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Accordingly to Consumer Reports, RAV4 isn't.
https://www.yahoo.com/autos/s/small-suv-fares-best-snow-100000090.html

We found that not all all-wheel-drive systems are created equal. ... our drivers’ assessments were surprisingly uniform. All of them agreed that the Subaru did markedly better than the Honda and Toyota at accelerating and hill climbing. ... It started, stopped, and cornered the way people expect an AWD car to drive. ... When it came to traction on unplowed roads, the Toyota AWD system often didn’t respond to steering, braking, and throttle inputs, plowing straight through curves.
Ouch.
 

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No worries here. I ain't going back to a Forester like my '03 and sold my mom's '06 Legacy with 22,000 miles on it. It once got stuck in snow with one front and one rear wheel spinning. Must not have had the AWD system CR tested. :confused:

For marginally? better snow performance which I don't need I get a 4 cylinder engine, a CVT, and have to buy four new tires if one goes bad. :egad:NO THANKS!
 

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Aren't those two totally different drive systems? One is full time 4WD and the other part time/as needed?
 

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As for buying four new tires for the Subaru when one goes bad, I read that a new tire can be shaved to conformed to the ones on the vehicle. It's done at speed shops.

best awd video on Subaru

There is a Subaru dealer in MA that gives a free
lifetime powertrain warranty and free tire for the life of the vehicle. I wish I lived closer to the MA state line.

In snow country you need winter tires. I routinely pass AWD RAV4's with the driver clinking to the steering wheel in deep snow conditions with my FWD Rav4 with winter tires .
 

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Aren't those two totally different drive systems? One is full time 4WD and the other part time/as needed?
Yep, that's exactly why like ours.
 

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As for buying four new tires for the Subaru when one goes bad, I read that a new tire can be shaved to conformed to the ones on the vehicle. It's done at speed shops.
That sounds real smart - buy a new tire and have half the tread ground off! :doh:
 

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Since i got my AWD Rav in 2013 we have had two of the worst winters we have ever had here in upstate NY. I have been very impressed with it in the snow and that's on the stock Dunlop tires. I have not found any of the issues with it that CR is saying. I also have a 2014 Outback and i have to say the Outback is not much better than the Rav in the snow.

Also remember that alot of people think that because i have AWD i can drive in the snow like i do on dry pavement. Slow down and use your head driving in the snow and you will be just fine.
 

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This guy totally disagrees. Sounds like he thinks the rav4 AWD system is pretty awesome. Oh heeeey wait, that's the OP. Soooo funny how that keeps happening.

http://www.rav4world.com/forums/123-4-4-general/133993-awd-not-really-3.html


So last Friday we had our first winter storm with significant snow and icing here is SW Ohio and I had the chance to see how the RAV4 behaves in winter conditions. To note, this is not my first AWD vehicle, the other two being a 4WD Highlander and an FJ Cruiser (manual, with full-time 4WD). The FJ has one of the best 4WD systems money can buy and an excellent benchmark. Also, both are equipped with substantially better tires than the RAV4's OEM Yokohamas.

I can report that, compared to the other two vehicles, the RAV4 performed very well. Here are my observations:

- The transition from FWD to AWD is very fast, smooth and barely noticeable. It takes less than half second for the car to realize that that front wheel are spinning and engage the rear axle. It is actually so quick and smooth that most people probably won't even notice and think that they are still in FWD. The only time when you can feel a perceptible "kick" when the rear axle engages is if you start on a steep incline, with the front wheel on a slippery spot, and rear wheels on clean pavement. My driveway is somewhat steep and impossible to climb with two-wheel drive only. The RAV4 did equally well as the other two 4WD cars. A friend's FWD Escape was dead-in-the-tracks. Even with substantial momentum, it could only make it half-way up the driveway, and once stopped would not start, but only slide backwards.

- The VSC performance is quick, predictable and effective. RAV4's VSC acts both to correct understeer and oversteer. In the FJ, VSC only corrects oversteer, but does not detect or correct understeer. In the HL is acts on both. That said, the RAV4 has substantially higher tendency to understeer than the other two vehicles. I am not sure if this is because of the lousy tires, or the fact that under normal driving conditions the RAV4 is basically FWD. Both the HL and the FJ are full-time 4WD and essentially understeer-free (unless you push them really hard). Unlike the FJ and the HL, RAV4's VSC is "silent", i.e. does not give you an audible warning that the system is active and the only way to detect it is through faint noise / vibration from the wheels. You actually need to know what you are looking for to detect that it is working. But it works nicely, and if you loose control, it's not because VSC is not doing its job, but because you are trying to defy the laws of physics (and remember, physics always wins). Overall, I would rate the RAV4's VSC to be the best of the three - it's the quickest to act, kicks-in even at the slightest skid, does exactly what it should to bring you back on the intended track, and is very "subtle" unlike some other systems I have experienced which can be quite disconcerting. Again, most people in a RAV4 probably won't even notice that the VSC has just saved their butt, it is so "gentle" and unobtrusive.

- The ABS is quick to act and performs as expected, withing the constraints of the car (stiff, long travel suspension, high center of gravity). It won't "hug the road" like a BWM Series-5, but you can't take an BMW5 off-road - the suspensions are designed for very different performance.

- Traction control also works as intended, minimizing slippage without "killing" engine traction completely. It does a very good job when starting on icy spots, when you want the tires to remain in "static" friction regime. I tested starting with traction control ON and OFF on the same inclined road several times, and traction control ON always resulted in more controlled start with less lateral "wobbling", with no loss in effective acceleration.

Net, I am very positively impressed by the new RAV4's snow performance. I am sure that once I upgrade to better tires, it will be my vehicle of choice for winter driving. It is more nimble than the HL and handles much better than the FJ.

OUCH!
 

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This guys totally disagrees. Sounds like he thinks the rav4 AWD system is pretty awesome. Oh heeeey wait, that's the OP. Soooo funny how that keeps happening.

Thanks for pointing out who the OP was. Had i noticed that I would not have even bothered commenting on this thread.

But thanks Nodnerb for digging up these old posts by kate. Kind of makes my day in a small way. :thumbs_up:
 

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I smell bullsh!t !

The 4.4 is as good if not better than the 4.3 AWD system and my 4.3 has been tested endless times. Cornering was never a problem.

The only time I had an issue was when I did not have snow tires on; it took 3 tries to climb an icy and slushy steep hill.
 

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I just got the new CR issue as well. All I can say is that there is the CR testing and then there is reality. I've had my 2013 Rav4 XLE since Dec. 2013 and have driven it through two Mid Atlantic winters- PA, NJ, DE and MD and this CUV has been fantastic. I still have the OEM Michelin Latitude Tour HP tires on my Rav.

While not quite the volume of snow in the Mid Atlantic that the upper NE gets, winter weather can bring us a variety of precipitation- rain, snow (light dusting to a foot or more), freezing rain, sleet, ice and often changing from one to the other quickly. Drifting snow is another issue after the plow have been through. The Rav4 has cruised down unplowed roads in the early morning, gone through chopped up, rutted foot deep drifted snow, held traction in slick, slushy mess on the interstate and traveled at a moderate speed on packed snow covered secondary roads with hills, turns and short stopping distances.

As Badcafe & others have noted- slow down, keep good tires on the car and adjust your driving to the conditions.

Also to be fair- in the latest issue of CR, the report on tires is very good.
 

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I have owned four Subarus. A forester, a wrx, a legacy wagon, and an impreza. 2 sticks, two autos. The manual wrx with snows was the best car I have ever driven in snow.....besides my 2011 V6 rav with conti lx20 all seasons! See, with good tires, the rav is more of an old school jeep cherokee feeling vehicle. I love it. I think this test is ridiculous. How about they test all the suv's and use the exact same tires? That would be a more fair test. I live in the northeast and commute from Northern Westchester to the Bronx every single day. My rav is the perfect car for rough commutes. I think only a Renegade TRailhawk or Cherokee Trailhawk could tempt me to get rid of the Rav....but I worry about Jeep reiliability
 

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I was a skeptic of the Rav's AWD system...even watched those AWD comparison test videos. That was until I was caught in a snowstorm, hands down the worst one I've ever been in.

At the time my rav was equipped with A/S bridgestone dueler alenza and was still very capable with the differential lock+2nd gear. It was able to scale 2 steep hills that many cars were stuck at. From that moment, the rav brought my family home safely has earned my trust...this winter it will be equipped with proper snow tires and I have no concerns at all.
 

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Only time a Rav's let me down was completely my fault. It was in our 2005. Got hit by a surprise snow storm that dumped 8 inches on us while at work when we were just forecast for a dusting later in the evening. It was time for the tires to be replaced but hadn't gotten around to it yet, still legal tread but not something to drive in ice/snow. I had a 55 mile level highway commute ahead but some local hills to get up first...and it just couldn't do it. Getting turned around to go back down the hill with traffic was a hairy situation almost got stuck blocking both lanes. Thought I'd be spending the night at work but ventured out again around 10pm after traffic let up and tried a less hilly route and made it home white knuckling it in some places. Won't catch me slacking on a tire replacement anymore.
 

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What's the best setting to use on slushy or snow packed winter road conditions?

We are looking into financing a 2016 Hybrid AWD Limited and read somewhere on this forum that for the 4th gen RAV4, the AWD system turns off past 20 (or 30) mph. Is there a way to keep the AWD going or can that not be defeated?

Thank you.
 
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