Last post on May 08, 2012 at 8:31 AM
You are in the Toyota Highlander
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Toyota Highlander, Toyota 4Runner, Car Buying, Car Comparisons, Transmission, SUV
#18 of 27 Re: Advice about 2011 Highlander and AWD [wwest]
Jan 10, 2011 (12:49 pm)
Did you modify your 92 LS400 to enable or disable TC on start up? The only reason to disable TC if you get stuck in a snow/mud/sand. For 3.5 years of ownership 2 Gen HL I didn't find myself even once in a need to do so. In every day driving TC kicks in on the background, on rare occasions when needed and has only positive effect on handling. There is very little similarity between 92 LS400 and AWD 2nd gen HL in terms of handling with TC either enabled or disabled.
#19 of 27 Re: Advice about 2011 Highlander and AWD [biosmonkey]
Jan 10, 2011 (2:43 pm)
Alright, so I guess it's about time to respond to my own thread.
First of all, the 4wd Highlander does use 3 open differentials, and traction control (ie braking) to redirect the torque to the non-spinning wheel. In this sense, it really is a 1WD vehicle I suppose. I will not comment on the safety factor of throttling the engine, but considering that a high rpm freely spinning wheel is typically going to happen in a low-speed "get me out of the mud/snow" situation I don't really see how that's an issue.
So I purchased a 2011 4wd Highlander, and have put around 700 miles on it so far. Very, very pleased with it.
I live in an area that saw a big winter storm dump 5-6 inches of snow on us last night. So after shoveling a path for the wheels, I had an opportunity to test the very reason I bought 4wd.
My driveway has a decline to it, so when backing out I am actually going uphill backwards. My neighbor has a similar situation, however, he has a 2wd Tundra. He spun his wheels most of the time, eventually making his way out after inching backward over the course of an hour. A few times, he started sliding forward and almost hit his house. I was a little hesitant to try, considering that if my car lost traction and I slid forward, I would fall off of a small cliff and plummet into the woods (no convenient house to stop me).
But, this was the reason I bought it right?
My neighbor, anxious to see how much trouble I would have, had asked if he could watch, so I knew I had an audience too (I think I saw popcorn?).
So I warmed up the car, engaged the Snow button, and put her in reverse.
I backed out of my driveway with absolutely no problem. If a tire slipped, or the tc engaged, I didn't know it. Even when I got to the street, and was driving in 5 inches of snow, I felt pretty much in control. Admittedly, I did not drive around the neighborhood for fun, so I can't say how well it would have done in a driving situation, but I didn't need to do that anyway.
My neighbor was pleased I did not plummet into the woods, although I think he was a bit disappointed in the lack of entertainment.
Nonetheless I am very pleased. Time will tell, but overall a great car, and highly recommended.
#20 of 27 Re: Advice about 2011 Highlander and AWD [biosmonkey]
Jan 17, 2011 (11:25 am)
I recently purchased a 2011 Highlander 4WD and I have about 1,100 miles on it.
Last Saturday I drove to Snowshoe, WV (from the Washington, DC area) on a ski trip. Snowshoe is about 4,500 feet higher in altitude than DC so it gets a lot more snow up there. I drove there in the middle of a snowstorm and the last 20 miles up to Snowshoe are all steep mountain switchback roads. Through sometimes near zero visibility and about 6-8" of snow, I had absolutely no problem taking the Highlander up the hills. Never once did I get stuck and I confidently made my way up the mountain (on crappy OEM tires, no less). We got another snowstorm on Tuesday (12" this time) while in Snowshoe and I decided to use the "Snow" setting while driving around the mountain. It worked out well! The "Snow" setting altered shifting points beyond just starting in 2nd gear and it just worked. At the end of the day that's all I really care about - it just works. I'm never going to do anything extreme with the Highlander and I'll never try to make the Highlander do anything that it wasn't designed to do... it seems like a very capable vehicle.
So 1 month later and about 3 + hours of driving up and down steep mountain roads covered in 4-8" of snow, I can say that I'm very pleased with the real world performance of my Highlander.
#21 of 27 Re: Advice about 2011 Highlander and AWD [accord6mt]
Jan 17, 2011 (1:33 pm)
I can see that some people trying to come up with Toyota 4WD/AWD conspiracy theories but never bother to drive the thing. Other group of people enjoying real-world performance of this very capable vehicle.
#22 of 27 Re: Advice about 2011 Highlander and AWD [luckyseven]
Jan 27, 2011 (11:32 am)
Just a quick update - Yesterday I drove the Highlander through about 6-8" of heavy, wet, slushy unplowed snow in the DC area... the kind of wet snow that turns to ice when pressed into the ground. What I saw while driving around was amazing: there were literally dozens and dozens of cars and 2WD suvs stuck on both sides of every road that had a decent hill. I've never seen anything like it. Cars were literally just spinning their wheels and the 2WD suvs were doing the same thing. I had my Highlander in "Snow" mode and even when stopped on the same inclines that other cars were stuck on, I made it up the hill without issue. Once again, a big thumbs-up to my Highlander It just works!!!
#23 of 27 Buying 4WD vs 2WD
May 06, 2012 (6:06 pm)
Alright everyone, Thanks for the posts. Looks like there's enough % of good to get the 4WD vs the 2WD. Only looking for the extra security of a possable snow while traveling from my flat land central valley California to going across the U.S. It's better to have it and not need it, than need it and not have it...I can see my 2012 Limited already.................
#24 of 27 Re: Advice about 2011 Highlander and AWD [accord6mt]
May 07, 2012 (9:18 am)
I'd much rather drive around on foul weather in a 2WD(RWD) that goes no where, over a FWD or F/awd wherein my life is constantly threatened due to the extreme potential for loss of directional control.
By the way, "snow mode" is just another "nanny" helping you "feather" the throttle so you can more easily get up and going initially. Some earlier snow modes result in the transaxle never starting out in 1st gear, 2nd only. Others, mostly DBW, lower the "gain" of the throttle control servo.
That's why many new vehicles now have a TC off function so that you can get around by simply feathering the throttle. Many of us are old enough that we HAD to learn "feathering" the throttle as only RWD vehicles were around.
Bottom line...buy the FWD for FE but carry a good set of tire chains, for the FRONT, for the seemingly RARE occassions of need.
#25 of 27 Re: Advice about 2011 Highlander and AWD [wwest]
May 07, 2012 (12:25 pm)
I wouldn't listen to wwest since he's only driven a HL in his imagination but loves bashing Toyota's AWD . HL's AWD performs pretty good on the snow as long as your tires are capable. I love "snow mode" button it really improves handling under heavy snow conditions. AWD will take about 2MPG more then FWD.
#26 of 27 Re: Advice about 2011 Highlander and AWD [luckyseven]
May 08, 2012 (7:38 am)
My '01 F/awd RX300, purchased new, now is closing in on 100K miles. My RX300 uses EXACTLY the same F/awd system, mostly non-functional F/awd system, as does the HL. The RX and HL shared that F/awd system until the RX350 was switched to the new Venza, more functional, pre-emptive, F/awd system as of the 2010 MY.
As I have said, modern day "snow mode" systems simply detune the engine's throttle response in reaction to acceleration position, simply making it more difficult to lose directional control on the slippery stuff. Most driver's of "my" era learned to use "snow mode" long before such an item existed. Start off in second gear, and/or pretend you have an egg between your foot and the accelerator pedal.
Also, learning to drive a Porsche 911 over our nearby mountain passes during the wintertime simply adds to the level of knowledge for wintertime survival.
No, I simply think driver/owners should be well educated as to the capability/functionality/limitations of their vehicles.
The HL's, and the pre-2010 RX', TC implemented F/awd system is strickly of the passive type, only reacts, "engages", POST wheelspin/slip development.
Prior to TC activation it is, and forever remains, a simple ONE-WHEEL drive system, THREE fully OPEN differentials, front/center/rear.
#27 of 27 Re: Advice about 2011 Highlander and AWD [wwest]
May 08, 2012 (8:31 am)
We've been over this number of times. All you have just nice sounding theories that had been proven wrong by real life experiences of actual HL owners. If HL would have any issues with snow performance we'd hear about it a lot after 5 years of production. You'll have hard time finding actual current gen HL owner complaining on a snow performance. You're the one who's never bothered to drive a HL, is having the most concerns about it. Do you really imagine yourself in a Highlander when driving a 911 Porsche in a snow? Why don't you just stop this nonsense?