Prius driving performance in winter weather

Can anyone tell me the truth about how good or bad the Prius drives in bad New England winter weather? This includes snow, slush, ice, etc.

I know 3 people who own one…Two live in NH…and one lives in upstate NY (where they get real snow). The Pirus is a good fwd vehicle. It also has tires that on average are skinnier then tires on other cars it’s size. That combination makes for EXCELLENT driving in snow. Snow tires are NOT needed.

The most important factor in winter driving–aside from the driver himself–is the traction provided by the vehicle’s tires. That being said, you have to be aware that, in an attempt to get the maximum gas mileage from the Prius, Toyota equips these cars with tires that have a very low Rolling Resistance. Low Rolling Resistance=POOR TRACTION!

So, if I was to buy a Prius–which I would not because it is only an advantage for someone who drives primarily in urban stop and go traffic–I would be sure to equip it with a good set of winter tires. The Prius’ unique drive system does not provide less traction than other FWD systems, but its tires definitely provide less traction! I use winter tires on my AWD Outback, just to have an extra edge of safety for unforeseen road conditions, but if I had a Prius, I would consider it to be absolutely essential to use winter tires.

It should be noted that a lot of cars come equipped with tires that will maximize their gas mileage, which also means minimal traction, so the Prius is certainly not alone in this category.

I am also curious mainly regarding the early complaints about traction issues. I recall they were concerned that full torque under wheel slippage conditions that could damage the axles and so they reduced the available torque under those conditions. This led to a number of people complaining they could barely make it up moderate to steep inclines with either gravel, snow or ice. If this issue was real, have they corrected it?

Low Rolling Resistance=POOR TRACTION!

I totally disagree. Low Rolling resistance does NOT mean poor traction. Good skinny tires have very low rolling resistance…and are FAR FAR FAR BETTER then wide High Rolling resistance tires when driving on snow…Let me repeat…FAR FAR FAR BETTER.

The Prius should be equivalent to any other front wheel drive car of equal size and weight. As with all vehicles, winter tires will make a huge difference.

Since there are varying opinions, and because of other research I have done, I will probably skip the Prius. Too many unknowns. I live in a rural area where the roads are very bad in the winter, and my driving is not primarily city driving. I also prefer a 5 speed. I might consider a VW clean diesel.

Since there are varying opinions, and because of other research I have done, I will probably skip the Prius. Too many unknowns.

What unknowns??? There have been several hundred thousand Prius’s sold…I think if there was a problem it would have shown up by now.

The Prius will be about the same as any other small fwd car. If you want something you can drive through deeper snow and up long slippery hills, then get an something that is awd. But again, the Prius will handle as well as ANY other fwd car.

Prius does okay in heavy winter conditions with factory spec’ed tires. I have ridden in one up to the mountains during a snow event up some steeper access roads with lots of snow. I believe with any set of winter tires(not snow) it would be wonderful if you worry about it.

Winter tires not needed for most but allows for superior stopping and turning ability with no sense of worry(basically standard fare for any winter tire).

I believe he is speaking to the rolling resistance of the rubber meeting the road not the width aspect. Yes skinner is better.

I happen to own winter rated all-seasons(Nokian WR) that are low rolling resistance according to literature on them.

All hybrids are at their best in “stop and go” urban driving situations. You live in a rural area and likely encounter few stop lights and mostly travel 55 mph two lane highways and interstates. You would get fine gas mileage from a standard Civic or as you say a VW Diesel. My civic is an '03 and I get 40 mpg in rural driving, 32 in suburbia, and 36 overall. A hybrid won’t do much better for me than that.

Now if I lived in San Francisco the hybrid would outperform my civic by a boatload in that hilly urban area. Hybids are perfect for urban, and suburban commuters where there are a lot of stoplights, back ups at exits, and long lines at toll booths etc.

Here’s but one instance of the reported problems with the TRAC system on Prius’ that I was referring to-

People who say they are no different than any other car- care to comment?

Has the problem been rectified?

I believe he is speaking to the rolling resistance of the rubber meeting the road not the width aspect.

Problem is…a wider tire WON’T meet the road…All it will do is stick nicely to the loose snow…which has ZERO traction.

If there is a problem…it’s the first I heard about it. In all likeliness it’s NOT isolated to the Prius, but other Toyota’s as well.

Thank you for that link & no thank you to Prius. My VW goes thru snow like a little tank. Having a standard shift helps too.
Check out the transmission complaint as well…scary!!!

No, it’s specific to the electric drive in the Prius, more specifically the traction control implementation.

The motors can produce far more torque than the axles are designed to take. I read some time back that some people were snapping axles under conditions where the wheel would slip, full torque applied and when it grabbed, snap! So the solution was to adjust the traction control algorithm so that it limits the available torque under wheel slippage conditions.

Many say they went too far and it actually inhibits any forward motion under certain conditions. Toyota says tough, we’re not changing the algorithm. I suspect they are more concerned about droves of axle failures while under warranty than they are the “inconvenience” to owners who can’t get the car to move forward under certain conditions.

I am interested in any news of this problem being reduced or eliminated by I’m not holding my breath…

My Prius does get better mileage in highway driving, but NOT as low as 36. I get 50.5 highway and 56 in stop and go.