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Winter traction

Tim in Austria

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Hi. Whether or not the car is any good on snow and icy patches depends mostly on whether you've got winter tyres ( or decent all-seasons) fitted or not .  You can have the very best 4x4 system on the planet but if you're tyres don't grip 'you ain't going nowhere'. 

Re manual vs automatic - all I can say from my recent conversion to an automatic is that I like the fact you can a) lock the car into a low gear without having to feather the clutch, and it'll stay in that chosen gear and b) related to the latter, you can move as slowly as you need to without having to worry about stalling, which can be a bonus in some snowy or otherwise awkward situations.

I know sometimes the advice is to move off in 2nd gear, and you can do that readily on a manual, but in the few deep snow situations I've been in since I've had the automatic Outback, I've not needed to do this, but have switched ESP off.

Hope that helps.  Others may have different views.

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I agree good winter tyres will do most of the job and an automatic transmission shouldn't be a problem. I have 2009 Impreza automatic on summer tyres and (believe or not) just had many occasions to drive in snow here in UK. Whenever I had occasion to park into a deep snow I was doing it and going out of it was not a problem, but a pure joy. Even in automatic you should have the sport mode where you can stick to a gear and change it in a manual way if you wish (I never use it though). Good luck with your purchase!

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I haven't owned anything modern enough AWD to have all the different conditions settings, my Prado despite being 17 years old has such things as Hill Descent but left to its own devices it copes with all conditions without having to press any buttons (apart from selecting low range) i used the HDC to see what it felt like, unpleasant would be my verdict, if you do find a wheel slipping the electronics will soon apply various brakes to send drive to any wheels with grip, it doesn't have a rear diff lock like the more basic models and instead relies on traction controls (each type has their own advantages), switching TC off on mine would be detrimental.

Generally my coping with snow or slippery conditions over many years has been in articulated trucks, when in practice TC or ASR often proves to be more of a hindrance than help, when you switch off TC/ASR typically ''offroad'' comes up on the dash, this with only very rare use of the diff lock but making full use of common sense transferring of weight between axles, where possible with air suspension, usually wins the day, those who leave TC on and fail to transfer suspension air don't go anywhere.

The only time i had issues getting up a really slippery slope in our previous 2002 Outback H6 (our Prado romped up the same slope as if it were a dry gentle incline), i was bewildered as to why, later that day the penny dropped and cursed myself, i hadn't switched off TC, it wasn't the car's lack of capability it was my fault entirely.

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Not a lot of help here but last week when we had snow in the Cotswolds my XV was superb. A couple of times on Icy hills my Michelin Cross Climates started to lose traction so I engaged 'x mode' and it was fantastic how the power was apportioned between the wheels to maintain traction.

I would totally agree that having decent all season or winter tyres is more important than the 4 wheel drive .

Well done Subaru!


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