I’ve had my trusty Subaru Outback 2.5i since 2008, and it has always been amazing in the snow. The symmetric all-wheel-drive system that Subaru uses in almost all of their cars has an uncanny way of working just fine in the most adverse conditions. Back in the record-setting winter of 2009-2010, when the Washington, DC, metro area got slammed by three separate blizzards, I was cruising around and getting where I needed to go without any trouble.
Well, now there is a second Subaru in the family. We bought a used 2004 Impreza WRX to serve as a ‘fun’ little car for zipping around on the weekends, and so I could try my hand at being an amateur mechanic on a car that doesn’t really need to be in working condition at any given time. And with today’s three or four inches of snow, I finally got the chance to see how it performs in less-than-ideal road conditions.
And it was . . . fine. With the same basic drivetrain as most other Subarus, including my Outback, it just drove like normal. I was able to get it going a bit sideways by pushing it too far (on empty streets and parking lots where it was safe to do so), but that wasn’t the car’s doing. The big difference between driving the Outback versus driving the WRX in slick conditions is that the WRX is much more powerful . . . which means you have to go really, really light on the throttle or you’re going to spin the wheels and fish-tail. Again, not the car’s fault, it just needs a bit more finesse on snow and ice than the less-powerful Outback 2.5i does.
During my hour-long drive in the snow, I got stuck behind a Ford Fusion (front-wheel drive) that was unable to make it up an incline on a rural, unpaved road. When I arrived, two of its occupants and some helpful neighbors were pushing it up the hill. As they were finally getting out of the way, one of the neighbors walked down to me and asked if I needed a push too. I said, “No, I think I’m fine. Thanks!” I put it in gear, gave it some gas, and let off the clutch. The little hatch-back struggled a bit to get a grip, but then it dug-in and crawled up the hill just fine. No pushing required.
I wish we got more snow around here. . . .