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Highlander Hybrid a boat anchor in the snow!!

Highlander Hybrid a boat anchor in the snow!!

Old 02-28-2007, 03:17 PM
Just Say No, to more oil
Join Date: Mar 2006
Posts: 31
Default Re: Highlander Hybrid a boat anchor in the snow!!

Originally Posted by still_steamn View Post
I am really miffed. We finally got some snow in MN. This weekend I found out that my wife's $36,000 2007 Highlander Hybrid Limited is 100% absolutely useless in powder snow. This thing will leave you stranded!!!! Do not buy one of these if you will ever need to drive in snow!!!
Chill out, and learn to drive a HiHy... Its NOT a locked wheel 4WD vehicle. We had 6 inches of sleet last week and I made it to work and back (no plowing - I live in the country and we are last). When I did get back home to plow my road - the sleet was frozen solid and I still made it up the driveway (uphill) - while the tractor with 600# wheels (each) still slipped while plowing. Then we had 7 inches of very wet snow (5:1 ratio versus the 10:1) and I made it out and back again. One time I had to let the vehicle "roll back" and then a gentle touch to the pedal continue on up the road. When I went into work. I saw multiple SUV's, turned over, on their sides, or in the ditch...... I smiled as I crused by Must have been those "super" 4WD vehicles that can take it all......
Old 03-02-2007, 07:47 AM
Thread Starter
Join Date: Feb 2007
Posts: 5
Default Re: Highlander Hybrid a boat anchor in the snow!!

No I was never high-centered (been there many times in the past). It just will not let you spin the wheels when you need to. We got another 11" of snow yesterday, even deeper in places where it blew, and much deeper at the entrances to some of the unplowed parking lots due to a snow plow drift. Last night I did some more testing, purposely trying to get the HiHy stuck. Bottom line is if you can keep the thing moving you will be alright. Keep momentum going. If for some reason you get stopped in deep snow, the thing will not let you scratch your way out due to the hyperactive traction control system; in such a case it acts like it's dead. The HiHy has tons of horsepower, but it will not allow you to apply it in a low-traction situation. I still wish it had a switch to turn off the traction control. This morning the snow was even deeper and just for comparison I went into some bad places with my Chevy Silverado 4x4. The difference is dramatic. For real 4-wheeling there are lots of times you need horsepower and wheel spin to get through, especially when you must navigate a corner or around an obstacle in deep snow. A real 4x4 will let you build engine rpms and with wheel spin throw snow (or mud) like crazy. The HiHy will have none of that. So its 4-wheeling capability I give a grade of C compared to a 4x4 SUV on which you can turn off traction control. For all other purposes as an SUV with 7-passenger capability and pretty good gas mileage I give the HiHY an A. If I lived in CO and wanted an SUV that is capable of getting to the ski areas, 90% of the time you will be OK. I would buy a set of tire cables that you can put on if the conditions get really bad, and then I think you would be OK for 95% of situations.
Old 03-02-2007, 09:37 AM
Join Date: Oct 2005
Location: Yonkers, NY
Posts: 34
Default Re: Highlander Hybrid a boat anchor in the snow!!

I know what you mean about true 4wd capability of locked drivetrains. I had a honda passport and I could literally spin all wheels and jump off the line just to impress other motorists. It is very fun to drive on deep snow. However, if you gun it too hard, you can actually slide sideways and lose lateral stability, especially on icy or sleek surface. That is very dangerous if you are at highspeed.

My Hihy is different, it does not allow for wheel spin ( at least not at a noticeable degree). However, it always retains it's lateral stability, which I value more when driving on the highway.

It can still manage deep snow but in a slow progress and if it does not continue to soldier on, I just reverse and attempt to rock back and forth until I can move on. This happened once on my driveway when it was covered with 8 inches of snow.

I went to a steep incline, 30 degrees, covered with 4 inches of snow and the hyhi had no problem going up. The traction light kept flashing intermittently.

I also found an ice covered parking lot. This time, I tried to make a very sharp turn to induce a tail spin. No matter how hard I tried, the computer did an excellent job of braking individual wheels to prevent a tailspin.

It also happened in real world when I went too fast at the exit ramp. The front plowed straight ahead. I braced to hit the curb but the stability control saved the day, it braked the inner wheels and aided the hyhi to it's inteneded direction. I did not hit the curb.

I find that more valuable than the brute 4WD off road capability of my honda passport.

Last edited by drmperalta; 03-02-2007 at 09:40 AM.
Old 03-04-2007, 04:07 PM
Join Date: Mar 2006
Posts: 5
Default Re: Highlander Hybrid a boat anchor in the snow!!

The Goodyear Integrity tires are definitely a problem in the snow (see the reviews at Tirerack.com). I switched to the Bridgestone Dueler H/L Alanza and can't believe the difference. In the recent storm we had 2 feet in upstate NY and the Highlander handled great.
Old 12-17-2010, 11:29 AM
Join Date: Dec 2010
Posts: 1
Default Re: Highlander Hybrid a boat anchor in the snow!!

I have a 2010 Highlander Hybrid and (following up on this thread and one on the Altima Hybrid) changed from the 2010 stock 245/19 Toyo Open Country tires to Bridgeston Blizzak winter tires, and the snow performance is great. We had a 12" whiteout blizzard yesterday from Taos to Santa Fe that sent cars into ditches for miles, and the HiHy with the snow tires handled great. I drove it into and out of 12" snowbanks, started from dead stops in unplowed areas, changed lanes at speed on packed ice/snow and had no problem going anywhere.

Over the last decade I've had a Subaru Outback, Jeep Wrangler 4WD (locked differential), Grand Cherokee AWD/4WD low, and Audi A6 Quattro AWD on storm-seeking ski trips, and the Outback and the Highlander Hybrid are the two top handlers for long distance winter driving (climbing, descending, lane-changes over ice/snow piles). Neither can do rock-crawling like a real 4WD Jeep type, but they are very stable and predictable and it's very hard to get either untracked. My wife drove 150 miles to a hospital in a 30" blizzard and swears by the Subaru AWD in all conditions. A Toyota engineer told me they license some aspects of Subaru's AWD system, but I don't know if it's for the Highlander or Matrix.

Tires make a big difference, though, especially for descending; the Audi had performance tires that packed up with snow and slid badly on steep descents. I'd suggest changing stock tires on any car to radials if winter driving is likely.

Car & Driver did a good review on winter tires, including skid pad tests, and pictures of road (i.e. Toyo tires) vs. winter (i.e. Blizzaks) tire treads:
"Four-wheel drive helps get cars going. When it comes time to brake or change direction on low-traction surfaces, the extra mass of the driveline becomes more of a detriment. Folks who live in hilly places that get snow may need the climbing capability of four-wheel drive. If it snows a lot in those hilly places, they should probably invest in winter tires, too. Even flat-landers who happen to have steep driveways may wish to consider a four-wheel-driver.
Almost everyone else will most likely be better served by using winter tires. Acceleration takes longer, but in an emergency, the handling behavior and improved lateral grip of two-wheel drive and winter tires -- in the slippery stuff -- are the safer bets. "

The HiHy with Blizzaks (one of the few winter tires available for the 245/19" rims on the HiHy Limited or upgraded base model - Discount Tire and Costco can order them) is a top performer in the snow, and the best powderhound car I've had for handling, economy and interior space.
Old 02-11-2013, 08:26 AM
Active Enthusiast
Join Date: Feb 2013
Location: Maritimes, Canada
Posts: 76
Default Re: Highlander Hybrid a boat anchor in the snow!!

Have a 2009 HiHy myself with Michelin X-ice 2 tires on separate rims and I have no trouble at all getting through some very nasty winter conditions (ice, foot deep snow, slush, etc) we see here up in eastern Canada. I'm sure the OP would have changed their mind having run snow tires at a ski resort too. They are very sensitive to the traction control so just feather the gas when driving in bad conditions but this vehicle is as good as any if you find yourself in adverse weather conditions.
Old 04-20-2013, 08:29 AM
Join Date: Apr 2013
Posts: 4
Thumbs up Re: Highlander Hybrid a boat anchor in the snow!!

I bought an 08 Hybrid that had been brought to Duluth from the East Coast. It had terrible traction in ice and snow, and I suspected the high mpg highway tread tires. I purchased some firestone tires with an agressive tread, and my problem was solved. Had the same problem with my 2010 Insight and my 08 Civic Hybrid. Winter tires make all the difference on these cars.
Old 03-13-2019, 11:53 AM
Join Date: Mar 2019
Posts: 1
Default Re: Highlander Hybrid a boat anchor in the snow!!

Has anyone tried pulling fuses to increase the HiHy's capabilities in winter driving (with winter tires)?
Favorite pass time in winter-Montreal is to go down unplowed alleyways and commercial lots for some sideways action in the 4runner.
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