Fun in ice and snow

bluetick

Member
Joined
Dec 27, 2012
Location
Memphis
TDI
2013 Passat SEL TDI
My wife bought a new Candy White 2013 Passat SEL on Halloween night this year. It has nearly 5,000 miles on it now. The first road trip we took in it we were able to average around 43 mpg at extra legal speeds in Texas and Arkansas. Over the Christmas holiday weekend, fuel mileage was considerably less for some reason (around 38 mpg).

Anyway, for my first post I wanted to relate how well this car handles snow and ice. On Christmas night, we left San Antonio bound for Memphis. The forecast for the I-30 corridor between Dallas and Texarkana was for little expected ice accumulation. Just west of Dallas around 11 pm we found the road to be a solid sheet of ice into Arkansas. Any cars were off the road along the war, tucks stuck or jack knifed, etc. The Passat just chugged along determinedly. In Arkansas, the ice began to blend with snow. Deep snow. 10 inches or more. We probably saw around 100 vehicles abandoned that were stuck, wrecked, or out of fuel, plus 30 or so 18 wheelers that were unable to proceed. The Passat pressed on.

Westbound I-40 east of Little Rock was buried unplowed in snow. There was no evidence of any salt, sand, etc. The Passat doggedly churned along.

There were only a couple of times the Passat felt unstable or had traction problems - once while coasting across a wet but icy bridge and once when climbing and entrance ramp after exiting into some very deep snow. The rest of the trip it rolled along without issue even on inclines where other vehicles were spinning their tires.

Living in the south, I've had limited experiences driving on untreated icy roads or in deep snow. The Passat's fuel range, front wheel drive, stock Hankook tires, and ABS lessened the stress of a 750 mile drive in pretty harsh conditions. What was normally a 12 hour drive ended up taking 17.5 hours.

Anyone considering a Passat who anticipates driving a lot of miles in snow or ice really should pull the trigger.
 

spryde

Well-known member
Joined
Sep 12, 2005
Location
Saginaw, MI
TDI
2003 Jetta TDI GLS 5sp, 2006 Jetta Pkg 2 DSG Blue Graphite (order cancelled by dealer :( )
I am glad you made it safely. However I think luck was one your side.

There isn't anything special about the Passat in terms of traction and/or tires. I've seen plenty of NMS passats around here (4) in the ditch or spun off on the side of the road. It's all about the driver and not doing stupid things. Even then, someone else doing something stupid negates your care.
 

bluetick

Member
Joined
Dec 27, 2012
Location
Memphis
TDI
2013 Passat SEL TDI
There undoubtedly was some luck involved, but I am also a reasonbly capable driver. Not only did I avoid dumb mistakes but I also did my best to position the car at all times such that others' dumb mistakes would not negatively impact me.

I realize there are numerous vehicles that would make good and comfortable choices in such adverse conditions, but I'd put the Passat high on the list.
 

spryde

Well-known member
Joined
Sep 12, 2005
Location
Saginaw, MI
TDI
2003 Jetta TDI GLS 5sp, 2006 Jetta Pkg 2 DSG Blue Graphite (order cancelled by dealer :( )
Ultimately, you are the pilot in command it sounds like you made the right call. I-40 between LR and Memphis on a good day is a drag strip with truckers acting as rolling road blocks. Sounds like the truckers took the snow day off.

Eat some Tops BBQ for me ;)
 

VeeDubTDI

Wanderluster, Traveler, TDIClub Enthusiast
Joined
Jul 2, 2000
Location
Springfield, VA
TDI
‘18 Tesla Model 3D+, ‘14 Cadillac ELR, ‘13 Fiat 500e
Over the Christmas holiday weekend, fuel mileage was considerably less for some reason (around 38 mpg).

Anyway, for my first post I wanted to relate how well this car handles snow and ice. On Christmas night, we left San Antonio bound for Memphis. The forecast for the I-30 corridor between Dallas and Texarkana was for little expected ice accumulation. Just west of Dallas around 11 pm we found the road to be a solid sheet of ice into Arkansas. Any cars were off the road along the war, tucks stuck or jack knifed, etc. The Passat just chugged along determinedly. In Arkansas, the ice began to blend with snow. Deep snow. 10 inches or more. We probably saw around 100 vehicles abandoned that were stuck, wrecked, or out of fuel, plus 30 or so 18 wheelers that were unable to proceed. The Passat pressed on.
Snow = bad fuel economy.
 

Ski in NC

Top Post Dawg
Joined
Jul 7, 2008
Location
Wilmington, NC USA
TDI
2001 Jetta ALH 5sp stock
Bluetick- I think you have proven to be a capable driver, keeping that thing on the road in those conditions for 17+ hours. But you are dang lucky one of the numerous idiots out there did not sneak up on you and take your new ride out. There sure are alot of them out there.
 

phlfly

Banned
Joined
Dec 20, 2012
Location
N.VA
TDI
Passat SEL
I noticed as well, it handles very well on snow and slash since we had one on Wed in N.VA, the traction is very good compare to my daughter’s Camry, this car is drivable very easy in this condition, and I pushed hard and hard time to make go sideways but I grew up in Russia
 

kcox69

Well-known member
Joined
Apr 29, 2006
Location
Boise, ID
TDI
'13 Passat SEL & '04 Jetta
I have to agree with you, Bluetick. My '13 SEL handles like a dream compared to my '04 Jetta. I commute a little over 50 miles each way to work every day. On Wednesday going to work I assumed the roads weren't as bad as they looked. We got a couple inches of snow Christmas night which turned to an icy mess overnight. The drive to work was uneventful as they say. And the same for the drive home. It wasn't until I watched the evening news that I saw how bad it was. We're talking numbers in the double digits for slide-offs and accidents. In the Jetta, I'd normally just putt-putt along on the drive. I thought I was doing the same in the Passat until I looked down and she was holding steady at 65. Since the road was clear of other drivers at that time of morning, I figured I'd see what she was capable of so I boosted her up to 70. She didn't miss a beat so I took her up to the speed limit of 75 and set the cruise. Never felt a single instance of slippage or slide. I am thoroughly impressed.
 

MyAvocation

Top Post Dawg
Joined
Jun 9, 2004
Location
Hoffman Estates, IL
TDI
2017 Passat SEL TSI
She didn't miss a beat so I took her up to the speed limit of 75 and set the cruise. Never felt a single instance of slippage or slide. I am thoroughly impressed.
Your balls must be bigger than mine to set cruise on ice/snow... that's how most vehicles are ditched.

One reason Passats, Jettas and Golfs out-perform in poor weather is heavier weight and less front braking bias.
 

Cogen Man

Veteran Member
Joined
Jun 4, 2011
Location
Kingston, Ontario, Canada
TDI
2011 Golf TDI DSG.
Your balls must be bigger than mine to set cruise on ice/snow... that's how most vehicles are ditched.

One reason Passats, Jettas and Golfs out-perform in poor weather is heavier weight and less front braking bias.
Yes that extra weight with a diesel engine really helps with the bite/traction effect.
 

ISurvivedNMU

Veteran Member
Joined
Jul 24, 2005
Location
Michigan
TDI
2012 Passat SEL
I parked my passat for the winter or until the roads clear up a bit. I found my passat wanted to wander on icey roads much more than my jetta. Also, the 18" wheels would get snow or ice in them and throw the tire off balance.

I am blaming the hancooks....
 

MyAvocation

Top Post Dawg
Joined
Jun 9, 2004
Location
Hoffman Estates, IL
TDI
2017 Passat SEL TSI
Sounds like you drove through wet, heavy flake snow... no car handles well in that mess. The lake effect stuff is much easier to navigate.
 

rhpot1991

Active member
Joined
Aug 31, 2011
Location
PA
TDI
2012 Passat
I must say that I've hat the opposite experience. I've never had a car have such a hard time getting traction, must be the Hancook Optimo H426s that are on it. Once I got going no issues at all, but climbing a hill or getting started was very painful. I even had the car slide down a hill when parked.
 

Knarrly Viking

Veteran Member
Joined
Feb 25, 2012
Location
Washington
TDI
2015 Passat SE 6MT, 2 of them!
There are some of us who know how to drive in the snow (and enjoy it). Others should stay home. The exception is when you have sucky tires, like Hankooks, then even avid snow drivers can slide through stoplights.
 
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