Since, based on their production numbers, Toyota is the largest automaker in the world (for now) it makes sense that many folks in regions given to more slippery conditions are interested in Toyota 4 wheel drive vehicles. The all wheel drive vehicle market seems to be a growth area with more manufacturers adding the feature to their models of all shapes and sizes.
We’re mainly focused on cars rather than trucks or other heavy duty 4 wheel drive vehicles so while we may mention some of Toyota’s heavier duty four wheel drive offerings we’ll focus on the models more suited to the car shopper looking for a street vehicle.
As you may know the all wheel drive systems you’ll find in many cars today are pretty sophisticated and are typically integrated with the vehicles other automated or semi-automated control systems like the anti-lock braking system and traction control system. Different methods are used to split the power between the front and rear of the car and even from one side to the other in some cases.
Distributing power this way allows for increased slick weather performance by getting the engines power to the wheels that can make the most of it. If you haven’t driven an all wheel drive vehicle in the snow make sure you do it if you get the chance. It’s quite impressive how effective a good AWD system can be.
Toyota 4 Wheel Drive Vehicles
Alright, let’s take a look at some of the all wheel drive equipped models Toyota has to offer:
2011 Toyota Matrix S AWD
Since it’s introduction as a 2003 model year vehicle the Matrix has had a 4 wheel drive version available off and on. The current 2011 model continues the tradition with it’s AWD system which operates in front wheel drive mode until wheel slip is sensed and rear wheel power distribution is triggered. The S AWD version of the Matrix is powered by a 2.4L four cylinder engine that produces 158 HP and 162 lb-ft of torque.
Estimated city/highway fuel economy is decent but not super impressive at 20/26MPG. These number may actually be on the low side for you since owners on the fuel economy tracking site Fuelly.com report regularly achieving over 28MPG with maximum figures as high as 30.1MPG. The Matrix is definitely a car to consider if you need a small AWD vehicle although there are other options out there that may suit you better such as the Audi A3 Quattro.
2011 Toyota Venza AWD
The Toyota Venza is one of those vehicles that can get you into arguments when the topic of how to label it comes up. Might be a crossover, could secretly be a wagon, maybe it’s a tall sedan.
In any case what we are interested in is the fact that you can get the Venza as an AWD model with either a I4 or V6 engine. The I4 is Toyota’s 2.7L power plant making 182 HP and 182 lb-ft of torque while the 3.5L V6 produces 268 HP and 246 lb-ft of torque.
One interesting thing to note is that the estimated EPA fuel mileage number for both models are very similar. The I4 powered model is rated at 20/25 city/highway and the V6 model is rated 18/25. The Venza is probably a good choice if you are partial to the Toyota brand and want a vehicle that’s a bit more like a sedan. Since the Camry doesn’t have an AWD option the Venza could fill that gap.
2011 Toyota Highlander AWD
In their review of the 2011 Venza Motor Trend suggested that what potential Venza owners really want is the more spacious Highlander. Perhaps that depends on whether you started looking into Toyota 4 wheel drive vehicles with intention to buy a car or an SUV. The Venza sits somewhere in the middle while the Highlander is certainly more of an SUV albeit a rather mild one; which isn’t a bad thing.
You’ll find Toyota’s 3.5L V6 in the Highlander as well. This time it’s rated at 270HP and 248 lb-ft of torque; a bit more than in the Venza. With a fuel economy rating of 17/22 city/highway there is a bit of a fuel mileage penalty to choosing the Highlander however you’ll get a cargo space dividend with the Highlander of about 10 cubic feet (with all seats upright ready for passengers). Naturally the Higlander comes in an AWD version in three trim levels: Base, Limited and Sport.
2011 Toyota RAV4
Like the Highlander the smaller RAV4 is also available in Base, Limited and Sport trim levels in both 4×2 and 4×4 models. Engine choices are the same as the Venza although in the RAV4 the 2.7L is rated at 179 HP and the 3.5L V6 at 269 HP. The RAV4 has some of the best fuel economy ratings of any of these Toyota 4 wheel drive vehicles we’ve listed here. You can expect the city/highway efficiency to be about 21/27 for the 2.7L I4 and 19/26 MPG for the 3.5L V6. Owners with I4 equipped models report averaging from 23-27 MPG real-world numbers with some V6 owners reporting similar numbers.
There you have it! These are some of the most popular 4 wheel drive Toyota models. You may also be interested in the AWD version of the Sienna minivan which is one of the few 4 wheel drive minivans on the market. Whatever model you decide to go with you can generally be sure you’re getting a quality vehicle since Toyota’s are typically well known for reliability and longevity.