My understanding of the term 4x4 is that it's just 4WD, period, all 4 wheels driven. But I'm just getting started in that community, too. The 4Runner has full-time 4WD with a center differential that can be locked for serious 4-wheeling, and it has an automatic. I think it makes sense to do exactly as suggested, start by reading up on the techniques. It seems to me that if you do not do the techniques, the mods will be half-effective at best. This seems backed up by the fact that everybody makes as their first recommendation, get a ScanGuage. On the other hand, if you only do the techniques, you may be still only halfway there, but at least it hasn't cost any money.
Anyway I look forward to learning a lot from you all. I am truly in awe of what some of y'all have achieved!
How many miles do you put on it? That would be the best way to limit the impact. Or consider getting a trailer for one of your smaller cars if thats an option.
Anyway, good luck with everything and try not to let religious stuff get to you. Ive been an atheist most of my life and I understand how annoying it is to be talked down to because of it, so dont let people get under your skin because they want to do the same thing since your christian. Indeed, no one hear really knows what you believe and shouldnt feel compelled to comment out of ignorance.
See, that's the best part, and one reason why I didn't feel too bad getting a big car. I work in my house the vast majority of the time. I figure I drove my old car 1500-2000 miles a year. I could go days without ever taking it out. I figure I will drive the new car more (since the Home Depot trips no longer will be in my wife's car): perhaps double that to 3-4000/year. So I figure I'm not wasting that much gas. Still, I want to be as responsible as I can.
Yup, large vehicles can be VERY bad at gas, much worse than you might expect I guess. When I started driving it was an '88 Caprice 9C1 that got 8MPG and 9-10MPG on the highway sometimes! I'll admit that being 18 and having no money, buying gas at $0.90/gal was cheaper then finding a more efficient car.
That was just the first of many Chevy V8s, my current one (the pickup), just by altering my driving style I've gained over 30% in milage (typically got about 14mpg). I'm planning many, many mods, I'm glad to hear that removing the clutch fan can add as much as 2-3MPG, I didn't realize it was a common mod. I only thought of it because it's obviously more efficient and I have a full electric fan setup I can steal from a '95 Caprice 9C1 parts car.
4x4 means 4 wheel vehicles driven my 4 wheels, when 4x4 mode is not engaged, it's a 4x2. Also I've always taken 4 wheel drive to imply a transfer case and the ability to turn 4x4 on or off, continous 4x4 should always be called AWD to me (though it is technically a 4x4 I realize).
Don't buy a scangauge yet, first play with your dash more. I'm sure yours is the same as the one in my Lexus (I don't see why Toyota would have multiple versions of dash displays). You should have a button on your steering wheel or dash that says 'mode', that'll cycle through instant MPG, average MPG (over a trip), average MPH, total time (in minutes) of the trip, Distance to Empty at current average MPG for the tank, etc, etc. There will also be a button called 'Reset' next to the 'Mode' button, this will reset your averages, so even if you can't find the mode button or you really don't have an instant mpg button, you could just reset the average often. So reset it and drive a common trip (like to home depot and back) and see what MPG you get, then reset it and try something different and see what works. Instant MPG is the best, sometimes it updates a bit too quickly, as you do have to accelerate sometimes and you want to know how your 'average' is doing, but it is important. At idle when parked your instant MPG is 0, not 3 as the salesman falsely told you.
Anyway, the way the scangauge or your own trip display (which is all you need if it has instant MPG) helps you improve driving is by seeing what works. Just by watching the guages in the Lexus I brought it from 23MPG to 33MPG. You can instantly see how much 55MPG cruising versus 65MPH cruising hurts you, etc. You'll start wanting to glide more and use down hills to your advantage and see stupidly high numbers on your gauge as often as possible (anytime off throttle will probably say 99MPG, etc). It's a lot of fun and you'll definately improve.