It just so happened that the night before this article went live, we had an old friend over for dinner that drives a Subaru Outback AWD. It had snowed as well. While the previous tests against the trucks show how the Michelin-equipped MPV does against some of the typical snow commuters around here, the Subaru provided the opportunity to test the MPV against a car of similar weight.
Michelle, the owner of the Subaru, says driving this car is a night-and-day difference, by comparison, to her other FWD cars in the snow. I had no doubt the car would do fine accelerating but, still, I had my reserverations as to whether these AWD cars with all-seasons, which we find abundant in the Midwest, are safe enough to drive in snowy conditions. We couldn't resist another test.
As you can see, the temp this time was at a dangerous level. Should you get stranded on the side of the road in the middle of nowhere, it could potentially be bad news. That's an “S” for South (not 5 degrees).
|Mazda MPV Minivan
|Subaru Outback AWD
|Michelin X-Ice Xi3
|ACCELERATION (seconds, feet):
|1.9-sec, 12.3 ft
|1.6-sec, 11.7 ft
|3.1-sec, 44.1 ft
|3.1-sec, 44.6 ft
|5.2-sec, 110.6 ft
|4.7-sec, 103.3 ft
|7.1-sec, 206.2 ft
|6.5-sec, 195.1 ft
|-0.6-sec, 11.1 ft
|Peak acceleration G's:
|+120.5 ft, +4.0-sec
|Peak braking G's:
|+3.5-sec, +109.4 ft
While the MPV doesn't possess traction control, I had the choice in the Subaru to both use and disabl traction control. I tried both, and with the traction control turned off it accelerated noticeably better in the first 20mph. The numbers are with the TC turned off. The traction control was simply too intrusive.
As soon as I pushed the brake pedal, however, I knew this wouldn't be a close test. The negative G-Force in the minivan was nearly 60% greater than the Subaru's, and it came to a halt with no problem, even in these dangerously cold conditions.
Driving the car around a bit, I could see how Michelle gets a sense of security in it. The Outback takes off and turns fairly well in the snow. Braking can be ok, too, if the driver is extremely careful and alert. But in an emergency situation on a highway at just 40mph, you're looking at nearly 7 extra car lengths to slow down to a stop versus our MPV.
To conclude, this test was more about showing just how large the difference can be when comparing a snow tire-equipped vehicle, that doesn't even have all-wheel-drive, versus the norm we see on the roads in these dangerous situations. Weighing down the back of the truck has been proven to help, and no one doubts all-wheel-drive is the king in extreme weather. But all of these cars are still limited by the grip and, having nearly cost my and my family's lives in an improperly equipped vehicle in the snow a few years back, the added insurance is worth it to me.
Special thanks to Chad, Mark and Michelle for allowing us to test with their daily-driven gems against our Mini-beater! No one seemed to have their pride hurt. It was more of an eye-opening experience for all to just how big of a difference in terms of safety, particularly under emergency braking situations, snow tires like the X-Ice Xi3 provide a vehicle.
Stay tuned, you’ll see the MPV once again when we install and test—both on the dyno and in real-world conditions—a set of Stoptech rotors and Hawk pads from Buybrakes.com; high-intensity sparkplugs and K&N filtration from Sparkplugs.com; and an assortment of some of the best drivetrain fluids money can buy from Royal Purple. See the test HERE!
Okay, and maybe I also snuck the above taken at the 2006 USGP to give a little personal tribute to Michael Schumacher, given his current condition. Here’s to praying he will get well soon!