Thoughts on Winter Driving with my FWD Ford Fusion
In October 2016, I bought a 2013 Jeep Patriot Sport 4WD for some $12,000-13,000. It was a base model: crank windows, manual locks, manual mirrors, 5-speed manual (which I prefer), but it did have air conditioning, cruise control, and light-up cup holders. I bought it because I had Wrangler fever, but couldn't afford anything more than $12,000, which in my area can't get you anything newer than at least a ten year old vehicle, with 100,000 miles. Not to mention I drive a fair amount of miles every day, so bad gas mileage, on top of five year loan where if I keep it for the entire duration of the loan, would tack on 60,000 miles. Now, I'm rooting for America's automotive underdog Chrysler as much as anyone, but I had little faith in this being a solid financial decision. So, a 2013 Jeep Patriot looked sort of like a Wrangler from the front, and it had 50,000 miles on it, so why not.
A year and a half later in the summer months, I found myself having some issues with the vehicle. I had already paid $600 to replace the throttle body, and other things were going wrong that concerned me. Not to mention, the Patriot/Compass are not the world's greatest cars. Sure, it had a decent ride over bumps, handled pretty well, but it didn't have the world's greatest gas mileage, and I wanted something I little snazzier in the amenities department.
And that's when I was able to work out a deal with the 2012 Ford Fusion SEL. For essentially the same amount of money, I had a car with 32,000 miles, and almost fully loaded, lacking just the V6 engine and navigation system. It drove better, got better gas mileage, and I was and still am happier.
But I couldn't shake the thought of the loss of 4WD. Of course four wheel drive doesn't mean four wheel stop, but the Patriot simply felt more planted in winter weather conditions. And I don't think that was a placebo effect. Although the Fusion supposedly weighs more, the Fusion does have low-profile wide tires, and that may have something to do with it. The point is, with all-season tires, I never got stuck, I generally stopped quickly, and I loved the feel of it in deep snow.
We have been receiving a fairly heavy amount of snow lately, but the days its the worst are the days where it comes down pretty fast so the plows can't keep up. That makes up probably five days of the year. That's five days out of 365. That's 360 days of the year I don't need 4WD. Do you see what I'm saying?
Maybe down the road I'll have the means to pick up something better with 4WD, and I'll get the best of both worlds: ground clearance and 4WD, and a fun ride. Until then, the deal I scooped up by buying a sedan, a type of car that results in some of the worst resale values of any vehicle, will work just fine.