Welcome to Tesla Motors Club
Discuss Tesla's Model S, Model 3, Model X, Model Y, Cybertruck, Roadster and More.
Register

Winter handling Subaru vs dual-motor model Y

Mvdaog

Member
Jan 3, 2020
91
103
BC
You’re right, I have specific driving conditions that most won’t encounter. It wouldn’t make sense for Tesla to design their cars based on a few cars here and there. It does the job and is quite good over all in winter driving. But I just don’t believe anyone is being honest if they say it’s as good as the best systems in the world or that they never feel any slipping. Good to be realistic for prospective buyers.
And off road does help a lot I can hear the front motor turn on with a high whine so it is more awd in that mode.
 

seniorcitizen

Member
Oct 9, 2020
207
116
Maple Grove
I live in a very snowy place and I don't care about short range efficiency in the winter. Just give me an AWD mode that does not favour RWD until slipping has occurred.
I live in MN. I will like AWD as well. Don’t care about range when it comes to safety during winter driving.

I really hope this happens. We need to find influencers who get this on Elon’s radar.
 

cusetownusa

Member
Jan 29, 2020
524
870
Syracuse NY
I live in a very snowy place and I don't care about short range efficiency in the winter. Just give me an AWD mode that does not favour RWD until slipping has occurred.

I agree...needs a Snow mode...lots of AWD have this now, including my Grand Cherokee. Seems like Tesla could provide this with a software update as well.
 
  • Like
Reactions: skiwhmts

Snow Drift

[Off-Road Assist] Activated
Feb 10, 2016
1,968
1,497
Long Island
I agree...needs a Snow mode...lots of AWD have this now, including my Grand Cherokee. Seems like Tesla could provide this with a software update as well.
Snow Mode really just reduces throttle mapping and tells the systems to allow more slip and pre-lock/press the transfer case's clutch-plates. Off Road mode does all of that already (except transfer case stuff since we don't need one).
 
  • Informative
Reactions: cusetownusa

chinney

Member
Nov 7, 2020
119
87
Ottawa ON
I had to drive last night in the worst winter conditions yet in which I have driven our Tesla - conditions where I would not normally drive at all unless I had to do so. Once again, the Model 3 AWD performance was excellent, and this in normal mode with full regen on. Whatever the issue may be, there is no consensus about it on this thread.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Snow Drift

GaryY

Member
Sep 4, 2020
18
17
Utah
With regard to terrain/conditions, I did have a friend test drive a Model 3 AWD last week down one of our canyons in the snow. He was notably disturbed by rear slippage coming down when regen kicked in. I'd agree there is some "getting used to it" as he probably just took his foot off the pedal as discussed above. But I do think he's not going to switch from his Subaru, as he's always in the canyons on the way to ski, etc. And I do think a "snow mode" with reduced regen (and possibly any rear biased regen), as well as evening out the rear bias on acceleration as well (while keeping traction control active) would reassure the subie mountain crowd...I'll call the local dealer and tell them he reported that to me, and see if they can get the message to Elon, since tweets dont' seem to get through ;)
 
Jul 29, 2020
59
29
San Francisco
TLDR: Model Y handling in winter conditions not nearly as good as Subaru

So bit of background.. I come from driving a subaru in the canadian interior mountains for the past 10 years. Prior to that was a FWD Honda. I ski and drive over mountain passes frequently and consider myself experienced in winter driving and variable conditions, as we're frequently above and below freezing, back and forth, with lots of precipitation.

I can now say after having been in a few snow storms now with the model Y, that it's handling is no where near as good as a Subaru. I had an outback and an impreza previously. My wife still drives an outback. With the subaru, we rarely ever felt fishtailing, slipping, or loss of control, even momentarily, while cornering. With the model Y, there is fishtailing with almost every cornering attempt if there's snow, packed snow, slush or ice. Going up hill, the subaru would charge up snowy and slippery conditions with confidence and mostly a straight path. With the model Y, there is quite a bit of deviation to straight, and there is some struggling in regards to keeping speed etc.

I do notice that with the off-road assist, it does help getting up our steep and windy driveway. In normal driving mode, there may have been some days I couldn't get up to my house very confidently. There are frequently FWD cars that can't make it to our house in the winter.

I should note on both cars I use studded nokian hakkapelitas. So tires are not the difference.

I did a lot of research on subarus AWD in the past, and tried to review the Tesla AWD experience from previous owners before purchasing, and was hoping it would be better than I have found it to be, is based on previous reviews. That being said, although the slipping and fishtailing are concerning, I do have confidence in the AWD system keeping me safe because it kicks in very quickly to get the car back on track, it's a very brief amount of time before the car is back on track.

So, there are going to be times when it is very slippery, that if I'm taking a corner, I will have to slow down more and be more cautious about a loss of traction, because the slightest fish tail could send me spinning in circles. In the Subaru, I knew that as long as other cars were driving on the road, I was fine no matter what the conditions. I will be more cautious and aware in the Tesla. And as my wife said, this might actually be a good thing, as in the Subaru we never truly knew the road conditions as we never felt the loss of traction. Literally, we would sometimes step out of the car and fall down as our feet couldn't get traction on the ice we were just driving on, but never felt the ice in the car. Now I know when it's slippery and when to drive more cautious.

Love the car, and I sorta expected going in it wasn't going to match the Subaru in this regard. Why would it, it's not their focus. It doesn't change my love for the car, and I still feel much more safe than most cars on the road, and certainly much better than a FWD car or a truck without any weight in the back. But for anyone wondering, I can confidently say, it doesn't match a Subaru for winter driving. I'm only writing this because I would have liked to see a review like this before purchasing, even though I would have still bought it.
What tires do you have on your Model Y ? The stock tires don't have a good snow rating, even though they are M+S, they are rated only 'Fair' in snow. My experience driving in snow for years is its more about the tires than the car. I had poor snow tires on a BMW X5 and it slipped all over the place, got new tires and it never slipped again. Same with other AWD cars. Although weight distribution is important too, but I think Model Y should have pretty good weighting on all 4 tires as far as I know. Beyond this, I have not decided to take my Model Y into snow but its strictly due to the stock tire rating. When I get new tires at some point, I'll get better snow rated tires like Michelin and see how it does.
 
  • Like
Reactions: cusetownusa
Jul 29, 2020
59
29
San Francisco
What tires do you have on your Model Y ? The stock tires don't have a good snow rating, even though they are M+S, they are rated only 'Fair' in snow. My experience driving in snow for years is its more about the tires than the car. I had 'fair' M+S tires on a BMW X5 and it slipped all over the place, got good rated M+S tires and it never slipped again. Same with other AWD cars I've had. Good tires, no problem, bad tires, problem. Although weight distribution is important too, but I think Model Y should have pretty good weighting on all 4 tires as far as I know. Beyond this, I have not decided to take my Model Y into snow but its strictly due to the stock tire rating. When I get new tires at some point, I'll get better snow rated tires like Michelin and see how it does.
 

WattsappMTL

Member
Nov 2, 2020
119
71
Montreal
I had an interesting low-speed experience recently, turning from driveway into a narrow alley. Because MY doesn't have a great turning circle, the front wheels went into deep snow on the far side. No problem, just add a bit more power, right? Not really - even though the front wheels were angled, the rear drive kept pushing them straight ahead, further into the snowbank! My FWD would have just chewed its way back into the lane but Tesla couldn't handle it. A bit more power and the car finally came out of the snow, but it didn't feel very reassuring. I repeated later in Off-Road Assist and it was a bit better, but still not great.
 
  • Informative
Reactions: srlawren

iustin

Supporting Member
Feb 5, 2020
99
44
Switzerland
I am an official "Subaru Ambassador." I am biased TOWARDS Subaru and I have been an owner since 2004. Subaru makes the best AWD system in the world, but it is only on the WRX STI 6MT.

  1. Rear Biased: STI is a 3-mechanical differential system (Helical front, Planetary Gear center, TorSen rear for a while now) which is rear-biased (35:65 or 41:59) and is used on their rally cars. The extra rear bias allows the car to turn better and when needed it can be forced up to 50:50.
  2. Rear Biased: At one point they offered a very good VTD system for Automatics, which was a planetary gear center differential which had a 45:55 bias.
  3. Neutral Biased: The next best system they offer is Viscous-Coupling center differential and it is on their Manual cars only (WRX (not STI), Crosstrek and older stick cars). This is 50:50 biased but will still exhibit characteristics of rear powered cars.
  4. Front Biased: Today, you get into Active AWD on their CVT cars. This is 60:40. This has more characteristics of a front drive system which exhibits understeer and plows when it loses traction. This does not have a locking center differential and instead uses a continuously variable Multi-Plate Transfer clutch-pack to adjust the torque distribution. This Subaru system better than most others, but not better than the manual ones offered by Subaru which all have a rear bias or 50:50. This system does not have the same rear biased feelings that the manual systems exhibit. The average driver may consider this to "feel" more stable, but it isn't really. If it was the rally cars would use it.
All of these systems need snow tires to get the best out of them.

Hi, quick question. I currently have an 2013 Crosstrek, European, manual 6, and it is the viscous-coupling 50:50. However, I'm confused when you say "This is 50:50 biased but will still exhibit characteristics of rear powered cars". Now, I don't have much experience with other (FWD only, or RWD only) cars, but my Crosstrek seems indeed very "neutral", and from the few times I have driven it in the snow, one has to be careful (of course), but was not prone to fishtailing. But was definitely not understeering either. So now I don't know in what sense this behaves (even partially) like RWD cars? Can you explain a bit more?

Also, having read this thread, I'm now somewhat concerned about moving to a MY, since it seems it's much more difficult to drive safely in snow…

Thanks!
 

sleepydoc

Member
Aug 2, 2020
79
66
Minneapolis
I‘ve lived in MN my entire life; I moved from an Audi A4 quattro to a model Y. After my first winter with the Model Y I can definitely say the Audi does better. I’ve never driven a Subaru, but the Audi is incredibly sure-footed in snow and slippery conditions.

I’ve experimented a bit and I think it’s a combination of factors.
1. The fact that the MY preferentially powered the rear wheels over the front wheels
2. Even if I’m just coasting the rear of the MY will tend to skid more than my A4. I attribute this to a combination of the tires and the weight distribution of the MY. The tires are large, wide, low rolling resistance tires, all of which make them better skis than snow tires. As far as weight, EVs have the battery in the center of the car while ICE vehicles have the motor in the front. This puts the center of gravity further towards the rear making the rear more likely to skid outwards in a turn.

Snow tires would undoubtedly improve the handling, as would altering the relative power distribution between the front and rear motors, but some of the handling issues are intrinsic to the construction and design of the vehicle. In the end, I never felt unsafe in the car and never had an issue being unable to start from a stop or getting stuck; I just needed to take the turns more gently - something you really should be doing anyway.
 
  • Like
Reactions: PNWLeccy and iustin

Snow Drift

[Off-Road Assist] Activated
Feb 10, 2016
1,968
1,497
Long Island
Hi, quick question. I currently have an 2013 Crosstrek, European, manual 6, and it is the viscous-coupling 50:50. However, I'm confused when you say "This is 50:50 biased but will still exhibit characteristics of rear powered cars". Now, I don't have much experience with other (FWD only, or RWD only) cars, but my Crosstrek seems indeed very "neutral", and from the few times I have driven it in the snow, one has to be careful (of course), but was not prone to fishtailing. But was definitely not understeering either. So now I don't know in what sense this behaves (even partially) like RWD cars? Can you explain a bit more?

Also, having read this thread, I'm now somewhat concerned about moving to a MY, since it seems it's much more difficult to drive safely in snow…

Thanks!
Two things. 1) 50:50 is a lot more rear power than most FWD-biased systems will ever actually transfer rearward. So for those people they have a completely different experience than 50:50, 40:60, etc. 2) When your Crosstrek 6MT makes a left or right hand turn in snow, you can feel the rear step out w/ the 50:50 viscous coupling. It's more fun than unsettling. Happens easier with more snow to climb through or if you induce it. Now, of course if you try to drive gently it won't do it, but give it a bit more steering angle and some throttle. Adding a stiffer rear sway bar will help rotation as well.

The 3/Y are 0:100 until slip, so the rears are doing all the work and at times you can feel a wiggle, but it's as boring as my Subaru most of the time.
 
  • Informative
Reactions: iustin

iustin

Supporting Member
Feb 5, 2020
99
44
Switzerland
Two things. 1) 50:50 is a lot more rear power than most FWD-biased systems will ever actually transfer rearward. So for those people they have a completely different experience than 50:50, 40:60, etc.
Interesting.
2) When your Crosstrek 6MT makes a left or right hand turn in snow, you can feel the rear step out w/ the 50:50 viscous coupling. It's more fun than unsettling. Happens easier with more snow to climb through or if you induce it. Now, of course if you try to drive gently it won't do it, but give it a bit more steering angle and some throttle. Adding a stiffer rear sway bar will help rotation as well.

I see, interesting. I don't have enough driving experience in the snow, so I'm driving very carefuly when it happens.

The 3/Y are 0:100 until slip, so the rears are doing all the work and at times you can feel a wiggle, but it's as boring as my Subaru most of the time.

The 0:100 really surprises me, but I've watched yet again the TFL Car slip test, and indeed - with real wheels on rollers, the car doesn't move at all for a few seconds, with front wheel on rollers, they don't slip at all and the car immediately moves.

I've looked at the same test with the off-road mode active, but even then it seems there's no "instant movement" (while the other axle slipts), so… a 30-70 "all-time" mode would be excellent.

Thanks for the explanation! All this doesn't change the fact that Berlin is still not built, and I have to wait until then anyway :)
 

Snow Drift

[Off-Road Assist] Activated
Feb 10, 2016
1,968
1,497
Long Island
Interesting.


I see, interesting. I don't have enough driving experience in the snow, so I'm driving very carefuly when it happens.



The 0:100 really surprises me, but I've watched yet again the TFL Car slip test, and indeed - with real wheels on rollers, the car doesn't move at all for a few seconds, with front wheel on rollers, they don't slip at all and the car immediately moves.

I've looked at the same test with the off-road mode active, but even then it seems there's no "instant movement" (while the other axle slipts), so… a 30-70 "all-time" mode would be excellent.

Thanks for the explanation! All this doesn't change the fact that Berlin is still not built, and I have to wait until then anyway :)
Check out Bjorn on YouTube. He has "Scan My Tesla" and that allows him to see real time data. While driving around a Model 3 his front motor is off, while an S/X the rear is off. Permanent magnet motors stay on while the smaller axle motor sleeps.


Front 0, Rear has power/ torque

Screen Shot 2021-03-19 at 10.41.59 AM.png
 
Last edited:
  • Informative
Reactions: iustin

masotime

Member
Sep 14, 2020
68
61
San Francisco
Check out Bjorn on YouTube. He has "Scan My Tesla" and that allows him to see real time data. While driving around a Model 3 his front motor is off, while an S/X the rear is off. Permanent magnet motors stay on while the smaller axle motor sleeps.

Are there any videos showing the split when Off-Road Assist is enabled? That would be really interesting to see.
 

cusetownusa

Member
Jan 29, 2020
524
870
Syracuse NY
Are there any videos showing the split when Off-Road Assist is enabled? That would be really interesting to see.

good question. Seems like this would be a simple solution by adding a snow mode with the proper torque distribution to maximize traction in winter conditions. Even my Grand Cherokee has a snow mode.
 

iustin

Supporting Member
Feb 5, 2020
99
44
Switzerland
Check out Bjorn on YouTube. He has "Scan My Tesla" and that allows him to see real time data. While driving around a Model 3 his front motor is off, while an S/X the rear is off. Permanent magnet motors stay on while the smaller axle motor sleeps.

Thanks, I know Bjorn, but I didn't watch in this detail. So at low power, M3/MY are RWD, and S/X are FWD? Sheesh, I like my Crosstrek more now.

good question. Seems like this would be a simple solution by adding a snow mode with the proper torque distribution to maximize traction in winter conditions. Even my Grand Cherokee has a snow mode.

Yeah, a simple F:R slider would help here. Or maybe a fixed 30:70 or whatever.
 

About Us

Formed in 2006, Tesla Motors Club (TMC) was the first independent online Tesla community. Today it remains the largest and most dynamic community of Tesla enthusiasts. Learn more.

Do you value your experience at TMC? Consider becoming a Supporting Member of Tesla Motors Club. As a thank you for your contribution, you'll get nearly no ads in the Community and Groups sections. Additional perks are available depending on the level of contribution. Please visit the Account Upgrades page for more details.


SUPPORT TMC
Top