Rear wheel drive performance car for skiing?

tball

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Many performance cars come with the option of RWD or AWD. Would it be crazy for a skier to pick the RWD version?

For dry pavement, I think it's pretty clear RWD is the way to go. RWD is faster, lighter, lower maintenance, gets better gas mileage, and more fun!

Add snow to the mix, and it's not so clear cut. AWD has an obvious traction advantage.

Still, I think there may be a case for RWD, even for a skier. Snow tires have gotten so good that it would have to be a huge storm where you couldn't make it with good winter tires. Stability and traction control are there to save your tush or at least try.

Why not have a little fun drifting to and from skiing in a RWD performance car? :D

Thoughts?
 

Blue Streak

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A couple of points:
  1. Many AWD performance cars have faster 0-60 times than their 2WD variants.
  2. Drifting on ice is fun on a frozen lake or parking lot - not so much on I-70.
That said, I just took the Michelin Pilot Sport 4S high performance summer tires off the roadster and put on Continental Extreme Contact DWS 06 rubber for cold weather, so that I can enjoy driving it through the winter months.
In fact I had the top down today, because it was so nice in Denver.
But for serious winter driving in the high country, I’ll take my Subaru Outback 3.6R with Nokian Hakkapellitas any day.
There are some steep grades, where having four-wheel-drive traction comes in very handy.
 

François Pugh

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If you know how to drive a rear wheel drive car, there's nothing wrong with a rear wheel drive ski car.

I drove full-sized station wagons for decades without any problems, even though I did complain about the built-in under-steer (designed to make it safer by avoiding over-steer, but really only made it that much harder to reel the back end back in when you over-cooked a drift).

If I could afford the gas I would have a RRD Dodge Charger with a hemi v-8 (despite the well-known Chrysler reliability issues). Although, I have to admit the all-wheel drive version is very tempting; it's nice to have traction when you pull out to pass someone in the snow.

I also had a Chevette for a few years. I even made it through Rogers Pass during a snow storm just before they closed it using the brand new came-with no season tires. I did have to take a 2nd run at one of the up-grades, but only because the idiot in the 4x4 in front of me insisted on driving at 5 mph instead of building up some momentum. I much prefer a heavier car with a longer wheel base, especially at speed.
 

Bill Talbot

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Only if the RWD platform has a LSD and four high end winter tires would I conceder it for non-snow country winter use. Meaning an inch or two of snow occasionally.
Not for chasing powder days. Not for high country areas.

"having four-wheel drive traction", this is such a false statement. Tires are the only thing that has traction. What (some) 4WD does is simply deliver torque to all four tires
instead of just one (in the case of an open diff RWD). So if you say were applying 200 lb/ft of torque from the engine, instead of one tire being able to resist it spinning it is being delivered through 4 contact patches.
 

LegacyGT

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Is it crazy for a skier to have a RWD car? Of course not. Most days you're probably not skiing. And on most days you are skiing, RWD will probably get you there. But if you're talking about a ski car, I think you have to be thinking about the car that will get you to the slopes every time there's a powder day and I wouldn't expect RWD to manage that.

Also to consider is the route you need to take. I have a house in Southern VT that sits on a steep hill and there are many days when it is essential to have AWD AND snow tires. I have seen cars with one or the other not make it up. I've seen Mustangs and Camrys with snow tires fail to get up the hill and I've seen BMW xdrive cars with all season tires fail to get up the hill.
 

Dave Marshak

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A couple of points:
...I just took the Michelin Pilot Sport 4S high performance summer tires off the roadster and put on Continental Extreme Contact DWS 06 rubber for cold weather, so that I can enjoy driving it through the winter months.
Why would you do that? DWS06 don't cut it in the snow. Why not change out for real winter tires?

dm
 

Dave Marshak

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All this talk about "ski cars" is kind of silly. Most skiers would be better off just stuffing all their gear in a minivan. I've been driving for skiing and for work all over Upstate NY and Vermont for 50 years, and ski areas are the easiest places to drive to in the winter. I've never been to a ski area before the access road and parking lots were plowed, and that includes 20 years of riding the first chair as a race coach. Usually the hardest part of the trip is getting out of the parking lot at my condo.

The fact that some people find that they don't need real winter tires proves that driving to a ski area doesn't require anything special.

dm
 

Philpug

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Volvo 240, 740 and 940 wagons were ski cars of choice for years. Still give me a RWD w/4 snow tires over a FWD with no-seasons any time.
 
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Drifting on ice is fun on a frozen lake or parking lot - not so much on I-70.
Yeah, no drifting on I-70, please.

I was thinking more like Berthoud and Loveland passes. The hairpins can be a blast in an RWD car that likes to drift. I did a lot of that in my youth. I'm not sure at this point in my life I'll be turning off stability control on those passes in the snow. It would have to be a very special well-balanced car in just the right circumstances with damn good winter tires.

So, forget the drifting. I'm thinking of more performance driving on fun roads. Clear Creek Canyon, the passes, even I-70 is a lot more fun to drive in a performance car than a 4x4 or AWD SUV.

Should that performance car be RWD or AWD is what I'm pondering. Thanks, everyone for all the great thoughts!
 

slowrider

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All this talk about "ski cars" is kind of silly. Most skiers would be better off just stuffing all their gear in a minivan. I've been driving for skiing and for work all over Upstate NY and Vermont for 50 years, and ski areas are the easiest places to drive to in the winter. I've never been to a ski area before the access road and parking lots were plowed, and that includes 20 years of riding the first chair as a race coach. Usually the hardest part of the trip is getting out of the parking lot at my condo.

The fact that some people find that they don't need real winter tires proves that driving to a ski area doesn't require anything special.

dm
Not the case in the PNW. 2 feet of wet unplowed snow on narrow twisted mt. roads. Then ralley in the plot to stuff your ski car into the snowbank. Bring your A game driver.
 
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tball

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A couple of things got me thinking about this AWD vs RWD question. One was I got on the hype train and looked at Kia Stinger. With its great performance and the hatchback it would be a fun ski car but in AWD or RWD?

The much better performance of the RWD at the track has me leaning that direction:


But, how much performance is a dedicated skier who is also an auto enthusiast willing to give up for the extra traction of AWD? It's not that huge of a performance difference, but noticeable in my limited experience driving the same vehicle with RWD and AWD.
 

Don in Morrison

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Been there, done that. 73 Chevelle with a mildly souped up 350 and Turbo Hydra-Matic. Studded snow tires. As long as the snow depth was less than my ground clearance, I could go anywhere, any time. It would walk up a 7% grade with the engine idling on slush-covered ice. If the snow got up to the rocker panels, though, it was a beached whale.
 

crgildart

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Like to chain up. That's what happens when you decide to drive a RWD.
THIS! Yes, you "can" manage snowy mountain travel in a RWD vehicle if you're a good winter driver who knows the vehicle. The wildest western rocky mountain ski trips I ever took were in a RWD V8 Firebird... with chains. But, given the choice between RWD and FWD for such conditions, tires and all else equal, I don't know a soul who would go RWD JUST for winter weather traction/performance. My retirement empty nest vehicle will very likely be a RWD 2 door of some kind.. But, I'd take whatever else we have for ski trips unless that was our ONLY vehicle.
 

Dave Marshak

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Not the case in the PNW. 2 feet of wet unplowed snow on narrow twisted mt. roads. Then ralley in the plot to stuff your ski car into the snowbank. Bring your A game driver.
I haven't spent much time in the PNW, but IIRC the drive from Seattle to Chrystal was low altitude and mostly flat with a steep plowed hill the last few miles. Stlil, videos sliding down Seattle streets like pinballs are always more entertaining.

For your 2 feet of wet you're gonna need 4WD with a lift kit, but who really drives in that?

dm
 

Dave Marshak

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THIS! Yes, you "can" manage snowy mountain travel in a RWD vehicle if you're a good winter driver who knows the vehicle.
RWD is easy to drive in the snow as long as you have the right tires and enough ground clearance. The hardest thing with RWD is getting them out of the parking space if the city plows you in on the street.

dm
 

sparty

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RWD is easy to drive in the snow as long as you have the right tires and enough ground clearance. The hardest thing with RWD is getting them out of the parking space if the city plows you in on the street.

dm
...or getting into and out of parking spaces at the ski hill. Most ski areas do a pretty damn good job of early-morning plowing, but once the lot starts filling up, things can get pretty messy if it continues to snow, and it's one place where using momentum and driving skill is a more limited solution (particularly when someone parks next to you at a "this-would-be-tight-on-dry-pavement" distance).

As someone else noted, there's also the issue of being unable to pass (or change lanes) without a higher risk of going sideways. With a 4WD and shift-on-the-fly, you can always flick it into 4Hi and (hopefully) let the front end pull you back to straight; with RWD, hopefully you have enough time and space to get it straightened out without that help.
 

Core2

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I saw a corvette with snow tires get stuck on flat ice covered pavement last winter. RWD and snow do not go together ever imo.
 

Ogg

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I’ve never had too much trouble drifting most of my AWD cars in the snow. :huh: If it’s got a rear bias and decent power getting the rear loose should be pretty easy. It might just require a Scandinavian flick. ogwink
 
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