My first winter is more or less over with my 4 cylinder 4x4 2012 Tacoma. I live up above 8000' in the rockies and we have gotten a ton of snow this year.
First thing, the stock tires that came on the car are just awful in the snow. Seriously they stink trying to get up steep stuff or stop in wet snow. Since I have to travel down a big ol' canyon to go to work I got a set of Artic Claw Winter XSI studded tires.
They were great in the deep snow and even better at stopping when some jack ass in a civic flew off the canyon in to the frozen creek... which happens approximately every other snow storm.
However they were only so-so until I put weight in the back. The rear wheels just didn't have any traction in the light truck even in 4wd. I used 3 60 pound bags of tube sand. Which made tons of difference. We got a couple of big storms over 2 feet. I dropped 2 more bags in, 300 pounds total and the truck was unstoppable. I took the two extra bags out once the snow got down below 1 foot.
Even though its spring we are still getting snow up at elevation and its slushy wet snow. I took the studded snows off and replaced the stock tires with Wild Country XTX tires. I used to have to put the truck in 4x4 just to get out of my driveway with stock tires on a dry day! Not anymore. These tires get you going as good as the Artic Claws, they aren't as good at stopping on icy stuff but for the spring its great. I didn't notice any drop in mileage with the Wild Country, it's not a "truck rated" tire, but more than enough meat for a 4cyl.
Anyhow, I thought I'd share my snow experience with the 4cyl taco. Love this truck.