Edmonton, Alberta....7 months of ice and snow made me decide "if you can't beat 'em join 'em" so off I went and sold my beloved 2001 camry and bought a brand new Rav 4 Sport V6 this past July. I've never driven an SUV before this and a couple of things concern me in terms of what to expect when driving in winter conditions. The accelerator is extremely sensitive and the weight of the vehicle makes me wonder how it will respond on winter roads. Could someone please give me some advice on the following concerns: (a) would you normally drive the Rav 4 in "drive" on icy roads or would you use a lower gear with better engine breaking capability?; (b) should I just let the computer do it's own thing in terms of the traction control, vehicle stability control, 4WD etc or should I be switching to manual 4WD and if so when?; (c) what other adjustments should I perhaps consider making in terms of the vehicle's automatic road/condition sensors? d) when would you use the downhill assist button and is that safe to do on icy roads? (e) should I be buying winter tires?
Tires,Yes You must have good tires. The best advice I can give you is this, No one can tell you what the best thing to do. Each person is diffrent.You must get the feel of the truck. As for slowing down when slick, NEVER dron into low gear, Could cause it to slide. As goofy as it sounds, This is what I do for better stopping. Put the shifter in neutral and SLOWLY hit the breaks. By doing this, your taking the drag from the motor away. Other than that, Be familler with your srrounding so you know when to slow down and make your turn.. I hope this helped you and drive safe
Thank you for taking the time and effort to respond. You're right that I need to get a feel for the vehicle on winter roads for it is certainly much different than driving a sedan. I also have used the "shift to neutral" strategy to gain more "control" on slick roads. I guess I'm a bit apprehensive about the fact that the Rav 4 has so many automatic drive sensors in terms of winter road conditions. I'm not used to having all these features in a vehicle but that's one of the main reasons why I bought the SUV. Yes, I always take care on the roads in ALL conditions and thank you for your concern. Safe driving to you too!