Winter is Coming: Should You Get All-Wheel Drive or Winter Tires for the Snow?

Should you get an all-wheel drive vehicle or winter tires for driving in the snow? Just like the Starks of Winterfell would say, winter is coming, and you need to be prepared. Driving in the snow can be very dangerous, but things like AWD and winter tires can help tremendously. The question is, which one is better to have, or should car owners get both? Tyre Reviews on YouTube took a pair of identical cars into the harsh winter conditions to find out.

All-wheel drive or winter tires for the snow?

A YouTube channel titled Tyre Reviews set out to prove whether all-wheel drive or winter tires are better in the snow. To prove it, they brought two identical Mini Countryman models to Goodyear‘s winter weather testing grounds. Only tire, color, and driveline choices differentiate the two Countrymans. The white model is equipped with all-wheel drive and all-season tires. However, the black one has FWD and winter tires.

For testing, a few different things are measured between the two cars. How well can the car accelerate in the snow? The ability to begin moving in the snow is vital for any vehicle. It can be the difference between being stuck in place and driving to the next destination. Testing proved that AWD combined with all-season tires are the better option for acceleration in the snow.

Additionally, the YouTubers performed a constant-radius turning test for its lateral grip. AWD vehicles gain the ability to accelerate even when moving sideways or sliding across snow and ice. The two cars are surprisingly very close in this category. However, the channel owners stated that the AWD Mini had an easier time accelerating.

Is all-wheel drive better for the snow?

A black and red 2022 Mini Countryman driving down a city, the same model was used to test all-wheel drive vs. winter tires in the snow.
2022 Mini Countryman | Mini

In each test, all-wheel drive either won or tied in the end. Winter tires provide better grip, acceleration, and safety than non-winter options on an FWD vehicle. However, all-wheel drive and all-season tires are better overall for the harsh winter months.

CarScoops noted that winter tires have some advantages over the AWD setup. For instance, the FWD Mini Countryman with winter tires stops faster than its opposition on snow and ice. Despite its lower speed traveling around corners, the FWD model can slow down more quickly to take corners. That’s why during the test, driving around the small rally track took nearly the same amount of time.

Winter tires are good for everyday driving

A white Mini Countryman drives through the snow to test out all-wheel drive vs. winter tires.
Mini Countryman | Tyre Reviews via YouTube

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Although the winter tires have limited traction driving on snow and ice, they’re still a great option. Winter tires provide better braking and lateral grip than all-wheel drive alone. For most drivers, braking quickly and taking turns slowly will be more critical than driving swiftly. The AWD Mini with all-season tires is more difficult to brake and turn.

Both are much better than going into the winter months without either option. For high levels of traction and good corner exits, go with the all-wheel drive setup with all-season tires. However, if you need to brake often and can take turns slowly, FWD with winter tires will perform better.

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