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Old 01-03-2013, 02:09 PM   #9
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Join Date: Nov 2011
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Location: Annapolis, MD
What I Drive: 2012 C.Red Focus SE Sport Package

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Originally Posted by detonator555 View Post
I agree with the OP. This is NOT a good winter car. It might be fine in areas with moderate snowfall or hardpacked snow, but it's not working well up here in ski country.

1) I have proper NEW snow tires (15" winter, 16" summer) with fresh studs. I've lived in snow/ice country my entire life. My previous vehicles have ranged from RWD V8 cars and pickup trucks to FWD small cars and minivans to 4WD Rangers and a 2008 4WD Escape. Each vehicle type requires its own finesse, to be sure. Traction is important, but so is the vehicle's tendency to push in corners, stopping ability, manners in snow and slush, and reaction to gusts of crosswind. Tires are important, but some cars are simply better in winter than others.

2) The traction control is way too sensitive for wheel-spin and kills momentum when you NEED it. The correction on the yaw control is aggressive, and we all know that exaggerated movements on snow/ice are not ideal. My Escape had the traction control button on the dash...that's where it should be. This nonsense of scrolling through a menu while you're driving is ridiculous; TC is one of those items where you need it on the fly, not deselected when you start the car. I desperately needed traction control OFF a couple of weeks back when pulling into a slushy, greasy intersection...the car just limped along as I feathered the gas and tried to outwit the computer. I looked like a slow senior citizen trying to jaywalk.

3. The whacky transmission makes it hard to be in the right RPM range for different conditions. I end up using the "hill assist" feature to hold gears longer between shifts, but again it's the driver having to outwit the car.

4. There is no warning light for low washer fluid. For most of you, that's just a convenience. For those of us with heavily salted roads on a sunny morning, it's beyond precarious. Yes, fluid top-ups are done regularly, but a warning light is just keeps you safe.

5. The "Courtesy Wipe" feature where the blades do one last "swish" 3 seconds after activating the washer fluid is infuriating. It turns a perfectly clean windshield into a smeared mess when you've got salt brine kicked up from other vehicles. I hated it on the Escape, and I hate it more on this smaller, lower vehicle.

Anyway, it's a quirky car in the best of weather, but doesn't cut the mustard as a winter driver in heavy snow zones. I dislike it to the point where, when a tree fell on it at work a few weeks back, I was praying for a total loss. It wasn't. I've put 45,000 km's on it in one year, and it still feels weird to me.
Thanks for the info - I've only been in mildly icy and snowy conditions and this is helpful for knowing what to expect.
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