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Old 04-10-2011, 02:08 PM   #1
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How Well Do Wranglers Perform On Winter Highway Roads?

i know that off road, there is no comparison to a jeep's capabilities. but i'm curious how they perform on a slick highway covered in snow and/or ice in the winter.

i've never owned a jeep but always wanted one. my girlfriends car is about to die, so i thought now would be the best time as any to get a jeep. we live in the NC mountains and she commutes about 1 1/2 hours to school (Appalachian University). i want to make sure that she will safely get where she is going. a friend of mine who used to own a jeep said that they weren't very good on slick roads because of their short wheel base. he said when you touch the brake, it will want to spin around in circles. we have been known to get some rough weather in the winter. several feet of snow and inches of ice.

i would eventually want to dress it out if it isn't already. lift, tires, etc. i know the lift would give it a greater rollover risk and less handling around curves, but how would this affect its winter highway performance?

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Old 04-10-2011, 05:04 PM   #2
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My JKU does fine, as long as drive carefully, even with the stock KMs, the longer wheelbase helps on the highway I think, and the weight helps you dig to the asphalt easier. I'd imagine if I put proper winters on it'd be really good in 4wd. Of course, it's heavy, so once you start to slide it's a lot of momentum to control..

Definitely does better than the old rwd sports cars I used to drive in the winter =D

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Old 04-10-2011, 05:09 PM   #3
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we got hammered up here with snow this past winter, i had no problems at all, drove way better that my HARLEY (lol) kidding aside it's an awesome vehical for the snow,
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Old 04-10-2011, 05:32 PM   #4
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I bought my Jeep specifically for winter driving. In 2WD your back end will come around on you very quickly if you hit a slick patch, but in 4WD there are no worries at all (should be in 4WD anyway if it's slick).
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Old 04-10-2011, 05:45 PM   #5
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I have 3 4x4's. For a 1 1/2 hour commute, plus snow and ice, my 2-door Wrangler would be my last choice.
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Old 04-10-2011, 05:50 PM   #6
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i have 3 4x4's. For a 1 1/2 hour commute, plus snow and ice, my 2-door wrangler would be my last choice.
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Old 04-10-2011, 06:49 PM   #7
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I've been driving for 35 years, and have owned more different types of four wheel drive vehicles than I care to list. The two door Jeep is not the best on winter roads, due to its short wheelbase. It can tend to swap ends and go through the fence backwards, especially if it has been lifted and has big wide tires on it. Having said all that, I also have to say that the four door JK is perhaps the all time best vehicle I have ever owned for driving on winter roads. The extra wheelbase makes all the difference in the world. A stock 4 door Rubicon would be an awesome winter driving vehicle if left stock with the stock skinny Rubicon tires. And yes, we do get some snow around here. This picture was taken today, ... how deep is that snow bank? I'm thinking its got to be at least 12 feet of snow, considering that is a lifted four door JK with 37" tires parked next to it. That picture is about 20 miles from my house.
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Old 04-10-2011, 07:11 PM   #8
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I have a 2dr and was not impressed this past winter. Felt much better in my 93 XJ on snow covered roads. The ESP works wonders and you just might need it. The JK wont get stuck and goes but its squirelly at best. I have the idea to put dedicated winter tires on my original set of rims for next winter. I never felt totally comfortable in my JK like I have in my XJ during snow and ice conditions. Maybe 4dr guys might say diffrent but as you can see by the other posters im not alone on this one. Dont get me wrong I would have no problem going out in 12" of snow and have a ball, BUT the jeep goes better in mud, sand and off road trails, it dont ride on tracks thats for sure when it comes to the white stuff
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Old 04-10-2011, 08:20 PM   #9
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If you want a jeep for yourself, work something out to get one for yourself. Sounds like a jeep is a bad idea for your girlfriend. With high and escalating gas prices, why would you buy her a fuel sucking jeep to commute 1.5hrs with? Ask anyone on here who drives one, jeeps are not fuel misers. Not to mention short wheel base, tall center of gravity, etc.

I live in southern Manitoba and have a 50 minute each way highway commute. I can count the number of days on two fingers that I wouldn't have been able to make my commute with my 07 civic with crappy worn out tires. And those two days were because of zero visibility, nothing to do with the capability of my vehicle.

Get her another car so she can drive something that gets good fuel mileage on her commute and get her a decent set of snow tires for next winter. Buy a jeep for yourself as a play thing or a daily driver if you don't have to do much commuting.
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Old 04-11-2011, 05:29 AM   #10
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I've always owned a 4WD vehicle since I was 18 years old (past 26 years), be it a Jeep or truck; I do not want the occasional snowy road to prevent me from going where I need / want to go. I'm not into off roading, never have been.
I bought my new Jeep Wrangler Unlimited (4 door) last December. I have a 30 mile one way commute on rural roads to get to work.
We ended up getting a bunch of snow for this area this past winter; even though I had the stock tires (look like they belong on a mini-van) I had no trouble getting around provided I exercised caution and paitence.
When the roads are good, I consistently get 18-19 MPG (calculated by me, computer shows 19-20) and that's with my wife & two kids on board.
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Old 04-11-2011, 07:19 AM   #11
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winter driving is why i keep my 89 ford pickup around. i still drive the jeep in the snow but thats more for play. if i want to get somewhere without crashing then i drive the ford for the same reasons already listed.
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Old 04-11-2011, 08:38 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MOPWR2U View Post
I've been driving for 35 years, and have owned more different types of four wheel drive vehicles than I care to list. The two door Jeep is not the best on winter roads, due to its short wheelbase. It can tend to swap ends and go through the fence backwards, especially if it has been lifted and has big wide tires on it. Having said all that, I also have to say that the four door JK is perhaps the all time best vehicle I have ever owned for driving on winter roads. The extra wheelbase makes all the difference in the world. A stock 4 door Rubicon would be an awesome winter driving vehicle if left stock with the stock skinny Rubicon tires. And yes, we do get some snow around here. This picture was taken today, ... how deep is that snow bank? I'm thinking its got to be at least 12 feet of snow, considering that is a lifted four door JK with 37" tires parked next to it. That picture is about 20 miles from my house.
That picture would have been more impressive if you had been cresting the ridge of that snowbank.
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Old 04-11-2011, 11:07 AM   #13
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LOL, pretty tough to find a spot to get off the highway with a wall of snow like that, that goes on for miles and miles and miles. The topic was "on road" snow performance though. Here's another one. Picture this much snow, covering hundreds and hundreds of miles of mountain land. I'm thinking the reservoirs are going to be full this year.

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Old 04-11-2011, 01:06 PM   #14
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I have a LJ and this was its first winter for me. It was flawless. I love it. And we had that much snow in my yard with no help from plows and blowers
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Old 04-13-2011, 05:36 PM   #15
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thanks a lot for all your help. i think that it would be better to wait to get a jeep until we both have our own vehicles and the jeep can be a "weekender". i've found a subaru legacy 4 door wagon for sale in my price range i'm considering. i think it would be great for her commute. 4 cylinder, AWD.

maybe one day my dream of a jeep will come true!
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Old 04-13-2011, 05:46 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by music_man185
thanks a lot for all your help. i think that it would be better to wait to get a jeep until we both have our own vehicles and the jeep can be a "weekender". i've found a subaru legacy 4 door wagon for sale in my price range i'm considering. i think it would be great for her commute. 4 cylinder, AWD.

maybe one day my dream of a jeep will come true!
I'm sure it will.

The tires are the only part of the vehicle that touch anything so my suggestion would be to have a dedicated set of winter tires.

Not sure how cold it gets but get tires that can perform in cold temps and on soft and slick surfaces. Also, have her take a winter driving course in the new vehicle. So she knows how it will handle in emergencies.
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Old 04-13-2011, 05:55 PM   #17
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My first driving experience on bad roads with the '09 YKU was so scary! I actually pulled off the highway almost in tears while these little smart car units were whizzing by me. I have been driving these roads all my life and had no idea what was wrong. My ass-end was all over the place and when I got to town I could not get going when the light turned green.

I finally called my husband and said 'Here I am, in this 4x4 that would climb a mountain and I can't go anywhere! I don't know how I am going to make it home"

He said 'First of all, this is not a front wheel drive like your van was... and secondly: did you put it in 4 wheel drive?'



I made it home in half the time it took me to get there.
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Old 04-14-2011, 07:50 PM   #18
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so is it basically in 2wd mode that the jeeps are sketchy? or does it also happen in 4wd?
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Old 04-14-2011, 08:13 PM   #19
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My TJ was VERY sketchy in 2wd. A little throttle tap could send my rear end around if I wanted to. Pretty fun in a wide open area but not so much on the roads. In 4wd it was a tank. Not a single tire slipped with speeds ranging from 25-45mph. Just be sure to brake early. 4wd helps you get going, but you sure can't stop faster than everyone else.
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Old 04-14-2011, 08:41 PM   #20
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The short wheelbase Jeeps can be a bit sketchy even in four wheel drive, but not too bad. The problem is, most people put a lift on their Jeep and change to bigger wider tires, ... which really suck on snow packed icy pavement. A good skinny set of snow tires, like those that come stock on a Rubicon, work very very well on snowpacked highways. I don't know if its in your budget, but the four door Wrangler Unlimited, with stock tires, works increadibly well on snowpacked icy pavement. We own three four wheel drive vehicles right now, a crew cab pickup truck, a Grand Cherokee, and my four door Rubicon. If I have to take a trip on snowpacked highways, which is very common, I choose the Rubicon every time.
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Old 04-14-2011, 11:03 PM   #21
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Three winters in Alaska with my '97 TJ and never once had a problem with it on the road (or the plowed area with dirt on it where the road is supposed to be). My 33" TrXus MT tires were great in the winter, my SSRs sucked on dry pavement. The only trouble I had was going uphill on a dirt road that was iced over during a winter run that we were doing. Idiot in front of me stopped short,with no brake lights, so he could spin his tires and "look cool". I lost momentum and down I went, backwards bouncing from snow bank to snow bank and praying that I didn't go over the cliff to my right (no guard rails). I nearly wore myself out working the wheel, the gas, and a very little amount of brake to keep from being turned sideways. Didn't realize it until I stopped at the bottom but my other friend was in his Jeep behind me doing the same thing. We went another route.
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Old 04-14-2011, 11:32 PM   #22
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Like others have said in 4wd they do pretty well, in 2wd on packed snow or ice they can be pretty scary. If you do end up getting one the best thing to do is to practice getting back in control from sliding out, large parking lots late at night work well for this, practice in 2wd and 4wd
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Old 04-15-2011, 06:49 AM   #23
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..... practice getting back in control from sliding out, large parking lots late at night work well for this, practice in 2wd and 4wd
LOL my husband does this in every vehicle he owned. He has a reputation in town as being they 'guy who slides sideways around corners'.

He took our niece out to teach her how to drive and she came home and told her Mom how she learned how to do DONUTS!!

I now learned to keep the JKU in 4WD when there is snow on the ground, which means today apparently

But yes, this is a good tip... you want to know what it feels like before it happens at 50MPH on the highway or when you are trying to get going at a green light in heavy traffic.
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Old 04-15-2011, 11:23 AM   #24
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My short wheel base Sahara Sport did just fine last winter in 4WD as I drove to the weather conditions, took my time, and got to my destination everytime stress free.

I wish I could have said the same for my Chrysler Crossfire that I no longer own. I abandoned the Crossfire when we got anything more than a frost. Hence why I got rid and bought my Jeep.
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Old 04-15-2011, 07:25 PM   #25
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He took our niece out to teach her how to drive and she came home and told her Mom how she learned how to do DONUTS!!
Haha who said practice can't be fun!
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Old 04-16-2011, 02:23 AM   #26
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so is it basically in 2wd mode that the jeeps are sketchy? or does it also happen in 4wd?
Does putting it into 4wd lower the center of gravity and lengthen the wheel base?

Doesn't mean it's not driveable in those conditions, just means you have to drive with caution. For a jeep person who likes a jeep and wants to drive one, this is not a big deal. For your average city dwelling yuppie who doesn't realize the jeep needs to be driven carefully in those situations, well, roll-overs have been known to occur.
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Old 04-16-2011, 07:58 PM   #27
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She would be better off in a Subaru if she has that long of a commute. Full time awd and a 4-cyl for better gas mileage. Impreza's sedans are pretty cheap, and the larger Legacy is available if she wants something bigger. Also have the Outback if she needs space.
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Old 04-16-2011, 08:58 PM   #28
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Jeep and winter go together beautifully, assuming you do your part. See this: My previous post on Jeeps + Winter
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Old 04-17-2011, 02:20 AM   #29
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She would be better off in a Subaru if she has that long of a commute. Full time awd and a 4-cyl for better gas mileage. Impreza's sedans are pretty cheap, and the larger Legacy is available if she wants something bigger. Also have the Outback if she needs space.
A friend of mine had an impreza for a few years. His opinion was the gas mileage was on the lousy side for a 4cyl econo car. Maybe something to research before pulling the trigger on one?
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Old 04-17-2011, 07:33 AM   #30
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I was born in Boone and spent a lot of time there in the snow growing up. I've always seen plenty of Jeeps around in the winter. My wife is from Newland and swears everyone she knows has an old beater Subaru for the snow. I don't think you could go wrong with either for there, but gas mileage will of course suck as everyone else has said. They usually shovel the snow up in the mall parking lot into 5 or 6 foot piles so the Jeep might be fun to play with.

Where are you from btw?

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