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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I have a 2003 Highlander that I will sell/trade-in for either a 2011 4wd Highlander or 2011 4wd 4Runner.

I want the 4wd for driving in snow to Tahoe/Yosemite and during the summer/fall for driving on gravel/unpaved forest service roads.

And, I may drive out into the Mojave and other deserts. I won't be going on sand dunes or other heavy off-road excursions.

What are the differences between the Highlander and 4Runner 4wd?

Where have you driven your 4wd Highlander/4Runner?

Thx
 

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4Runners are true 4wd SUV as highlanders are really just crossovers. If you wanna do off-road type of driving, go with the 4Runners.
 

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4Runners are true 4wd SUV as highlanders are really just crossovers. If you wanna do off-road type of driving, go with the 4Runners.
This...if you want a smooth refined ride and will not go further off road than accidentally parking on the grass somewhere then get the Highlander. If you want a REAL SUV then the 4Runner is the way to go.
 

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The Highlander is a refined SUV suitable for gravel/dirt roads and carriage trails. The smaller 4runner is suitable for true off road use, has a pleasant ride, worse gas mileage, and seating for 4. The 4runner will not be mistaken for a family hauler.

You are asking a pretty basic question which, you would be better answered by test driving each, and reading reviews.
 

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The 4Runner Trail edition has the Kinetic Dynamic Suspension System, it's really cool, you can select different terrains that you're driving on and the different inclines as well. Definitely something to look into. The Highlander offers you a "snow" button, which is basically an enhanced Traction Control.
 

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The 4Runner Trail edition has the Kinetic Dynamic Suspension System, it's really cool, you can select different terrains that you're driving on and the different inclines as well. Definitely something to look into. The Highlander offers you a "snow" button, which is basically an enhanced Traction Control.
i thought the snow button just alters your gearing up one selection to avoid some slippage when accelerating.
 

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Agree 4Runner actual 4WD, but you may wish to hear from Traildust (moderator of these forums)....he seems to use his HL off-road quite a bit at the beach and elsewhere, and if I recall correctly, he seems quite pleased with the HL's performance in such conditions. If you're not doing heavy off-roading, you may not need the off roading capabilities of the 4 Runner.

I can't provide an opinion as I use mine primarily for on-road.

Traildust....thoughts?
 

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i thought the snow button just alters your gearing up one selection to avoid some slippage when accelerating.
as far as i can tell in my own experience, snow doesn't force the transmission to start in 2nd gear, but makes the engine less responsive and you up shift at the earliest point to maintain traction and prevent putting too much power down and losing control. Honestly unless you plan on extreme off-road the AWD Highlander will not disappoint. I have driven a friends AWD highlander in the snow and it handled it fine. Its a great vehicle.
 

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If you're not climbing mountains or crossing rivers, AWD Highlander will get you there. It'll go anywhere a 2wd car can go, with the added security of not being stopped by snow, shallow mud, or sand.

If you need a low-range, then the 4Runner is a must.

My snow buttons seems to keep the transmission in 1 gear higher than normal. So, it starts out in 2nd. The engine is just as responsive and powerful but in a too high gear. Call it an MPG button too!

I wonder if someone with the factory service manual can verify the 'shift schedules' when the snow button is in vs not.
 

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You are asking a pretty basic question which, you would be better answered by test driving each, and reading reviews.
Ditto. I recommend doing a search of this Gen 2 forum for several past threads about off-road and snow performance that will help you reach a decision. The Highlander has proved to be very capable for 90%+ of off-road uses I've put it through, and that last 5% to 10% is where true 4X4 and/or low-range comes in handy.
 

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A Highlander will be find for driving on gravel/unpaved forest service roads. I have done quite a few 'trails' in Big Bear in my Highlander.
 
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