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Old 05-13-2019, 12:10 PM
ship4u ship4u is offline
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RWD vs xdrive, your thoughts please

Hi everyone. Living on the north coast of Ohio, almost all BMW's I see are xdrive, so I assumed that AWD was the way to go. However, I finally found the exact F33 that I am looking for but it is RWD. At first, I was hesitant, but I probably won't drive it in the snow anyway, since we have a beater Dodge Caravan. Also, I drove a RWD M3 last year and loved that way it handled.
My last BMW was an E30 RWD, many years ago, and I loved the way it drove in the curves. Do people think I am making a mistake by purchasing a RWD F33 rather than xdrive? Any comments and personal experience will be appreciated.
Thanks!
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Old 05-13-2019, 12:50 PM
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BMWs are designed as RWD cars. They offer AWD because of consumer demand. The F33 can easily be a four season car. All you need to handle snow is a good set of winter tires. I drive a RWD E90 in Chicago with winter tires and have no problems. Most of us who use winter tires have a dedicated set of winter tires and wheels. That is much easier than having only one set of wheels and swapping out tires twice a year. My summer wheels and tires are 18". I run 17" winter wheels and tires.
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Old 05-13-2019, 12:58 PM
Autoputzer Autoputzer is offline
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xDrive (AWD) makes you go better in the snow. But, it doesn't make you stop or turn better. Actually, if you're an Scandinavian rally driver you can turn faster with AWD.

xDrive adds over 200 pounds to the curb weight, and adds about $2k to the MSRP. There are also the potential for huge repair costs in the out years (transfer case and front drive shafts).

The electronic traction control on non-M BMW's acts alike a limited slip differential (at the cost of chewing up rear brake pads, though).

For about $2k you could get a dedicated set of wheels and winter tires. Those would also help with the turning and stopping in snow.

But, if this is going to be a no-snow car, then you've sort of answered your own question about the need for xDrive.

We're moving to the foothills of the Smoky Mountains where we will see snow and we will be living on the top of a steep hill. So, we got xDrive on Frau Putzer's X3. I'll also get dedicated wheels and winter tires when we get up there. My two cars are now 2WD (one FWD, one RWD), and that will continue once we're up there. We only need one AWD in the household.

Here's what a locking diff' and winter tires can do in snow.



Here's a test between winter, summer, and all-season tires on ice.

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Old 05-13-2019, 01:48 PM
ship4u ship4u is offline
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Great points, guys. Thanks! Any noticeable difference in steering in AWD vs. RWD?
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Old 05-13-2019, 02:20 PM
John MS John MS is offline
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Originally Posted by ship4u View Post
Great points, guys. Thanks! Any noticeable difference in steering in AWD vs. RWD?
The rwd car will have a smaller turning circle. My experience driving awd BMW loaners is that the steering feels a bit disconnected in comparison. I drive my rwd F30 in the snow and have no problem getting moving.

If the snow starts catching the front bumper cover and under carriage then awd isn't going to help. And our cars don't sit very high.
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Old 05-13-2019, 02:21 PM
edycol edycol is offline
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Originally Posted by ship4u View Post
Great points, guys. Thanks! Any noticeable difference in steering in AWD vs. RWD?


Steering should be better in RWD. It wont be compromised by torque in front wheels. Now, that was noticeable on older BMWs. On F30 due to lack of feedback in general, it might not be noticeable that much.


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Old 05-13-2019, 02:40 PM
ship4u ship4u is offline
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Thanks for the encouraging comments!
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Old 05-14-2019, 10:15 AM
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I agree with everyone's comments/replies. My 335d works pretty well in the snow with only winter tires; however I wasn't able to get up my son's very steep drive last winter, which xDrive would have enabled me to do.

I will add:
1) The RWD zealots' argument that RWD is better handling is based upon a 2-3% better track performance. No-one should be driving at 100% on the street, and in the snow, so the argument is moot.
2) Many people argue that a Subie or Audi has a "better" AWD system, with clutches, differentials and such. We're talking about tradeoffs that are worth a few percent, at best, and in unique situations that hardly apply to normal street driving. BMW's xDrive system is perfectly good for all reasonable uses. Even racetracks, for the most part.
3) An xDrive BMW with winter tires is an awesome winter car, at least as good as a Jeep/Subie/Audi/etc.
4) Discussions like this have been repeated many times; the OP should use the Search function for elaborations on the subject.
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Old 05-14-2019, 11:44 AM
John MS John MS is offline
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The decision to get AWD should be based on winter driving conditions. Will there be situations where awd can provide an extra margin of traction? Is it worth paying more for? For most of the year awd will contribute nothing. It will pull mpg down some. And it is another complex device that requires maintenance and can fail. So the choice really requires a cost benefit analysis.
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Old 05-14-2019, 01:13 PM
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For the true enthusiast, the deciding factor is that a RWD F3X MSport comes with the sublime 704 suspension, an option which is not available on the xDrive models. My last F10 535 was RWD for this reason, as is our 340. Both cars rode / ride on dedicated winter tires from Thanksgiving to Easter.

With the 535, there would be a couple times a year where, even with snow tires, the car would not climb our steep, South-facing, off-camber driveway when it was icy. So my G30 540 has both xDrive and the 704 suspension, which is the best of all worlds. Unfortunately, that combination is not available in the F3X.
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Old 05-14-2019, 05:24 PM
Arctic Jon Arctic Jon is offline
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I own the f30 xDrive here where I retired in New Mexico. We do get snow. Even the xDrive, in my opinion, isn't great in snow because I don't have winter tires. On the other hand, I retired here from Alaska where we had lots of snow. I drove a 2009 Honda Accord with Michelin X-ICE winter tires and I could safely go anywhere in almost any conditions. My takeaway is good winter tires are much more important than AWD. Of course I'm too cheap to buy winter tires for Santa Fe, where snow melts by the next day.
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Old 05-14-2019, 05:45 PM
edycol edycol is offline
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Originally Posted by floydarogers View Post
I agree with everyone's comments/replies. My 335d works pretty well in the snow with only winter tires; however I wasn't able to get up my son's very steep drive last winter, which xDrive would have enabled me to do.



I will add:

1) The RWD zealots' argument that RWD is better handling is based upon a 2-3% better track performance. No-one should be driving at 100% on the street, and in the snow, so the argument is moot.

2) Many people argue that a Subie or Audi has a "better" AWD system, with clutches, differentials and such. We're talking about tradeoffs that are worth a few percent, at best, and in unique situations that hardly apply to normal street driving. BMW's xDrive system is perfectly good for all reasonable uses. Even racetracks, for the most part.

3) An xDrive BMW with winter tires is an awesome winter car, at least as good as a Jeep/Subie/Audi/etc.

4) Discussions like this have been repeated many times; the OP should use the Search function for elaborations on the subject.


There is a trade off with Audi.
Audis Torsen system is better, but is is splitting hairs as xDrive is also very, very good.
But this is the key: VW/Audi vehicles even with FWD are damn good in snow. Reason is position of an engine. BMWs philosophy of having balanced weight distribution requires engine being pushed back. Great for dry or wet and cutting corners, BAD in snow. My X5 35d was far less sure footed in snow (regardless of excellent winter tires I always have on my cars) than my wifes VW Tiguan. Yes, xDrive is far more capable once car gets stuck (I intentionally did it with both) but going through slush, deep snow at certain speed, VW Tiguan was far better and that is due to position of an engine that basically hangs over front axle regardless that Haldex AWD is inferior to xDrive.
So, if snow is serious issue (for me actually it is, I ski 2-3 times a week and love driving local mountains roads here) maybe bit of understeer is OK.
However, if snow is not that big of a deal, or area is flat, RWD is better. Also, maintenance is easier. Changing leaking oil pan gasket on xDrive is bit more complex.


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Old 05-22-2019, 04:39 PM
bald bald is offline
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You don't need AWD for N Ohio, get snow tires.
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Old 05-23-2019, 03:37 AM
ship4u ship4u is offline
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You don't need AWD for N Ohio, get snow tires.
Thanks!
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Old 05-24-2019, 08:54 AM
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If you have something else to drive on bad weather days, go RWD.
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Old 05-24-2019, 11:52 AM
logicalscott logicalscott is offline
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If you don't mind the extra weight and want the AWD, the real world handling trade off between RWD and AWD is a bit exaggerated by many. I have had both and currently have an AWD 440i. It handles just fine and should get even better with a slight drop I am going to install in the next few weeks...the Adaptive Suspension helps both ride and handling, especially with 19 inch wheels. Mine's a big fat pig anyhow with the added weight of the convertible hardtop so I went with AWD primarily for resale value in Michigan.

So no. AWD is not "needed", but for most people who want it there isn't a huge trade-off.
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Old 05-24-2019, 11:52 AM
logicalscott logicalscott is offline
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Old 05-29-2019, 09:18 AM
Kestas Kestas is offline
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Do you often find yourself in marginal situations where 4WD will help? I don't. It's densely populated where I live. When we get a good snow, it's all plowed away within 24-48 hrs. I wouldn't see much upside to having 4WD. The downsides have been mentioned. I like to keep my car as simple as possible.
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Old 05-29-2019, 09:19 AM
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Old 05-29-2019, 10:31 AM
ship4u ship4u is offline
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Do you often find yourself in marginal situations where 4WD will help? I don't. It's densely populated where I live. When we get a good snow, it's all plowed away within 24-48 hrs. I wouldn't see much upside to having 4WD. The downsides have been mentioned. I like to keep my car as simple as possible.
Living just outside of Cleveland, we have great snow removal service, so I don't anticipate a problem situation that would require AWD, except if I were caught on the road in a sudden storm. I agree with keeping the car as simple as possible. Thanks!
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Old 05-29-2019, 10:34 AM
ship4u ship4u is offline
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If you have something else to drive on bad weather days, go RWD.
Thanks for commenting!
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Old 05-29-2019, 11:53 AM
karzrus karzrus is offline
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Sounds like you've made up your mind to go RWD, so maybe I'm wasting my time.

If you live in an area with snowy / icy roads for 3-4 months of the year or longer, Ice radials and AWD are hard to give up once you've had them.

BMW's Xdrive is wonderfully hidden( it takes a side by side driving test on the track for most anyone to notice the difference) until you need it and it is pretty durable, not too many on here reporting needing to replace/rebuild transfer cases, front diffs or front half shafts before the cars are ready for the scrap yard.

If I buy a track car it won't have xdrive, but where I live, for the small extra cost I wouldn't buy a daily driver without it. Lots of people here daily drive 2WD cars and trucks in the winter and quite a few on all season tires only, but they don't know the difference. Like I said once you do it's hard to go back.

Last edited by karzrus; 05-29-2019 at 11:59 AM.
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Old 05-31-2019, 03:31 AM
mrstas mrstas is offline
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One thing no one talks about here

There's an issue with winter tires. They do not stop as effectively on cold, dry days.

So, if you live in an area with intermittent snow which is plowed regularly, you would be actively decreasing your safety by using winter tires. Except for during snowstorms, all-seasons or even summer tires would outperform winter tires on dry, cold days on clean roads during the winter.

The break-point between all-seasons and winter tires, temperature wise, seems to be about 40 degrees. So, at/around 40 degrees ambient air temperature, all-seasons harden up and become less effective. However, as they have more more flat, and fewer biting surfaces than winter tires, they retain better cold, dry weather stopping/turning ability than winter tires for a good bit longer, especially if your commute is longer than a couple of minutes and they warm up as you drive.

It's not clear from my reading online where the preferential break point is in these cold, dry conditions, as various sources all disagree with one another ... 20 degrees? 30 degrees? 40 degrees?

It is clear from what I've seen that during the extended fall and spring periods many of us face, when temperatures can be 20 one day, and 50 another, with wet weather and dry weather intermittently changing places, winter tires can be very helpful some days (softer compound is likely better for braking on a very cold day), and actively harmful on others (less flat surfaces means less grip on a dry warm day).

Where I live in Boston, we have 10-15 heavy storm days a year, compared to about 80 days of cold, dry weather. That means that switching to winter tires increases your stopping distance and decreases your safety approximately 80 days a year, while decreasing your stopping distance and increasing your safety for 10-15 days a year.

The question is: which tradeoff makes more sense to you?

For more on this topic, with data from road tests on cold, dry days:

1) https://jalopnik.com/winter-tires-ar...dry-1821468055

2) https://www.automobilemag.com/news/r...er-tires-test/
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Old 05-31-2019, 07:48 AM
edycol edycol is offline
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There's an issue with winter tires. They do not stop as effectively on cold, dry days.



So, if you live in an area with intermittent snow which is plowed regularly, you would be actively decreasing your safety by using winter tires. Except for during snowstorms, all-seasons or even summer tires would outperform winter tires on dry, cold days on clean roads during the winter.



The break-point between all-seasons and winter tires, temperature wise, seems to be about 40 degrees. So, at/around 40 degrees ambient air temperature, all-seasons harden up and become less effective. However, as they have more more flat, and fewer biting surfaces than winter tires, they retain better cold, dry weather stopping/turning ability than winter tires for a good bit longer, especially if your commute is longer than a couple of minutes and they warm up as you drive.



It's not clear from my reading online where the preferential break point is in these cold, dry conditions, as various sources all disagree with one another ... 20 degrees? 30 degrees? 40 degrees?



It is clear from what I've seen that during the extended fall and spring periods many of us face, when temperatures can be 20 one day, and 50 another, with wet weather and dry weather intermittently changing places, winter tires can be very helpful some days (softer compound is likely better for braking on a very cold day), and actively harmful on others (less flat surfaces means less grip on a dry warm day).



Where I live in Boston, we have 10-15 heavy storm days a year, compared to about 80 days of cold, dry weather. That means that switching to winter tires increases your stopping distance and decreases your safety approximately 80 days a year, while decreasing your stopping distance and increasing your safety for 10-15 days a year.



The question is: which tradeoff makes more sense to you?



For more on this topic, with data from road tests on cold, dry days:



1) https://jalopnik.com/winter-tires-ar...dry-1821468055



2) https://www.automobilemag.com/news/r...er-tires-test/


It is much more complicated than that.
45 degrees or around 7 degrees celsius is when winter tire becomes better choice than summer tire. All seasons are complicated. There are UHP all seasons tires (presuming that would be used on F30 in case AS tire is used) and they will harden before 40 degrees. The compound necessary for performance part (to put it this way) is abundant in UHP AS tires. AS tires like Michelin Premier A/S might retain flexibility longer, but they are not best solution for car like this in the first place.
There is no better solution for winter than winter tire. Do not forget, there are winter tires which retain superb performance all the way up to 60-70 degrees, like Michelin X-ice (i have them) or winter performance tires specifically designed for European market and cars.


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Old 05-31-2019, 08:19 AM
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I suggest going with what is conceptually most comfortable for you. I am in Minnesota and prefer RWD with snows. I dislike the feel of AWD and, unlike some others here, can easily tell the difference at all times.

Keep in mind that while AWD may help you accelerate under certain conditions, it does not provide greater handling, cornering, or braking - despite what the marketing implies. Tires are what matters.
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