Rx400h In Snow- Beware!

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I was considering an AWD 400h as well as an AWD350; but this topic has changed my mind about AWD hybrids. I had an 01LC that I traded in on an 04 Sienna AWD for better mileage on our many family travels at the time. The Sienna was capable in the snow, but the TRAC/VSC was quite noisy, kicking in frequently. It also engaged anoyingly at low speeds prevently steering as desired. The Sienna, Highlander, and RX have the same AWD base; operating as 2wd and auto engaging to AWD when slippage is detected. I quickly started looking for an LC/LX and found an 01LX. The extra cost in gas was well worth the smooth reliability of an excellent AWD system in the LX. I also owned a mid-engine 95 Previa Alltrac that was excellent in snow and ice - pre-VSC/TRAC. It was good in light snow but did not have the clearance to handle heavier snow (>6") well.

Tires do not fix inherent vehicle capabilities, but they do improve the capability of a particular vehicle. I found all season tires lost significant traction below half tread; whether 2wd or 4wd, I would replace tires before winter if they were getting close to half tread; especially when we had regular trips on I-70 between KC and Denver. Winter tires have improved, so I may consider a set in the future, especially for my FWD RX300.

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What do tires have anything to do with this topic?

Lots! Consumer Reports has stated, many times that there is often no comparison between all-season and dedicated Winter tires when it comes to snow traction. The following tires have EXCELLENT traction capabilities and are rated much better than average in that regard:

Starting with the best:

Michelin X-Ice Xi3

Michelin X-Ice Xi2

Uniroyal Tiger Paw Ice & Snow II

Bridgestone Blizzak WS70

Nokian Hakkapeliitta R

Goodyear Ultra Grip Ice WRT

BFGoodrich Winter Slalom KSI

Continental Extreme Winter Contact

General Altimax Artic

Hankook Winter I*Pike

Falken Espia EPZ

The best all-season tires are slightly better than average when it comes to snow traction. None perform as well as ANY of the above tires on snow-covered roads.

Not all of these tires are available in our tire sizes, so check for those that are available.

And before anyone asks, "How would a guy in San Diego know about winter driving?", I will reveal that I drove in heavy snow in CT for over 10 years.

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I appreciate tires, I really do. But the RX400H doesn't compare to the RX300 (I owned 2) in the snow. With bald tires on compact snow/ice driving on Hwy 2 Stevens Pass during a snowstorm, I had NO problems. Was like a tank. I'm trading- in my RX400H in today on a new RAV-4. They have a button to disable the computer. Yeah!

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...quite the downgrade:

0-60 MPG: RAV4: 8.2 sec RX400h: 6.6 sec

Average MPG: RAV4: 19 RX400h: 25

Of course, if you want the best low-end all wheel drive vehicle, you might want to read this comparison test:

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