We thought about this quite a bit before buying. Where I live snow tires are mandatory. I think the clearance is good enough, its got traction control, front wheel drive. Plus because the rims aren't big, the snow tires are cheap. I think it will be an excellent winter car.
I am curious about getting a winter floor mat for the back, the carpet one in there is huge.
- Leave room between your car and the car in front of you so that no sudden breaking is required.
- Anticipate. Look ahead for upcoming traffic lights, cars pulling out onto the road from side streets/parking lots, cars turning, etc. Avoid sudden breaking by slowing down in anticipation of needing to stop.
- When taking off from a complete stop, ease onto the accelerator so that the car gradually takes off with good traction with the road/ice...slow and steady wins in the battle against icy roads.
- If the car seems too light and you have problems with fishtailing, keep a couple 25lb or 50 lb bags of sand, rice, dog food, whatever in the trunk to provide more weight.
Let's see...I'm not an expert on tires or anything but my little understanding of winter/snow tires vs. all-season is that winter/snow tires are a softer rubber that allows for more grip under slick conditions. The softer rubber also means that they will wear out faster when driven on dry asphalt roads. The treads and material are designed for maximum traction under wet and icy conditions. Though you can use them in dry conditions, the tread will wear faster than an all-season tire.
If I am wrong, maybe someone a bit more knowledgeable can share their insight?
Because the Cube has Vehicle Dynamic Control (VDC) and Traction Control System (TCS) maybe it will be better then just a regular car without those safety features. I also have a newer Jeep with those types of safety features and they work amazing, but the Jeep also has automatic 4x4 so I'm not sure what helps the most...
Here is a really neat video that explains what these 2 safety features do. In my Jeep I have actually tried using VDC (jeep calls it ESP, but it's the same thing) and it works GREAT. I was in the Upper Peninsula in Michigan on a heavily snow covered road and I was turning the steering wheel left to right in a violent fashion trying to get the Jeep to slide or drift and the ESP would not let you lose control. It was crazy!! Anyway check out this video of it.
Living just west of Toronto, snow is an issue. We don't seem to get as much as we once did, but putting the snow tires on is a good call. I'll be putting them on the cube mid December and off they come in March, depending on how the spring is going.
Again, as our snow cover is not constant, you do wear out the snows at a faster rate driving on the bare pavement, but they are only on the car for about 3 and a half months a year. Get yourself a good set, though softer, they will do you wonders when the snow flies. I will be getting another set of Blizzaks from Bridgestone for the cube. I have used the Blizzak for the past ten years, they certainly make for "boring" winter driving which is a good thing.
As to how the cube will handle in the slick stuff, doing hand brake turns and four wheel drifts might not be recommended -- it is lighter and has less ponies that our past cars. Being that tad lighter, it might not have the bite if you carry a bit too much speed into a corner -- I don't think the cvt will respond well to punching the throttle when powering through a turn.
I've had my fun flogging cars around in the snow, now I just want to relax in the cube lounge, take it easy and arrive with minimum fuss.
As everyone else has mentioned, snow tires are a very good idea to have in winter. They will make your drive much easier, less likely to get stuck, shorter braking distances, better handling on ice etc...
A good set should last you a few seasons, and another upside is that your all-season tires will last longer too since they aren't being used all 12 months of the year.
I live in Toronto where there's a couple good snow falls every year (last winter was particularly bad) and I would've been stranded for sure without winter tires (I'm driving a '99 miata though, RWD + light).
My suggestion, if this is your first winter, is after the first decent snowfall (a couple inches will do) find an empty parking lot and practice some emergency braking/quick steering so you'll know how the car will react in the snow and with the snow tires. This way you'll be prepared in case you need to stop quickly while on the road. I do this with every new car I own and so far no accidents *knock on wood*.
Live just outside Toronto, and have never needed snows. Buffalo? Better safe than sorry, especially if snow clearing is not too prompt on the streets. That is partly why I stayed with the "S" version. Narrower tires, means a smaller contact patch, which is preferred in winter.