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Venza Performance in Snow and Ice

mrrich1mrrich1 Posts: 1
I've lived in PA for 25 years and gotten by fine with FWD in the snow. What is the experience Venza owners have had with FWD versions in the snow? I am particularly interested in 6 cyl reports, since it appears they have the better tires. The reports on the 19" tire quality and limited availability, which is the same as that used on the Highlander, scare me, and I was initially interested in a 4 cyl model. It sounds like Highlander owners are downsizing their 19" rims to get access to decent all-weather tires. I realize everyone is driving on new tires, so the problem of what happen as the tires wear is still a mystery, although the Michelins seem to work well enough over time in other vehicles.


  • two weekends ago, we had 6-8 inches snow along I-64 and I-95. Took us 6 hours from Chesapeake to Washington DC because of the snow storm. We made many stops for bathroom breaks and to get food and gas. Many local roads were covered with snow and Venza V6 FWD performed flawlessly.

    Front and back wipers performed great as well.

    Overall, it was fun and joyous drive despite the snow storm.
  • wwestwwest Posts: 10,706
    Fun and joyous.......SIX HOURS...

    Even without kids that seems a bit of a stretch, even doubling up on the paxil.
  • Not a stretch, I drove many cars before and I find Venza is fun and joyous ride everytime I in it.
    i am looking to raise the performance and handling to the brakes on the axis show car and between 325 to 400 hp not supercharger but other aproaches the extreme would be turbo and better springs
  • Hi to all
    I would like to know how your Venza's handle on the snow,and ice.
    Best Regards
  • dave139dave139 Posts: 19
    I have a little more than 1000 miles on my 4 cyl. Venza and am very pleased with the car so far. However, I've read too many bad reviews about the standard Bridgestone Dueler 245/55R 19-inch all-season tires to risk driving on them during our harsh Syracuse winters. Have therefore ordered 4 Blizzak DM-V1 Bridgestone Light Truck/SUV Studless Ice and Snow winter tires. Will let you know how I do.
  • I have only had my Venza for ten days and have not driven on ice and snow yet. It was reassuring to read the positive report from normvenza09 above.
    However, there was a review of the Venza at which reported:
    "The huge wheels made the Venza a handful in the snow, where it often struggled to gain traction. Even mild acceleration would cause the stability-control system to kick in, reducing power and applying single-wheel braking to quell slippage, thus rendering the benefits of all-wheel drive moot. When it comes to winter driving, the Venza is the worst all-wheel-drive vehicle I have ever tested."
    Although the review does not state it, I suspect the test car may have had Goodyear RSA tires which are reported in survey results at to not be as capable in snow as the Michelin Latitude tires that are also available OEM on the Venza. I should have first hand experience with snow and ice in another couple months.
  • Hello Dave,
    Thank you for your reply. Yes please let me know. I will be purchasing this car next year. We also have harsh winters in Quebec.

  • Hello again Michiganmike.
    I thank you again for your great comments. I will be taking a look at those sites. On my end i researched the tires for next year. I will be using 18" tires for winter. Please let me know your first hand experience in snow, and ice.

  • wwestwwest Posts: 10,706
    As a general rule the larger diameter wheel means a lower/short tire sidewall. Short sidewall results in less flex, lower CSA contact patch area, slightly improved FE.

    Lower CSA results in higher propensity for slippage when roadbed conditions are becoming marginal. It also appears to me that the manufacturers of FWD and F/awd vehicles are becoming more safety conscious and therefore the TRAC firmware is being revised to be somewhat more aggressive.

    Turning TRAC off and learning to "feather" the throttle "just so" would be the answer. Especially so if the TC off function doesn't disable the automatic driveline coupling to the rear with low speed acceleration.
  • dave139dave139 Posts: 19
    Will do, Robert.
  • I like the look of the Venza, but I'm interested to learn more about its AWD. From the brochure "Active Torque, "adjusts torque (power) to the right wheels at just the right moment".

    My experience is that I prefer the predictability of permanent 4 wheel drive as in BMW X, VW 4motion and I think Subaru. I have had poor experience with some other "smart" AWD systems (especially with large low profile tire /wheel combos) changing configuration, particularly when going down hill in snow/ice conditions.

    Some AWD drive vehicles allowed you to "lock" the front rear split by a switch or others when you turned off the OD - this seemed to give better driving feel.

    As far as I can tell this AWD is fully automatic and I can't control the front/rear ratios for downhill icy or packed snow motorway conditions. If I'm paying for AWD I prefer to be able to control when its operational, at least in bad weather.

    Can anyone tell me for sure or have experience in icy conditions?

    I have no doubts about acceleration or uphill road performance its what happens going downhill when you take your foot off the the gas that concerns me.

  • wwestwwest Posts: 10,706
    "..going downhill...concerns me..."

    As well it should...!!

    That is only one of the MAJOR safety short-comings of a FWD or a F/awd vehicle, downhill on a slippery slope. Get off the gas, engine braking at the front results in the rear attempting to LEAD.

    Just one of the many good reasons to stay with R/awd or even RWD...SAFETY.

    By the way the 2010 RX350 has this very same F/awd system but also has a manual lock control. But that doesn't change the fact that it is virtually ALWAYS front torque biased system and thus patently UNSAFE for wintertime use.
  • wwestwwest Posts: 10,706
    "..learn more about AWD.."

    Ford makes heavy use of this design for all of the F/awd product, as does Mazda. Porsche now uses the same electro-mechanical linear control clutch technique, R/awd, for the newest 911 model. It has proved to be quite problematic for Ford, early models allowed manual control but had a temperature sensor to warn the driver that the rear drive coupling was beginning to overheat.

    The manual control was dropped as was the temperature sensor and then the next weakest link, the PTO began to fail due to overheating. Mazda solved the problem via cooling of the PTO using engine coolant flow. Apparently Ford chose to detune/derate the F/awd functionality in order to reduce the failure rate.

    It will be interesting to see what the failure rate of the RX350's new F/awd system will be.
  • Sorry but you lost me with F/awd and R/awd .... I understand 4WD and AWD.

    Not sure I agree with you on RWD (rear wheel) being safer, you only need to see the RWD limo drivers (and others) pointing the wrong way in minor ice or snow.

    The worst one I experienced was my wife's FX45 - sure it was great in the dry or even rain, but show it snow or ice and it was a different story. The AWD designed to launch in AWD and revert to RWD if it sensed no traction issues. However with those big wheels and wide tires, traction was horrible. When all 4 wheels slipped on ice it could decide it liked RWD.

    It had a an override for AWD but that would turn off if you went over 25mph - not the best decision.

    For sure we can say a competent driver, with RWD will still do better than a fool in AWD especially if its too smart for its own good and has no manual override mode.
  • wwestwwest Posts: 10,706
    I use F/awd to designate that the AWD system is an "add-on" to a base FWD vehicle. Almost all of these either run in FWD only for most of the time, or are front torque biased. Only the SH-AWD system has the ability to bias engine torque primarily to the rear.

    R/awd...self explanatory.

    RWD and R/awd vehicles have a higher safety factor simply because even if you get to too lead-footed you will still have the front tire traction to maintain control. Get "lead-footed" with a FWD or F/awd and you better hope that TC will be QUICK to intervene, most are.

    "..over 25MPH..."

    Anyone who has any high level of experience with 4WD or 4X4 vehicle driving on adverse roadbeds will tell you that once underway at a reasonable roadspeed the front drive should be disengaged.
  • OK thanks terminology now understood.

    I have no experience of adverse roadbeds, just 20 odd years of driving on NJ roads in varying conditions including deep snow. I'll take full-time AWD or 4WD any day for the few weeks of the year when I need it.

    Thanks for your input.
  • Great explanation. Here's a question:
    My 4cyl AWD Venza has an off button for Trac. Under which circumstances should I turn it off?
  • wwestwwest Posts: 10,706
    To my (meager) knowledge there is no such thing as a "full-time" F/awd system insofar as operation on an adverse condition, low traction, roadbed is concerned. Systems wherein the rear drive capability is always enabled/armed and at the ready, yes.

    Most of these systems, inclusive of the Venza, use TC, Traction Control, to automatically apportion engine torque to the rear after, ONLY after, loss of traction at the front is detected. Basically just like 4WD systems that should NEVER be engaged unless operating on a low traction system, except in the case of F/awd automatic engagement rather than manual.
  • wwestwwest Posts: 10,706

    The only exception would be if stuck, cannot get moving, without (non-excessive) wheelspin and/or have the need to rock the car back and forth to get moving initially.
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