Rav4 vs Toyota 4 runner/ ice and severe winter driving - Toyota RAV4 Forums
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#1 (permalink) Old 02-20-2013, 02:25 PM
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Rav4 vs Toyota 4 runner/ ice and severe winter driving

Hi all,

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?
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#2 (permalink) Old 02-20-2013, 03:06 PM
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Does your 4Runner have DAC (downhill assist)? The v6 2006-2012 and some I4 with 3rd row seat have his option. Would have been perfect with some good snow tires. The Sport has a harsher ride than the Base or the LImited. But you might be used to that since I suppose the 4Runner has a stiff suspension too.

If you have icy hills, I would go with a permanent AWD or at least one that you can LOCK in low. If you drive below 25 mph, you can lock the RAV4 in 4wd mode (Assuming you are getting the 4wd version). If you need to drive faster than this up the hills, the RAV would override you LOCK and reactively lock the RAV as it detects slippage.

What angle of ascent are we talking? 20 degrees?
As you can see, I am more concerned about climbing the hill than going down.

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#3 (permalink) Old 02-20-2013, 03:31 PM
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If you live in Oregon or Washington State studded tires are legal in winter and in my experience help considerably even on glare ice. Best results are when they are used on all wheels.

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#4 (permalink) Old 02-20-2013, 03:46 PM
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Hi, thanks for your replies...

I do have DAC and actually the day I almost slid off the cliff was the first time I ever used it going down that steep icy hill. So I don't have a lot of faith in it lol. I think the tricky thing about using some of those features is they start to over-ride the driver in certain situations, and the driver always knows best. I'm trying to remember but I seemed to lose responsiveness in the car when I starting sliding like crazy in DAC and hit the brake. I had been doing better driving it down the hill in same conditions without the DAC. It's like the car started doing it's own thing, but it all happened so fast it's hard for me to break it down plus I was in a panic heading towards the cliff in short order. I also had it in 4WD low as opposed to regular 4WD which is a pretty slow crawling gear. I did not push that button on the left side of steering wheel that locks the differentials, I never used that button until recently when I came to realize that the 4WD was sort of not full 4WD at all. BUt from what I have read since, locking the differentials would not really help me going down an icy hill, though I now tend to use it now going slow on bad winter roads.

The 4 Runner does great going up ice hills mainly because of the weight, it actually could have an advantage over the Subaru in that regard, the Subby did start to spin out going up super soft snow and mud due to lighter weight. But the weight is what gets me in trouble going down. The hill angle is around 20 degrees but again solid ice. Seems steeper than that to me but BF says no.

Oh, and yes, I have top-of-the-line studded winter tires in good shape.
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#5 (permalink) Old 02-20-2013, 08:34 PM
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You need an inflatable helium balloon for the trip downhill

Also to consider, the RAV might be lower than the 4Runner; might not be great if you are constantly running though unplowed roads.

Just an FYI: 4WD Simplified Version 4.0

Your 4Runner has a fulltime AWD but the RAV4 is part-time.

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#6 (permalink) Old 02-20-2013, 11:09 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mountaingirl View Post
Hi all,

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?
Hi, I have a 2012 Rav4 My job here is highway maintenance so I drive on the roads before they are plowed as i'm one of the "plow guys". I have had trouble with my Rav4 when driving through deep snow for several miles. What happens is the AWD system will sense to much rotational difference between the front and rear wheels and cancel the 4 wheel drive system so it defaults to front wheel drive only. The dealer tells me that when to much slip is detected and the electromagnetic coupler gets hot it will cancel the 4 wheel drive system so as to protect it from damage. Please except my humble advice and look into getting a newer 4Runner. I think it would be better suited for what you are doing then the Rav4 however I also understand they are a bit more money too. I like the studded tire idea too. Wish we could use them here.
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#7 (permalink) Old 02-21-2013, 01:12 AM
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Wow you guys, both last posts were amazingly helpful.

It looks like they are saying the Highlander has AWD, that is appealing but I think that is actually a more expensive car than both the 4Runner and the Rav. I wonder if it really is AWD all the time at any speed. Actually come to think of it, my friend bought one and it seems not to use AWD above 25 mph. Sigh. There may be a Subaru in my future .
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#8 (permalink) Old 02-21-2013, 02:49 AM
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If you are driving on ice, new technology tires e.g. Michelin XIce 3, are better on ice than studded tires. So that's something else you might think about.

Ice Traction Testing: Studded vs. Studless
Testing the Newest Studless Ice & Snow Winter Tires

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#9 (permalink) Old 02-21-2013, 09:53 PM
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I believe that the Rav4 will be AWD at any speed, However the 4 wheel drive function that splits the power 50/50 front and rear does cancel out at 25 MPH, then it defaults to front wheel drive with rear wheel assist. I wish it would stay in 4 wheel drive at higher speeds maybe up to 45 MPH would be nice!! Hope this helps you with your decision. I really like the 4Runners tho!
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#10 (permalink) Old 02-21-2013, 11:16 PM
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RAV4 (4.3 at least) is reactive 4WD. It is FWD by default. Pressing the LOCK button only keeps in a 4WD under 25 mph. Again, as needed, even at highers speeds, 4WD will kick in.

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