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Old 06-16-2008, 11:53 AM   #1
indy300
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Default 2 Wheel Drive Pickup Trucks

I need the OT's experience on this one.

I need to buy my first used pickup truck for work to carry a long ladder. I am fuel-efficient aware, so I want to get a midsize truck (Dakota, Colorado, Canyon, etc). I know 4x2's are more efficient than 4x4's, but I don't know if I need a 4x4 or 4x2. I don't need to go off road, but need to be able to drive in snow (probably a few inches). I know typical old wisdom is that 4x2 trucks can't drive in snow, but some people told me that 4x2 trucks with posi-trac or locking diffs with some weight in the bed handle just fine in a few inches of snow.

So my question is this: Do modern 4x2 pickups handle OK in some light snow?

thanks in advance for your wisdom.
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Old 06-16-2008, 12:01 PM   #2
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I used to drive a 2wd, open diff Chevy in Alaska and it was a piece of trash. I've also driven a limited slip Ranger up and it wasn't any better. If I lived where it snowed I would absolutely not own a 2wd truck. For that matter, I live where it doesn't snow and we have a 4wd truck and a 4wd Jeep.
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Old 06-16-2008, 12:02 PM   #3
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A 2 wheel drive truck can do well in snow with dedicated winter tires, some weight in the bed, and a Posi or limited slip.
You may want to talk to owners of mid-sized trucks to see what their actual mileage is. You may be surprised to find that a full size can get similar mileage.
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Old 06-16-2008, 12:09 PM   #4
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for a rwd only truck you could get studded snow tires or some nice big tread tires meant for weekend off road 4x4 trucks for added grip.

IMO nice to have a 4x4 just in case and it does not save u tons of gas by going RWD only.
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Old 06-16-2008, 12:11 PM   #5
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I had a 4x2 Ranger in about 1995, and it was terrible in any sort of snow, my vette does better.

My next truck was a well used mid-late 80's Ford 4x2, might have been '85 ish, I don't recall because it was such a piece of crap.

Then went with a '98 Sierra Z71 4x4, fantastic in everything, mud, snow, water and I'd never go back to a 4x2 pick-up.

I'm going to be purchasing an '08 Tundra later this week, and you bet....a 4x4.

I should add, I know a guy I did some work with that has a '03 (I think) Ram 1500 4x2 and he says it does great in the snow, so who knows.
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Old 06-16-2008, 12:12 PM   #6
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Go with a 4X4...I've owned both and if you live where you get "a couple inches" of snow, you will at times be getting "a couple feet" of snow It will make life a lot easier
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Old 06-16-2008, 12:15 PM   #7
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A 2WD truck can work in snow as long as you pay attention to road conditions and drive appropriately. 2-4 inches of packed snow is not too bad but the real problem would be with icy conditions. And that would even be a problem with 4WD vehicles. Also, it's not the going; it's the stopping that can be a real eye-opener.

Good winter tires, a set of tire chains and a couple hundred pounds of weight in the bed at the tailgate should get you around. A posi type of differential will be a help as long as the tires have decent traction.

Our area saw three different snow days where we got between 2 and 6 inches of snow and I didn't bother to use the 4WD on my 99 Silverado. Just drove carefully and watched traffic ahead of me.

Most modern trucks have much better 4WD systems compard to the older transfer case and manual locking hubs. If anything, there will only be a couple MPG difference (if that) between a 4WD truck driven in 2WD mode and a 2WD truck.

Right now 4WD trucks can be had for cheap so you should have some great choices. Personally I would not consider the Dakota in a mid-size truck. IMHO, the trannies are not noted for long life and mileage is probably wors than the Colorado or Ranger V6. Don't rule out 1/2 ton trucks either. While you may be just carrying a long ladder, having a little extra bed length can be a good thing to have.

Last edited by c4cruiser; 06-16-2008 at 12:23 PM.
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Old 06-16-2008, 12:15 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by StriperSS View Post
You may want to talk to owners of mid-sized trucks to see what their actual mileage is. You may be surprised to find that a full size can get similar mileage.
We just got rid of a 4x4 GMC Canyon with an I-5 engine, and we didn't get bad mileage at all, especially compared to many full-size trucks. We did pretty close to the EPA rating, which I think were around 17 city/22 highway. I would imagine a 4x2 might do a little better, but unless you put a LOT of weight in the bed, I wouldn't want to be driving one in the snow.
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Old 06-16-2008, 12:26 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by StriperSS View Post
A 2 wheel drive truck can do well in snow with dedicated winter tires, some weight in the bed, and a Posi or limited slip.
You may want to talk to owners of mid-sized trucks to see what their actual mileage is. You may be surprised to find that a full size can get similar mileage.
I have one 2 wheel drive full size Dodge with a limited slip rear and two 4 wheel drive trucks (one is a dually so I guess that is really 6 wheel drive). The 2 wheel drive truck does just fine in our Northern VA snow with a little weight in the bed and good tires. Half the secret to getting around in the snow is knowing how to drive in it and not getting yourself somewhere that you shouldn't be in the first place. Make sure the truck has limited slip.

I rarely even engage 4 wheel drive in snow with the trucks that have it. Two exceptions - one is being in the middle of a field in a foot of snow with a 16,000 pound trailer (anchor) hooked to my fifth wheel. (I had no choice in the matter). The second is having to get into and out of a horse show in wet grass with the
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Old 06-16-2008, 12:27 PM   #10
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Been looking at 4x2 Colorado/Canyons. Locking diff, a little weight in the bed and you're good to go in the snow. While 4x4 power-drifting is good fun, I don't see the need for 4x4 even here in MI.

The Sonoma 4x2 I had 10 years ago got me around just fine in pretty deep stuff, too, and that had an open diff.
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Old 06-16-2008, 12:33 PM   #11
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My sister has a 2wd ranger and with a couple bags of sand in the back and decent tires, she has few problems in NW WI.

However, it does help to have 4WD if you've got hills or if you ever pull anybody out.
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Old 06-16-2008, 12:34 PM   #12
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If you don't live in the snow belt, you'll be fine. Few inches shouldn't be a problem. Doesn't sound like you live in a major snow area.

This is all based on the limited info you provided. If you don't get permanent snow, I wouldn't even mess with snow tires. Good all season M+S tires should be fine with weight thrown in the rear when it does snow the few inches you mentioned.

Posi track is a good idea no matter where you live.
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Old 06-16-2008, 12:35 PM   #13
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As an Alaskan resident with a 4x4 truck that spends 70-90% of its miles in the snow, let me just say:

2WD SUCKS!!!!!!!!!

I even use Nokian Hakkapellita II tires on it, which are about the best snow tires you could ever hope to have. I've switched back and forth between 2WD and 4WD many times to explore the differences in varying kinds of snow / ice / slush. With only 2WD, your rear will end up in front of you... if you're lucky to get moving in the first place. FWIW that truck is a 2005 Ranger.

Yeah, it can be done... but 4WD is a thousand times better and safer.
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Old 06-16-2008, 12:42 PM   #14
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When I went to college in Houghton, MI I had 2wd Ford Ranger - open diff. I made sure it had decent tires and a carried a few cinder blocks in the bed. I had no problems driving in snow. I had a few problems when I got plowed into my parking space (2ft+ of packed snow) and was too lazy to shovel. My roommate and I used to take it out in the parking lots before plowing and bomb around in the 1ft+ snow... good times.

Driving in snow is 90% driver, 10% vehicle. I've driven my 90 Vette through snow deep enough to plow with the front spoiler.
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Old 06-16-2008, 12:49 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Alaskanpilot View Post
As an Alaskan resident with a 4x4 truck that spends 70-90% of its miles in the snow, let me just say:

2WD SUCKS!!!!!!!!!

I even use Nokian Hakkapellita II tires on it, which are about the best snow tires you could ever hope to have. I've switched back and forth between 2WD and 4WD many times to explore the differences in varying kinds of snow / ice / slush. With only 2WD, your rear will end up in front of you... if you're lucky to get moving in the first place. FWIW that truck is a 2005 Ranger.

Yeah, it can be done... but 4WD is a thousand times better and safer.
Pretty much what he said. I drive a 2wd 1994 Silverado in the winters here in SE Michigan, and it sucks.
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Old 06-16-2008, 12:51 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ddecart View Post
Been looking at 4x2 Colorado/Canyons. Locking diff, a little weight in the bed and you're good to go in the snow. While 4x4 power-drifting is good fun, I don't see the need for 4x4 even here in MI.

The Sonoma 4x2 I had 10 years ago got me around just fine in pretty deep stuff, too, and that had an open diff.
4x2 with a locking diff is key. Also, don't forget a good set of tires. I always run a good all terrain even on a two wheel drive, as they work great in the winter.

I had 2 2wd s10s for years with no winter issues. My current one is 4wd and I never even use the 4wd even in the winter. Personally I like knowing if the road is slippery, etc and I can tell that by the way the truck moves in 2wd mode, but in 4wd I loose that ability and I think it makes people too confident. Ever notice the large amount of 4wd trucks and SUVs that are in the ditch, up against the median, or rolled over when the roads are snowy.

For weight, look into the Shurtrax bladders. I have one for my truck and love it as it provides even weight, doesn't move around, and in the spring, you can drain it and roll it up for storage.

BTW, my next truck will be 2wd again, gas mileage sucks on 4wd

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Old 06-16-2008, 01:04 PM   #17
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My 2wd Grand Cherokees were the worst vehicles I've ever driven in the rain. I'll never buy a 2wd truck/SUV again.
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Old 06-16-2008, 01:07 PM   #18
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I used to have a 2WD '77 Chevy C10 stepside and it handled great in the snow. I did have big ol' sticky BF Goodrich tires though. No weight in the back either.
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Old 06-16-2008, 01:13 PM   #19
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GREAT INFO GUYS!

Growing up in southern Indiana, my dad always had 4x4's, but I never saw him shift into 4WD, even in snow. I think that is pretty typical.

I agree 100% that snow driving ability is mostly driver. Everyone has the same 4 wheels trying to stop them!
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Old 06-16-2008, 01:18 PM   #20
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If I lived where it snowed I would absolutely not own a 2wd truck. For that matter, I live where it doesn't snow and we have a 4wd truck and a 4wd Jeep.
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Old 06-16-2008, 01:18 PM
 
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