Edmunds Answers



  • morin2 12/11/11 1:23 pm PST

    Old-fashioned 4x4 is generally reserved for trucks. Its a part-time system and requires some slippage. AWD is what is found on most vehicles and sometimes you must study the systems very carefully. Honda and Acura put 4WD decals on their vehicles - but they are no more 4WD in actual practice than your Toyota. They are contributing to the confusion out there. Hondas and the Highlander are both AWD. Honda is hoping that their misleading 4WD decals will fool buyers. My son has such a "4WD" decal on his AWD Honda and I assure you that it is not nearly as good as the AWD system you can get standard on every Subaru - which I recommend over both Toyota and Honda/Acura for AWD utility.

    As you know, auto makers often put totally inappropriate tires on their vehicles. The buyer must hope that he wears out the lousy OEM tires and then can install tires more suited to his particular usage. I once bought a 2001 4x4 Chevy Silverado only to find that my brand new truck could not be driven in the rain on the highway above 50 mph due to consistent hydroplaning. So it became the fair-weather queen of the fleet until I replaced the poor quality tires.

    I don't think there is any substantial difference between the AWD Acura and the AWD Toyota other than the tires. You can check the characteristics of the OEM tires on www.tirerack.com and you have some options. You could negotiate better tires as part of your negotiation, or you could buy a set of 4 steel wheels (cheap on ebay), if you have room to store them, and have winter tires installed on them. Then its a simple matter of swapping wheels when you plan your ski trips. Many of us have an extra set of winter wheels/tires for just such usage.

  • Stever@Edmunds 12/11/11 1:30 pm PST

    Both the 2012 Highlander and Acura MDX have all wheel drive. There's a difference between AWD and 4WD, and lots of arguments about the differences between the "flavors" of the AWD too.

    The EPA ratings on the 2012 Highlander Limited show a 2 mpg hit on fuel economy (city) compared to the 2WD models. The rating for the Limited is 18/24.

    The rating on the 2012 MDX is 16/21.

    So, if you decide to go with an AWD vehicle, the Toyota has a bit of an edge.

    I haven't been following the tire debate about the Highlander, so no thoughts there. I do prefer taking my AWD wagon to the ski hill instead of my FWD minivan. The minivan is more comfortable, but I don't put snow tires on it, and it won't handle the hills in snow and ice unless I chain up (and that's a pain).



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