Matt Kimberley profile picture Matt Kimberley 3 years ago

2WD Plus Winter Tyres Easily Beats 4WD In The Snow

The general mainstream assumption that four-wheel drive means you can handle ice and snow couldn’t be more wrong, and here’s proof

Remind me later

Are you a big fan of four-wheel drive as an alternative to winter tyres? Prepare yourself for a dose of crushing disappointment.

Chances are you know someone who is under the assumption their 4x4 is a magical winter-beating unicorn that doesn’t need winter tyres. Unfortunately, that’s rather inaccurate. Tyre Reviews has released a new video showing the wild difference between a typical 4x4 on typical summer tyres and a two-wheel drive car on winter rubber.

2WD Plus Winter Tyres Easily Beats 4WD In The Snow - DIY

Two BMW X1s get tested at Goodyear’s facility in northern Finland. The front-wheel drive one is fitted with Goodyear UltraGrip Performance winter tyres while the four-wheel drive car uses the excellent Eagle F1 Asymmetric 3. You can probably see where this is going.

For a start, summer tyres don’t stop a car very well on snow. We all like stopping before we hit stuff, right? As for traction on snow and ice, forget climbing any hills on those summer tyres. As the video shows, all four wheels simply spin away uselessly.


We’d offer some mitigation, in that most road surfaces are at least partly cleared of snow, even if they’re not gritted fully. Most roads should therefore have a tiny bit more purchase than the Finnish snow, but still. The points Tyre Reviews makes are spot-on.

Take 10 minutes to watch this, not just because Jonathan Benson’s biceps are always impressive, but mainly because it’s important food for thought – and a fascinating way for car geeks to gain some context without having to crash our own cars…