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I live in an area with A LOT of snow, and as a nurse, do I need an SUV?


Specializes in CVICU, CCRN. Has 2 years experience.

As a little background for you:

I am a new grad RN that has accepted a position in a large hospital that is MOSTLY highway driving, about a 30 minute drive in good traffic. HOWEVER, I live in Northeast Ohio where we often get a lot of snowfall, and sometimes suddenly.

Throughout nursing school, I had a medium sized SUV with all wheel drive and good tires. Well, that SUV is over 200,000 miles and starting to become unreliable. I'm in the market for a new vehicle and I am considering purchasing a medium sized car with front wheel drive.

Only problem is, I just had a paralzying visualization of getting stuck in the driveway or in the middle of my road that is often unplowed early in the morning when I may need to be leaving for work. (I will be working day/night rotation). Of course, especially as a new grad and new hire, the last thing I want to do is start off my employment being stuck in the snow because I decided to buy a car and not an SUV. I understand that everyone finds themselves having car problems here and there; however, being a nurse, it just seems so much more important to be able to get to work on time.

My question is, does anyone have any advice for me that may have found themselves in a similar situation?

How about a car with 4 wheel drive instead of an SUV?


Specializes in CVICU, CCRN. Has 2 years experience.

I have searched for cars with AWD/4WD, and the options are very limited... also, my main motivation for getting a smaller car/not all wheel drive is to get better gas milage. I'm wondering if I need to reconsider?

loriangel14, RN

Specializes in Acute Care, Rehab, Palliative.

No you don't need an SUV. I live in Canada and in a snow belt area.I get a LOT of snow. I drive a small Honda Civic. You need good snow tires and if you SLOW DOWN and give yourself lots of time you will get there in one piece.

Fancy cars and expensive tires make no difference if you drive like a maniac. Spending a fortune on 4 wheel drive is not necessary.

Edited by loriangel14

AnnieOaklyRN, BSN, RN, EMT-P

Specializes in ED, Pedi Vasc access, Paramedic serving 6 towns.

Check out Subaru, ALL of their vehicles are AWD and the gas milage is still pretty good, not to mention the reliability. They are also reasonably priced!

psu_213, BSN, RN

Specializes in Emergency, Telemetry, Transplant. Has 6 years experience.

Personally, and this is totally opinion, I think 4WD is a bit overrated. Front wheel drive, in my experience, is just fine for a driver experienced in driving in the snow. I grew up not far from NE Ohio and got many lake effect surprises from Lake Erie. This evidence is totally anecdotal, but there is no real advantage to 4wd. I say, get a reliable car with FWD. (2 cents icon goes here)

I do ok with a car with front wheel drive, better now that I have weather tires instead of performance ones. While my next car will probably have 4wd, I've only gotten stuck when at farms that don't plow and have steep driveways, and that was with performance tires. I live in mn.

You should be fine. 4wd is not a fix-all, and in fact plenty of people end up getting in accidents when they are overly trusting of it! I haven't noticed much difference between my current car's capabilities and my past F250. In fact as a college kid when I lived in a place that got surprise ice, the little junker of a civic I had at the time could make it up the driveway while my dad's F350 couldn't.


Specializes in CVICU, CCRN. Has 2 years experience.

Thank you for your input everyone, and keep it coming!

I can definitely say that it would be absolutely mandatory for me to invest in really good snow tires (and not just all season tires) if I were to buy a FWD car. Fortunately, I do have two family members close by that have AWD cars who would likely be able to drive me in a pinch...

This is something I will need to ask in my rapidly approching orientation, but I wondering what some hospital's policies are regarding "attendance points/infractions" during severely inclimate weather.

Millions of people have driven billions of miles without an SUV. Or 4 wheel drive.

You will have to think ahead a bit, park at the bottom of the driveway, buy snow shovel, etc.

I can get the Subaru up and down the driveway through a pretty impressive amount of snow. the Vibe/Matrix, less so.

Do not believe the myth of all season tires. Buy a set for winter, and one for summer. You will get better ride and mileage in the summer, and better traction in the winter. And, assuming you intend to keep the car for the lifespan of two sets of tires, there is essentially no extra cost.

I drive a rear wheel drive sports car in the snow. It's not necessarily ideal, but it's absolutely possible.


Specializes in NICU. Has 6 years experience.

How about a Toyota RAV 4? Good gas mileage and 4WD


Has 10 years experience.

I recently got a CRV that has AWD. I also bought a snowblower, so between the two, I'm pretty sure we won't get any snow for the next few winters! :-)

ZooMommyRN, ADN, RN

Specializes in Med/Surg, ICU, ER, Peds ER-CPEN. Has 13 years experience.

I live in SE MI and after last winter I ditched the PT Cruiser for a Patriot, it's not 4WD but it's higher up and heavier!

klone, MSN, RN

Specializes in Women's Health/OB Leadership. Has 15 years experience.

I've lived in Minnesota, and in Colorado, and I've NEVER used the 4WD feature on any of my vehicles that have had it.

Get a reliable car with AWD (I second the suggestion of Subaru). AWD is all you need unless you're off-roading in the mountains. (and I've even done that in my Subaru with little difficulty)


Specializes in ED; Med Surg. Has 7 years experience.

I have found over the years of driving in snow (and if there is a blizzard it is a mortal lock that I am working) that 4WD pales in comparison to good snow tires. Rugged snow tires make all the difference in the world.

An all-wheel drive Volvo, put into lower gears prn, will get you through anything the NE has to throw at you. Never used snow tires, just my regular tires, changed regularly to keep them good. :)

Been there,done that, ASN, RN

Has 33 years experience.

I'm in Michigan. After MUCH research, got a Mazda CX5 AWD, 30 mpg. We had 98 inches of snow last year, she handled perfectly in all situations.

icuRNmaggie, BSN, RN

Specializes in MICU, SICU, CICU. Has 24 years experience.

To the OP:

I am familiar with the snowbelt near Lake Erie. I remember my car being buried overnight and people actually walking down the street level with the roofs of the cars. I am no car expert. In that region, which has the fastest, heaviest, deepest snowfall that I have ever seen, I would buy a big pick um truck with AWD and 4WD. Sounds like fun. Pack up bag with a change of clothes and other things you will need. Bring food to share, stuff for sandwiches or a crockpot of chili. In blizzards and hurricanes we plan on having lots of groceries in case we really get stuck.

Being stuck at the hospital isn't all bad, and if you are mandated to stay for 48 hrs you will be paid time and a half per the Fair labor standards act for the whole time that you are there. Bring food, have fun with it.

Edited by icuRNmaggie