Originally Posted by Commander Keen
This. I tell people looking for an AWD/4WD car for snow not to bother unless they're also getting winter tires. A modern FWD with snows is safer and easier to drive than 4WD/AWD with all seasons.
We get enough snow here to cause all kinds of wreckage, but not enough for winter tires to be common equipment. Drivers set out with their SUV on hockey puck tires and end up ornamenting a telephone pole with it.
A mere 1.1" here smashed up sixty cars in four hours. Medics and police were stretched to the limit. When I got home, the perfectly prepared rack of ribs I put in the oven that morning was at room temperature and ruined because one of the 60 cars knocked out the mains to my neighborhood. All this, because people don't care to put the right tires on their car.
The Impreza, even with the stock tires, is pretty great for me so far, but I don't think I'll experience the extreme driving conditions that you do. With your combination of AWD and snow tires with good tread, you can stop and maneuver much better than many other vehicles around you. Your biggest problem isn't the roads, it's, as you've said, the SUV with bald tires who wants to follow you or pass you. When the roads are bad, there's no substitute for keeping a wide buffer between you and the other cars.