11:24 am
Ok, so basically, the new Quattro is also a Haldex system, but just one that Audi claims to be more effective than old versions.
These systems have really gotten a lot better than older Haldex systems were. Haldex can also transfer 100% of the torque to the rear in a situation when the front is slipping (like a locked differential), something a Torsen and most other limited slip differentials cannot do.

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Re: Best small AWD to 'drive into the ground'

Post by vtMaps » Wed May 22, 2019 1:55 pm

Muddytyres wrote:
Wed May 22, 2019 5:32 am
I'm looking for which good winter handling awd I can drive 'into the ground' with the longest life/least maintenance and best gas mileage (holy grail).
How many miles per year do you drive? If you are driving 20k miles per year, consider trading in for a new car at about 30k miles. Trade it in with the original tires. Don't do any maintenance other than oil changes and tire rotation. Subaru has a guaranteed trade in value that you can look up online with your VIN. They will do the expensive 25k -30k service and resell it as certified pre-owned. This strategy is not ideal if you are driving only 12k miles per year... too much depreciation per mile traveled.

We don't do any off-road driving, but we drive some rough roads and it is tough on AWD cars. We have found that keeping Subarus past 60-80k miles is expensive. We have found it economical to buy a new base model subaru every 18 months... its always under warranty and even comes with roadside assistance (no need for AAA).

--vtMaps
The optimist proclaims that we live in the best of all possible worlds; and the pessimist fears this is true. --James Branch Cabell

ThankYouJack
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Re: Best small AWD to 'drive into the ground'

Post by ThankYouJack » Wed May 22, 2019 1:58 pm

onourway wrote:
Wed May 22, 2019 1:42 pm
ThankYouJack wrote:
Wed May 22, 2019 1:31 pm
I'm not sure about that. My Subaru is pretty incredible at getting going and stopping on ice and snow. You can feel the car working beneath you especially when you put it in X-mode. Night and day over my FWD Honda Pilot. I can't image snow tires would make the Pilot better than the Outback at getting going and stopping.

Once speeds get above 20+ miles an hour, the AWD doesn't see effective but man it's nice to have when other cars would be stuck.
Stopping is 100% tires.
Brakes help too ;)

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Re: Best small AWD to 'drive into the ground'

Post by bloom2708 » Wed May 22, 2019 2:10 pm

I haven't found a car that can be "driven into the ground" and not have a number of serious repairs.

Roads are terrible in many areas. Shocks, struts, sway bar links, wheel hubs/bearings, this stuff wears out.

It seems that ~150k miles is the time when some major stuff can happen. It used to be 90k to 100k miles. It shows that cars, in general, are more reliable.

No rules apply to any single car. Subaru's are much beloved. Yet, they have some atrocious problems. This likely happens within every brand more than we like. These things wear out and break. Oil usage and problematic CVT transmissions. Electrical gremlins. Parts that fail too soon like wheel bearings or alternators. These can happen to any car.

It is expensive to stay new and under warranty. It is also expensive to drive a car into the ground. Driving from 20k miles to 100k miles might be the area to target. Then re-do back to 20k miles. Skip the initial high depreciation. Skip the "stuff starts to wear out badly" after 100k miles.

We live in the snow belt and I will not buy another non-AWD car/SUV. Snow tires or not. One kid needs a car upgrade. I am looking at a 2013 to 2015 Ford Escape AWD. Nice features, decent MPG, not super small or a lug to drive around. That or a Subaru Forester. Trying to avoid the oil consumption years is tricky.

I guess the OP has a lot of good suggestions. Based on experience probably best to stay with Subaru and hope you dodge a bullet and can avoid a car with gremlins. Easier said than done sometimes.
"We are not here to agree with you; we are here to provoke thoughtfulness." Unknown Boglehead

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Re: Best small AWD to 'drive into the ground'

Post by surfstar » Wed May 22, 2019 2:11 pm

another car option:
VW Golf Sportwagen AWD or Alltrack
The Alltrack has 0.9" more ground clearance, if that's needed.
6yr/72k mile warranty - hopefully that gives enough time that anything that might break, will break, and get fixed.

I drive a 2016 Golf Sportwagen - very practical, holds all our gear, gets great MPG (5spd stick!), safe and affordable (S/base model). 52k miles, never had a repair, DIY all my own maintenance.

The Alltrack is a slightly smaller, more car-like handling Outback. The Sportwagen is a Golf with an extra 1' storage at the rear. The base models are solid values with a fit/finish/solidity/NVH that suits higher priced cars. My GSW (Golf Sportwagen) stickered for $22k+, but I purchased it for $18.5k due to slow sales from dieselgate. Deals can still be had - if you read the VW forums, people score AWD GSWs for ~$20k (or routinely get $5-7k off on loaded Alltracks, if that's your thing).

Take a test drive in one. I'd wholly recommend it before any Audi - the purchase price savings would go a long ways in paying any repairs later in ownership.

lazydavid
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Re: Best small AWD to 'drive into the ground'

Post by lazydavid » Wed May 22, 2019 2:29 pm

unstartable wrote:
Wed May 22, 2019 1:52 pm
These systems have really gotten a lot better than older Haldex systems were. Haldex can also transfer 100% of the torque to the rear in a situation when the front is slipping (like a locked differential), something a Torsen and most other limited slip differentials cannot do.
This is not true, except in situations where the front tires have zero friction AND zero weight on them (ie, the front of the car is raised by its jack points with the wheels hanging free), while the rear wheels have oodles of traction. That doesn't happen often in real world driving. Haldex is a clutch system attached to the output shaft of the transmission. Due to the laws of Physics, it can vary from no engagement of 100/0 up to full engagement of 50/50. The transmission is always driving the front wheels no matter what, haldex can siphon off up to half of the torque to the rear.

The only Haldex systems that are capable of rear-bias are those in supercars like the Audi R8 and several Lamborghini models. The reason they can do it is because the transmission drives the rear wheels, while the haldex system can siphon off varying degrees of power to the front wheels, again up to 50%.
In this way, theoretically between 0% (clutches fully disengaged) and 50% (fully engaged) of engine torque can be applied to the rear axle. Similarly, between 100% and 50% (respectively) of engine torque is applied to the front axle. Why no more than 50% split? Haldex's directly-coupled clutch arrangement works like a conventional FWD when disengaged with zero torque applied to the rear axle. When it's fully engaged, the system mechanically behaves like a solid shaft between the front and rear diffs with no center diff between them. In other words, because the inputs of both diffs rotate at the same speed, 50% of the engine torque is applied to each just like a locked differential.
https://www.wolfeden.org/cars/golf-r/haldex.html
Last edited by lazydavid on Wed May 22, 2019 2:38 pm, edited 2 times in total.

researcher
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Re: Best small AWD to 'drive into the ground'

Post by researcher » Wed May 22, 2019 2:37 pm

ThankYouJack wrote:
Wed May 22, 2019 1:31 pm
I'm not sure about that. My Subaru is pretty incredible at ... stopping on ice and snow.
You can feel the car working beneath you especially when you put it in X-mode.
I can't image snow tires would make the Pilot better than the Outback ... stopping.
This is wrong.
These AWD systems have absolutely zero impact on stopping distances.

You are also wrong about snow tires.
A FWD vehicle + snow tires will absolutely have a shorter stopping distance than a similar AWD vehicle + all-season tires.

Google "stopping distance snow tires vs. all season tires"

ThankYouJack
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Re: Best small AWD to 'drive into the ground'

Post by ThankYouJack » Wed May 22, 2019 2:59 pm

researcher wrote:
Wed May 22, 2019 2:37 pm
ThankYouJack wrote:
Wed May 22, 2019 1:31 pm
I'm not sure about that. My Subaru is pretty incredible at ... stopping on ice and snow.
You can feel the car working beneath you especially when you put it in X-mode.
I can't image snow tires would make the Pilot better than the Outback ... stopping.
This is wrong.
These AWD systems have absolutely zero impact on stopping distances.

You are also wrong about snow tires.
A FWD vehicle + snow tires will absolutely have a shorter stopping distance than a similar AWD vehicle + all-season tires.

Google "stopping distance snow tires vs. all season tires"

I'm not just talking about slamming the brakes and coming to a complete stop, but also things like going down a steep icy hill and having traction. All cars won't handle and be able to stop the same way. There's a lot of technology to factor into it

https://www.sportsubaru.com/subaru-x-mode.htm

WhiteMaxima
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Re: Best small AWD to 'drive into the ground'

Post by WhiteMaxima » Wed May 22, 2019 3:07 pm

ThankYouJack wrote:
Wed May 22, 2019 1:31 pm
WhiteMaxima wrote:
Wed May 22, 2019 12:35 pm
FWD 1 set of summer tyre + 1set or winter tyre > AWD

In that case, get a Honda FWD CRV or HRV, or Toyota Small FWD SUV

If you still want AWD, get a Subaru forest (you will still need a winter tire live you live in snow country)
I'm not sure about that. My Subaru is pretty incredible at getting going and stopping on ice and snow. You can feel the car working beneath you especially when you put it in X-mode. Night and day over my FWD Honda Pilot. I can't image snow tires would make the Pilot better than the Outback at getting going and stopping.

Once speeds get above 20+ miles an hour, the AWD doesn't see effective but man it's nice to have when other cars would be stuck.
In cold temp (below freezing) , all season tyre will loose traction even with AWD vehicle. So you do need a set winter tyre for any type of vehicle.

ThankYouJack
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Re: Best small AWD to 'drive into the ground'

Post by ThankYouJack » Wed May 22, 2019 3:17 pm

WhiteMaxima wrote:
Wed May 22, 2019 3:07 pm
ThankYouJack wrote:
Wed May 22, 2019 1:31 pm
WhiteMaxima wrote:
Wed May 22, 2019 12:35 pm
FWD 1 set of summer tyre + 1set or winter tyre > AWD

In that case, get a Honda FWD CRV or HRV, or Toyota Small FWD SUV

If you still want AWD, get a Subaru forest (you will still need a winter tire live you live in snow country)
I'm not sure about that. My Subaru is pretty incredible at getting going and stopping on ice and snow. You can feel the car working beneath you especially when you put it in X-mode. Night and day over my FWD Honda Pilot. I can't image snow tires would make the Pilot better than the Outback at getting going and stopping.

Once speeds get above 20+ miles an hour, the AWD doesn't see effective but man it's nice to have when other cars would be stuck.
In cold temp (below freezing) , all season tyre will loose traction even with AWD vehicle. So you do need a set winter tyre for any type of vehicle.
I'm not saying that winter tires don't help, but I've never used them on my Subaru and low speed traction is excellent regardless of temperature due to the AWD system. During the worst conditions, when very few cars aren't on the road, I often look for the iciest steepest hills to drive and sled down :)

researcher
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Re: Best small AWD to 'drive into the ground'

Post by researcher » Wed May 22, 2019 3:22 pm

ThankYouJack wrote:
Wed May 22, 2019 2:59 pm
I'm not just talking about slamming the brakes and coming to a complete stop, but also things like going down a steep icy hill and having traction. All cars won't handle and be able to stop the same way. There's a lot of technology to factor into it

https://www.sportsubaru.com/subaru-x-mode.htm
Your post explicitly said "stopping on ice and snow."

Contrary to your claims, your AWD vehicle does NOT stop faster than a similar FWD vehicle.
And it will have LONGER stopping distances than a FWD vehicle equipped with snow tires.

The X-mode info you posted does NOT prove otherwise. It simply states...
"At low speeds (under 12 mph) Hill Descent Control helps maintain vehicle starting speed."

So if you are driving 11 mph or less, it will MAINTAIN your speed.
It does NOT help you "have traction" or stop.

ohai
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Re: Best small AWD to 'drive into the ground'

Post by ohai » Wed May 22, 2019 3:23 pm

"low speed traction is excellent regardless of temperature due to the AWD system"

What is the definition of "excellent"? Have you done a test of emergency braking and sudden change of direction? Anyway, what those guys are saying is that AWD helps you not get stuck, but when all wheels are already slipping (i.e. braking), AWD doesn't help, and this is the situation where people get into accidents.

ssquared87
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Re: Best small AWD to 'drive into the ground'

Post by ssquared87 » Wed May 22, 2019 3:27 pm

AWD is useless without winter tires.

FWD with winter tires should be sufficient. It will provide better acceleration, handling and stopping than AWD with all season tires

bloom2708
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Location: Fargo, ND

Re: Best small AWD to 'drive into the ground'

Post by bloom2708 » Wed May 22, 2019 3:32 pm

ssquared87 wrote:
Wed May 22, 2019 3:27 pm
AWD is useless without winter tires.

FWD with winter tires should be sufficient. It will provide better acceleration, handling and stopping than AWD with all season tires
:shock:

You must not live where you get 8,10, 12, 16" of snow in one shot. FWD with snow tires would go nowhere. Nowhere fast.

This is an un-winnable debate. Let's return to the "best small AWD" recommendations for the OP. :wink:
"We are not here to agree with you; we are here to provoke thoughtfulness." Unknown Boglehead

ThankYouJack
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Re: Best small AWD to 'drive into the ground'

Post by ThankYouJack » Wed May 22, 2019 3:37 pm

ohai wrote:
Wed May 22, 2019 3:23 pm
"low speed traction is excellent regardless of temperature due to the AWD system"

What is the definition of "excellent"? Have you done a test of emergency braking and sudden change of direction? Anyway, what those guys are saying is that AWD helps you not get stuck, but when all wheels are already slipping (i.e. braking), AWD doesn't help, and this is the situation where people get into accidents.
Well said. But doesn't traction control and anti-lock brakes help when the wheels are slipping? Doesn't the car make some difference and it's not 100% the tires like stated previously?

By excellent I mean I've never had an issue getting up or down an icy or snowy hill with it. It's far superior in that regard to other cars I've owned. The car does have its drawbacks too.

arf30
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Re: Best small AWD to 'drive into the ground'

Post by arf30 » Wed May 22, 2019 3:38 pm

Maybe a weird answer but I would look at the Subaru WRX - compared to the base Impreza the newer models have heavier duty wheel bearings, heavier duty manual transmission, heavy duty differentials, same symmetrical AWD, seats 5 adults and reasonably priced. They don't have the engine issues the previous generations had.
Last edited by arf30 on Wed May 22, 2019 3:40 pm, edited 1 time in total.

ThankYouJack
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Re: Best small AWD to 'drive into the ground'

Post by ThankYouJack » Wed May 22, 2019 3:39 pm

bloom2708 wrote:
Wed May 22, 2019 3:32 pm
ssquared87 wrote:
Wed May 22, 2019 3:27 pm
AWD is useless without winter tires.

FWD with winter tires should be sufficient. It will provide better acceleration, handling and stopping than AWD with all season tires
:shock:

You must not live where you get 8,10, 12, 16" of snow in one shot. FWD with snow tires would go nowhere. Nowhere fast.

This is an un-winnable debate. Let's return to the "best small AWD" recommendations for the OP. :wink:
+1. Tires and AWD both help, it just depends on the situation :)

Finridge
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Re: Best small AWD to 'drive into the ground'

Post by Finridge » Wed May 22, 2019 3:44 pm

sunny_socal wrote:
Wed May 22, 2019 7:19 am
Why not get another Subaru? Sounds you use them pretty hard, IMO things like wheel bearings are a wear item and I've had to replace them as well occasionally. You're seeing typical high-mileage issues.

Toyota RAV4 (blah)
Honda Pilot (great vehicle)
Toyota Highlander (also great)
Honda Passport (could roll the dice on this one, looks nice!)
Volvo XC60! (We have an XC90 and love it. Expect some maintenance since it's a Euro)
Add to this list:

Honda CR-V
Subaru Forester
Subaru Outback

I see some are bashing the Honda AWD system as not being "real" - this is not without cause. Their AWD systems a few years ago were mostly useless. But their current systems work much better.

Finridge
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Re: Best small AWD to 'drive into the ground'

Post by Finridge » Wed May 22, 2019 3:50 pm

If you are getting AWD for snowy and icy roads, read this article and watch this video first. AWD is helpful for snow/ice, but it has limitations. It does not replace snow tires or chains. It does not make it less likely you will slip of the road when braking, and doesn't help in cornering as much as many people think.

https://www.consumerreports.org/cro/mag ... /index.htm


Going back to the OP's question, my short list would be:
- RAV4 hybrid
- CR-V
- Forester

I think these are the top there all-around. Between the three of these, each has it's own strength: The Forester has the best AWD system. The RAV4 hybrid has the best gas mileage, and is probably going to be the most reliable /require the least maintenance (but based on past Toyota AWD performance, probably has the worst AWD system). The CR-V has the best inside layout, utilization of cargo space, etc. I'd look at all three of these and see which one best meets your needs.

dsmclone
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Re: Best small AWD to 'drive into the ground'

Post by dsmclone » Wed May 22, 2019 4:18 pm

As far as winter driving, there is no right or wrong answer. Everyone has different driving conditions they have to deal with. Everyone has different driving ability. As someone that as lived in the upper midwest their whole life and have owned every type of vehicle, here is my take.

Most of the RWD vehicles I've owned have been sports cars, most of them didn't have modern safety features, most of them had sports tires. This was a very dangerous combo but on the bright side, it made me a better driver.

I had a Mazdaspeed 3 FWD and would literally not move on two inches of snow. It had "summer only" tires. I thought they we're exaggerating but with those tires it was impossible to drive. I put on all seasons during the winter and it became an absolute beast in the winter. In this case it was 100% tires.

Now I have an AWD sporty car (BMW M235ix) and it does just fine with all season tires. Gets through fine in 8+ inches of snow. I worry more about the bottom hitting the snow than getting in an accident. The truth is that if there was a time that I needed dedicated snow tires, I probably shouldn't be on the road.

My wife drives an AWD SUV. It's AWD system is better than mine at handling snow but once again, if it's bad enough than I stay off the road.

Most winters we have just a few days where it gets really nasty and it takes maybe a day for the roads to become clear. On those days I stay home until the roads are safe. When it's dry I'm probably in the 10% fastest drivers on the road. At night and during winter driving conditions, I'm probably in the bottom 30% slowest drivers on the road. It also matters a lot where I need to go. If I'm in town it's no big deal but I don't go on 3 hour highway road trips when the roads are terrible. Another thing I'll do when I switch cars is play around in a parking lot to see how it handles in the snow. I'll turn off the stability/traction control and then back on to see the difference. I think too many people get all freeked out by the snow and their anxiety makes things worse. An example is how people seem to drive 2 feet from each other as soon as the weather gets dicey.

So to summarize, if you live in an area like myself and you use your brain, a FWD vehicle with all season tires is fine.

rj342
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Re: Best small AWD to 'drive into the ground'

Post by rj342 » Wed May 22, 2019 4:19 pm

Re "drive it in to the ground"...

Back in the 80s I had a friend in upstate NY who drove an ancient rattle trap Datsun IIRC.
Front fender had rusted thru form below and the upper mount for the shock absorber mostly broken so front right collapsed over the wheel. He jacked it up and did some magic with a chain around whole front end and drove it a few more days until he could make alternate arrangements.

It was so utterly worthless that I helped him take it to a salvage yard to get rid of it.

It was worth LESS than zero, as the various NY state environmental, etc fees were a bit more than its value as scrap metal so he had to PAY them a bit to take it off his hands.

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