Look on the side of a road during a snow storm, and you’ll almost always see many more trucks than cars. As a product of a stubbornly car-loyal New England family, I’ve long assumed this was further evidence -- as if any more were needed -- of my superior driving ability. If I can pilot a front-wheel drive sedan down a slushy highway then surely that four-wheel drive GMC Jimmy should’ve been able to avoid the ditch, right?
Well, not exactly. Take, for instance, this Toyota Sequoia, which I drove during a long, snowy weekend. I expected the Sequoia to be a snow-dominating monster, and in many respects, it was. On twenty-inch all-season tires, I was able to rumble through local roads buried in more than six inches of the white stuff, power up hills, and bull through drifts. All from the comfort of a very well laid out, attractive interior, though I had a hard time reaching some of the radio controls.
It wasn’t so great, though, when I got on the highway. There the Sequoia’s four-wheel drive barely compensates for the sheer inertia created by its heavy weight and towering physical size. Keeping up with traffic moving about 50 mph required incredible focus, peering through the falling flakes to make out the end of banked turns that had derailed several of my fellow SUV drivers. Was it better than a little sedan? Of course, but I’d never describe it as “easy” to drive through these conditions, which is the impression most people get from SUV advertising. Several crossovers and even a few all-wheel drive cars I’ve driven have performed much better in similar conditions.
David Zenlea, Assistant Editor