FCA Montreal Winter Drive: Does AWD Make A Difference?

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2015 Dodge Charger Pursuit V-8 AWD

2015 Jeep Renegade FCA Winter Drive

There’s some irony in the fact that Fiat Chrysler Automobiles flew me out to Montreal, Canada for the FCA Montreal winter drive program, and I was afraid to drive from the hotel to the track.  You see, no one wants to be “that girl”, the one that’s driving in a strange city, in snow and ice, and has an accident in a press vehicle. So, yeah, there I was, riding shotgun in the Jeep Cherokee Trail Hawk with Chad Kirchner from Average Car Guy to the Circuit ICAR track.

We stopped at Tim Horton’s for some caffeine and a driver change, and I continued to let Chad take the wheel. He lives in Ohio. I live in Texas. Which one would you want to drive in snow and ice?

Of course once we arrived at the track, I couldn’t resist the line-up of AWD vehicles. I don’t know anyone that wouldn’t be thrilled to hop into a Chrysler 200, Dodge Police Pursuit Charger, or the brand new Jeep Renegade in Omaha Orange, and drive on a track covered in snow and ice. Now, for the record, if you’re reading this and you’re thinking, you would be less than thrilled, then just stop reading. Leave my site. We can no longer be friends.

2015 Dodge Charger Pursuit V-8 AWD

I thought I understood the difference between Front Wheel Drive, Rear Wheel Drive and All Wheel Drive. I was wrong. Incredibly wrong. I also had no idea how much difference there was between all season tires and winter tires. Yes, it’s probably a very good thing I live in Texas.

2015 Jeep Grand Cherokee FCA Winter Drive

Check out this cool stat:

 In 2014, 32% of all Chrysler 300 sedans and 30% of all Dodge Chargers sold were all-wheel drive  vehicles.

My first time around the track I sat in the back of the Chrysler 300, as the professional driver showed us how to properly drive the skid plate, figure eight, and race track. Once approved to drive solo, I hopped into the 2015 Chrysler 200 and peeled out of the parking place at a thrilling….5 mph. If there was a record set for slowest pace, I’m probably the record holder, as I cautiously navigated the slalom course, prepared to slide off.

2015 Chrysler 200S AWD

Would it be awkward when they had to send the 2015 Ram Power Wagon to pull me out of the snow bank? There was no reason to be worried, when the tires in the 2015 Chrysler 200 start to slip, the AWD system sends up to 60 percent of the engine’s output to the rear tires. With winter tires, the Chrysler 200 was stable and safe, and handled the course with ease. In a back to back driving comparison of winter vs. all season tires on the 200, the difference was obvious as I slipped, slided, and might have taken out a few orange cones. I will not confirm nor deny the rumor that we attempted donuts in the snow.

I asked the professional instructors which of the FCA AWD vehicles on the course, they enjoyed driving the most, expecting them to answer the Ram Power Wagon or the Dodge Charger Pursuit. I was surprised to learn, their hands down favorite, was the 2015 Chrysler 200 for its nimble handling. But, I do have to admit, the more time I spend in the 200, the more I fall in love with that mid-size sedan.

2015  Jeep Renegade FCA Montreal Winter Drive

Before I arrived in Montreal, I was most excited about driving the 2015 Jeep Cherokee, brand new Jeep Renegade, and Ram 1500 on the winter off road course. I definitely underestimated the thrill of driving fast in a controlled environment, and experiencing the different drive modes on the FCA vehicle lineup. By the end of the day, I was one of the last journalists driving on the race track, playing with traction control and drive modes. I learned a lot about how the vehicles adapt differently from sport mode, to sand or snow. Favorite ride of the day, was behind the wheel of the 2015 Jeep Grand Cherokee in sand mode, kicking up snow and drifting around the turns. No snow banks were harmed.

Want a better look at the conditions we put the FCA line-up through in Montreal and why the FCA vehicles handle the winter weather so well, watch Richard Silbert FCA Engineer:

In the market for an AWD vehicle, FCA has several vehicles across multiple platforms with all-wheel-drive or four-wheel-drive technology, for superior driving performance in all weather conditions. Our FCA Montreal Winter Drive experience included time in the: 2015 Chrysler 200, Chrysler 300, Dodge Charger, Dodge Charger Pursuit, Dodge Journey Crossroads, Dodge Durango, Jeep Renegade, Jeep Compass, Jeep Patriot, Jeep Cherokee, Jeep Grand Cherokee, Jeep Wrangler, Ram 1500 Ecodiesel, and Ram Power Wagon.

Thank you FCA for being brave enough to trust a Texan with your AWD vehicles in the snow and ice. Travel and expenses were covered by FCA, but all opinions are based on my personal experience.

 

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