I usually put sand bags in my trunk as well. With good tires and a little extra weight the Catera is manageable in snow. Also, don’t use salt bags for weight (I’ve heard of many people doing this). Salt is caustic; if any spills in your trunk things will rust. The sand can also be used to help aid traction if you do get stuck. Pour some on the ground in front of your tires to help aid with traction.
The catera is the first rwd vehicle i have owned and even driven for any period of time longer than a quick trip in someone elses car but it seems to do very well in snow, although stoping on inclines and then trying to accelerate up them in the snow will be a chalange for any vehicle fwd or rwd I have not added any weight yet mainly cause i want to retain the full use of the trunk and dont want to be vacuming sand out of my trunk for the next year. The catera also has good weight distribution. In any case oversteer is better than any ammount of understeer. Still wondering if this car has a limited slip or not im thinking not though.
my personal recomendations
-trac control off unless at speed (if you spin the wheels enough you will clear the snow new tires will be needed come spring though)
-snowflake button worthless (makes you rev higher into your power band wich equals more torque and hp = wheelspin or rolling backwards on an incline not fun with cars behind you)
-weight in the back if it makes you feel better but i think the balance is good right now (untill i am calling a tow truck to get up my driveway)
-be easy with the throttle i didnt need to go higher than 2500 rmp at any particular time in 4 inches of snow (not counting that empty parking lot lol)
-also good tires help i have bridgestone potenza g009's with about 9/32 inch of tread left and they are doing good not great like a goodyear assurance tire (wish they made 225/55 R16's it would be a great tire for real all season performance)
The real thing is, take your time, accelerate gradually, slow down long in advance (when you know you'll have to at least). Ya get a good feel for what the car's doin' if you drive " by the seat of your pants ". meaning you're a part of the car and you feel and hear all the clues that are telling you what's going on.
THEN on the FUN side, you can make the Catera as stable as a air hockey puck and just have some real fun!! WHere no-one else is at risk, of course!! Just don't let the local constabulary catch ya! Enjoy!!
I am in minnesota and constantly the roads are always icy then I am on call 24/7 so I get to drive at 3am before the plows are out and about. The snowflake button is great with the 3rd gear take offs just got to be easy on the throttle. I have to leave the traction control off till I get moving but then turn it on and drive down the highways as normal. I am surprised how stable the car is on ice and snow at speed but take offs suck never stop on an incline in the car because it will be a challenge to get it moving up the hill.