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Hello. I am considering buying my first SUV. I was considering the Ford Escape XLS(Engine: 2.3L I4 16V MPFI DOHC) which is only front wheel drive or a Ford Escape XLT(Engine: 3.0L V6 24V MPFI DOHC) which has 4 wheel drive. I live in Cincinnati, Ohio where there are lots of hills and our winters can have some decently heavy snow and ice. I was wondering how well the XLS would do in these conditions as I really love it more than the XLT I have been looking at?

Answers from the Automotive Experts

Cherie Watters, President Dealer Division at AskPatty.com One of my favorite things to do when I am considering buying a car is to rent the car first. If you rent one you can test it in the conditions you are concerned about and see how well it performs. If you are not able to rent the car then check the manufacture web site to get the information regarding the recommended driving conditions for the automobile. These web sites are very helpful when it comes to performance expectations, nothing can replace driving in the exact conditions that concern you. You may want to check into blogs from other owners of the SUV. The other suggestion I have is if you do not like to car do not buy the car. IF the XLT is not the car you love then why get one. There are other choices so get the car you really like. Good Luck!

Georgia Brown, Director of Education at National Independent Automobile Dealers Association (NIADA) We recently moved from Texas to Minnesota where winters on wheels can be rather harsh as well. My daughter, who has lived here for 7 years and driven both--front wheel and 4 wheel drive vehicles--quickly told us when we were deciding on a new vehicle, "Make sure it has 4 wheel drive!" We did, and after spending only one winter here, I am glad to say that we followed her advice!

Patricia J Roberts, Director Business Development  at AskPatty.com, Inc. I own an SUV and drive in Winter conditions in the midwest and have 4 wheel drive. I don't use it much but when I do, it is great. Most people get a 4 wheel drive because they think they will be driving off road when in reality most people never do. (And when it is very icey and hilly, it is very difficult to navigate any highways which is why we are all told to stay home and off the roads until the ice on the roads are treated.)

Chris Walsh, Owner at Consolidated Automotive Services of indiana Hi, This is a great question. I also live not far from you in the midwest. I drive an Escape 4 wheel drive. I drive 1000 miles per week winter and summer. I love the Escape becasue if s a very nimble handling vehicle compared to many other SUV's that I have driven . I know the roads you are driving on and can only say I would not be without my 4x4 Escape in the winter. It is a very dependable and comfortable vehicle. Good Luck and thank you for your inquiry.

Jessie L Thatcher, F&I and Sales Specialist at Reynolds and Reynolds Company  (Retired) Most 4 wheel drives will handle the weather in Cincy, even with the hills. I live in Dayton so I experience the same climate. To be sure you might want to rent the vehicle for a weekend, drive it all around the city and be sure it meets your needs. This is always a great way to insure you don't make a mistake that you have to live with for the next five years.

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