Vehicle Stability Control System Prius



The Toyota Prius comes with an optional unique safety feature called a “Vehicle Stability Control system,” which helps stabilize the car when road conditions are bad. How important is this feature? It costs about $600 to add this option. Look forward to your counsel. Many thanks, Betsy


On such a small, not terribly powerful car, I would say it’s about worthless. Maybe if you’re a brand new driver, or have absolutely never driven in inclement weather, but I just don’t see it being that beneficial.


I would recommend slowing down before turning on snow and ice. If you never see snow and ice, fuhgeddaboudit.


“Unique?” What’s unique about it? LOTS of cars have stability control. It’s just one more electronic nanny to prevent a bad driver from losing control of a vehicle. If the car comes with it as standard equipment, fine. If I had to pay extra for it, no.

This feature is becoming more and more common on cars today.  It goes by various names.  It helps keep you going in the direction you want to go without loosing control.  It is a good thing and could save your life some day.  Given the choice I would want it.  If I were buying a new car today and it was $600, I would jump at the chance.  For me that means for $600 I would have it there for the next 1050-200,000 miles and likely 15-20 years.  I keep a car for a while. Hopefully I would never need it, but ....  

I have seen very little if anything said against them and a lot of good things.

I consider myself a good driver. However over the last 45 years I have been involved in several situations where I would have loved to have had it. In fact it would have saved me loosing a couple of teeth when I was 16 years old.


I’d second that. Not only a couple of teeth but you could lose some of your hair(front sode) in an accident. It is true that VSC is designed to have a shorter reaction time to correct the situation than any human being on this planet, so as far as the responce is concerned you cannot do better job than the VSC does when something happened unexpectedly. I’m not saying the VSC is a perfect driver aid system but at least can assist you in safe driving. Good luck.


Yup, unfortunately this kind of stuff is far from unique, it’s becoming difficult to avoid.


I think no one here who posts against this actually has experienced it nor owns it…

You can say slow down on ice/snow which is quite obvious however the real asset to this system is in surprise conditions like veering quickly to avoid something or hitting black ice which is impossible to see or anticipate. Not even the very best (professional) driver can do what the system does which is brake a single wheel(impossible on car) causing the car to return to same path it was going.

For a meager $600 it could absolutely save your life.


The Prius is not a small car. It is nearly the size of a Camry. While not terribly poweerful, it’ll do 0 to 60 in 10 seconds, same as a 4 cylinder Camry. For details, go to for all the info you can use


I wouldn’t suggest paying 600 extra for stability control on a 4 cylinder Camry, either. 0 to 60 in 10 seconds was just about average for a sedan in 1975, it is not what I would call a rocket ship today.

Have driven cars with traction control and ESP in RWD, FWD, and AWD configurations. Please don’t lump me in to the camp of people who consider it worthless, frivolous technology. But 600 extra dollars in an already fairly expensive car? I would pay extra for ABS. Yes. But I assume ABS is standard and in this case, seems infinitely more useful than stability control and I think the number of situations in which it could “absolutely save your life” seem extremely limited.


I want to second Mr. Meehan’s opinion. While this feature is definitely not unique, it is a very valuable feature in terms of accident avoidance. This feature is one of the reasons why I selected the model of car that I drive, and I can attest that even for a careful driver like me (NO ACCIDENTS of any kind for over 30 years), it has helped me to avoid a potential collision on a couple of occasions in the winter.

As to the posters who believe that a “good” driver doesn’t need this feature, I want to repeat the question posed by andrew j: Could you apply the brakes to only one wheel in case of a potential skid? The very obvious answer is NO!

And, as was also said, the people who seem to be opposed to this feature are most likely the ones who don’t have it on their cars. You have to remember that when 4-wheel hydraulic brakes were introduced, many people railed against that feature as being dangerous because it would cause your car to stop too quickly! High compression engines were opposed by many because higher compression would cause your engine to “blow up”.

Technology improves as time goes on, but unfortunately the opinions of much of the public don’t always advance as quickly as the technology does. So–don’t be a “Luddite”! I recommend that you opt for this valuable safety feature.


Seriously, if this “feature” makes the OP feel better she should pay the extra money. As a “Luddite” it’s the kind of thing that I would (and do) pay extra to avoid (it’s a clear violation of the KISS principle, but so is a prius). You just need to realize that these gadgets are not just a one time expense, they have a life cycle cost. Determine how long you plan on keeping the car and decide if this is worth the expense/agrivation over your entire ownership. It’s really just a matter of personal preference.


Well, I survived the first 50 years of my life, and 33 years of driving without VSC, but I got it on my most recent vehicle. I like it. It does take all the fun out of horsing around in a snow covered parking lot, but it’s also got a switch that lets me turn it off. The idea is it may save you from the unexpected. A road a bit more slippery than you thought, or a corner a bit sharper than it looked. According to the insurance companies, unlike ABS, VSC actually reduces the number of accidents in cars that are equipped with it.

Again, it’s not the be-all-end-all of safety features. I drive a car, van, and motorcycle without it and I don’t feel particularly unsafe doing so, but it’s a nice thing to have in my opinion. My new car has it and the only time it has kicked in was when I was deliberately trying to make it kick in.


“You just need to realize that these gadgets are not just a one time expense, they have a life cycle cost”

Well, after 6 years and about 78,000 miles, I have spent ZERO on this “gadget” after the initial purchase price. That is not to say that I won’t have to spend some money for repair in the future, but since it has already helped me to avoid a couple of potential collisions, I think that it has paid for itself many times over.

However…to each his own.


Glad it’s working out for you, but I wasn’t really talking about 78K miles. My daily driver has 405K miles at the moment, and everything works perfectly. I have real steering and real brakes (no ABS) and have no problem avoiding collisions (primarily because I avoid putting myself in situations where I need to “avoid collisions”). I will still be driving mine in another 400K miles (unless someone runs into me because they think they are invincible with their traction control system), do you really think any new prius will be running at 400K miles? The more complex you make these things, the shorter their life is likely to be.


Indeed, technology improves as time goes on. As far as I know VSC was first developed by Patricia Mcpherson in the early 80’s for KITT and/or the like. After that it took almost a decade to incorporate onto production models, though.


According to the insurance companies, unlike ABS, VSC actually reduces the number of accidents in cars that are equipped with it.

Have you asked your insurance company if they give any discount for having this system? You may not get any break on rates for ABS (since people tend to be more stupid with it), but maybe you’ll get one for VSC. Who knows, you might end up saving over $600 in premiums over the life of the car (i.e., it pays for itself).