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Toyota Tacoma In Snow & Winter Driving? (Explained)

The Toyota Tacoma has all the qualities found in great compact trucks–superior reliability, impressive towing ability, and powerful performance.

But can it get you safely through the winter? Let’s find out!

Here is the short answer to whether the Toyota Tacoma is good for driving in snow and winter:

The Toyota Tacoma is well-suited to snow driving thanks to multiple features such as four-wheel drive that make navigating harsh winter conditions easier. It also has Traction Control, Brake Assist, ABS, Electronic Brakeforce Distribution and an impressive ground clearance. 

Is a Toyota Tacoma Good in the Snow?

If you want a truck that can handle snow well, you’d be hard pressed to find one better than the Toyota Tacoma. There are many reasons for our confidence in the Tacoma’s snow driving prowess.

The Tacoma’s sizeable body mass gives more stability when driving on slippery, snowy surfaces. This is important because it ensures your car doesn’t skid off the road and crash.

Also, the Tacoma comes with an impressive amount of road clearance, meaning you can wade through deep snow with ease.

So, even when the snow comes down heavy and thick, you can drive without fear of getting stuck.

While regular Tacomas handle well in snow, the TRD Pro variants take winter performance up a notch.

Developed by Toyota Racing Development, the TRD Pro is for those who have to navigate heavily snowed roads that require maximum control and traction.

What Features Will Improve Winter Driving?

Winter driving is worlds apart from your regular summer driving. Here, speed and performance are hardly top priorities; rather, stability, control, and safety matter.

And for any vehicle to drive well in winter, it must have a combination of those qualities.

Thanks to several ingenious features, the Toyota Tacoma possesses these qualities.

But what exactly are these features, and how do they improve the Tacoma’s winter driving capabilities? We discuss them below:

1. Four-Wheel Drive (4WD)

Ask any driver for the most important feature for any winter vehicle and they’ll say the same thing: four-wheel drive (4WD). 4WD is important for winter driving because it boosts traction by sending power to all four tires on a vehicle.

The extra traction lets you drive in thick snow or slick ice without getting stuck or hydroplaning.

Most Tacoma trucks come with regular 4WD, but the TRD Pro variants improve on that by adding electronic locking differential (ELD).

ELD is a feature that sends more power to your rear wheels when you need it. This is useful in situations where you are stuck in snow and need to get out.

2. Traction Control System (TCS)

The Traction Control System is part of Toyota’s suite of safety features called the Toyota Safety Sense P (TSS-P). All Tacomas come standard with the TSS-P safety suite and other safety-enhancing features found on Toyotas.

As the name suggests, the Traction Control System’s job is to ensure your vehicle gets adequate traction on the road. It performs this task by monitoring the spinning motion of the wheels.

When it senses loss of traction, it slows the engine enough for the wheel(s) to make adequate contact with the road and regain control.

This feature is vital for driving in winter, especially on ice where it’s all too easy to lose traction and control.

3. Advanced Brake Technology

The Toyota Tacoma comes with various brake technologies that make braking easier and safer on ice and snow. Here are some of them:

A. Brake Assist: Stopping distances are longer on ice and snow, meaning you may have difficulty halting your car to prevent a crash or collision.

The Brake Assist feature on the Toyota Tacoma solves this problem by increasing braking power when you press the brake pedal.

With Brake Assist, you can reduce stopping distances by up to 30 percent and halt quickly.

B. Anti-Lock Brake System (ABS): To brake effectively in winter driving conditions, you need to apply more force on the brakes. However, you can cause the vehicle wheels to lock up if you brake a tad too forcefully.

A wheel lockup is the last thing you want while driving on ice/snow–your vehicle can easily lose control if it happens.

The ABS on Tacoma trucks uses sensors to monitor wheel speed and adjust braking pressure if it senses that the wheels are about to lock. This means you can brake as hard as you want without fear of wheel lockup causing loss of control.

C. Electronic Brake-Force Distribution (EBD): The EBD feature on Tacoma trucks is similar to the ABS and prevents the wheels from locking up when you brake.

But while the ABS changes brake force to prevent wheel lock, EBD does it by redistributing brake force across the wheels.

4. High-Tech Lighting

One risk associated with winter driving is poor visibility–fog makes it harder to see, increasing chances of a crash. The Toyota Tacoma has an advanced lighting system designed to provide increased visibility in all situations, including winter.

Does a Tacoma Have Snow Mode?

The Snow Mode on vehicles helps regulate wheel spin to prevent loss of traction and control.

You won’t get Snow Mode on any Tacoma truck. Rather, you get a Multi-Terrain Select feature that controls wheel spin to increase traction in different road conditions, snow inclusive.

The Multi-Terrain Select has different modes for various road conditions: Mud and Sand, Loose Rock, Rock and Dirt, Mogul and Rock. Out of these, the Mud and Sand mode is the best for navigating snow-covered roads.

Make sure to also read our article about where Toyota Tacomas are made.

Can You Install Additional Snow Gear on Tacoma?

Yes, you can fit snow gear designed to improve winter driving capabilities on your Tacoma truck. Recommended snow gear include snow socks, snow tires, and snow chains.

Before installing any snow gear on your Tacoma truck, ensure it matches your vehicle’s dimensions. For example, snow chains and snow socks should match your tire size or else your vehicle’s handling will suffer.

How Much Snow Can a Tacoma Handle?

The Toyota Tacoma boasts an impressive ground clearance of 9.4 inches–one of the highest in the compact truck segment. Its enormous ground clearance allows the Tacoma to navigate deep snow without getting stuck.

How much snow can your Tacoma truck handle? Going by its dimensions, we say the Tacoma should be able to handle thick snow up to eight inches with ease. In fact, the TRD Pro can handle up to 18 inches of snow without trouble.

If you want to drive in even thicker snow, you can have your truck’s suspension raised higher. You can do this yourself by using a lift kit or you can have a pro do it.

Please also read our article on 11 Toyota Tacoma statistics you should know.

How Do Tacoma Handle Low Winter Temperatures?

Unlike older, carburetted models, modern vehicles can start even in sub-zero temperatures.

A Toyota Tacoma should start in even the lowest of winter temperatures without problems. If it doesn’t start up, then it means something is wrong.

Here are the common causes of Tacomas failing to start in winter:

  • Low battery power
  • Bad battery
  • Using low-viscosity oil
  • Fuel lines contaminated with water
  • Faulty electrical components (starter solenoid, loose grounds, bad power cables, etc.)

Can a Toyota Tacoma Drive on Ice?

The Toyota Tacoma has several features that bolster traction and stability on slick surfaces, so it can surely drive on roads covered with ice.  However, Tacomas are particularly susceptible to rollover crashes on icy roads, as they have a higher center of gravity.

If you drive carefully, your chances of getting involved in a rollover crash will reduce.

Also check our article on driving the Ford Ranger in snow and winter.

Does the Tacoma Have 4WD?

Base models in the Tacoma lineup come with Rear-Wheel Drive (RWD) along with limited slip differential.

Opt for a higher–and more expensive trim, and you’ll get a Tacoma truck that has 4WD and Automatic Limited-Slip Differential on it.

The Tacoma’s four-wheel-drive system is known as 4WDemand Part-time 4WD system.

The “part-time” there means the 4WD only operates when you activate it. During normal operation, the drivetrain will send power only to two wheels.

What About Older Tacoma Models and Winter Driving?

Older Tacomas can handle winter driving, although not like the newer models. From the first release in 1996, the Tacomas had four-wheel-drive capability, but had no ABS or traction control.

ABS was optional on the Tacomas starting from the 2001 model year and only became standard in 2009.

Similarly, Traction Control, Electronic Brake-Force Distribution and Brake Assist became standard features on Tacomas in 2009.

Going by this, we wouldn’t rate the older Tacomas highly for winter performance, as they lack features that improve winter driving capabilities.

Do Tacoma Need Snow Tires?

All-season tires often promise to offer good traction in both winter and summer. However, it is better and advisable to use snow tires on your Toyota Tacoma.

While all-season tires are good in summer, they are poor in winter and offer average traction on ice and snow.

In contrast, snow tires offer better traction in winter conditions. They also allow you to brake easily and accelerate faster when driving on roads covered with ice, snow and slush.

Can You Mount A Snow Plow On A Tacoma?

Yes, you can install a snow plow on a Toyota Tacoma. However, you must consider the size of your truck and the capacity of the engine before fitting a snow plow on it.

Ensure your Tacoma’s body mass and engine size is considerable enough to handle the rigors of snow plowing.

You also need to check if it has 4WD capability because that will determine its suitability for plowing snow.

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