You guys that are complaining about swapping snow tires that are mounted on separate wheels need to turn in your man cards! That’s a 15 minute job, 30 tops taking your time, and it’s easy. Much easier than mounting and balancing twice a year.
My experiences with FWD vs AWD are as follows. I typically buy small FWD vehicles for good gas mileage since I drive a lot and run them into the ground. I get spare rims and put snow tires on them.
My old 95 Saturn was awesome in the snow. Put 280k on it and bought a 2006 Chevy Cobalt brand new. Put snows on that and it was never very good in the snow. Never got stuck or wrecked it but it certainly wasn’t ideal. Put 220k on that and picked up a 2016 Cruze new. The Cruze with snow tires is awesome. Very confidence inspiring in the snow. Goes, turns, and stops great. Passes the scared slow pokes with ease. It has the cheapest snow tires I could find on it from an online discount tire Black Friday sale, $285 for 4 shipped. Had blizzaks on the Cobalt and they weren’t any better than the cheapies but they wore out much faster. So I’m thinking that FWD with snow tires depends on the individual car and it’s weight distribution/balance.
I also learned that the studdable snow tires (with no studs) last much longer than non studdable snow tires, so that’s what the Cruze has. I put over 3k miles on them this winter and the fronts wore 9 thousandths of an inch. Not bad.
My wife has had 2 Subaru Legacies in a row. A 2011 and now a 2018. The 2011 always rolled on all season tires in the winter. That thing with wore out all season tires went better than my Cobalt with new snow tires. The 2018 with its factory all season tires was markedly not as good this winter as the 2011 was. Next winter it’ll get spare rims with new snow tires on them.
A side note on Subarus. All of the older ones have head gasket problems. My friend owns a machine shop and he does work for local dealerships and independent mechanics resurfacing the heads. It’s an endless stream of work right now but will likely die out as the cars age. 2011 was supposedly the first year the head gasket issues were fixed. Well, the wife’s 2011 overheated one day with 160k on it. Lost some coolant, no leaks, so I’m sure that had a head gasket issue. Traded it in right away. Hopefully they actually have it fixed on the newer ones as I’d like to see 200k out of it.
Um, no. Not "all older Subarus". Mainly the 99-05 models had the overheating problems. I know, I had one, they fixed it, no charge. Beyond that, they developed oil "leak" or excessive oil burning issues. I know, I had one, and they didn't/wouldn't fix that one, even after the class actions. Beware of Subarus from, oh, 07 to about 15. Check your oil. Be warned, Benny learned the hard way. Anyway, anybody who makes it to 160k on any car, driving through, I'm pretty sure, sub zero winters to northeast ski hills, should not be surprised if the engine develops a few issues. Even the Koreans max out their warranties at 100k.
Benny just bought a brand new HRV, which is a departure from 25 years of Subarus. I'll get back to you in ten years and tell you how it worked out.