Automotive

AWD or FWD for Rav4 (2013-2018 series)

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  • May 24th, 2021 3:04 pm
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[OP]
Member
May 2, 2014
351 posts
113 upvotes

AWD or FWD for Rav4 (2013-2018 series)

RAV4 users claim that the AWD provides a better driving experience no matter the climate and that they 'will never go back to FWD after driving AWD' - it is night and day.

can anyone with rav4 experience speak to this? i would rather get a FWD with winter tires to avoid the additional maintenance and operating expenses associated with AWD.

i live and work in toronto as well as very snowing parts of ontario, and looking to buy a used rav4.
13 replies
Deal Expert
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Feb 11, 2007
17166 posts
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Oakville
AWD is not needed. It will give you better acceleration from a stop, but that's about it.
Both will have equal stopping and cornering.
Winter tires are the most important on either.
FWD will cost you less upfront, less on gas and less on maintenance.
If the women don't find you handsome, they should at least find you handy.
Deal Addict
Apr 22, 2013
2742 posts
2074 upvotes
Markham
I've driven both, and its not night and day especially in the Toronto region where every vehicle with winter tires is viable. You might consider AWD if the region your driving in Ontario is a snow belt region, but even there I've heard of non-AWD/4WD cars still doing fine, the only regions of Ontario where it could be most prudent however is rural parts of Ontario where highway portions can be dangerous because of ice...but again tires are way more important than AWD.

Frankly the driving experience of the RAV4 is never its highlight, its one of the less enjoyable vehicles to drive. Both FWD and AWD RAV4s don't really feel any different. If you're not utilizing the AWD, again in the Toronto region the only effect anybody might be feeling is a placebo effect. Now, if you're talking about the RAV4 hybrid that is quite different to drive from a standard RAV4, the only RAV4 version IMO worth considering.

However if you're not driving this RAV4 into the ground, the resale of the AWD version will always be stronger.

Overall though its so not worth it in the vast majority of cases, again in Toronto. Spend more to buy initially, spend more to maintain, increase tire wear, and even when not in use you spend more to lug it around and they're slightly slower too.
Deal Addict
Dec 4, 2011
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Montréal
If it was a high-performance car model (like a Golf R, RS3, STI, etc.) AWD would indeed give you better performance across all seasons but you are correct in thinking that it will add nothing to a RAV4's driving dynamics, outside of the winter where it is obviously an advantage.

But given you live in Toronto, I see nothing wrong with a FWD RAV4 with winter tires is that is your wish.

The only thing is you say you go to parts where the winter is a bit more robust, you may definitely enjoy having the AWD in some conditions up there for sure. But people survived for decades in FWD cars with snow tires so you should be able to handle it.
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Feb 11, 2007
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JeganV wrote: However if you're not driving this RAV4 into the ground, the resale of the AWD version will always be stronger.
Does the higher AWD resale overcome the increased initial price? What about if you include increased running costs?
If the women don't find you handsome, they should at least find you handy.
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Jan 27, 2004
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T.O. Lotto Captain
2wd with winter tires will work perfectly fine.
AWD is only a nice to have luxury and not really a necessity.

The RAV4 has surprisingly capable awd system. It has a differential lock for low speed conditions if you truly are in a big jam. It has a button that activates 50:50 power ratio to both the front & rear wheels. Only good for up to 40km/hour. So it actually have to be in a jam.

I’ve used this to get through 2 feet of snow on a unmaintained rural road.
Also used this on a muddy road! Actually works quite well... although my tires also helped. Yokohama Geolander G015 all-terrain / all-weather winter rated.
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Jan 27, 2004
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engineered wrote: Does the higher AWD resale overcome the increased initial price? What about if you include increased running costs?
I had to get my differential rebuilt. Cost me $700 & it seems like only 1 guy in GTA was willing to rebuild it with a kit from Japan that had beefed up components.
All other mechanics just wanted to replace it with a used one that would have cost $1500 ish and still have that problem come back!
It was a common issue on the 3rd gen RAV4 and awd Sienna. Not sure if they fixed it for the generations after.

But its actually ok, i use my awd. Pre-covid that is... not too many trips up north during the covid winter that just passed. And hopefully they open things up this summer!
Deal Addict
Jun 14, 2008
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Montreal
Depends on where you live, having AWD could mean get out and drive away in the morning vs shoveling for half an hour.
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Apr 22, 2013
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Markham
engineered wrote: Does the higher AWD resale overcome the increased initial price? What about if you include increased running costs?
Its more so the plentiful AWDs pushing the rarer FWD further into the bottom faster. The spread between a new FWD and AWD is quite a lot smaller now, IIRC its now $2000. It really doesn't help the FWD's value when the ex-rentals are all AWD(they can charge more renting them and get a faster sale too when finished from rental duty) and they will start the floor for AWD, so early on for FWD the resale will be dreadful. General public attitude is also going to assume AWD > FWD too, affecting desirability and the minor research someone might do will likely see what the OP saw in that FWD seems inferior amongst owners. In the long run however AWD will be a diminishing return, this is more of a note for the later RAV4s the OP is considering, the older ones not so much.
Deal Addict
May 4, 2014
4923 posts
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Toronto, ON
I've driven everything rwd,fwd,awd, with/without snow tires or traction control. I can get around in the snow in any of them, feathering the throttle, finding tracks, etc., but AWD would still be my choice for snow.

Just mash the gas and you are out of there.. putting distance from cars near you in the winter is the best way to stay out of danger, people only think about what's in front but behind is equally important. That's why being able to get up and go quickly when you need it is important.

Always turn off traction control, most useless technology in regular consumer cars(race car TC is different).
Sr. Member
Aug 17, 2018
755 posts
520 upvotes
2017 rav4 owner the only thing for the gas version is the low ground clearance. Otherwise AWD for ease of mind, just waking up in the morning clearing snow from the driverside door and within 2mins I'm on my way without digging out. If your deciding on a used rav4 I suggest 2018 and up for all the safety features included on lower trims. Otherwise if that doesn't matter, 2012 V6? My 2011 limited is still going strong but only 120k
Newbie
Nov 9, 2020
77 posts
47 upvotes
FWIW I had winter tires on my 2WD RAV4 last winter. There were ~2 times all of winter where AWD may have helped. One was navigating a portion of a street with an S-curve, and one was turning right at red light after dead stop, all on a day of massive snow storm where small streets weren’t plowed yet. There were some slipping and sliding but I don’t know if that is just due to inertia or lack of AWD.

Although I will admit having AWD would give you more confidence in winter driving. But for some too much confidence.

I guess it comes down to wanting a system that will statistically kick in ~1-5% of the driving time when you really need it, or not.
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May 31, 2008
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ausername wrote: RAV4 users claim that the AWD provides a better driving experience no matter the climate and that they 'will never go back to FWD after driving AWD' - it is night and day.

can anyone with rav4 experience speak to this? i would rather get a FWD with winter tires to avoid the additional maintenance and operating expenses associated with AWD.

i live and work in toronto as well as very snowing parts of ontario, and looking to buy a used rav4.
If you were just driving around the Toronto area, I would say for the most part you would be fine with a good set of winter tires. However, if you will be driving outside the city, especially on potentially unplowed roads, I think AWD would definitely be the better choice.

I've driven every drivetrain available, with my last two vehicles being AWD, and I can honestly say it is better for the following applications:
1. Starting from a standstill in snowy or icy conditions.
2. Cornering in snow or icy conditions.
3. In deep snow such as on unplowed roads or even when the plow has pushed snow in front of a driveway of a home or business.

AWD also seems to be far more popular in the GTA area according to Autotrader when I do a search for all years and choose the drivetrain filter, so if you ever needed to sell it later that might be something to consider:

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