Dan M., Pewaukee, Wis.

The Toyota Sienna is the only minivan that offers all-wheel drive, so it gets our vote as most likely to succeed in the conditions you describe. Sienna’s all-wheel-drive system is the on-demand type that normally operates in front-wheel drive and automatically transfers some power to the rear wheels in slippery conditions when the front wheels lose traction. It automatically reverts to front-wheel drive when traction is restored at the front and, to save fuel, sends power to the rear wheels only when necessary.

2011sienna

All other minivans have front-wheel drive and standard traction control, which applies the brakes to one or more drive wheels when they lose traction and/or reduces engine power until the wheels regain traction.

That may be all you need most of the time, but the Sienna’s all-wheel-drive system temporarily provides more grip, though you have no control over when it’s engaged. You can turn off most traction control systems with a dashboard switch, and that lets you try to get through snow or up slippery inclines the old-fashioned way, by gunning the engine and attempting to power your way through.

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Answered by Rick Popely on August 8, 2011 in Toyota , What Car Should I Buy? | Permalink

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