Toyota Land Cruiser In Snow & Winter Driving? (Explained)

Released over sixty years ago, the Toyota Land Cruiser isn’t exactly new. But, even with its age, the Land Cruiser remains one of the most capable body-on-frame SUVs on the market.

How does the Landcruiser do in snow and winter weather conditions? Let’s find out.

Is The Toyota Land Cruiser is good for snow and winter driving?

The Land Cruiser’s performance in winter conditions is aided by a 4WD capability and a generous ground clearance. It also features ABS, Active Traction Control, Vehicle Stability Control, and automatic high-beam lights. These capabilities make the Land Cruiser excellent in winter. 

Is a Toyota Land Cruiser Good in the Snow?

Land Cruiser owners often say, “If there’s land ahead, this Toyota will cruise over it.” And this applies to every terrain imaginable-sand, dry pavement, rock, and snow.

The Land Cruiser comes with over eight inches of ground clearance, so it can drive through thick snow without being stuck. Moreover, the powerful V-8 engine beneath the hood delivers an enormous 401 lbs-ft of torque-enough power to force your way through packed snow.

The full-time 4WD with locked center differential also contributes to the Land Cruiser’s stable driving quality in snow. With 4WD, you can send equal amounts of power to the four wheels; this ensures no wheel loses traction when driving in snow.

Overall, the Land Cruiser remains a good choice for people living in extremely snowy areas. With it, you can tackle those snowed-out roads with ease and confidence.

Please also read our article on important Toyota Land Cruiser statistics.

What Features Will Improve Winter Driving?

Below, we explain some of the features behind this model’s exceptional driving in winter.

Four-Wheel-Drive (4WD) system

Land Cruisers come standard with full-time 4WD capability. This means most of the driving is done AWD, but you can switch to 4WD at the press of button.

When activated, 4WD will send power to the four wheels to ensure none loses traction. Under normal driving conditions, the 4WD system will send 60 percent torque to the rear and 40 percent torque to the front.

However, locking the center differential will split torque 50/50 between the front and rear. This further bolsters the Land Cruiser’s ability to find traction.

Vehicle Stability Control

The Vehicle Stability Control feature ensures your Land Cruiser retains stability while driving on slippery surfaces.

VSC does this via a simple system that reduces engine speed once it discovers the vehicle is losing control.

The VSC system on Land Cruiser SUVs analyzes input from the steering wheel sensors and wheel speed sensors. This allows it to detect steering loss and/or loss of traction early.

Should VSC sense the vehicle might go off-course, it will reduce engine speed so the vehicle can slow down. In addition, the VSC can apply the brakes on either side of the vehicle. These two actions force the vehicle to slow, allowing it to regain traction and preventing a crash.

 Active Traction Control (A-TRAC)

Not many Toyota models have Active Traction Control, but it comes standard on Land Cruisers.

A-TRAC is the more heavy-duty version of Toyota’s Traction Control feature, which is very useful in winter. From this, it’s obvious that the A-TRAC can improve your vehicle’s winter driving capabilities greatly.

TRAC makes driving in winter conditions such as snow and ice safer by preventing excess wheelspin. Once activated, the A-TRAC system splits power between the rear and front axles to minimize wheelspin. 

Also, if A-TRAC detects that one wheel is losing traction, it will apply the brakes to that wheel to restore traction. This reduces the risk of hydroplaning and skidding, which are common occurrences in winter.

Antilock Brakes & Electronic Brakeforce Distribution

When driving on slick, treacherous winter roads, anti-lock brakes and electronic brakeforce distribution can be a godsend. Have you ever tried braking in rain? You will notice you have to brake harder to stop your vehicle.

While braking harder is necessary in slippery conditions, it can lock up your wheels. Now, wheel lockup is the last thing you would want to have happen during your winter drives.

Not only can wheel lock cause your car to lose control, it could put your life in danger.

The Antilock brake system suppresses wheel lock by reducing brake pressure if it detects potential lockup. Therefore, if you were to brake hard, ABS will ensure you don’t lock your wheels.

Electronic brakeforce distribution works in a similar manner. The only difference being that it redistributes brake pressure instead. This way, no wheel gets excess brake pressure that it seizes.

Automatic High-Beam Headlights

Winter nights are often dark, making it hard to see while driving. The automatic high-beam headlights on the Land Cruiser give you greater visibility at night compared to regular headlights. Thus, you can drive on dark winter nights safely.

The Ford Expedition is a direct competitor to the Toyota Land Cruiser. Make sure to read our article on Ford Expedition facts and statistics.

Does a Land Cruiser Have Snow Mode?

On some Toyota vehicles such as the Highlander and the RAV4, you get a Snow Mode button. Pressing the button cuts down power the vehicle needs to accelerate when driving in snow. This suppresses unrestrained wheelspin and stops the vehicle from losing traction.

The Snow Mode feature is absent on the Land Cruisers. But you still get a Multi-Terrain Select feature that offers similar benefits.

The MTS feature has different modes for improved handling in different conditions.

The modes of the MTS system include Loose Rock, Rock and Dirt, Mogul, Rock, and Mud & Sand. According to user and expert reports, the Mud & Sand feature helps with driving in slippery conditions such as mud and sand. It can also work well for snow-covered roads.

Can You Install Additional Snow Gear on a Land Cruiser?

Without doubt, the Land Cruiser can hold its own superbly in snow. On occasions, however, it will require snow gear for the vehicle to make it safely through snowy terrain. Thankfully, you can install snow gear on your Land Cruiser.

But it is necessary to measure your vehicle before you invest in snow gear; failing to do this can cause various problems. For instance, fitting your vehicle with oversized snow tires will affect handling negatively.

Therefore, it is important to know your vehicle’s wheel size before you buy replacement snow tires. Similarly, get your tire’s dimensions before buying snow chains or snow chains.

You should also check our article about the Toyota Tundra in snow and winter driving.

How Much Snow Can a Land Cruiser Handle?

With enormous ride height (nine inches), 4WD, and a powerful engine, the Land Cruiser can handle as much snow as you can throw at it. Some drivers have reported wading snow up to eight inches, which is very deep!

How Do Land Cruiser Handle Low Winter Temperatures?

Earlier Land Cruisers were carbureted, so they had problems operating in low winter temperatures. This meant owners had to start their vehicles multiple times before they could run.

But newer Land Cruisers are fuel-injected, and don’t have cold start problems. So, even in freezing temperatures, your Land Cruiser should start without a hitch.

If it fails to start, then it could be a result of any of the following:

  • Inadequate battery power
  • Bad battery
  • Failed spark plugs
  • Clogged fuel filters, lines

Can a Toyota Land Cruiser Drive on Ice?

The Toyota Land Cruiser can drive on ice-covered roads.  Full-time 4WD capability means chances of your wheels losing traction on slick terrain are minimal.

Even so, you should exercise caution while driving the Land Cruiser on ice. The high ride height, which is useful on snow, is disadvantageous on ice as it increases rollover risk. Moreover, the large mass of the vehicle means it’s harder to regain control if it slips on icy terrain.

Does the Land Cruiser Have 4WD?

The Land Cruiser has full-time 4WD, which means it’s mostly in AWD, but can activate 4WD if needed.

What About Older Land Cruiser Models And Winter Driving?

Many of the pre-2000s Land Cruisers didn’t have features like Anti-Lock Brakes, Vehicle Stability Control, and Traction Control. In fact, ABS became standard only in 2012, while VSC and TRAC featured on Land Cruisers from 2016.

If you want a Land Cruiser that can handle winter driving, get a post-2012 model.

Do Land Cruisers Need Snow Tires?

Snow tires are important if you plan to ride your Land Cruiser in winter. Forget whatever the advertisers say; all-season tires are bad in winter and will increase the risks of winter driving.

We advise investing in a set of snow tires for safe and confident driving in winter.

Can You Mount A Snow Plow on a Land Cruiser?

You can fit a plow on your Land Cruiser for snow plowing. With this, you don’t have to pay exorbitant costs for some company to plow your snow-covered driveway. 

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