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Buy front strut brace thru Scion/Toyota. Keep those shock towers from flexing. I suggest installing sway bar also. Big difference in cornering. Good luck. I'm agreeing with mr.shiftright. I'm using my brace and sway bar on a 2008 xb.
xA is a cable-type shifting system. Shouldn't be too hard.
But with 4 snow tires and some weight in the back end, it should be all right for most conditions. I also don't see how it could outperform a 4WD/AWD car.
Really though, driving in snow is about 50% driver, 25% car and 25% tires IMO.
My driveway is a steep climb and and the XB with snow tires has always made it up even if the kids "forgot" to shovel in favor of sledding. The Blizzacks are 185 60 15 and have a softer sidewall than the Kumho 716's that I run the rest of the year, so I drive slower with them on. I have dedicated steel rims for the snows and the local tire store never charges me for the swap, they code it a rotation, since I bought both sets there.