I’ve never been one to be convinced that AWD is useful. My last three “daily” drivers have all had all four wheels working for them and I promise you that my regular car (i.e., not a Miata, or MK1 Scirocco, or even a 1949 Ford F-1) will always be motivated by such a system.
The reason? Simple: I consider it a top safety feature. Traction, grip, adherence, pick your term, are often used in automotive description, but the words are as difficult to grasp as experiencing the system sorting out the power in the name of maximized momentum. Have a friend that owns a Charger AWD or a Subaru Outback? Invite them for lunch on a snowy day, pretend you ran out of beer and instead of taking your high-performance FWD sedan to the store, borrow your guest’s car. You’ll be convinced in a second.
In other words, unless there’s snow or ice on the road’s surface, convincing someone to spend the money for the optional AWD setup is still a difficult pill to swallow. But it doesn’t stop there. Rain, and even good driving conditions, are made better especially if you’re the type that really enjoys driving, if you know what I mean…
In my early years as an automotive critic, I directed as many consumers to purchase an AWD car and when they did, I’d more than often get a “thank you” from them in the dead of winter. Today, I still preach the same message, but my job has gotten much easier.
Back in the day, as in nearly 20 years ago, you could get a Subaru or an evil SUV with four-wheel drive, that’s it. Today, if you’re looking for a regular car with AWD, there may still be only a handful of OEMs that will give you the option—FCA, Ford and Subaru—but that matters little. The majority of you are buying CUVs and opting for AWD for only a few bucks extra per month.
And that’s the catch. Safety features such as airbags, and traction and stability control are “no cost” items, not to mention mandatory. Should AWD become a mandatory no-cost feature in Canada, like winter tires in some provinces? On “regular” cars such as a Toyota Camry, Chevy Impala or Hyundai Sonata, I think it should be standard.