The Beauty of All-Wheel Drive* (and snow tires)

Can I just say how great AWD is? Okay, okay, I know I’ve probably said it a million times, but c’mon – it’s great fun.
*(With apologies to Subaru’s advertising department)

Can I just say how great AWD is? Okay, okay, I know I’ve probably said it a million times, but c’mon – it’s great fun. And snow tires really round out this killer combination.

Last night, as anyone who lives in mid-New England knows, was a nice little snowstorm. We got about, oh, 6 inches (or so) here in Fitchburg. I drove around in it as much as I could, of course – before the roads were plowed, etc. Up Mt. Vernon Street, up side hills, through unplowed parking lots, all over the place. As long as you’re alert and know your limits (i.e. you have a good grasp of the physics of car driving) you can have a lot of fun in the snow. And you can have a lot more fun with AWD and snow tires. Whee!

Last night when they finally plowed my driveway, I moved my car up the street a bit and sat there while they plowed. Of course the plow could not get down to the pavement (it’s very uneven) so the driveway was now just a sheet of tightly packed snow just about a half an inch thick. And along side the driveway, in an unused parcel of land (that doesn’t get plowed) was a lot of snow, and some piles made from the plowing.

If you’ve been around my house for a while, or if you’ve ever driven with me to my house, you know that I like to pull in straight and turn up into that unused section so that I can back down into the driveway – leaving the car pointed straight out, for an easy exit. I do this because backing into the driveway from the street is hard (it’s a narrow street) and it’s just not as much fun. Especially when there’s snow up on the unused lot. I just drive right into it, full bore, and climb up as far as I can go (there’s a car from across the street that parks at the far end of the plot, so I can’t go far when he’s there). Then, I reverse down.

Now, when it’s dry this is no big deal. But when there’s 6 or 7 inches of snow (packed snow by now) that I’m driving through, it’s lots of fun. Of course, any more snow than that and I’m starting to reach my limits – the Keithmobile-D only has a maximum of 8 inches of ground clearance – once you get into snow that deep, the bottom of the car starts to catch, and you can get stuck. But as long as there’s less snow than that, I just run up & reverse out. It’s fun on another level because no one else in the house (with one exception – the people upstairs drive an older Subaru) has AWD (or even snow tires, from what I can see). So I just know they’re gawking at me. (I know this for certain because when they were plowing last night, the people downstairs were out on the steps, and I backed right into the driveway right in front of them. This would not have been possible for them; the driveway was very slick, and it’s got a bit of a steep incline for the first two or three feet where it meets the street.)

Other than that, it was just fun driving around in the snow. I miss driving sometimes – although not enough to start couriering again!! (Never again, I swear!!) Still, I enjoy driving, and I enjoy a challenge, and driving in the snow is always a challenge. When it snows out, it’s almost like regular roads become “off-road,” and since I like off-roading… well, you get the idea. 😉

Park This!

Ah, the beauty of all-wheel drive. When there’s no parking spaces left – make your own!
Ah, the beauty of all-wheel drive. When there’s no parking spaces left – make your own!

[Click for (slightly) larger version]

Note that this hill was quite a bit steeper than it looks in this picture. I almost wished I had backed into the spot, just to make it look even more difficult (if, as most people would, you assume my car is front-wheel drive, then you could do this as well… but backing up would probably be impossible for a front-wheel drive car).

In case you’re wondering, this is the parking lot for Bertucci’s in Waltham.