With temperatures regularly dropping below 0°F and snowfall a common occurrence, Alaskan winters can be brutal on drivers. If you’re planning a trip to Alaska during the winter season, choosing the right car is essential. But with so many options to choose from, how do you know which winter Alaska car rental is right for you?
In this guide on choosing the car rental that works best in winter, our Avis experts are breaking down everything you need to know before deciding between an SUV or a sedan. Stay tuned to find out what to look for and how to choose the best car for winter drives.
AWD vs 4WD vs 2WD
Vehicles with different drivetrain configurations have distinct differences in the way they drive and the conditions they are best suited for. AWD, or all-wheel drive, allows for the ability to provide maximum forward traction during acceleration. This system is helpful when driving in poor road conditions caused by heavy snow and ice. When an axle detects slippage, the system diverts power to the other axle to regain traction. AWD is most commonly found in SUVs, but is also present in certain types of cars and vans.
While the terms 4WD and AWD are often used interchangeably, there is a distinct difference between the two systems. In most cases, 4WD (four-wheel drive) systems are designed for extreme off-roading drives like climbing up steep hills and through deep waters. This type of system typically uses a heavy-duty transfer case with a high and low gear range. For the average driver, 4WD vehicles function at a level that generally isn’t necessary.
2WD, or two-wheel drive, is the standard system on most passenger vehicles. This system is lighter and more fuel-efficient, as the engine sends power to two wheels at a time while allowing the others to spin. This type of system is best for operating a vehicle in mild weather conditions and can handle rain or very light slow. When it comes to driving in Alaska during the winter, AWD/4WD vehicles offer levels of traction control and acceleration that 2WD vehicles cannot compete with.
SUV For Winter Driving
When choosing the right winter Alaska car rental for you, it’s important to consider your needs. Do you plan on engaging in winter sports? Are you traveling with children? Are you on a tight budget? Keep in mind that not all SUVs are created equal.
If you require plenty of cargo space for equipment, a full-size SUV might work best. Otherwise, you would likely be better off with a mid-sized SUV. If you’re traveling with children and want to opt for the safer route but don’t have much cargo to worry about, a crossover would be a smart choice. Here are the pros and cons of SUVs to consider.
Advantages of SUV
- Enhanced sense of safety and security
- Better traction control
- 4WD/AWD offers quicker acceleration
- Additional cargo space
- Better collision protection
Disadvantages of SUV
- Decreased fuel efficiency
- Increased stopping time
Sedan For Winter Driving
If you’re traveling solo or with another adult and don’t have any large cargo to haul around, a sedan is a solid choice for your winter Alaska car rental. This option would allow you to save money and stop for gas less frequently but would require extra care on the driver’s part to guarantee your safety. Here are the pros and cons of sedans to consider before choosing the rental car that works best in winter for your needs.
Advantages of Sedans
- Increased fuel efficiency
- Reduced stopping time
- More cost-effective
Disadvantages of Sedans
- Reduced traction control
- 2WD cars have slower acceleration
- Less cargo space
- Reduced collision protection
SUV vs Sedan FAQs
Which is better: AWD or 4WD?
AWD and 4WD vehicles are both great options for Alaska car rentals during the winter months. While vehicles with 4WD are more capable of maneuvering extreme road conditions, an AWD vehicle will work just fine for the average driver looking to get around.
What are the best sedans for snow?
If you opt for a sedan car rental, it’s best to choose one with an AWD system that can handle snow. Vehicle makes like Nissan, Volvo, Subaru, Acura, and Mazda all offer some of the best AWD sedans available on the market. Contact our team to speak with an expert about the best AWD sedans in our Avis fleet.
What is the best SUV for snow?
Any of the 4WD/AWD SUVs in our fleet would be great options for your winter Alaska car rental. Vehicles with these types of drivetrains are best suited for maneuvering through snow, which is a necessity when driving in Alaska during the winter months. We offer a wide range of safe and comfortable vehicles that allow you to make the most out of your Alaskan experience. Stay safe this winter and reserve your rental today with Avis Alaska.