Can you recommend a vehicle that will be able to handle Lake Tahoe snow?

Dear Car Talk

Dear Car Talk | Oct 01, 1995

Dear Tom and Ray:

I recently moved to Lake Tahoe, California to be with my fiance. I drive an '89 Dodge Colt, which has been a great car, but I believe I need something better suited to the ice and snow, as well as the steep mountain terrain. We get very deep snow here with occasional dangerous ice patches underneath. Which is a better choice for me? A four-wheel drive truck like a Rodeo, Pathfinder, or Explorer? Or an all wheel drive car like an Audi Quattro? Which would you buy?

TOM: First of all, Lucy, congratulations on your recent move. Lots of people get hitched up and have to move to all kinds of god forsaken New Jersey. But you managed to swing a nuptial deal that includes a permanent vacation in Lake Tahoe. Wow!

RAY: Now all you have to do is get the guy to buy you a truck. Here's why. There are two reasons you get stuck in the snow. On is because snow is slippery. Four wheel drive does a lot to solve that problem. So if the concern was just slipping and sliding, an all-wheel drive car would be fine.

TOM: But the other way to get stuck in the snow is to actually get "hung up" on it. Not in the sense that my brother is hung up on the star of "Bikini Car Wash II." But if the snow is deep (and it IS in Tahoe), it can actually lift the bottom of your car right off the ground. And when your wheels can't touch the ground, it doesn't matter if you have eight wheel drive, you're not going to go anywhere.

RAY: So you not only need four wheel drive, you also need significant ground clearance. So I'd look for an all-wheel drive (also known as full-time four wheel drive) truck like the Ford Explorer, Jeep Grand Cherokee, or Toyota Land Cruiser.

TOM: Right. Personally, I wouldn't buy any of them even if I lived in Tahoe (because I wouldn't want to give up a such a perfect excuse for staying home from work when it snows). But you'll do fine with any one of those vehicles. Good luck, Lucy. And have a very happy life together.

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