Rav4 vs Toyota 4 runner/ ice and severe winter driving
Hope this is not too redundant a comparison, but I wanted your opinions based on driving both vehicles re: which handles pretty bad snow and ice better?
I have a pre-owned 2006 Toyota 4Runner/ Sport, have had it almost 3 years, loved it like crazy until this last winter when we got hit really bad with basically one continuous blizzard for several weeks. My 'neighborhood' is very rustic, it's all dirt roads, very windy, cliffy and sometimes steep dirt roads. My Subarus of the past never faltered out here no matter how bad the conditions, except when they bottomed out due to not enough clearance.
I was really enjoying having a Toyota, a bit higher quality and smoother ride, 4 runner meets my needs to have option to tow and lots of storage ( for taking care of my horses). But during this last winter, I guess the plow guys screwed up or didn't stay on top of the roads as well as winters past, we developed this very thick ice pack on the roads, like a skating rink, you could not walk without slipping and nearly falling, so needless to say driving on it was dicey. The quality of the snow on top of it based on temps would also make conditions highly variable (and generally treacherous) from day to day. The problem though was really any kind of steep incline, I have two extremely steep hills after my driveway... going up no problem, coming down in that big heavy 4 runner... well on the one hill I would start sliding every time coming down. I was tapping the brakes and trying not to lock them etc, in super low gear, but every time would begin to slide. My BF had same results and having grown up in Buffalo NY, he is better at this kind of driving than I am. So every time I managed to gently steer my sliding car into the snow bank on safe side of road and avoid cliff-side until the last time I tried it... started sliding bad (probably hit brakes a wee bit too hard), headed right towards cliff, and would have gone over except a very short snow bank barely stopped me. Was also nearly impossible to back up and get out once I had my nose in that little bank, kept slipping and lurching. It kind of scared the ____ out of me and I was afraid to drive my 4 runner for awhile, BF swapped me his Subaru outback for a bit until road improved, he does not have to go in that more dangerous direction. His Subby handled the ice hills like a champ and I got over my fear fast.
My past Subarus handled the icey snowy roads fine all the years I have been out here, but I really wanted a Toyota this time. Do you think the smaller Rav4 would have a better reaction to those ice hills? It seems that the lighter weight and lower center of gravity might make a difference. I'm thinking to get a 2007ish Rav4 sport model, AWD, on trade for my 4Runner. I lose my towing capacity and lots of other benefits, but if I'm too scared to drive my car in really bad conditions, it's not going to work. We are in the mountains and I need a safe care for extreme winter driving. I may have to suck it up and get a Subaru, but just wondered what you guys think of Rav4 in extreme winter driving conditions. It's supposed to be more AWD than the 4Runner, and I realize it's probably the car deciding when to be in AWD rather than true continuous AWD that the Subarus have. I prefer the latter, but maybe the Rav4 is just a little more nimble and steady on icey hills than the 4 Runner that it can work out?