We've had a bad winter here in Ohio and I think my Sunfire does pretty well in the snow. It's really all about how you drive in it, as any sudden acceleration, braking, or steering movements will cause you to spin out.
As for the ETS or traction control that I think you are referring to, I usually end up disabling it in really bad weather because I learned to drive in older car without it and now I find it a bit annoying. How it works is if it detects spin in the front wheels it cuts back on the gas to eliminate the spin. The trouble is that a little bit of spin is OK and sometimes necessary (if you're stuck), which is why I turn it off.
It sounds like you may have hit a patch of black ice. Your tires lost all traction and any steering or braking inputs would not have registered. I can't say that this is an inherent fault with the Sunfire however. It could of happened to you with any vehicle equipped with all season tires in those conditions.
I love how my 02 Sunfire handles in the snow...actually it handles great on all terrain. We live in the mountains and get a lot of snow. We also own a 4X4 and were amazed that the Sunfire handled the roads just as good, if not better. I think driving in the snow also depends on a driver's skill, but all in all I would rate the Sunfire in the snow as a 10!
I first leased a Sunfire in 1999 here in Vancouver, BC and when my lease ran out and went again leased another Sunfire in 2002. I love these cars so much that when this lease runs out I am buying one. They are awesome in the snow and rain and I have never had any problems other than the regular wear and tear of brakes and tires. Yuu must of had bald tires on or something. I was climbing uphill in the snow everyday this winter passing cars and even some trucks. Sunfires are safe too as I was atually rear ended hard and not a scratch to my car, however, their bumper was destroyed. I also think the gas mileage is sufficient too.
I have to agree.. it depends on the driver.
I leased my '02 Sunfire new, and it handles REALLY well. I live in Calgary, Alberta, so I know ALL about snow and icy conditions.
Have had some other issues, but all in all, good for the price.
Lack of vehicle control while driving in snow is most likely caused by 2 things: black ice and/or lack of snow tires. I live in Montreal, and every November/December there are a whole bunch of people who crash in the first snow because they either have not winterized their car yet (no tires), or they are too used to summer driving and their speed it too fast for the road conditions.
You simply cannot drive 50-75km/hr when there is snow on the road. I'm not saying that the above driver is at fault for the accident, but I would be interested to know your speed when you lost control, and if you had winter/snow tires on.
I owned a 2002 Sunfire, and while it had it's faults (crude unrefined engine, sub-par fit & finish etc), handling snow and ice was not a problem.
Actually it handled New England Winters quite well. The anti-lock brakes were also a plus.
I live in Thunder Bay, Ontario and we have winter here like few others have ever experienced! I have had no problems like those described. Car handles well in snow and even in icy conditions. I would ditto those who have said that it's either due to (1) black ice, (2) bad tires or (3) driver speed or inexperience in winter conditions.
Now I could say some other things about my 02 Sunfire...
I would have to say that my 2002 Sunfire handles exceptionally well in the snow. I have been on the Coquihalla Highway near the summit in near blizzard like conditions and SUV's are sliding, and not a problem for me. Correct tires and adaptive driving to the winter conditions are all that's required to safely drive in the snow in this car.
I think this car runs quite well in the snow, not that I love my car. It has many other problems, but the snow is not one of them.
I live in Prince George and let me say this car is a death trap on wheels. Bought it this late spring, had our 1st snow this fall and was down to 40 kil's barely hanging on. Bought brand new winter tires, had them studded ($700+) and still a scary drive. Once you drive on a couple inches of wet snow or slush the car whips all over the road generally aiming for the other lane. I will not drive this car in the winter and cannot consciously sell it either. There must be something wrong with this car as I see hundreds on the road and all cannot be like this.
To all of you that are experiencing winter driving issues and are running all season radials, here are 5 words of advice; GET SOME REAL SNOW TIRES.and maybe change your driving style
I have a 2002 on 4 nordic winter trac tires and it handles just fine in the winter time.
For one thing, almost any car can do a 360 on slippery conditions. This really depends on what condition the tires are in also.
However, for saying that the Sunfires are a "death trap" I MUST disagree. I had a little 98 a few years ago, and it never gave me a single problem to say the least. I drove an hour up a mountain in the Appalachians everyday to the nursing home I worked at, and one day there was some ice... my tires (at my own fault) were nearly bald, and I was going a little fast around a curve, spun around, and rolled over down a large hill of a ditch, landing upside down. I was stuck upside down in the car for a while, and everything held out. I do not know how the roof did not cave in, considering the whole car appeared to be resting on the front end of the car, tail end sticking up in the air. I walked away from this accident among the rugged terrain with no more than a tiny scratch on my knee from the glass when I was crawling out.
The Sunfire is not a death trap, it is the person behind the wheel. I was driving carelessly for conditions, and I should have been more conscious around the curves.
That car never did me wrong. All I ever had to replace on it in the 4 years we had it, was a fuel filter.
Now I have a newer Monte Carlo and it has nickel and dimed me about every 3000 miles or so. In the past year I've had to replace lower intake gaskets, water hose, door pins (actually very expensive), ignition switch, blinker switch, EGR valve, spark plus, and probably something else I'm not thinking of... oh and now the electrical system has been acting up. Can't wait to see how much that will cost. That is why I will definitely be selling it and hey... I think I'll get another Sunfire! That was a great little car. Wish they still made them :)
A piece of advice for anyone thinking about buying one; Look for one with a 6 cylinder... I know they say the 4 cylinders are better on gas, but I'll tell you what... it saves that engine a lot of grief when it's a big 6 cylinder pulling around that little car, and it also gives a nice little car some good pep... it won't cost you that much more in gas, and it's WORTH it.