2019 Highlander Hybrid XLE
Mechanical AWD will give you the possibility of less initial front wheel slippage, especially with the gas model's 50/50 split button that some models have. However, it's a case of "is eAWD good enough?" rather than "is one better than the other?" in my opinion. In over 80,000 miles in snowy New England, I never found the AWD-i on my Rav4 hybrid to be inadequate in climbing the hill I live on in the snow. It's not an off-road vehicle though and neither is the Highlander. I have my doubts about the 2020 HiHy being as good in the snow as the 2019 (considerably less rear wheel horsepower) but neither one is good off-road if that's what you're worried about. The suspension is too stiff and limited in anti-roll compliance so unweighting one wheel instantly creates slip with the open differentials. If you want Jeep performance - get a Jeep. But for simply climbing a snow and ice-covered paved hill, the electric AWD system seems to be more than adequate from my experience with both the Rav4 hybrid and now the 2019 Highlander hybrid.