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Discussion Starter #1
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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Freedom isn't free!!
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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***8221;. I run 17***8221; winter wheels and tires.
 

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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.

https://youtu.be/vOv2g5qTpvA

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

https://youtu.be/GlYEMH10Z4s
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Great points, guys. Thanks! Any noticeable difference in steering in AWD vs. RWD?
 

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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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Great points, guys. Thanks! Any noticeable difference in steering in AWD vs. RWD?


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


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Discussion Starter #7
Thanks for the encouraging comments!
 

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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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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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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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I own the f30 xDrive here where I retired in New Mexico. We do get snow. Even the xDrive, in my opinion, isn***8217;t great in snow because I don***8217;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***8217;m too cheap to buy winter tires for Santa Fe, where snow melts by the next day.
 

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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.


There is a trade off with Audi.
Audi’s 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. BMW’s 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 wife’s 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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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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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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Discussion Starter #20
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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