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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I'm going to use this picture as an example of the weather we will be facing at our next home. Flagstaff, AZ. We do not go off-pavement.

Of these four vehicles, which would be best. All will have OEM (all season) tires.

I like to hear your opinions, as I never lived in snow areas before.

1. Odyssey: The extra room is nice. So I'll call this the front runner.
2. AWD Minivan, Pacifica, Sienna, or if Ody AWD (possible future). My question here is, will AWD in a minivan be rather useless if there is no added ground clearance? Again, will only drive on pavement. I assume there will be snowplows, so hwy will be rather clear most of the time.
3. Pilot FWD: Using the pic as reference, do you think this would be all I need?
4. Pilot 4WD: This would be the easy answer, but consider it only snow 2 months (?) of the year, do I really need 4WD?

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Having had a 4WD/AWD Pilot for the better part of two decades, I wouldn't want to go back to a 2WD/FWD vehicle.
Even if the snow isn't deep, 4WD/AWD is a help when starting out on or going up hills.
Before that, I had 2WD/FWD vehicles and put winter tires on them for the season.
The semiannual changeover was a nuisance - but worthwhile for those times when road conditions were poor.

A downside of the 4WD/AWD Sienna is that it uses run-flat tires, for which there are very few choices.
If, for example, you do decide to get a 2WD/FWD vehicle like the Odyssey, I'd recommend arranging with the dealer to change out the OEM tires prior to delivery with one of the all-season/all-weather tires that have the severe snow service rating with the snowflake/mountain emblem on the sidewall - such as the Michelin CrossClimate.
 

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I have an Odyssey and a Pilot (big family) and live in Alaska. For the space and convenience you get with a van, I would not trade it for AWD. However, I run snow tires in the winter, which is nice living in a hilly city that doesn't get plowed very well.

If you're stuck on sticking with a single set of tires and prefer the van for space, I would go with xGS's suggestion of the severe rated tires. I assume you have already cross shopped the Odyssey VS the 2WD Sienna. The AWD Sienna (pretty popular here in AK) will be more expensive but may be worth it if you're nervous about the snow.
 

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I think an AWD minivan will suit your needs just fine.

That said, I wanted to point out that the Pilot is most definitely NOT a 4WD vehicle--it can be a AWD though!
 

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I like to hear your opinions, as I never lived in snow areas before
My 2000 ODY was stylish for a minivan, ez on gas, carried big loads and made vacation travel super ez. But it was terrible in the NE during the snow/ice storms. Tired of being stranded at home until the snow plows decided to come out at 11pm, I traded for a 4WD Pilot in 2004. The Pilot got less mpg but tackled the annual snow storms easily for the next 16 years and was reliable. Kids got older and the Pilot handled vacation travel duties well.
 

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I'd totally choose the 2021 Odyssey over the Pilot because the interior is more upscale and the Honda sensing features have been improved. Not to mention the extra space and the 10 speed transmission which people are pretty happy with. If you can't change to winter tires, or you want AWD, then the Pilot is a really solid option. Go test drive both and choose whichever you like! If it were my choice, I'd go with an odyssey. Hope your car shopping goes well!
 

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I live in FL and bought a second AWD Pilot, having bought the first when I still lived in snow country. In the monsoon-like rain we experience all-too-often, the AWD version feels more sure-footed than the FWD I drove as a loaner for about a week, at least to me.
 

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2wd cost less, less maintenance and less repairs. I wouldn't buy a AWD unless I had to have one. That is if I were actually driving on ice, snow, or muddy roads and/or mountainous, hilly terrain. If it's flat, 2wd is all you need. I'd choose a Pilot over a minivan any day. For ground clearance load capacity and easier to DIY maintainace.
 

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It's not just how deep the snow is, but if ice or slush accumulate on the road (or worse, a thin coat of slush on a hard bed of ice), so that's why I'd never go back from AWD. Add good snowflake/mountain embossed tires, at the very least. Throw in the Pilot's sophisticated VTM-4 system and VSA and you'll laugh at the weather.*

*Disclaimer: You should actually still take the weather seriously. :)
 

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Consider me ignorant, but I just can't imagine anywhere in AZ getting enough snow to justify spending more on AWD, just get FWD and on the handful of days per year the weather is really bad then you wait to go out in it.

To me it sounds like you prefer the minivan, that's the biggest hurdle to jump. I wouldn't consider any 3 row SUV/Crossover because they will never be as space efficient or economical. You could get an AWD minivan but you take a decent fuel economy hit for the convenience. Again, do you need that extra traction for a couple days per year? Also, AWD only helps you get moving it does nothing with turning or stopping, that's all on your tires and adjusting your driving style for the conditions of the road.

Of course, if you like to ski and plan to make trips to ski resorts that changes everything.
 
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Consider me ignorant, but I just can't imagine anywhere in AZ getting enough snow to justify spending more on AWD, just get FWD and on the handful of days per year the weather is really bad then you wait to go out in it.

To me it sounds like you prefer the minivan, that's the biggest hurdle to jump. I wouldn't consider any 3 row SUV/Crossover because they will never be as space efficient or economical. You could get an AWD minivan but you take a decent fuel economy hit for the convenience. Again, do you need that extra traction for a couple days per year? Also, AWD only helps you get moving it does nothing with turning or stopping, that's all on your tires and adjusting your driving style for the conditions of the road.

Of course, if you like to ski and plan to make trips to ski resorts that changes everything.
I'm guessing you have never been to Flagstaff AZ. It averages 101 inches of snow yearly. Yes that is in Arizona. The upper elevations as well as the southeast part of the state commonly get snow all winter long. AWD is also quite nice on the dirt/sand roads in the less populated areas.
 

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I'm guessing you have never been to Flagstaff AZ. It averages 101 inches of snow yearly. Yes that is in Arizona. The upper elevations as well as the southeast part of the state commonly get snow all winter long. AWD is also quite nice on the dirt/sand roads in the less populated areas.
Consider me educated! Or at least more informed than a couple hours ago but still stoopid.

Knowing this, my recommendation officially moves to something with AWD. 101" makes me think snow tires even on your AWD is a smart move.
 
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Knowing this, my recommendation officially moves to something with AWD. 101" makes me think snow tires even on your AWD is a smart move.
Wow, 101 inches. Surprising to me too. In comparison, here in Anchorage we get about 75 per year and snow tires are a way of life up here....very common, but of course you can reasonable run them year round here due to low summer temps. The quality of plowing and road salting/spraying factors in big time too.
 

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Consider me educated! Or at least more informed than a couple hours ago but still stoopid.

Knowing this, my recommendation officially moves to something with AWD. 101" makes me think snow tires even on your AWD is a smart move.
Not stupid. I wouldn't have known it if we didn't have friends in Flagstaff. I was surprised the first time we were there in the winter to see snow on the ground. I also have friends on the Res, particularly in the Window Rock area. They do get snow in the winter as well, but not nearly as much as in the higher elevations.
 

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I'm missing information. Using the picture posted- VW Jetta front wheel drive coming at you, looks like maybe a Honda leading the other part of parade and probably on regular all season.

I have some FWD cars, a CRV (front wheel until they spin), AWD Pilot (that you can use mud/sand to lock in the AWD better and then father-in-laws Jeep Renegade that you can lock totally. Most times I'm in Sonata unless they forecast bigger snow, then I'll take the Pilot just for the exits and crappy road clearing.

My FWD Sonata on good winter tires was good for 8"+ unplowed (I'll need to find the picture) start taking away height once it's slush/ruts etc. I had Corolla, Civic, Malibu wagon (RWD no locker) and I made it through MANY Northeast winters. My college was 20 minutes from Canada, we got a lot of snow. Any decently plowed road with good snows you can do just fine.

That said the ground clearance is nice for when you get the deeper snows, unplowed exit/entrance ramps from highway, parking lots etc. The Pilot is one of the worst out there for ground clearance. Subaru's have more as well as almost most other SUV's. That is what I like least on the PIlot (and no factory skid plating) it's really an AWD soccer mom ride. It does great on the beach and gravel/mud when locked in and correct tires.

The missing information for choices- extra size for? Kids (how many?), family trips, 2 people with lots of sporting gear (bikes, kayaks, SUP's etc.), Towing a trailer ever?

Tirerack and many other videos will give you why you might want snows for winter and all season the rest of time no matter which ride you choose. $500-1000 deductible if you have an accident. Winter tires might avoid that and you get 4-5 seasons from them. Rims will cost a bit more but then you can change them in your driveway. Think of what shoes you wear on your feet for the conditions. Boots for winter when snowing/cold.

Other choices if you want AWD and 3 rows and more clearance- Telluride/Palisade, Traverse, Ascent, Durango. 2 rows - Passport, Grand Cherokee/Cherokee, Compass, Santa Fe, CRV all choices that need to be sat in, driven to determine needs/wants/comforts and gas mileage etc.

Roof boxes, cargo carriers etc then also provide other space options if only now and then.

I use my 3rd row, miss the extra size of the Sequoia, don't miss the mileage penalty. Sequoia was good for a lot of snow and towing and room.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Newbie question. What is the definition of "snowfall?" Ok, so the average snowfall is 22" in January for example. Does that mean the average amount of snowfall height on the ground is 22 inches? Or that's how much snow it came down from the sky. But really only 8" remain because the snow melted on the ground. How do I interpret this measurement?

Do I view this like rain? Meaning if it rain amount is 10" in August, it does not mean there's 10" of standing water on the street.
 
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