It was a brutal winter here in Minneapolis - about 80 inches of snow. It was really the first time that my AWD Volvo XC-90 really got a work out.

Here's my analysis:

I used to have a true 4WD Isuzu Trooper. That car could go through anything. Once I drove over the 3' mound of snow/ice to get from one shopping center parking lot to another

My wife has a Volvo S80 - a heavy FWD sedan. It does well in the snow, and did so this year.

Now for the disappointment: My XC-90. This is a 5,200lb SUV, with big Michlien Pilots, and AWD. Several times I almost got stuck on my own street. Pulling over a bit (into unplowed urban snow), so another car could pass - I had difficulty getting going. Just a little packed snow (less than 10") was an obstacle. I don't think one should have to 'rock' this car for a little bit of snow.

My conclusion is that FWD really works in the snow, and 4WD will really get you where you want to go.

However AWD (at least Volvo's) is useless. I don't know if the MB 4-matic is any better.