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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Nov 2015
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    Reno, NV
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    Transit RWD vs Promaster FWD for Winter Travel

    Hey all, I did some digging on the site but didn't find much info. Any of you folks have first hand experience with the RWD Transit or the FWD Promasters for getting to and from the ski hill or trailhead during the winter? Most of the info I've been able to find are folks in the midwest/east coast dealing with snow around the city which obviously differs than going up a mountain pass with 6-12" of fresh coming down. I know Transits come in an AWD ($$) and Chevy offers an Express with AWD but I'm leaning toward PM or Transit for the interior space.

    Any info is appreciated, thanks!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Location
    Santa Cruz, CA
    Posts
    516
    Can't speak to either model specifically, but in general between FWD and RWD you're always going to be better off in the snow/ice with FWD (regardless of how much you weigh down the rear end of a RWD.)

    In my personal experience AWD is worth the extra dollars if you're going to find yourself in the mountains fairly often, particularly in California due to frequent chain controls. I assume that applies to you, living in Reno. I went from an AWD Honda Element, which I dearly miss, and am now rocking a 4x4 Sprinter (which is deceptively an AWD and not a true 4x4, but who's counting.) At the time I bought the Sprinter was the only cargo van you could get with a factory 4x4/AWD. If I was to do it over today I'd be very tempted by the AWD Transit.

    Also note that FWD+snow tires will generally outperform AWD+all season tires, but that's not really an option if, like most people, you have some highway driving to do to get to the mountains.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 2004
    Location
    SoCal
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    6,127
    Another can of worms is whether to get a Transit AWD, or a 2WD Transit + Quigley 4WD conversion (F150 parts, for true 4WD with low range). Depends how much sand and rougher dirt roads you'll be doing during the Summer. Unfortunately Quigley probably won't convert a mid-roof, and won't touch a high roof model.

    Ford warns about driving on sand with AWD due to possibly burning up the center differential. They should really offer a locking center diff.

    Wonder if it's possible to get an AWD Transit, and swap the AWD transfer case to a 4WD transfer case from an F150? Followed by a rear diff locker if necessary.
    Last edited by 1000-oaks; 09-18-2021 at 12:53 PM.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Nov 2015
    Location
    Reno, NV
    Posts
    530
    I hear you on the AWD being worth it but with the market right now I'm seeing them marked up 10k plus. I've been driving either an AWD or 4wd for 15 years so definitely a firm believer in them but not to the extent that I'll over pay.

    Interesting about the issue with sand and the AWD. It wouldn't impact me really but definitely something to note for those doing baja trips or something similar.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Dec 2004
    Location
    SoCal
    Posts
    6,127

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Sep 2015
    Posts
    245
    Been driving a 2018 mid sized Transit for a year and a half, all over from Oklahoma to Colorado to California. Driving is for work but will bring ski gear every chance I can and spend a couple days backcountry skiing along the way.
    I try to avoid snow storms when ever possible but sometimes it canít be helped. Just in case there are chains for all 4 but havenít had to use them yet. Overall with smart winter driving the van handles very predictable in the snow. Traction control doesnít impede forward movement but momentum is a double edge sword. Snow tires would help.
    Have driven up Berthoud Pass in a storm just fine. The parking lot is a different story, fwd or rwd at that point doesnít matter itís going to get stuck if not plowed. Skied Red Mountain Pass in a 12Ē storm. That was interesting, had a Jeep Grand Cherokee spin out behind me but the Transit just keep chugging through. But again parking was limited and had to wait for a plow truck to clean up the lot before pulling in.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Location
    Planning an exit
    Posts
    5,637
    Promaster owner here. I wouldn't want to do it often or as a daily driver but it handles fine on snow and ice. I'm sure if I put dedicated snow tires on it I would be fine for most paved roads. My two experiences are driving it in a 10 degree F blizzard on snow packed roads, (same trip) 32 degrees F slushy blizzard and an ice storm. I just slowed down and didn't drive like an idiot, it was a little spooky feeling but I drive an Outback with Blizzaks otherwise so I figure that feeling is to be expected.

    I think baby bear drives a Promaster with snow tires and does just fine in her area.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Location
    livin the dream
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    4,622
    FWD Promaster if youíre going to stay on paved and plowed roads. That low rear axle kinda fucks your or any sort of GOTOS adventure


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    Best Skier on the Mountain
    Self-Certified
    1992 - 2012
    Squaw Valley, USA

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Aug 2006
    Location
    The land of lot's of houses, CO
    Posts
    285
    Iíve driven my pro master in all kinds of conditions

    Studded snow tires and it is shockingly good

    I drive up to monarch all winter, used to make monthly or more trips in all weather conditions to denver along 285

    The other day drove on ď 4WD road ď I think some of the GOTOS rigs that I saw that day might have felt slightly deflated to see a big ass van out where they were getting after it




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  10. #10
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
    Location
    Reno, NV
    Posts
    521
    Just came back from the https://www.adventurevanexpo.com/?gc...oaAnwoEALw_wcB
    at Homewood. Plenty of knowledgeable people willing to help answer you questions for free (and they sell beer). Helped me make my mind up re: my next van, Transit AWD 144" 3.6L ecoboost w/ Van Compass 2" lift.

    Sent from my SM-G986U using Tapatalk

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Nov 2015
    Location
    Reno, NV
    Posts
    530
    Quote Originally Posted by scmartin69 View Post
    Just came back from the https://www.adventurevanexpo.com/?gc...oaAnwoEALw_wcB
    at Homewood. Plenty of knowledgeable people willing to help answer you questions for free (and they sell beer). Helped me make my mind up re: my next van, Transit AWD 144" 3.6L ecoboost w/ Van Compass 2" lift.

    Sent from my SM-G986U using Tapatalk
    Nice, was actually thinking of checking that out but got sidetracked today. Maybe Iíll head up tomorrow.

    wannabe, did you have any issue wish unplowed roads or ground clearance probs?

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Nov 2015
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    Reno, NV
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    Quote Originally Posted by nickwm21 View Post
    FWD Promaster if youíre going to stay on paved and plowed roads. That low rear axle kinda fucks your or any sort of GOTOS adventure


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    Speaking from experience?

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Aug 2021
    Posts
    43
    I mained a shitty rustbucket of a Sebring with a leaky 2.7 and all seasons that were...well more than a few years past rec. we'll put it that way. I was not in a good spot financially and skiing was all that kept me sane. Never lost traction at road speeds or except deliberately to get out of a snowed-in parking lot. Drive smart, anticipate, force your spacing and stay at appropriate speeds and you are fine. For further clarification i point to OP's handle. AWD and winters are merely assistance, albeit a substantially recommended one for the latter. New ride came and they were an instant buy because I am not dumb, but those early November trips before the swap keep me honest about the above.

    Now if you're going out of your way to find BC trailheads and isolated roads (almost certainly not the ones headed to resorts), left uncleared for days, that's a different story entirely. But all these tales about chain-checks on arterial roadways down there just have me shaking my head. Is the GP that dreadful you find the need to?

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Aug 2006
    Location
    The land of lot's of houses, CO
    Posts
    285
    The only time I got stuck I was out in a spring storm with over 12Ē on the road.

    I was able to get myself unstuck, but it took some work.

    The low ground clearance is an issue in unplowed roads and parking lots but it makes everyday driving that much better with such a large van


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  15. #15
    Join Date
    Sep 2019
    Location
    CA
    Posts
    322
    Own and drive a 2015 transit mid-roof 2wd, drive to ski for years. I have 3 peak snow rated tires and it does great in 10Ē of fresh on the road. I carry chains and chain up when required, 1-2 times a season. Thatís worth the 10k and long wait right there. My van weighs 7200 lbs so it feels planted even in compacted snow and ice ruts on pavement.

    I guess it depends on how many chain control stations you *have* to drive through, thereís no getting around it with either vehicle so it might be worth it to wait/spend for the 4wd.

    But Iím happy with the transit 2wd in snow.

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Jan 2017
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    on the banks of Fish Creek
    Posts
    4,444
    what's fourth tire? all season?

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Nov 2015
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    Reno, NV
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    Quote Originally Posted by YaBoyBlue View Post

    I guess it depends on how many chain control stations you *have* to drive through, thereís no getting around it with either vehicle so it might be worth it to wait/spend for the 4wd.

    But Iím happy with the transit 2wd in snow.
    A normal season Iíll hit them 5 or so times early in the morning heading up i-80 from Reno to Truckee. Otherwise itís a rarity.

    When you said ďthat right there is worth 10kĒ. Did you mean youíd prefer to have paid an extra $10k to save the troubles of chaining up? I was thinking a $10 4x4 decal would be a solid investmentÖ

  18. #18
    Join Date
    Jan 2005
    Location
    Access to Granlibakken
    Posts
    9,254
    Most of the van info on TGR is in padded room or the long thread on RVs on ski/snowboard forum. The RWD vs Promaster topic has been extensively discussed.

    I got my diesel Transit in 2015 and had a year wait before Quadvan converted it to 4x4. Back then Quadvan was far preferable to Quigley but I’ve heard quigley has improved. Anyway, living in Tahoe with a RWD Transit kinda sucked. Hiways were fine generally but side streets after a big storm were not despite the snowflake rated tires.

    The 2” aftermarket lifts for AWD transits from van compass and Quigley seem to have a decent reputation. If you can afford the AWD upcharge, the long term resale value could be worth it.

    I thought the Transit production line was shut down due to supply chain issues?

  19. #19
    Join Date
    Nov 2015
    Location
    Reno, NV
    Posts
    530
    Thanks, I'll do some more digging. Did a cursory search but didn't see much.

    In terms of production, I think you're right. Ford said anything new would be 12-18 months out. That's out of my price range any way as I'm trying to stick close to $25-30K so I have some leftover to get a pop top installed for 3 season camping with the family. Hence the FWD vs RWD argument. If it was just me I'd fork out the extra $10-15k.

  20. #20
    Join Date
    Apr 2021
    Posts
    693
    Quote Originally Posted by m2711c View Post
    what's fourth tire? all season?
    If you put a slick on your rear right wheel it's easier to do donuts in the parking lot.

  21. #21
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Vacationland
    Posts
    4,429
    Iíve got a 136 hi roof promaster in Maine. Studded snows on all four corners makes it pretty bomber in winter driving conditions.

    My nemesis is the access road to Sugarloaf where some douche canoe from Boston in a Camry with city tires will lose traction and force the whole line to stop. Iíve had a hard time getting going from a full stop when that happens. No biggie since it only happens on a powder dayÖ


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  22. #22
    Join Date
    Sep 2019
    Location
    CA
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    322
    Quote Originally Posted by GoSlowGoFar View Post
    A normal season Iíll hit them 5 or so times early in the morning heading up i-80 from Reno to Truckee. Otherwise itís a rarity.

    When you said ďthat right there is worth 10kĒ. Did you mean youíd prefer to have paid an extra $10k to save the troubles of chaining up? I was thinking a $10 4x4 decal would be a solid investmentÖ
    Since I hit chain control 1-2 times a year, drive on mainly snowy highway and not much ďaround townĒ side streets and driveways etc (and when I have had to do that itís been fine) itís worth it to me to save the 10k and chain up.

    You might be on the other side of the equation though. Iíd just be careful about your wants vs needs with this vehicle, itís very easy to convince yourself that you need features which immediately put you in a 75-80k base vehicle. The sky is the limit with whatís available in van builds, esp if you have someone doing the buildout for you.

  23. #23
    Join Date
    Nov 2015
    Location
    Reno, NV
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    530
    Quote Originally Posted by frorider View Post

    I got my diesel Transit in 2015 and had a year wait before Quadvan converted it to 4x4. Back then Quadvan was far preferable to Quigley but Iíve heard quigley has improved. Anyway, living in Tahoe with a RWD Transit kinda sucked. Hiways were fine generally but side streets after a big storm were not despite the snowflake rated tires.
    Do you have the limited slip differential on your Transit?

  24. #24
    Join Date
    Dec 2003
    Location
    Seattle
    Posts
    32,504
    Quote Originally Posted by ticketchecker View Post
    Iíve got a 136 hi roof promaster in Maine. Studded snows on all four corners makes it pretty bomber in winter driving conditions.

    My nemesis is the access road to Sugarloaf where some douche canoe from Boston in a Camry with city tires will lose traction and force the whole line to stop. Iíve had a hard time getting going from a full stop when that happens. No biggie since it only happens on a powder dayÖ


    Sent from my iPhone using TGR Forums
    Doesn't sound so bomber if you can't get moving from a standstill?

    But blaming someone else's lack of traction is an awesome diversionary tactic.
    Quote Originally Posted by Downbound Train View Post
    And there will come a day when our ancestors look back...........

  25. #25
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Dystopia
    Posts
    14,371
    My express AWD is dying.
    Wish they still made them. Been everywhere and anywhere with m&s tires.

    Would love an awd transit. But it’s a unicorn
    Too many influencers chasing #vanlife.
    ďIím a subhuman jizz monkeyĒ

    Thx mods. Itís an awesome signature.

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