Are Toyota 4Runners Good in the Snow?

With most cars, driving on a snowy mountain trip or fighting off a blizzard in town seems dreary. But a Toyota 4Runner isn’t most cars. If you’re the owner of a 4Runner and it’s your first time heading into snowy weather, we have good news for you. It is not only a good car for snow and ice; it is actually excellent.

In this article, we’ll break down the reasons why the Toyota 4Runner is a great choice for snow and ice conditions.

Table of Contents

Are Toyota 4Runners Good in the Snow?

As mentioned before, yes, Toyota 4Runners are excellent in the snow. Here are several reasons why 4Runners stand out from many other vehicles in snowy conditions.

Four Wheel Drive

4WD is a standard feature in many SUVs and trucks. This helps to prevent losing traction and can help get out of any uncomfortable situation, like getting stuck in the snow or mud.

What makes the 4WD special in the 4Runner is its combination with A-TRAC. It stands for Active Traction Control, and it’s a handy functionality. What it does is detect wheelspin and redistribute torque to stop it. This is extremely helpful on slippery surfaces or deep snow.

High Ground Clearance

Ground clearance is the distance between the ground and the lower frame of your vehicle. Standard cars are quite low ground clearance.

The good news is that the Toyota 4Runner has over 9 inches of ground clearance. This means that it can easily take several inches of snow without getting stuck.


It’s a natural reaction for many to hit the brakes when their car starts slipping on snow and ice, but standard braking systems won’t be able to help you when conditions get bad. Thankfully, the 4Runner has several systems to ensure that you’re able to come to a stop in difficult conditions.

The first is the 4Runner’s Anti-Lock Brakes (ABS) and Electronic Brake Distribution (EBD). These systems use sensors to monitor the conditions of the road and wheels and apply the appropriate braking pressure in order to prevent your wheels from locking up and skidding.

Another great brake functionality on the Toyota 4Runner is the Brake Assist. Brake Assist uses sensors to tell when more braking force is needed and can react to situations quicker than most humans, allowing your vehicle to automatically apply max brake force before you even realize that it’s needed. This can help prevent collisions in snowy weather by minimizing the time it takes for your vehicle to come to a sudden stop.

Traction Control

Similar to the A-TRAC functionality we mentioned above, Traction Control helps prevent wheelspin. It does so by sending an order to the engine to slow down until all wheels get back to their typical spin.

Vehicle Stability Control

Designed explicitly for slippery roads, the Vehicle Stability Control (VSC) detects when you are losing grip. To prevent you from veering off the road, VSC reduces the power supply to the tires to maintain grip.


The latest Toyota 4Runner models come with multi-terrain tires. These tires are specifically designed for off-road trails. Thus, they can also sustain driving on snow. However, there are also specific snow tires available in the market.

Other features

Aside from the above features, other interesting ones come in handy when it’s snowing outside:


The 4Runner comes with a fantastic V6 4.0L engine. It provides the vehicle with enough power to cruise through any given terrain, including deep snow.

Headlight system

The project beam system of the Toyota 4Runner headlights is ideal for harsh weather conditions. They’ve got you covered, whether it’s a cold dark night, a sandstorm, or a foggy day!

Heated seats

Safety is not only about external features but also comfort. Staying warm during a winter journey is crucial to having a pleasant experience. Unfortunately, the Toyota 4Runner heated seats are not a standard feature; you must request them specifically. And this feature only applies to the front seats.

Multi-Terrain Monitor

Available in the newest models (2020 onward), the multi-terrain monitor helps identify surrounding objects. This is especially good when visibility is limited to prevent hitting debris or any object nearby.

Is the Toyota 4Runner Suitable for Ice?

Just like snow, ice is pretty challenging to drive on. However, the Toyota 4Runner’s features help maintain control of your vehicle.

Despite the many useful features mentioned above, there is one downside when it comes to driving a 4Runner on snow and ice. The center of gravity of the Toyota 4Runner is relatively high. This makes it susceptible to losing control and crashes.

How can you avoid this? Simply don’t get too overconfident. Even the best drivers can get involved in crashes when the roads are icy. Feel your car and always remain alert.

Are Snow Chains Necessary for Toyota 4Runner?

We get this question a lot, and not only for the Toyota 4Runner. First of all, this will depend on your state.

Each state has its own laws pertaining to the use of snow chains and snow tires. But there are some common situations:

  • Installing your snow chains should only happen when there is a thick layer of snow. Don’t do it if the snow layer is thin or there is no snow at all, as this can damage your car and the road itself.
  • If your car is a 4WD, like the 4Runner, you should have four snow chains (2WD cars should only need two).
  • If you plan on using snow chains, have them ready at all times when the winter comes or if you are heading to a mountain area.
  • Snow tires are usually enough for most snowy conditions, but the chains will pair up well for deep snow.

How to Prepare your Toyota 4Runner for Snow & Ice

We’ve already touched on various native features that help a 4Runner run well on snow. Here are some additional things you can do to make your 4Runner perform even better in winter weather.

  • Lifting your Toyota 4Runner. This is a fantastic option to have more ground clearance, thus being able to drive through deeper snow. This option can be a bit costly. We suggest that you get your vehicle lifted by a professional in order to prevent damage to your car.
  • Install snow tires. The 4Runner comes with all-terrain tires. Although they are suitable for most situations, if you live in an area that gets several months of snow, we suggest you have replacement snow tires.
  • Get familiar with the driving modes and systems. As mentioned before, driving in snow is different from driving in other circumstances. Familiarize yourself with the different features such as the multi-terrain monitor, A-TRAC, and 4WD before hitting the road.
  • Snow Plow. The 4Runner can actually handle plowing snow. If you get several snowstorms a year, you might want to get a compatible snow plow that you can fit on your vehicle. Just a word of advice, make sure it is compatible and, if needed, ask a mechanic for help to install it the first time. This way, you won’t damage your 4Runner, and you will know how to mount and dismount it properly.
  • Seat Covers. At the end of the day, snow is solid water. A good set of waterproof seat covers will help prevent your seats from getting wet (and damaged) if you’re constantly in and out of the snow.

Can Toyota 4Runner Handle Low Temperatures?

Just like any other car, extremely low temperatures can end up impacting your car’s performance.

If your 4Runner won’t start, make sure to check the battery, the alternator, and the spark plugs. If you still can’t figure out why your 4Runner won’t start, you’ll have to take it to a professional.


The Toyota 4Runner is a fantastic vehicle for the winter months. Whether you’re planning a ski trip to Aspen or live in a city frequently hit by snowstorms, the 4Runner is an excellent option for your travels.

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