Posts from ‘Winter Driving’

Mazda Ice Academy

Running a slalom course … in the snow … in a Miata … with the top down was just one of the enlightening experiences of the first Mazda Ice Academy.

“We encourage you to go over the limit.”

That opening (and potentially career-ending) comment was delivered by Mazda product specialist Ramana Lagemann, and–trust me–it was a phrase none of the assembled auto journalists had ever before heard at a press preview. In fact, most manufacturers spend a great deal of (entirely justified) time imploring us NOT to go over the limit, as things quickly get expensive when we do. Just ask any prematurely grey PR rep.


Winter Driving Tips, Prepare Your Car for Winter

Forty or so years ago, ensuring vehicle safety and reliability in cold-weather driving usually meant performing a series of annual maintenance rituals.  

Common preparations including swapping out the thermostat, flushing the cooling system, switching to lighter-weight motor oil, and having the battery tested. Additionally, slapping on snow tires  was not uncommon in locales known for heavy doses of the white stuff.

Chrysler 300 AWD, Chryslers in Snow

Chrysler demonstrates that snow days can be fun—even for adults.

Snow day.

Those were once magical words.

As kids, after peering out our bedroom windows to see that Mother Nature had blessed us with a fresh, thick blanket of white overnight, my sister and I would sit at the breakfast table eagerly waiting for the phone to ring. And on those all-too-rare occasions when it did, there would be a moment of anticipation followed by a rousing cheer: “Snow day!” Chryslers in snow.

Snow-covered Trofeo, Snow-Bound Vehicle

1. Can you identify this snow-bound coupe? One clue: Hamtramck.

Several days after what Chicago weathercasters have dubbed the fifth- or sixth-worst snowstorm in city history, the Consumer Guide® staff has made note of a surprising number of vehicles still buried under hardening layers of the white stuff.

4WD versus AWD, 4WD and AWD

Though often discussed interchangeably, 4WD and AWD systems are functionally different things. Read on to learn about the system on your car or truck.

In the past few years, the number of vehicles offered with 4-Wheel Drive (4WD) or All-Wheel Drive (AWD) has increased dramatically. Previously the domain of pickup trucks and SUVs, today there are few segments where multiple vehicles aren’t offered with one system or the other.

Frozen Windshield Washer Fluid

Up here in Chicago, the frigid temps have caused many to suffer from frozen washers of late. This, combined with all the snow we’ve gotten — and the road salt to combat it — can lead to some dangerous driving.

Actually, the following is just a theory. But it’s based on information that at least makes it feasible.

Winter Driving Tips

If kicked-up snow covers your rearview-camera’s lens, you can end up with this rather artsy image rather than an image of what you’re trying to avoid. It might be nice if the lens had a heater that kicked on when the rear-window defroster was activated.

When the Chicagoland area was hit by several days of snow that accumulated to well over a foot, I was glad to have use of an all-wheel-drive vehicle – particularly since I was going to take a long trip. And the fact that all-wheel-drive vehicle was a Lexus RX 350 made it all the more enjoyable. Still, it seemed like time to work up a list of winter driving tips.


Our Test Ram ProMaster arrived just in time to feel the full brunt of a Chicago winter. As tested, the van above came to $37,175 on the window sticker.

2014 Ram ProMaster Cargo “High Roof” (159-inch wheelbase)

Miles driven: 91

Fuel used: 7.4 gallons

Real-world fuel economy:  12.3 mpg*

Dodge Charger in Snow

A Dodge Charger with all-wheel drive bites the snow at Chrysler’s winter testing facility in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.

Michigan’s Upper Peninsula is typically one of the snowiest places in the United States. Snowfall is light by U.P. standards this winter, but that didn’t stop Chrysler Group from showing off the all-wheel-drive capabilities offered on the full-sized Chrysler 300 and Dodge Charger.

EV in Winter, Driving an Electric Car in Winter

2012 Mitsubishi i . . . in January

We’re heading into the home stretch of our yearlong evaluation of a 2012 Mitsubishi i electric car. It’s arguably the most challenging time because it now has to survive a Chicago winter.