I'm from California, and temporarily moved to Utah for work - and now spending my second winter here.
I was concerned about driving on snow and ice, and everyone (from California) said - make sure you have chains. I drive a VW Bug with front wheel drive. I used to own a Toyota 4-Runner, and I have to say that front WD is about 90% of what I got with 4WD. In the past week I've dealt with heavy snow and pure ice on the road. Front WD - no problem. My chains have never been placed on the car - still in the bag new.
California MAKES you put on chains when going over the Sierra, but I am certain I could deal with it with just my front WD VW, provided the snow depth was not making my car into a snow plow.