If your idea of winter driving tips includes this one, STAY HOME, don’t worry. I’m here to help you get over your fear of driving in the winter.
If you think you already know everything there is to know about winter driving (same thing as summer driving but with snow – WRONG), I’m going to make sure you know what you don’t know.
And I’m going to do it all with the help of the 2021 Toyota Camry AWD.
If you’re thinking a sensible sedan isn’t the ideal vehicle for winter driving, stay tuned because I’m going to tell you why it’s not a bad choice at all.
But first, let’s cover the basics.
Winter Driving Tips
I’ve got 9 tried and true winter driving tips that are guaranteed to keep you confident on the road.
1. Keep your snowfighting weapons handy.
An ice scraper and ice brush are always good to have at the ready and small enough that you should keep one in your car in case you get caught out in inclement weather. I have a snow brush at home but I’m getting ready to upgrade to this Snow Ninja Blade because you can brush the snow off of your gorgeous body paint without risk of scratching it.
The other weapon I need, because I drive a tall SUV, is something to help get the snow off of the top of the vehicle. For that, I recommend the Snow Joe, which has a soft edge, an ice scraper, and an extendable pole.
2. Clear Your Entire Car
Have you ever been driving on the highway and a huge chunk of snow or ice blows off of another car and just misses you? Don’t be that guy. Clear off all windows (front, rear, side) but also the top of the vehicle as well. Otherwise, you could be the one that suffers from the ice chunks falling off your vehicle.
And make sure your headlights and taillights are clear. That not only makes it easier for you to see but for others on the road to see you.
3. Clear Your Wiper Blades
I know it’s a pain to get all the snow and ice out of the rut between your hood and windshield but you are going to need those windshield wipers. Whether it’s snowing, sleeting, or just splashing water from the road, you’ll want to make sure you can see.
4. Keep Your Fluids Topped Up
You don’t want any of your fluids to get too low for fear of freezing (this includes your gas tank!). But I would pay special attention to your windshield washer fluid.
Not only will you need it to clear the salty brine that will splash your windshield, but you might even consider a winter fluid that has a lower freezing point, like the Rain-X De-Icer Washer Fluid.
5. Drive with All Season (or Winter) Tires
I have actually driven on ice. Like, literally, on ice an ice rink. It was there that I really understood the value of the tire you drive on. It can mean the difference between life and death when it comes to stopping power.
Having the right tires is important but also make sure you still have good tread on them. Want to know how? Experts often say that you shouldn’t be able to see the top of Lincoln’s head when you place a penny in your tread but others are now saying you should switch that test to Washington and the quarter.
6. Keep a Safe Following Distance
I had always heard that you should allow one car length for every 10 mph, e.g., if you’re driving 30 mph, leave 3 car lengths between you and the next vehicle. More commonly, they recommend a 2-3 second following distance between vehicles. That distance will obviously change as your speed increases.
But all of those recommendations are for dry pavement. In slippery weather, you’ll want to increase that distance to allow more space for stopping (and to let your anti-lock brakes go to work!).
7. Smooth Your Driving
Newsflash: You don’t always have to be the first one to pull away at a traffic light. When the weather gets slick, you’ll want to make sure you soften your acceleration and braking. That gives your tires more contact with the ground and more traction.
8. Practice, Practice, Practice
I’ve spent time driving on the ice but the best experience was at a racing school where I drove in a tight circle, at a relatively fast pace, on wet pavement, and then turned the traction control off.
I was terrified but it taught me the capabilities of the vehicle. It can handle tight turns, even on wet pavement. But we turned the traction control off specifically to make the car skid. And it taught me how to quickly react when a vehicle loses control.
Now, I’m not suggesting you turn traction control off but I am encouraging you to get out there and practice controlled driving in challenging conditions (an empty parking lot is perfect for this). Because you want to know how to handle challenging driving conditions BEFORE you have to actually drive in them.
And if you have a new driver, make sure you let them try driving in the snow. There’s now better way to learn than to try while an experienced teacher (you!) is in the car.
9. Look for an AWD Vehicle
You don’t necessarily need a 4×4 or even an SUV to handle winter driving conditions. But an All Wheel Drive (AWD) vehicle will definitely help. AWD is a drivetrain designed for smooth driving conditions but has to ability shift power from two wheels to four wheels in order to provide better traction and stability.
Toyota offers AWD on the following vehicles:
- RAV4 Prime
A Close Up Look at the Toyota Camry AWD
Whether you’re dealing with snowy roads, icy ground, or wet pavement, let’s talk about why the 2021 Toyota Camry AWD might be what you’re looking for.
Just the Facts on the Toyota Camry AWD
I spent a winter week in the 2021 Toyota Camry SE AWD Nightshade Edition. Here’s what that means.
Model year: 2021
Trim: SE Nightshade Edition (this is a package that includes all SE options along with an appearance package)
The SE gives you features like Bi-LED combination headlights, 18″ alloy wheels, 7-in. Multi-Information Display, SofTex®-trimmed seats, Eletronic Parking Brake with Brakehold, and more.
The Nightshade appearance package gives you sporty black accents on the grille, headlights and taillights, sideview mirrors, door handles, antenna, rear spoiler, and badging.
Under the hood, the AWD option uses a 2.5-Liter Dynamic Force 4-Cylinder DOHC 16-Valve D-4S Dual Injection with Dual VVT-i providing 202 horsepower and 182 lb.-ft. of torque.
The gas mileage is reported at 25 mpg city/34 mpg highway with an average of 29 mpg. The FWD version only averages about 3 mpg better.
But How Did It Drive?
Considering that I’m typically an SUV girl and I do like all the bells and whistles, there was an adjustment period. I had use an actual KEY to start the car (push button start is optional) and I missed things like heated seats and a heated steering wheel (all optional or available on different trim levels).
But one thing is the same. The Camry is a sporty, fun, capable sedan that made me forget that it was once one of the most forgettable cars on the rode (I’m not bashing Camry here – I’m a former owner). But they have come a long way with the design, on both the interior and exterior and I appreciate the handling on both the dry and wet payments.
Want to see for yourself? As always, I have a full video review for you.