Neither snow tires nor chains will make your Mercedes a snow-worthy vehicle.

Dear Car Talk

Dear Car Talk | Mar 01, 2000

Dear Tom and Ray:

My wife and I live in Colorado, and our grandchildren are to the east, west and
south of us. There are mountain passes (snow) between us and them. At present, we
have a 1987 Jeep Grand Wagoneer (great in snow) and a 1995 Mercedes station wagon
(not good in snow). My dear wife says we do not need both of these cars -- she
says the Jeep uses too much fuel. Can I put four snow tires on the Mercedes and
expect to have a car as safe as the Jeep for winter driving? -- Bob

TOM: No. The Mercedes is a rear-wheel-drive car and is one of the lousiest snow
cars known to man. Surpassed in lack of snow ability only by your average BMW.
And while snow tires will make the Mercedes' snow traction better, it'll never be
as good as the Jeep.

RAY: The Mercedes is a safer car in terms of passive safety -- meaning it will
protect you well when you DO slide off the road and crash into a boulder -- but
it's never going to be great in the snow.

TOM: So if I were you guys, I'd sell both of these cars and get something that
combines the best attributes of both. If you prefer the "car-like" ride of a
wagon, Mercedes makes an all-wheel-drive version of its E-Class wagon, and
that'll set you back a mere 50 grand.

RAY: For less money, you can get a Mercedes M-Class, which is Mercedes' all-
wheel-drive sport utility vehicle. That'll give you a little more ground
clearance and snow ability in exchange for a slightly harder ride.

TOM: But both of those give you "all-wheel drive" rather than old-style four-
wheel drive (which is what your Jeep has). And all-wheel drive operates in four-
wheel drive all the time. That means you never have to think about it as you
drive on and off of wet or snowy patches of road. And an all-wheel-drive system
in a Mercedes is a pretty darn safe combination.

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