Toyota 4Runner In Snow & Winter Driving? (Explained)

The Toyota 4Runner has built a reputation as a vehicle that can handle any kind of terrain.

But does this ability extend to conquering snowy roads in winter? Let’s find out.

Here is the short answer about whether the Toyota 4Runner is good for snow and winter driving:

With 4WD, limited slip differential, Active Traction Control, and so on, the Toyota 4Runner is great for driving in winter. The presence of Toyota’s Star Safety Sense on the 4Runner means you can navigate perilous winter roads safely.

Is A Toyota 4Runner Good in the Snow?

The Toyota 4Runner isn’t good in snow; it’s excellent. If you live in an area that gets heavy snowfall, you must know how thick snow can prevent cars from moving in winter.

Some people have to cancel plans whenever there’s a severe snowfall for fear of getting their vehicles stuck in snow.

With the Toyota 4Runner, you need not entertain fears about snow, whether thick or light. This model is built to get you through any tough terrain–and that includes snow.

With over nine inches of ground clearance, the 4Runner can handle more snow than you can imagine.

The high ground clearance ensures your 4Runner wades safely through thick snow and doesn’t get stuck as smaller cars would.

Additionally, 4WD and Multi-terrain select will ensure the wheels don’t lose traction in slippery snow and go out of control.

Then there’s the beastly 4.0-liter V6 that provides enough power and torque to propel the vehicle out of snowy obstacles.

The more you look at it, the more you realize the 4Runner is the perfect vehicle for driving in snow.

What Features Will Improve Winter Driving?

No doubt the Toyota 4Runner is an exceptional vehicle for winter driving. But what features enable it to drive well and safely in winter? It is the Star Safety System.

The Star Safety System is a suite of safety features present in most Toyota vehicles. It ensures you drive safely, irrespective of the road conditions.

One of greatest problems with winter driving is the risk of slippery and traction-sapping roads. Slippery roads offer less traction and increase chances of losing control.

Braking on wet surfaces can also be tricky. Thus, it’s common for drivers to lock up their wheels while trying to brake on ice or snow.

The Star Safety System prevents the aforementioned problems and makes winter driving safer. Here are some features in the Star Safety System:

Vehicle Stability Control

The Vehicle Stability Control feature ensures your vehicle remains stable on slippery surfaces. If it detects the vehicle is losing control and will veer off the road, VSC will reduce or stop power supply to the wheels.

It can also activate the brakes to prevent the tires from losing road grip completely. Either way, the VSC will ensure the SUV doesn’t lose control and get involved in a crash or a collision.

Traction Control

The Traction Control feature works by measuring the spinning of each wheel.

Once it detects excess wheelspin, the TCS ensures the engine slows down enough for the wheels to regain traction. This way, your wheels won’t spin out of control on ice and snow, and you get to stay on the road.

Anti-lock Brakes/Electronic Brake Distribution

While braking in winter road conditions (icy or snow-covered roads), it’s easy to lock your wheels.

Braking on wet surfaces requires more force than normal, and you can inadvertently apply too much force on occasions.

Doing so will cause wheel lock, which is very dangerous on ice or snow–your car could skid off the road or collide with another vehicle.

The Anti-lock Brakes System (ABS) forestalls braking-induced wheel lock by regulating the impact of brake force on wheels.

Electronic Brake-force Distribution has a similar function but executes it differently. It will spread the brake force proportionally so one wheel doesn’t receive excessive brake force and lock up.

Brake Assist

Another risky side to braking in winter driving is increased braking distances–it takes longer to stop your vehicle. So, if a vehicle were to pull out ahead of you without warning, you may not stop quickly to avert a collision.

Brake Assist increases braking power and shortens braking distance. This allows you to stop safely and quickly when driving in winter, whether on ice or snow.

Four Wheel Drive (4WD)/Active Traction Control

The Toyota 4Runner uses a 4WD system that provides an equal amount of power to all wheels in less-than-ideal road conditions. So, if you were driving on ice or snow, 4WD would prevent any of the wheels from losing traction.

Now, this may seem unimportant, but one wheel losing traction is all it takes for your vehicle to crash. With 4WD, you can prevent this from ever happening.

The Active Traction Control is a heavy-duty version of the Traction Control feature we discussed earlier.

On the 4Runner, the A-TRAC automatically detects wheel spin and distributes torque between front and rear wheels while driving. This helps minimize wheelspin and prevents skidding on slick surfaces.

Mud-and-Snow Tires

The Toyota 4Runner comes with OEM mud-and-snow tires designed to handle harsh winter driving conditions. Whether you’re navigating ice-covered roads or wading through thick snow, the M+S tires provide better traction and stability compared to regular tires.

Advanced Headlight System

Toyota fitted the 4Runner with projector beam headlights that provide excellent visibility at night. Now, driving on those cold, dark winter nights doesn’t look dangerous anymore, do they?

Heated Seats

The 4Runner may be a rugged SUV, but it sure has luxuries to please your decadent side. Heated and ventilated seats on the 4Runner means you can drive in freezing temperatures in relative comfort.

Please also read our article on important Toyota 4Runner statistics.

Does A 4Runner Have Snow Mode?

Newer models often feature a Snow Mode system that helps control wheelspin and 4minimizes traction loss in snow. Sadly, the Toyota 4Runner doesn’t come with a Snow Mode feature like the RAV4 or Highlander do.

However, it has a Multi Terrain Select feature that functions like the Snow Mode. The Multi-Terrain feature is designed for off-road use, but can be adapted to regular highway driving in winter.

The Multi-Terrain Select system has modes for different terrains namely, Loose Rock, Rock and Dirt, Mogul and Rock. Terrain modes dedicated to loose rock and dirt will increase wheelspin to regain traction while driving in snow.

Can You Install Additional Snow Gear on 4Runner?

You can outfit your 4Runner with accessories designed to improve its snow driving ability. In fact, we highly advise you to invest in snow gear for your vehicle; snow driving is risky and you need all the advantage you can get.

However, before you fit such gear, ensure they are compatible with your vehicle’s dimensions. For example, installing wrong-sized snow chains on your tires will affect handling and cause additional problems for you.

Similarly, installing snow tires that don’t match your wheels will encourage bumpy rides and decreased ride quality.

How Much Snow Can a 4Runner Handle?

Due to a high ground clearance, the Toyota 4Runner can handle an impressive amount of snow. The 2019 Toyota 4Runner has a whopping 9.6 inches of ground clearance–that’s enough to deal with snow around 7-8 inches thick.

How Does 4Runner Handle Low Winter Temperatures?

Older Toyota 4Runner models were carbureted and difficult to start in low temperature conditions. However, modern 4Runners are fuel-injected and hardly have no trouble starting–even in subfreezing temperatures.

If your 4Runner is difficult to start in winter, it may be due to the following problems:

  • Electrical problems–faulty starter, bad battery, low battery power, etc.
  • Bad spark plugs
  • Clogged or contaminated fuel lines
  • Using non-viscous oil

Can a Toyota 4Runner Drive on Ice?

The 4Runner has a plethora of features that guarantee traction on wet surfaces, including ice.

However, its high center of gravity makes it susceptible to rollover crashes on ice. In fact, it is common to see overconfident drivers lose control and have their vehicles tumble over on ice-covered roads.

As such, we’d advise you to drive with caution on icy roads.

Make sure to also read our article on driving the Honda Pilot in snow and winter.

Does the 4Runner Have 4WD?

The 4Runner is one of the few Toyotas with four-wheel-drive capability. However, the 4WD you get on the 4Runner will vary depending on the model in question.

The lower trim 4Runners have part-time 4WD with Active Traction Control (A-TRAC).

On more expensive, higher trims, you get 4WD alongside electronic limited slip differential. The latter feature is designed for increased performance on uneven terrain and further boosts winter driving capabilities.

What About Older 4Runner Models and Winter Driving?

Early 4Runners didn’t have exceptional winter driving qualities, except for their impressive ground clearance. This changed with the third generation when all 4Runners shipped with Toyota’s Star Safety Sense suite of driver assistance technologies.

Do 4Runner Need Snow Tires?

Toyota 4Runners need snow tires for effective handling during the winter. While the vehicle comes with serious shoes for mud and difficult terrain, you probably are better off investing in dedicated snow tires if your area sees deluges of the white stuff.

Check out our article on Falken Tires if you are looking to buy quiet, high quality all-terrain tires.

Can You Mount A Snow Plow on A 4Runner?

You can fit a snow plow on a 4Runner. The 4Runner’s size and engine capacity means it can handle a snow plow. However, we advise getting a snow plow that fits the dimensions of your vehicle.

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