It’s No Mystery Why All-Wheel Drive Crossovers Are So Popular In America

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All-wheel drive has become an option on most vehicles in nearly every vehicle category. The reason is obvious.

It’s the morning of May 28th in Wyoming and school is not quite done for the year. Time to get the kids up and out the door. But wait, is there school today? Aaron Turpen, a BestRide colleague, looks out his window only to see that the roads look bad enough that the school bus may not be coming. Again. This time, it was a crazy hail storm that turned the roads into a river of ice and slush. You see, it snows in his part of America until about June. This storm is so severe that it dropped hail so thick that near Cheyenne, it is softball-sized. Not golfballs. Softballs.

With wicked weather the norm for much of the United States, it’s no wonder so many shoppers are switching from traditional two-wheel-drive sedans to all-wheel drive crossovers. Getting started and keeping moving is easier with AWD, and seeing over snow banks is more likely in a taller vehicle. That AWD vehicles tend to prove safer in real-world driving is also a plus. When the snow is measured in feet, a bit of extra ground clearance and a higher bumper can sure make pulling into a plowed-on driveway easier.

This isn’t the worst May storm in Wyoming. On the 21st, exactly a week ago, heavy snow fell and nobody was really that surprised. They call this “spring” in that part of the country. New Englanders can relate. Planning a trip to do some mountain biking in August? Smart riders will pack gloves and a “pahka” before taking the lift up Killington in Vermont. The temps at the top could well be in the low 30s and snow is not uncommon. So much so that trails at the top may be slick, so check the weather before you head out (or up).

Flooding from early spring snow storms closed Zion National park’s main route this year and many roads inside Yellowstone Park are not passable in April during school vacation week due to deep snow. And these are places that know the business end of a plow.

Do you think we are exaggerating and only cherry-picking a couple of spots? Guess again. It snows in heavily populated parts of America ten months of the year. In 1997, an April 1st snowstorm that ranged from Maryland to Maine dropped three feet on Metro West Boston.  It can also snow hard in October in New England. The largest power outage to date in Connecticut was not from Hurricane Irene but from an October snowstorm that hit the entire northeast. That same storm covered West Virginia in over a foot of the white stuff. Trick or treating was rescheduled because the sidewalks were covered in snow and ice, and it was not the first time.

All-wheel drive vehicles, for the most part, are all-weather vehicles. With “winter” weather not uncommon in late spring and early fall, many Americans can put AWD to use as many as three seasons per year.

Top of page image and second image courtesy of Aaron Turpen.