I won't argue that most people in the Twin Cities with 4WD and AWD vehicles don't have a clue how to drive them. I've passed enough of them sitting forlornly in the ditch on Hwy 10 over the years!
That said, though, we're not talking about the loose nuts behind the wheel but the inherent capabilities of the vehicles themselves. When I was living northeast of Elk River up near the Isanti-Anoka county line and commuting to the south side of St. Paul, I traded in the 2WD pickup for the 4WD and was glad that I did. The 4WD was MUCH better at handling deep snow, which in turn made using back roads as an alternative to jammed up freeways at least plausible. Engine braking with 4WD also made avoiding the idiots who were overdriving a lot easier.
We lived far enough out back then that about 1/3 of the drive home was well off the freeway, too. More than once I had to tackle the last 10 miles or so on unplowed county roads with up to a foot of snow on the road. I hated that stretch in my 2WD pickup. In those conditions the truck had a tendency to break traction even with 150 lbs of sand behind the rear wheels. BTW, I tried my wife's Saturn a couple of times but it wasn't much better as it was too low to the ground for the deep stuff.
Now that I'm living in Woodbury and commuting to Richfield, I no longer regard 4WD as a necessity. I never see more than the 4-6 inches of the white stuff that you mentioned. I sold off the 4WD pickup a couple of years ago and I'm driving a front wheel drive sedan. I still miss the extra traction of that old 4WD pickup, though.
My next vehicle is probably going to be a smaller SUV with a towing package. Something that I can get up to the lakes with, out in the woods hunting, and reasonable gas mileage. Now, if Tesla would simply build a 4WD vehicle with a decent range... Hey, a fella can dream, can't he?