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Four-Wheeling in Winter Wonderland


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In the crunchy Northern Virginia winter, it can be a bit tough to get around. It doesn’t snow often enough or long enough for people to truly prepare, but it does get icy quite frequently. I’ve always been a four-wheel-drive or all-wheel-drive kind of guy mainly because I see the need to get in and out of tough scenarios safely and efficiently. That’s why I have spent time blogging about the off-road world almost as much as the on-road; I feel that there is safety, versatility, and a real performance advantage to putting power to all four wheels. Subaru cars, Jeeps, Land Rovers, and Ford, GMC, Nissan, and Toyota trucks are some of my favorite topics to read and write about. When we get bogged down in a winter not-so-wonderland, it feels comforting to know that we have such vehicles in our arsenals.

As we all know, four-wheel-drive trucks typically rely on rear-wheel-drive for most on-road applications, then the operator shifts into 4WD for stickier off-road situations. This means that the advantages of 4WD are left mainly in the hands of the driver. A truck that crawls through dirt and mud and blasts through unplowed winter snow is great for that application, but when the driver is on the highway in RWD and hits a patch of black ice, as is all too common around my neck of the woods, then having to manually shift into 4WD becomes an afterthought. Fortunately, there are fantastic computers in most modern trucks that automatically engage all four wheels when such a situation occurs.

All-wheel-drive, on the other hand, is a system in which all wheels are actively engaged at all times without the need for driver input. Subaru is famous for their AWD models in every sedan, wagon, and SUV. And recently, electric vehicles, such as most Tesla models, provide independent motors to each wheel, creating true AWD environments.

For much of the world, snowy and icy weather is never an issue, hence the continued production of cheaper front-wheel-drive vehicles by most all major manufacturers. But if you’re ever considering life in an area where it snows at Christmas, dear readers, then think about the benefits of putting the power to all four wheels.

-Trey Fennell

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