I could have written about the election of the new pope, Pope Frances, but that subject will be covered by others better qualified to comment upon his elevation to leader of the Roman Catholic Church.

I could have written about the evils of ethanol in gasoline, but I've covered that more than once, as have others.

I could have written about Obama and his efforts to make Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged become reality, but I and thousands of others have already beaten that subject to death.

I could have slammed the AGW faithful for their belief in seriously flawed computer models and falsified data.

So what will I be commenting upon that's so earth shattering that I have ignored the big stories of the day?

All Wheel Drive.

While it has become far more common over the years, being used in everything from every day cars (Subaru comes to mind) to high performance road machines (Audi & Porsche, just to name two), it isn't always what it's cracked up to be.

It does help with traction and handling, but not when it comes to the type of inclement winter weather we experience here in the northern climes. Frankly, a good set of snow tires will help more during winter weather than AWD. I know this from first had experience as I've seen (and owned) more than a few good front-wheel drive cars that were better in winter weather than many of the AWD vehicles because they were shod with honest to goodness snow tires (usually Nokian Haakapilittas), and not all-season radials like many AWD cars and SUVs. One of the biggest problems with AWD during bad weather? Driver overconfidence.

However, my experience—hard-earned from wrecking more than one AWD vehicle during snow-handling tests for a tire company—is that AWD is counter-productive when the roads are slick. At the same time AWD doesn't improve your handling, it does offer an overly optimistic sense of available traction, and it provides the potential to be going so much faster when you need to stop. (Note to those from warm climes: Snowbanks are not puffy and cushiony.) The laws of physics mean a vehicle's cornering power is the job of the tires and suspension.

One thing that many drivers of AWD vehicles forget is that while AWD may help them to get moving, it won't necessarily help them turn any better and it won't help with braking at all. (Inertia is a bitch!)

The trusty F150 is Four Wheel Drive, an entirely different animal than AWD. AWD can generally be used all the time while 4WD cannot. Four wheel drive is for use on and off-road where traction conditions are marginal at best, and is engaged by use of a switch on the dashboard or a second shift lever on the transmission hump. (The F150 uses the second shift lever, just like a 4WD truck should.) I also use decent snow tires on the F150 as well, maximizing traction in the snow. I also have a set of tire chains should I need to venture out onto ice-covered roads. But for all of that, 4WD can also give drivers overconfidence as to the traction they have. (I try very hard to not get that way when I'm out on the roads and the conditions require me to drop the trusty F150 into 4WD.) An old saying the applies to 4WD, and to a lesser amount to AWD: “All 4WD means is that you get stuck deeper in the woods.”

Think about it.