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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
My new RAV4 is my 6th SUV, and my 3rd with 4WD. But my previous 4WD vehicles all had a manual switch or lever to engage 4WD mode, and I'm a little unclear about how the system works in the RAV4, how the Lock button works, and heck, I'm not even clear on whether it's front-wheel or rear-wheel when in 2WD mode.

Can anyone give me a basic primer on how the system works? I don't plan on ever doing any off-roading in my RAV4, but when the snows come this winter I'd like to know how the 4WD works so I can drive with confidence.

Of course, I certainly hope we don't have a repeat of last winter, when Maryland got socked with two 2' snowfalls in less than a week. We had snow piles in the area for 60 days afterward!
 

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When the computer detects slipping in the front, or lack of traction, it kicks in the 4wd system or VSC, depending on what it knows.

If you're going around a corner and may be slipping, the computer will turn it on.

If you're stuck, pressing the "lock" button should turn on 4wd until you hit 25mph. Then it turns off and the computer will turn 4wd on if necessary (slippage condition).
 

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Just remember, this is AWD, and a rather weak version of AWD at that. If you've had actual 4wd SUV's in the past then you need to understand that this is definitely not real 4wd.
 
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dcarr1971 said:
Just remember, this is AWD, and a rather weak version of AWD at that. If you've had actual 4wd SUV's in the past then you need to understand that this is definitely not real 4wd.
How much difference can I expect to feel when the snow starts falling? I'm not an adventurous four-wheeler anyway, and I tend to avoid driving when it snows, but there are times when you simply can't avoid it, like when your management company skimps on clearing the lot in front of your apartment, or the lot at work isn't cleared in a timely fashion, or when several inches of snow suddenly dump unexpectedly while you're at work and you have to slog your way home through it...

I must say, in the 6 days that I've had it, I've felt a big difference in the traction this vehicle has compared to most of my previous SUVs. I look forward to seeing how it will perform in the snow, because so far it's steady as a rock in the rain.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
rav4two said:
Hm... not bad performance in what appears to be about 4"-6" of snow, not counting the drifts in the parking lot.

I certainly won't be intentionally turning donuts or plowing into snowdrifts like that, but I may have to drive through an unplowed lot once in a while.
 

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The 4WD system on my RAV is truly amazing to me and I've had an AWD Forester, a Mits AWD Expo and two Civic AWD wagons. Currently have two F250 4x4s too. The RAV gets the mileage of any other brand's front wheel drive because that's what it's in most of the time. But it doesn't react to the front drive slipping to engage the rear differential clutch, it ANTICIPATES slippage using it's accelerometers. That's to only way to explain how I can accelerate from a stop with my V6 just as fast on a wet road an on dry pavement with ZERO wheelspin. I have to get used to having no hesitation to punching it anytime anywhere including starting off on a wet corner. It just goes where I steer it and does it quickly.
I got the car last November and did some acceleration tests on a snow covered parking lot last winter. All I can say is you better be ready to hit the brakes because you'll shoot across a lot quite smartly with or w/o 4WD lock on.
I also did extensive testing on steep snow covered hills. Will have to find the post for the link. ENJOY!
 
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WillCAD said:
How much difference can I expect to feel when the snow starts falling? I'm not an adventurous four-wheeler anyway, and I tend to avoid driving when it snows, but there are times when you simply can't avoid it, like when your management company skimps on clearing the lot in front of your apartment, or the lot at work isn't cleared in a timely fashion, or when several inches of snow suddenly dump unexpectedly while you're at work and you have to slog your way home through it...
From what you're saying you'll probably be fine. Just make sure you've good tires and be ready to hit the button to turn off the VSC when things get ugly. (My '07 doesn't have that button so we have to go through a series of stupid human tricks to turn off the TRAC/VSC.

I live in Pittsburgh where everything is on the side of a steep hill and snow covered/frozen for at least 4 months of the year, so the difference between a good AWD system and what the Rav offers (Hey, its still better than FWD :)) is noteworthy...just as the difference between any AWD and real 4WD is significant to someone who really needs a 4x4.
 

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WillCAD said:
rav4two said:
Hm... not bad performance in what appears to be about 4"-6" of snow, not counting the drifts in the parking lot.

I certainly won't be intentionally turning donuts or plowing into snowdrifts like that, but I may have to drive through an unplowed lot once in a while.
The caption for that vehicle says "14 inches fresh snow". It doesn't seem quite that much, but there were definitely areas of more than 6 inches. In any event, snow performance is predominantly dictated by tires. AWD helps get you moving, but is of only moderate help in turning and little help in braking. Still, I have pretty good confidence the Rav is going to be good for exactly the conditions you described, which is basically what we get where I live.

We had one big snow event in the Seattle area the winter before last and with one FWD vehicle and one RWD vehicle, we spent hours just going a few miles, having to chain and de-chain a couple of times each way. Because of that, we purchased the Rav right before this winter, which of course everyone said would guaranteed us a snow-free winter (which is exactly what we had).
 
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The type of snow/ice you encounter also can make it look like a hero or a dud.
I've driven in Leadville Colorado in 10 inches of the lightest, driest pow you can imagine.
A 1970 RWD with slicks could get you around in that.
My RAV4 Sport slid sideways, on a street, with ZERO forward movent or tire rotation, and slow motion parked itself against a guard rail, in a 4 inch snowstorm.
The tires were not turning.

This vehicle is far from magical.
The above posts, except DrDyno, have provided some insight.
Tires have everything to do with success in snow or ice.
 

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thinkingman said:
The type of snow/ice you encounter also can make it look like a hero or a dud.
I've driven in Leadville Colorado in 10 inches of the lightest, driest pow you can imagine.
A 1970 RWD with slicks could get you around in that.
My RAV4 Sport slid sideways, on a street, with ZERO forward movent or tire rotation, and slow motion parked itself against a guard rail, in a 4 inch snowstorm.
The tires were not turning.

This vehicle is far from magical.
The above posts, except DrDyno, have provided some insight.
Tires have everything to do with success in snow or ice.
Yes, I guess my judgment is colored by my engineering degree and 50 years of driving experience and by several AWDs and my two F-250 diesels including my snow plow truck.

For your reading enjoyment my RAV4 snow tests are here:
http://rav4world.com/forums/viewtopic.php?t=24330
Summaries are posts 33, 43 and 50.

I definitely do agree that 4WD helps going forward which may result in overconfidence that it'll help turning and stopping which it does little or nothing for. Tires and intelligent driving make ALL the difference there.
 

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I have been driving my 07 Rav in the snow for the first time in the last couple of weeks and it is doing great. I went to skid sideways a couple of times but the system kicked in and stopped me from skidding and put me back in a straight path. I am not clear on the AWD system it doesn't make scenes to me that it has an auto shut off after 25 MPH. I use the AWD going up the steep hill outside my house and have no issues but I think it would be better just to have it on or off.
 

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I am not clear on the AWD system it doesn't make scenes to me that it has an auto shut off after 25 MPH. I use the AWD going up the steep hill outside my house and have no issues but I think it would be better just to have it on or off.
The system does not shut off at 25 MPH. It just does not lock engaged. In slip conditions, it will engage and disengage on its own. The system does not use the expensive Torsons, but it gets better mileage than those that do. Locking it up at higher speeds in good traction conditions would cause wear.

There are threads with a link to a nice technical discussion of how it all works. Maybe somebody will remember or search it out for you.
 

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The type of snow/ice you encounter also can make it look like a hero or a dud.
I've driven in Leadville Colorado in 10 inches of the lightest, driest pow you can imagine.
A 1970 RWD with slicks could get you around in that.
My RAV4 Sport slid sideways, on a street, with ZERO forward movent or tire rotation, and slow motion parked itself against a guard rail, in a 4 inch snowstorm.
The tires were not turning.

This vehicle is far from magical.
The above posts, except DrDyno, have provided some insight.
Tires have everything to do with success in snow or ice.
Hmmm...I don't think that you will find dryer snow on the road than in the interior of Alaska, and i haven't had any trouble driving my wife's Rav 4 on such. In fact both the 2009 Forester I had, and now the Rav 4 are incredibly sure-footed on ice, and on wet or dry snow.

Now, on sleet or glare ice it does not matter what automobile you drive. The vehicle will move sideways from a high point on the road or parking lot to a low point. In such a case the only thing that could stop the vehicle from sliding sideways would be a set of chains on the tires, and in some cases studs. Regardless of road or parking lot condition, if the vehicle moves in any direction when the wheels aren't moving, it means that the tires do not provide enough traction to stop the motion.
Some (not all) of these vehicles show what I am talking about:
 

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I agree with someone mentioned. If you drive with smarts in alot of snow or alittle snow. You should be ok. Me this is my first cuv. Since I got the le fwd. I will be putting snow tires on it this winter. I will not be driving 60 or higher when the roads are icing or snow covered or whatever. I had a 03 accord with all season pirelli on it. I got thru a six inch snow covered road going uphill by driving smartly. While the people next to me were gunning their cars and getting stuck. Also I have seen many 4wd and awd suv off on the side of the road becacuse they put too much faith in their system and were driving too FAST for conditions. I wonder what they thought when they found themselves in the ditch. Drive smart in bad condition and you will get thru.
 

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This may sound silly but...... where is this lock you guys are speaking of? I don't seem to see it on my 2005 RAV. It used to get into AWD when the front wheels would skid but when I got stuck in the mud last week it did not do it. I was wondering why. i always thought it was always automatically in stand by mode.
 

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This may sound silly but...... where is this lock you guys are speaking of? I don't seem to see it on my 2005 RAV. It used to get into AWD when the front wheels would skid but when I got stuck in the mud last week it did not do it. I was wondering why. i always thought it was always automatically in stand by mode.
you don't have this option , sorry
 

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This may sound silly but...... where is this lock you guys are speaking of? I don't seem to see it on my 2005 RAV. It used to get into AWD when the front wheels would skid but when I got stuck in the mud last week it did not do it. I was wondering why. i always thought it was always automatically in stand by mode.

I think in 2005 only the manual version had a center differential lock button where as yours automatically varies the amount of lockup as needed. Are you saying that neither of your back wheels were turning when you were stuck in the mud? At least one of them should be.
 
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