Thats a good story. Personally, i think that a car of similar weight would handle just as good in rough weather, unless there was like 10in of snow. Maybe what i was more going for, was have the manufacturers gone too far. I think a SUV in porsche's lineup almost takes away from their dignity. I remember when they made the AWD porsches (and maybe they still do, i dont really follow them too much). Also, BMW and Mercedes SUVs are abominable (sp?). They are a complete waste, they are so light that they cant go through anything. My aunt has a pathfinder and has 4wd, but cant stop because it is so light. On the other hand, my tahoe hardly ever engages the ABS, even on ice.
I certainly wasnt implying that aztechs were good at all, but the manufacturer was selling them as an SUV, and they can get out of snow about as well as a van.
As far as manual trannys, i think that the automatics are getting better every year. I think they will eventually make the manual obsolete, because they will be just as good. Especially if the tiptronic shifting becomes more popular.