Skip to Content

How To Drive A Toyota Highlander In Snow [Inc. Using The Snow Button]

Disclosure: We may get commissions for purchases made through links in this post.

The Toyota Highlander offers a lot of great features, including snow mode. If you are wondering how to make the most of this mode, we can help. We researched the Highlander from multiple professional sources so that you'll have more confidence behind the wheel.

The Toyota Highlander can be carefully navigated through the snow by activating snow mode. To drive this vehicle effectively through these conditions, the Highlander is also equipped with:

  • An Anti-lock braking system
  • Electronic Brake Force Distribution
  • Traction Control

In this article, we'll take a closer look at snow mode. You might also want to know how fast you can drive in this mode or what safety tips might help you when driving in snow and ice. Read on and you can see what our research has uncovered.

Unveiling Toyota SUV Highlander 2017 at New York International Auto Show at Jacob Javits Center, How To Drive A Toyota Highlander In Snow [Inc. Using The Snow Button]

Step by step guide to using snow mode in the Toyota Highlander

Snow mode is but one option you can select with the Highlander's Multi-terrain Select. This feature will allow you to set your traction control to help you over multiple types of terrain. 

Locate the knob near your shifter. You'll see modes for Mud/Sand, Rock/Dirt, and Snow/Ice. Turn the knob to Snow/Ice.

When this mode is activated, your Highlander will begin in second gear. This will give your SUV more traction and make it less likely to spin the tires as it begins to move over the snow.

But the Multi-terrain settings aren't the only features the Highlander has that will help your drive in the snow.

Electronic Brake Force Distribution

This system works in conjunction with the Highlander's anti-lock braking system. It regulates the brake pressure that is placed on each individual wheel.

In an all-wheel-drive vehicle, each wheel is individually powered. When the conditions on the road are slippery, braking can be treacherous as each wheel might need to brake differently from its counterparts. 

This system evaluates the weight each wheel is carrying and places the proper amount of braking pressure on them to avoid them locking up.

Anti-lock braking system

On snowy or icy roads we can sometimes seemingly apply our brakes nonstop. Though at times necessary, this can also pose a danger.

An anti-lock braking system (ABS) will keep your wheels from locking up from braking too often. This system constantly analyzes the rotation of each wheel. Should one stop rotating, the ABS will kick in and activate the brake. 

Doing so keeps the wheels from getting locked up and prevents the tires from going into a skid

Traction control

This feature will detect any wheel that is spinning over a slippery surface. When the onboard computer senses that this is occurring, it will pump the brake on any impacted wheel.

Toyota Highlander on a street in spring scenery.

How fast can I drive in the snow with snow mode?

Knowing how fast you can drive in any of the multi-terrain modes will be a big help when you get on the road this winter. In some model vehicles, there are rigid limits set for specific ones.

With the Highlander, there is no limit on how fast you can drive in this mode. As we discussed earlier in this post, snow mode will start the Highlander in second gear so that it will have more traction. But this will not limit the top speed of the vehicle.

But just because you can drive fast in this mode doesn't mean that you should. Use your best judgment and only drive as fast as the conditions and your driving ability will allow.

Motorists navigate a city street in white out conditions.

Safety tips for driving on snow and ice

Traveling on snowy and icy roads should be avoided. But life happens and we know that there are times when this just cannot be avoided. If you have to be out in less than ideal conditions, we suggest the following to minimize the risk of accident or injury.

Winterize your vehicle

Having the proper tires (and snow chains if mandated by law) will be the single greatest thing you'll do to avoid an accident in the winter. But you'll need to make sure that they are in usable condition. Make sure they have plenty of treads and are properly inflated.

Be sure your heater and defroster are in proper working order. Without them, you won't get far.

Have your car carefully inspected to make sure the brakes, suspension system, and other components are in peak condition before the first snow falls. They might be working overtime for you in certain conditions, so make sure they are at their best.

Heat things up

Unless you are parked in a heated garage, you should never just get in and go during the winter.

Warm up your car first, allowing your engine to come to temperature and your interior to get warmer. This is where heated seats and steering wheels come in handy for those lucky enough to have them!

If it's snowed or iced already, use a scraper to get every possible trace of the elements off of each window. Carefully scrape your side mirrors if needed too.

Accidents can happen if you aren't able to get a complete view of your surroundings, so be sure you can see before you drive away.

Part of a car's windshield covered with ice. Looking across the dash at the defrosting ice.

Drive slowly 

Know that you won't be able to match your speed during these weather events. Drive only as fast as the conditions allow. Be mindful of how you brake, and give yourself extra time to do so.

Blizzard on the road. Photo taken 07. februar 2013 in Slovakia Europe town Liptovsky Mikulas. Heavy snowfall paralyzed traffic for several hours.

Be prepared

Have a charged cell phone and charger with you. Be sure you also have an emergency kit on board. This should include:

  • Blankets
  • Flashlight
  • Water bottles
  • First aid kit
  • Hand warmers
  • Road flares
  • Weather radio
  • Fresh batteries
  • Jumper cables

In addition, it's a great idea to keep an extra snow shovel in your trunk in case you get stuck. Getting stuck in a drift without one might mean that you'll be waiting for a rescue for a while. Having a tool to dig yourself out will certainly come in handy.

Know when the conditions are too much

Sometimes the ice is too thick or the snow is just too deep to risk traveling. While this will be different based on a driver's skill level, it will also vary based on your type of vehicle.

With an eight-inch ground clearance, the Highlander should be able to travel over six inches of snow. 

But ground clearance will vary greatly from vehicle to vehicle. Those that sit lower to the ground will not be able to travel in snow as deep as those that sit up higher. The last thing you'll want to happen is to get stuck in drifting snow.

If it's too much, it's too much. Know the limits of your vehicle. More importantly, know your own limits as a driver.

Final thoughts

New Toyota Highlander (Kluger) parked

The Toyota Highlander has many features that will help you better navigate it over snowy and icy conditions. Educating yourself on how each one works and when to use them will make your journey less treacherous.

When traveling in winter weather, be prepared by winterizing your vehicle and having items onboard that will help in case of an emergency. Drive safe!

We hope you found this post on the Toyota Highlander helpful. For more information on this popular automaker, we suggest reading the following posts:

Where is the Toyota Highlander Made?

 Taking Your Toyota Tundra Off-Road? Here’s What You Need to Know

How To Roll Windows Down With Key Fob [Toyota, Ford, And More]