Travis is stirring up the clickbait pretty bad on the FP: "Here's Proof That All-Wheel Drive Is Worthless In The Snow." It's a comparison between a rwd M3 on winter tires and an awd Forester on summer tires. The M3 does better in the snow. Shocking.

The problem is, this comparison does not have a control tire. You can't make a conclusion about whether awd or rwd is better in the snow, when awd vs. rwd is not the only variable in the experiment. The two cars have completely different tires on them.

What this comparison shows is an awd car on summer tires—which all else being equal, namely the tires, would have a traction advantage over a rwd car—is not as good in the snow as a rwd car with a fancy limited slip differential on winter tires. The proper conclusion to draw is not that awd is worthless in the snow, but that summer tires are so much worse in the snow compared to winter tires that the traction advantage of awd is negated by the summer tires.

Or put another way, awd is worthless in winter, without proper tires.

Now here's the thing: I've performed this experiment, with a control tire. I live in Wisconsin and have driven through a shitload of snow. For my year-round daily driver, I had a '99 Miata for 4 years, and then an '06 Mazdaspeed 6 for 5 years. I ran Blizzaks on both of them in the winter.


The Miata did better in the snow than any rwd sports car with no traction control and shitty ground clearance should really have done. There were plenty of times where I saw 4x4 SUVs with all-season rubber spinning their wheels while I was able to accelerate just fine. The Blizzaks did their job.

BUT. The awd MS6, which also had Blizzaks on it, was a significant improvement in winter traction over the rwd Miata with Blizzaks.

Starting from a dead stop was far more controllable with awd. The Miata would get going, but not without a significant amount of wheelspin. I also had plenty of (controllable) 4-wheel drift moments in the Miata when I didn't really need to be sliding the ass end around. These still sometimes happened in the MS6, but nowhere near as frequently. Braking was similarly impressive in both cars, since they both had winter tires and upgraded brakes.


Basically, the conclusion drawn by Mr. Okulski in his post is a load of shit.

Put an awd car and rwd car next to each other with the same tires on them, and then see what happens.

The gauntlet has been thrown.


UPDATE: Travis changed the headline. All is well.