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Misha
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Joined: Aug 02, 2006
Posts: 704
Location: McLean, VA, USA

PostPosted: Fri Sep 29, 2006 8:13 pm Reply with quote Back to top

While the rest of the world is buying Subaru because it is a cool brand that won World Rally Championship several times since mid 90th, smart American moms are buying Subaru because AWD cars are safer to drive!

This was an ingenious trick of Subaru marketing team to link AWD to the safety on slippery roads. Many other major auto manufacturers followed the suit since and started to produce AWD models in frightening quantities.

So, who is right Ė American moms or the rest of the World? Letís see.

What advantage do AWD possess? Because it routes power to four wheels instead of two, it allows the driver to apply more power to accelerate the car before wheels start to slip, providing for faster acceleration achievable under slippery road conditions. It does not have any effect whatsoever on braking.

Due to the fact that people believe AWD cars are safer, these cars are actually more dangerous! On a slippery road, AWD vehicle driver can accelerate better than non-AWD cars around, sometimes even not realizing that the road is slippery. This will give him the false feeling of safety and stability. When it comes to braking, however, AWD is no better than any other car, and itís driver is unprepared for this! Hence in terms of active safety AWD is at best on par with other vehicles (when driver knows what he is doing), or at worst is more dangerous! And, it costs more to buy, maintain, and repair; and it consumes more gas!
Choose for yourself.


Last edited by Misha on Tue Sep 11, 2007 8:46 pm; edited 2 times in total
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Stimpy
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Driver



Joined: Sep 25, 2006
Posts: 107

PostPosted: Sat Oct 07, 2006 9:36 am Reply with quote Back to top

+1

and same to all those four wheel drive trucks I see passing me at unsafe speeds in the winter time.

If you want more safety, buy an adjustable proportioning valve and spend some time in an empty parking lot dialing in your optimal braking power to your rear wheels. Also, buy better tires with more grip (you'll sacrifice 1 or 2 MPG)
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Yumial
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Joined: Sep 14, 2006
Posts: 1

PostPosted: Sun Nov 19, 2006 9:58 am Reply with quote Back to top

I've always had only AWD cars and I feel it is much more comfortable than the monodrive. Yes you can argue about safety - braking is the same or even worse because of extra weight. Nevertheless when starting on snow or changing lanes or parking or climbing the sidewalk:)) AWD is just another level of comfort. Plus you save the tyres because they don't slip all the time
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Misha
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Joined: Aug 02, 2006
Posts: 704
Location: McLean, VA, USA

PostPosted: Sun Nov 19, 2006 1:45 pm Reply with quote Back to top

Sure, AWD has a number of advantages, especially on a rough terrain or under heavy snow. Not sure if I call this comfort, though, convenience may be a better word here Razz

As long as you know what you are doing and understand that AWD does not help your braking, I do not have any problem with this Wink
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nautik
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Joined: Dec 26, 2006
Posts: 2

PostPosted: Tue Dec 26, 2006 9:58 pm Reply with quote Back to top

i agree to a certain extent that awd/4wd vehicles are safer simply because they do handle better in snow and being from alaska i would know.

To their downfall, if you lose control of an awd vehicle doing 65 on snow/ice covered roads, good luck regaining control. a rwd vehicle will generally straighten itself out but letting off the gas on icy roads due to the rear tires being slowed down by the transmission. Whereas if all 4 tires are spinning gaining control of it is going to be harder cause if your spinning almost 90 or more degrees, most people oversteer and go from one side of the road to the other. All four tires are pulling the car which means they will spin at the same speed never allowing the car to move dependent on wheel speed.
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Pavlo
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Joined: Nov 15, 2006
Posts: 18

PostPosted: Tue May 01, 2007 11:30 am Reply with quote Back to top

In bad weather most of the time tires are the key.
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Stimpy
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Joined: Sep 25, 2006
Posts: 107

PostPosted: Tue May 08, 2007 4:25 pm Reply with quote Back to top

Unless you're talkin throttle oversteer, you will never have more turning ability than when coasting. Sure you can get going easier in the snow and ice when you have four wheels doing the work, but that doesn't add to safety. (OK... there ARE situations when accelerating from a stop will get you out of the path of a sliding garbage truck or something weird... but the chance of that is negligable) That same ability to accelerate often leads to overconfidence and unsafe speeds since 4wd and awd won't help you stop any quicker.

Now don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that either of them are less safe, and there are some road conditions when they will help keep you from getting stuck, but how many times do normal people end up in those?

btw.. you'd be surprised at how well a fwd 2000 pound civic handles in 6 inches of unplowed heavy snow.
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SeanROV
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Joined: Oct 19, 2008
Posts: 3

PostPosted: Mon Oct 20, 2008 2:35 am Reply with quote Back to top

Each type of drive train has it's advantages and disadvantages.
I learnt to drive in RWD, and did all my (youthful) defensive driving training (read belting around muddy paddocks with friends) in RWD.

Scariest moments have been applying (instinctively) RWD defensive driving reactions to a bad situation in a FWD car - scary!!!

Other moments that have had an elevated pucker factor have resulted from driving cars with no name tyres after driving cars with very good tyres.

Current personal choice for a good balance between "fun" and safety is RWD with ABS and a good TCS (that can be turned off if required).

Agree that the more wheels driving means more speed in poor conditions, and that, while an AWD might out handle a 2WD (F or R) in poor conditions,
you still have to stop... irrespective of how many wheels are being driven...
And again, tyre choice (among many other factors) has a big say in wether stopping without crashing is possible (or not). Smile
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ImperialBlue
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Joined: Apr 07, 2009
Posts: 8

PostPosted: Tue Apr 07, 2009 4:40 am Reply with quote Back to top

Misha wrote:
What advantage do AWD possess? Because it routes power to four wheels instead of two, it allows the driver to apply more power to accelerate the car before wheels start to slip, providing for faster acceleration achievable under slippery road conditions. It does not have any effect whatsoever on braking.


AWD provides more traction under all conditions - using words like 'faster' make it sound like it is only of benefit if you drive like a rally driver. The greater traction is, of course, useful if you are driving like that, but also if you are driving normally in icy, snowy, wet, or muddy conditions.

It is not true that it has no effect on braking either. Although the effects in an emergency stop will be limited, AWD does make engine braking (the natural slowing effect you get when you lift off the accelerator, so the wheels are trying to make the engine go faster, rather than the engine trying to make the wheels go faster.) Because only the driven wheels cause engine braking, an AWD drive car will generate more of it, as there are twice as many wheels connected to the engine.

Misha wrote:
Due to the fact that people believe AWD cars are safer, these cars are actually more dangerous! On a slippery road, AWD vehicle driver can accelerate better than non-AWD cars around, sometimes even not realizing that the road is slippery. This will give him the false feeling of safety and stability. When it comes to braking, however, AWD is no better than any other car, and itís driver is unprepared for this! Hence in terms of active safety AWD is at best on par with other vehicles (when driver knows what he is doing), or at worst is more dangerous! And, it costs more to buy, maintain, and repair; and it consumes more gas!.


I agree with the sentiment here - but it is true of any car really - I've seen all sorts of cars driven badly in all sorts of conditions. In Europe it tends to be people who drive German 'executive' cars that generally seem to be of the opinion that their car can defy the laws of physics.

I would say that in the hands of a driver that knows what they are doing, a car such as a Subaru is has better active safety than other vehicles in extreme conditions. You've obviously never been forced to stop half way up a snowy hill by some inconsiderate driver coming down and been unable to move your 2WD car, for example.

I would suggest that a relatively light vehicle, such as a Subaru car has much better active safety than an SUV, for example - simply because it is significantly lighter, and has a much lower centre of gravity (and Subaru's have a lower centre of gravity than most cars because of the way they lay out the engine and drive train.) That means that in extreme circumstances (which is the only time safety systems matter) a car can stop quicker (less mass to decelerate) and dodge quicker (less mass to manage, and lower centre of gravity so less likely to roll) than an SUV.

In the UK you can buy a Legacy Wagon with the diesel engine for less than an Audi or BMW, and it will last as long as you like - the go on forever. So they are not more to buy, and the diesel does over 50 mpg.
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Misha
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Joined: Aug 02, 2006
Posts: 704
Location: McLean, VA, USA

PostPosted: Tue Apr 07, 2009 8:06 am Reply with quote Back to top

Welcome to funandsafedriving ImperialBlue!

Thanks for your thoughtful comments. You obviously have a lot of experience and understanding on the topic. I do think though that you are missing my point somewhat Smile

I never said that Subary is a bad car, or that AWD is a bad thing per se. The whole purpose of this post was to show that American mom buying AWD car because it is supposed to be safer for her fools herself.

Now, addressing your points specifically:

I was not talking about driving faster, I was talking about accelerating faster, which is applicable to any speed Smile

True dat, AWD does have a positive effect on engine braking. Yet you probably never lived the USA. Engine braking is not something that is casually employed by drivers here, both because the vast majority drive automatic transmissions that virtually don't allow for engine breaking, and because driver's ed is almost non-existent here. So yes, you are right and I agree, but it is not applicable to the topic of this post Smile

Yes, no question about that, small Subaru or small Honda or small Vauxhall would be much easier to handle under any type of adverse conditions than big SUV. Again, this was not the point. And please give me some credit - living for 40 years in Moscow, including the times when there was no such thing as AWD car, probably gave me some snow driving experience. I obviously was forced to make all kinds of imaginable maneuvers in snow and on ice pretty often Smile
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ImperialBlue
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Joined: Apr 07, 2009
Posts: 8

PostPosted: Tue Apr 07, 2009 8:22 am Reply with quote Back to top

Misha wrote:
Welcome to funandsafedriving ImperialBlue!


Thanks Misha.

Misha wrote:
I never said that Subary is a bad car, or that AWD is a bad thing per se. The whole purpose of this post was to show that American mom buying AWD car because it is supposed to be safer for her fools herself.


I'm not defending Subaru, although I am thinking of buying one, and found your site by searching for tips on how to drive with AWD (I have driven mainly FWD cars, although my first car was RWD). I agree with you that in general driving the traction doesn't matter because most accidents in slippery conditions are caused by a lack of grip when braking, rather than accelerating. And a contributing factor in that is people not knowing what they are doing - when I got my first 'proper' car I took it to an empty car park the first time it snowed to learn how it behaved in a skid, which was very useful.

Misha wrote:
True dat, AWD does have a positive effect on engine braking. Yet you probably never lived the USA. Engine braking is not something that is casually employed by drivers here, both because the vast majority drive automatic transmissions that virtually don't allow for engine breaking, and because driver's ed is almost non-existent here.


Fair enough! I have never understood the appeal of automatics, but then I was given one recently. I absolutely hated it for the first week, and then got stuck in a huge traffic jam leaving London. Then it made sense. I still don't really like the idea of a transmission system that is at it's best in a traffic jam though, and given the choice I prefer to drive our small, manual car than out large automatic.

Misha wrote:
And please give me some credit - living for 40 years in Moscow, including the times when there was no such thing as AWD car, probably gave me some snow driving experience. I obviously was forced to make all kinds of imaginable maneuvers in snow and on ice pretty often Smile


Fair point - I lived in the Czech Republic in the mid-90's and landed in the Winter. One thing I certainly hadn't experienced in the UK but soon got used to in Brno was taxi drivers using the handbrake to help get around snowy corners Smile
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Misha
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Joined: Aug 02, 2006
Posts: 704
Location: McLean, VA, USA

PostPosted: Wed May 13, 2009 12:03 pm Reply with quote Back to top

Yeah, navigating sharp corners with the help of parking brake is a nice trick, I just love it. Too bad snow happens not too often where I live now Smile
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Julianna
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Joined: Jan 23, 2010
Posts: 33

PostPosted: Sun Jan 24, 2010 3:52 pm Reply with quote Back to top

I would not ever own a AWD nor a Subaru but some people like them personally I always look for safety, but what about Front wheel-drive? Or is that considered AWD?
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Misha
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Joined: Aug 02, 2006
Posts: 704
Location: McLean, VA, USA

PostPosted: Sun Jan 24, 2010 11:09 pm Reply with quote Back to top

Nah, AWD is All Wheel Drive, which is obviously different from Front Wheel Drive cause your car has rear wheels, too. Smile

FWD is an optimum choice for a casual driver, so you are fine Julianna. Smile
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Julianna
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Joined: Jan 23, 2010
Posts: 33

PostPosted: Mon Jan 25, 2010 11:56 pm Reply with quote Back to top

Misha wrote:
Nah, AWD is All Wheel Drive, which is obviously different from Front Wheel Drive cause your car has rear wheels, too. Smile

FWD is an optimum choice for a casual driver, so you are fine Julianna. Smile
I love how you explained that , I guess it does have rear wheels. lolololo Very Happy
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