What makes Subarus good in snow?

General talk about the Subaru Baja.

Moderator: mikenmel08

Post Reply
Rok71
Scoobytruck Lurker
Posts: 10
Joined: Tue Jun 23, 2020 7:47 pm

What makes Subarus good in snow?

Post by Rok71 »

I’ve heard from multiple sources that Subarus are good cars for snowy conditions. This upcoming winter will be my first with Baja and I live in an area where snow storms are frequent in winter time.

Nowadays a lot of car manufacturers put AWD on their cars. There are plenty of SUVs and trucks that have 4WD.

So, what exactly makes Subaru different/better in snow than others? (Assuming people agree that Subaru indeed handles good in snow.) Is Subaru’s AWD unique/different in some ways from other AWD and 4WD systems?
2006 Baja Sport, 73K
mike-tracy
Scoobytruck Contributer
Posts: 90
Joined: Wed Jun 05, 2019 9:30 pm

Re: What makes Subarus good in snow?

Post by mike-tracy »

Shorter tests comparing Subaru's AWD system vs other MFR's:
https://youtu.be/RCuvwYd9JuE
https://youtu.be/2OzK-oRPCbs

Explanation of how Subaru's symetrical AWD works:
https://youtu.be/YIY392Qtu0I

On manual cars, the viscous center limited slip does a very good job of sending slip and adjusting which end gets more power.

On autos, that is done by computer. Are they really better? That's subjective, but even (and perhaps especially) automatic Subarus are very confidence inspiring compared to the other AWD cars I've driven.
1992 Legacy SS, 5mt and heavily modified
2000 Impreza RSTi Coupe
2003 Baja, 4eat & NA. Bone stock and loving it!
Rok71
Scoobytruck Lurker
Posts: 10
Joined: Tue Jun 23, 2020 7:47 pm

Re: What makes Subarus good in snow?

Post by Rok71 »

Thank you, mike!

I should have figured out to check YouTube first — nowadays, it seems like, there is a video for every possible topic of interest :)
2006 Baja Sport, 73K
User avatar
kamesama980
Scoobytruck Master
Posts: 365
Joined: Mon Feb 29, 2016 6:54 am

Re: What makes Subarus good in snow?

Post by kamesama980 »

Mostly ignorance and bad tires LOL

Tires matter more than drivetrain but having a mechanically linked (like what's in the manual bajas) system is better for preventing loss of traction in many situations because power is spread to all the wheels first. In most modern computer controlled AWD systems, you get power to 2 wheels, break one free, THEN get power to the other wheels, it's reactive rather than proactive. Mechanical AWD also means it behaves the same all the time so people like me that like being in control of the car get what they expect. newer computerized nanny-AWD is annoying to us because we hit the gas in a corner expecting one thing but the computer detects wheel spin and does stuff to prevent loss of traction. They're better for car-as-an-accessory folk that driving is just something they have to do to get from point A to point B. "the car will save me if I screw up" mentality. Mechanical system's better for "I want to have more capability/margin for error/fun" mentality.
-Russell
"You don't get to judge me for how I fix what you break"
03 sport 5mt
05 turbo 5mt vf39 and other STI bits, 3" turbo-back
Rok71
Scoobytruck Lurker
Posts: 10
Joined: Tue Jun 23, 2020 7:47 pm

Re: What makes Subarus good in snow?

Post by Rok71 »

Ok, if tires mean more than drivetrain, I would like to ask a question about tires.

Is there difference/preference between studdles and studdable winter tires, even if I don’t intend to add studs to studdables?

Studdable tires look “meaner” in pictures, and they are generally cheaper than studdles. Is the look deceiving?
2006 Baja Sport, 73K
mike-tracy
Scoobytruck Contributer
Posts: 90
Joined: Wed Jun 05, 2019 9:30 pm

Re: What makes Subarus good in snow?

Post by mike-tracy »

I am against studded snow tires because, in my experience, the studs slide over wet pavement. They work really well on ice though, better than any studless tire I've had. So if you live at a ski lodge, they are great.

I pickup/dropoff my kids every other weekend, and have to cross a mountain pass to get them. In the winter time I use the latest blizzaks. Those studless tires are fantastic for freeway driving. Those are on my Impreza.

My Baja has Cooper winter tires, that were studable, and I got them without studs. They aren't as good as the blizzaks, but are much better than my all seasons. You can still stop, go, turn and drive like normal. The blizzaks feel like sports car tires in comparison, and my kids are worth the extra bucks they cost.
1992 Legacy SS, 5mt and heavily modified
2000 Impreza RSTi Coupe
2003 Baja, 4eat & NA. Bone stock and loving it!
User avatar
kamesama980
Scoobytruck Master
Posts: 365
Joined: Mon Feb 29, 2016 6:54 am

Re: What makes Subarus good in snow?

Post by kamesama980 »

Don't get the idea we're saying drivetrain doesn't matter, it certainly helps in some situations it's just that it only helps accelerate and only if you know what you're doing, steer/handle. It doesn't help steer or brake which are more important than acceleration. In my RWD Cressida with a 5-speed, LSD, and monster snow tires I could out accelerate 4wd trucks and SUVs on normal tires with all the goodie nanny driving aids. Handled a LOT better than them too. The AWD Baja just means I'm going faster to get loose.
Rok71 wrote: Thu Aug 13, 2020 7:24 pm Ok, if tires mean more than drivetrain, I would like to ask a question about tires.

Is there difference/preference between studdles and studdable winter tires, even if I don’t intend to add studs to studdables?

Studdable tires look “meaner” in pictures, and they are generally cheaper than studdles. Is the look deceiving?
The design and quality of the specific tires matters more than whether they're studded or studless. In general studless tires will be designed to work well without studs therefore the tire itself will be better engineered, studdable tires may not perform as well as studless tires without studs. may.

Studs are mainly beneficial on ice, they don't help much in snow or clear pavement.

There are several things that matter in winter tires: the rubber needs to stay pliable in very low temperatures to conform to the terrain and maintain traction, they need to grip on ice, in snow, and be able to clear slush and water out from the contact patch.

Winter tires are, as with all things, a compromise of several desirable characteristics: some are designed for more snow, some for ice, some are just rubber that does better in the cold. Good all seasons will work better than cheap snow tires. Think of it like distributing skill points in an RPG, better quality means more points to distribute. You can specialize or generalize. That's why some people swear by winter tires and some swear they're useless.


In other words... "it depends" lol
Last edited by kamesama980 on Wed Aug 19, 2020 10:33 am, edited 1 time in total.
-Russell
"You don't get to judge me for how I fix what you break"
03 sport 5mt
05 turbo 5mt vf39 and other STI bits, 3" turbo-back
Ben Staad
Scoobytruck Contributer
Posts: 59
Joined: Fri Aug 14, 2020 5:35 pm

Re: What makes Subarus good in snow?

Post by Ben Staad »

Do studded tires detract from driving on snow?
User avatar
kamesama980
Scoobytruck Master
Posts: 365
Joined: Mon Feb 29, 2016 6:54 am

Re: What makes Subarus good in snow?

Post by kamesama980 »

Ben Staad wrote: Wed Aug 19, 2020 10:27 am Do studded tires detract from driving on snow?
Never tried them but I can't see how they would. They limit safe top speed (or they fly out) and chew the pavement up which is why some places ban them unless there's nastiness out.
-Russell
"You don't get to judge me for how I fix what you break"
03 sport 5mt
05 turbo 5mt vf39 and other STI bits, 3" turbo-back
mike-tracy
Scoobytruck Contributer
Posts: 90
Joined: Wed Jun 05, 2019 9:30 pm

Re: What makes Subarus good in snow?

Post by mike-tracy »

Ben Staad wrote: Wed Aug 19, 2020 10:27 am Do studded tires detract from driving on snow?
I don't think so, my example above was on wet pavement and I would slide on that. People behind me said I was shooting sparks from them too. On sheets of ice, nothing's better than studs.
1992 Legacy SS, 5mt and heavily modified
2000 Impreza RSTi Coupe
2003 Baja, 4eat & NA. Bone stock and loving it!
Post Reply