Winter Tyres or 4×4: which is best? – Auto Express

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Winter tyres are going to be on a lot of minds this year – Britain could face a particularly harsh winter this year, with snow falling from as early as November. If you’ve got a four-wheel drive car, you probably think you’re properly prepared – but are you?

We went up to Tamworth Snowdome to find out if a front-wheel drive car with winter tyres has more traction in the snow than a 4×4 with summer tyres fitted. We used two Ford Kugas, both with 2.0-litre diesel engines and manual gearboxes – but one is front-wheel drive, and the other all-wheel drive. The 4×4 Ford Kuga costs £1500 more than the normal model.

In snowy conditions the rubber in summer tyres gets harder and less grippy. Winter tyres use a softer compound, and a tread pattern that’s designed to pick up snow – improving grip in these harsh conditions.

In our first test we saw that the front-wheel drive car on summer tyres was hopeless in the snow – but when fitted with winter tyres, it obviously did much better. However we also tested the 4×4 on summer tyres – and the results might surprise you.

With winter tyres, the normal Kuga went 110 metres up the slope, while the 4×4 car only made it 13 metres up, before sliding back down 9 metres. in the end, it ended up no further than the standard did with summer tyres.

We also tested the four-wheel drive Ford Kuga with winter tyres – and the difference was astonishing. There was plenty of grip and the car drove all the way to the top of the steep ski slope without a problem.

Obviously, the best solution for driving on snow is to have a 4×4 on winter tyres – without the right rubber, a 4×4 is just as useless as a two wheel drive car.

Having four-wheel drive won’t help with braking, though – and that’s much more important.


ffhgu 07 says:

So is it AWD or 4×4?

Garrulus says:

I’d expected a test vs real 4×4 tires, something like Winter tires vs at tires vs mt tires in snow. That would be interesting.

patrick jackson says:

everyone knows you need good tires this isn’t old news.

PeAcHeS Gaming says:

You state that the start of the video that the front wheel drive car has winter tires but when you are inside of it, you say they are summer tires. WHAT IS IT!!!!

Synyster Gates says:

I’m confused… Is it a 4×4 or AWD?

jrea424 says:

amazing difference between tyres.. hope it opens a few peoples eyes

skirmich says:

People getting mad because of the 4×4 vs AWD nomenclature.. Heck BOTH of them would have performed exactly the same in this test… Both cant do shit without TRACTION and TRACTION is Ultimately entirely up to the Tires.

specter6633 says:

What happened to all season

sijonda says:

I call BS on his first test summer with 2wd. two years back I was driving through blizzards in South East Pennsylvania with my 88 mustang GT with Nitto summer performance tires. Even up steep hills other cars and SUVs got stuck on.

Indrid Cold says:

I use BF Goodrich All Terrain tyres. There are too many spring floods that cover the roads in thick mud. Winter, the snow is over a meter deep. The spring floods also bring storms that knock down trees and house parts. I air them down in winter and return them to proper capacity for spring and summer. Autumn is the only time I could ever own a standard sedan in this region. It is too challenging for a standard sedan the rest of the year.

baz mor says:

4×4 and all wheel drive are different..2 numptys dont know what they are doing and it shows..driving experience also helps.these prats have none. putting your foot down in conditions like this makes it worse and slipping the clutch also makes this problems worse which is what most people do..wheel spins. crap video.

Saablives says:

how about winter tires + all wheel drive together?

AlternativeDesign100 says:

funny… the uk has discovered winter tyres. 30 years late, but better late than never.

lufhkg says:

why not all season tires

CLOUTGANG 00 says:

Any person with common goddamn sense would get all season unless you live at a place that is bad enough to the point where you have to switch to winter tires during the winter instead of switching from summer tires to winter tires and back-and-forth every goddamn year.

Ryan Berka says:

And are they actually “summer” tires or all season? if you actually put real summer performance tires on in the winter you would be stupid.

Ben Poulson says:

Now do summer tires with chains!

S says:

Well if you use a shitty awd system for testing then of course itll get stuck. Go test it with x-drive or quattro. Might not make it all the way on all seasons, but itll be a lot closer than the escape.

Bill Malec says:

What’s best? 4WD with snow tires.
Case closed. People can be pretty silly at times. Nothing beats 4wd and AWD is not 4wd. It’s close and it sure beats 2wd but it isn’t 4wd.

Daniel Laurentiu says:

great video guys

Haroon G.C says:


mariyuso says:

I’d like to see a comparison of a AWD with all-season tires and a FWD with winter tires.

Habeb Saeed says:

WHY?? You keep repeating and saying summer tires which are all SEASON TIRES!!

Magnus Sjøholt says:

Well, fuck you all who needs a test to get this simpe shit. Greetings from Northern Norway, winter wonderland.

GetRichorDieTrying says:

There is so much horrible information in the comments here. Quick tire lesson for those who drive in snow.

1) Don’t deflate your tires in the snow! Come on…this is basic stuff. You want more weight on each square inch of the surface area of the tire
—If you are buying winter tires, you want a thinner tire with more sidewall

2) Just buy snow tires whether you have AWD or 2WD. All-season tires are garbage unless you want crap handling in all conditions. Run summer tires in the summer, and snow tires in the winter.

3) YES. A 2WD car with snow tires will do better than an AWD with all-season tires. Acceleration will suffer in the 2WD car, but all other aspects, and most importantly braking, will be better on the 2WD car.

Tomas Plajnsek says:

Blue is automatic ! He have tiptronic on sterring wheel

Trix Kemuel says:

Crap video. I’ve been more places than any snow tire FWD or RWD with winter tires have even been while driving a Subaru STi on Extreme performance Summer tires.

Jaskanwar Randhawa says:

the all wheel drive car stoped only when he stoped

Er Pu says:

They should use in this test full time 4×4 one example is BMW e46 330xd

Jacob Raymond says:

Why summer tires nobody would hav summer tires in winter at least all season

Peter Popov says:

Guys, please get real, four season or all season tires are big bullshit. From what exactly the rubber is made? In winter to stay soft and on summer to be hard at the same time?! Just a trick to buy a bit more expensive tires for rain … I live in Bulgaria and from time to time we have really good winters, so just belive me – for winter, take WINTER tires – doesent matter 4×4 or normal car… and for the love of God – TURN OFF TRACTION CONTROL WHEN YOU ARE DRIVING ON SNOWY ROADS, traction sux for snow, you need more spin on the tires to be moving, not less ….

phillip lowe says:

get a landrover and put offroad tyers on problem solved

Nathan Tang says:

I think being a car channel, don’t use the terms all wheel and four wheel interchangeably. Enough people are confused by the two terms.

Andrea Hu says:

what about comparing winter tires vs all seasons tires in winter…

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