Ok, here's the deal. Apparently I offended people in a previous post when making a comment that there is nothing wrong with rear wheel drive vehicles in the snow and that front wheel drive is no better (I'll offer my opinion to this shortly). So in the spirit of Christmas, and any other religious based holiday (
) I offer this thread to hear everyone's opinion (we are all allowed one) for the sake of people learning more and to help make sound purchasing decisions on chassis configurations for winter driven vehicles. I put a request in to "MythBusters" as I am curious to see what would perform better.
Here's my opinion, based on having driven both during many a winter:
FWD, although having a lot more weight on the drive wheels for good take off loses this advantage to a lack of stability due to the reduction in weight over the rear wheels.
I am a prudent driver in the Winter months but things do happen. In my experience living here in the Great White North I have noticed a few things that make me lean toward RWD as my preferred choice of vehicle for winter.
I have noticed a tendency for the ass end of FWD cars to want to run away on corners that are slick (be it due to black ice...) and in order to recover and avoid spin outs I have always had to "gas and go" to pull them back in line. A point to mention in this instance is that if the breaks are applied in this scenario the outcome is usually not good. The vehicle will begin to decelerate and transfer even more weight to the front wheels giving them more steering traction all the while the rears are being lightened further. Since the front is now being given all this traction while turning the back tires cannot keep up and inevitably continue on pass the fronts via a spin out. Which explains why most vehicles in ditches this time of year are FWD. I for one am not a fan of having to increase speed on precarious roads to save my ass. On the flip side I have found that in my RWD vehicles, when these situations arise, I lay off the gas and along with engine breaking the ass end quaintly pulls back in track behind the front wheels all while my speed is being reduced. This in my opinion is a good way to go.
Another point I have against front wheel drive for the winter is the fact that your driven wheels are also your steering wheels. Traction in snow/ice/slush/sh!t comes at price. If it cost 8$ to steer the car around a corner and 6$ to keep it moving forward and all you've got is 10$ worth of traction something has to give and in FWD that is usually the steering. In a RWD car your steering wheels are never loaded with having to propel the vehicle and therefore generally always offer decent steering traction (this also explains roughly why a RWD car can out maneuver both FWD and AWD vehicles).
At the end of the day, experience, proper tires and safe driving practices generally prevail no matter what the drive train.