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2021 Outback Onyx Edition XT
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Discussion Starter #1
I posted this a few days ago on the LGT site.

I've never encountered this issue in my driving experience, but I wanted to get an idea of how much snow the Outback can go in before it'll lose traction.

Of course, winter tires provide more grip than all-seasons, but I'm talking about the phenomenon that compresses the snow under your car, turns the snow into an incline/wedge, and then elevates the chassis because of your momentum. The result is that the car is elevated to the point where your tires (and axles) are also lifted up and as a result lose contact with the road - nothing to do with the tire type.

The Outback has about 3" more ground clearance over the Legacy I'm interested in. I know that, generally speaking, the lower Legacy has better handling as the CG is lower, and better aerodynamics.

Just how much snow can an Outback get through?

It sounds like under fresh powder (non-slush/ice), you're good for up to 18" of snow in a Legacy. Wondering if this is better or worse with the Outback (I imagine it's better, but I don't know to quantify the difference of the 3" ground clearance...)

My job requires me to get to work even when roads are closed and it's "essential" personnel only. Therefore, I need to try to minimize the opportunity of getting stuck. We don't really see "snowpacolypse" type accumulations like 18" often, maybe once or twice every couple of years, and even then I would have to be unlucky enough to have the snow event be happening right when there's a shift change.
 

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Brucey
'17 3.6
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I've driven in up to 30" of fresh powder.

Old melted and re melted chunk would be way less than that because of the body work.
 

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Super Moderator
2016 3.6 Limited with ES
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Go until you get stuck and then call Uber.

:hide:
 

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2018 OB 2.5 Premium
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26 Posts
Can't help with the OPs question, too new with my OB. But while folks are thinking about his question of "when does the car turn into a sled" I'd like to add a related snowpocalypse question: "does really deep powder ever clog the air intake and bring things to a halt.".
Used to have that problem when I was in Colorado driving a pickup and I've seen some You Tube videos of OBs busting some pretty deep drifts. Awesome stuff.
 

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OBW H6 VDC, Tribeca, XT6
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Just how much snow can an Outback get through?
I've high centered an outback in roughly 14" of heavy, wet snow. i'd imagine less could high center a car as well depending on type of snow, road, and if it's been driven through previously or not, and by what.

physically it depends on the type of snow and contributing factors that effect high centering in those regards.

roads without vehicles for hours on end which accumulate 18" of untouched, freshly laid, never traversed, untreated light fluffy mountain peak snow that makes Breckenridge shudder in delight....not sure that remotely describes daily driver duties for the average northeast resident.

practically speaking you get hung up where it's been plowed, packed, treated, driven through, or deep, wet snow. amount by itself is almost a low tier discussion.
 

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06 OBW 2.5, 05 Forester, had 03 H6 OBW
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Powder, almost unlimited as far as I can tell!
But we never have unmolested powder around here- it's all drift snow!

About 1-2 inches more drift snow than ground clearance and you are done. Almost impossible to 'plow' it with the body/undercarriage as you gradually ramp up onto it.

We will get 'a few inches' that will result into a foot of drift snow, I think it's even worse than wet snow, the flakes and grains blow around until they interlock and it's quite a beast to get through.
 

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OBW H6 VDC, Tribeca, XT6
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Powder, almost unlimited as far as I can tell!
But we never have unmolested powder around here- it's all drift snow!

About 1-2 inches more drift snow than ground clearance and you are done. Almost impossible to 'plow' it with the body/undercarriage as you gradually ramp up onto it.

We will get 'a few inches' that will result into a foot of drift snow, I think it's even worse than wet snow, the flakes and grains blow around until they interlock and it's quite a beast to get through.
great example...amount is such a pointless basis for discussing.
 

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2017 2.5i Premium Lapis Blue
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I'm planning on driving my Outback to work all winter even if we are supposed to get a big storm. In the past I would usually take my truck but I think the Outback will handle just about anything we get here.

The only thing that might be an issue is at intersections of side roads to the main road if the plows go by and leave behind the big windrows of heavy wet snow. I'm not worried much about getting through them but maybe damaging the front bumper cover or fog lights. Same thing when arriving back home if the plows have the driveway blocked. If the snow looks too solid I might have to open it up first instead of busting through it like I usually do.
 

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2021 Outback Onyx Edition XT
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Discussion Starter #9
That’s interesting. Anything you can do other than dig the first foot out and try to get out of the high center conditions?
 

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Generally, an Outback can drive through 12-18" of snow. Really depends upon how much moisture is in the snow. Once you get above 12", the car will float on top of the compressed snow. In that case, you have to keep the speed above 20mph, and keep the revs up so that the wheels spin quite a bit. I call it "paddling". If you slow down too much, then the car will stop, and your are stuck. In that case, you have to dig out the undercarriage of the car. If the snow is really fluffy, then you can go above 18", but it comes over the hood, and you can't see where you are going. I find that tire type doesn't matter very much.
 

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06 OBW 2.5, 05 Forester, had 03 H6 OBW
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High-centering on drift snow is not pleasant.
I have had to dig all around, as far under the car as I could with a dirt shovel, and then still only got out by the brake-power-release brake-release gas method*.

*Short burst of a lot of power, use the inertia of the free spinning wheels to transfer a short burst of power to all the wheels.
Apply the brake, apply throttle, wind up the converter a bit, suddenly release the brake, all wheels get a shot of power even with all open diffs, then release the gas just after releasing the brake.
 

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I simply cannot abide useless people.
2006 2.5i and 2002 3.0 wagons.
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I had so much fun driving Kaylee through 1-2 feet of powder from a storm in Indiana. Like a knife through butter, even on all-seasons (Primacy MXV4, I miss them so much).

Now when it started to pile up and get slushy, then high centering became a legit concern.
 

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2021 Outback Onyx Edition XT
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Discussion Starter #13
So how much of a difference in capability would the 3” in ground clearance end up being in terms of avoiding high centering?
 

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2008 OB Limited 2.5i, Portland OR USA
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So how much of a difference in capability would the 3” in ground clearance end up being in terms of avoiding high centering?
Whatever you could do previously within the threshold of high centering, now has 3" more margin?:smile2:
 
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