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  1. Default Grand Rapids, MI to Colorado Springs, Colorado

    HI ALL!

    Some friends and I are planning to take a trip to Colorado in the beginning of March to do some snowboarding, and overall sight seeing. Problem being, I drive a mid size sedan, my friend drives a full size sedan, my girlfriend drives a hatchback, and her friend drives a mid size sedan...none of these will make it through a Colorado snow. So we definitely want to drive to save money, however, we do not know anyone that is willing to lend us a car for 5 days and put 2,500+ miles on it. The plan is a for sure, the route to get there is unclear. Please advise, we need a SUV preferably AWD to be sure we can plow through. (On a side note: does anyone know if there is a requirement to have chains on your tires at a certain point in the year in CO, I had heard that through the grape vine so I am not sure how accurate it actually is.)

    Anyways, any ideas, suggestions, links, etc. are much appreciated!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Joplin MO



    You don't need an AWD SUV. I would go with the full size sedan and have a set of cable chains for it just in case. If the roads are so bad that you can't get through with that, you shouldn't be driving anyway. The only places where chains will be *required* in Colorado on passenger vehicles are the access roads to some ski resorts, and when the chain law is in effect you would be required to have them in an AWD vehicle too. The Colorado highway department is VERY competent and they keep the main roads open very well. The website is one of the best in the country for researching up to the minute road conditions on all the numbered highways.

  3. #3

    Default Front wheel drive

    If any or all of the vehicles you listed are front-wheel drive, you're in good shape. Choose the front wheel drive with the best tires and get a pair of cable chains (and, more importantly, learn how to put them on in your driveway on a nice, sunny day!). Then study the Colorado DOT's website concerning their chain law, and while you're at it, do the same for the other states you'll pass through. It's been quite a while since I drove through Colorado in winter (January 2000), but I thought Colorado would trigger the chain law from time to time when the snow was falling heavily and the snow blowing along I-70 approaching the Eisenhower Tunnel and further west at Vail Pass. GLC gets around more than I do, so he's quite likely right, but I mention the chain laws as a planning point, anyway.

    I've been spending a week in either Colorado or the Park City, Utah area annually since 2000, and it's entirely routine to see front wheel drive cars, or even rear wheel drives, with chains, getting around very well. Front wheel drives do great without chains. The snow is normally fairly dry and packs down without icing up much, and the driving surface is surprisingly good. Plus, the level of expertise and the equipment deployed by the plowing crews is nothing short of awesome. I wouldn't hesitate to take a non-4WD or AWD vehicle out there. I have them so I use them, and when practical, I'll choose to rent them, but if it was a situation where you thought "4WD/AWD or not skiing", I'd take a front wheel drive and some cable chains to Colorado or Utah's ski areas in a New York Minute.


  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin

    Default the joy of marketing

    I'd have to say one of the biggest sales jobs that's been pulled on the American public over the past few decades is the "need" for 4 wheel drive. You certainly don't need 4 wheel drive to drive in Colorado, and you'll find thousand of cars - in fact the majority of vehicles on the road will still be sedans.

    People really tend to forget that 4 wheel drive was pretty rare until the 80s and 90s. Heck, you go back just into the 70's and rear wheel drive was common, and its a whole lot harder to get around on snow and ice with rear wheel drive than front wheel.

    I'd also remind you that you're talking about Colorado, and not the Yukon. While there is a ton of snow at the tops of mountains, its not like you are dealing with 24 hour a day blizzards. In fact, if you are used to dealing with Michigan winters, then you shouldn't have much problems. While Mountain winter driving is a different challenge, the fact is Grand Rapids actually sees more snow than Denver.

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