View Full Version : Is the Prius a good car for Colorado winters?

10-13-2008, 08:37 AM
On the way to work this morning I saw a Prius in a ditch. How good are these cars in the snow? I started thinking that there could be a bigger issue this year with the popularity of the economy types of cars. I'm a young'en and all so educate me on the first winter after the gas crisis in the '70s.

The bridges were iced up a little but I'm sure there is more weather to come. I will also give in that people end up in the ditch when the roads are perfectly dry. When the Geo Metro was popular, there was a time when you would see one after another in the median on the way up to the ski resorts. I remember a stretch between the Break turn off and Copper that there were 5 Geos in the median. With those cars, the snow would compact under the chassis until the tires no longer reached the road.

10-13-2008, 08:48 AM
I live in Leadville, 2 miles outside of town. Two of my neighbors have Priussesssss... They seem to be happy, but they are running snow tires on all four.

My 2008 Civic 4 door sits lower than the Prius. ALOT lower. I have 4 snows for it for icy conditions, but I don't think it will be very good in deep snow. My Saturn that I drove from 1993 till 1999 would drive through 12"+ of powder. Not the Civic....

Thats why I bought the 80 :)

I think if you have the right expectations they are fine. On icy snowpacked roads they are as good as anything else, deep fresh snow, you need something else. I have never got a straight answer from my neighbors about hill starting ability with the electric motors, I imagine it would be great.

I commuted Leadville to Vail for a number of years and now commute Leadville to Buena Vista. Low cars with their low center of gravity are much easier to drive on snowpack icy roads. My 1997 F350 crew cab was more of handfull.

Thats my take on it....

10-13-2008, 09:01 AM
did the car in the ditch have california plates:D

10-13-2008, 09:09 AM
All I can say about the Prius...I hate it....it's one of our work cars that I travel in (when I travel) and it is by far the most uncomfortable vehicle I have ever had the displeasure of sitting in. Honestly, a 1 hour trip and I"m sore...have shifted around in my seat 150 times and just want out.

NOOOO room for me. I"m 6'4" 200lbs and do NOT fit. Turn right and my knee hits the cruise control. Granted the mileage is great...but that car is miserable to drive....although kinda quick :cool:

10-13-2008, 09:13 AM
Likely just an idiot with a Prius not the car.

My experience:
Icy roads: with the all the torque the electric motor supplies it can be a challenge to come off the line without spinning the tires. I haven't looked at the weight ratio ft to rr but based on driving I expect the bias to be toward the rear and that hurts. General manners are very forgiving and not any better or worse than the ES300 it replaced.
The ground clearance is an issue in fresh snow, I was also very dissapointed with the factory tires.

I have replaced the tires with a slightly more aggressive all season but have not had a chance to try them in the snow.

All that being said the current plan: if the streets are unplowed or really icy it will stay in the garage and the Taco and/or the 80 will be driven.

10-13-2008, 09:30 AM
Sucks, sucks sucks sucks sucks...

Too much torque with the electric motors, impossible to start in slick conditions w/o spinning the tires. Traction control senses wheel spin, then shuts down power and applies brakes to your spinning tire. If you are moving, traction control will still shut you down, including applying your brakes at what could be the worse possible moment. If you're not moving, you can stick your head out the window to see yourself peel out 1/2 tire revolution at a time.. :rant:

We're running brand new Hankook 409's this winter, have already noticed about 1-2 mpg lower fuel economy with the increased drag and softer rubber. Hopefully it keeps us out of the ditch.

10-13-2008, 12:51 PM
I have not yet driven on in the snow but everyone I passed last year on I70 was not doing well. I would not want to attempt winter conditions in one without snow tires all the way around

FYI Toyota's product brochure lists the torque output on the electric motor at 295 @ 0-1200 RPM

10-13-2008, 02:07 PM
My mom and step dad in Montana has one with almost 40K on it and they love it. They have taken many long trips to AZ with it and have had no complaints in any weather. They obviously drive it more than their new Tundra.

10-13-2008, 02:33 PM
Sure, the roads are snow free and dry 95% of the time in winter along most o the urban corridor. Drive the 80 when it snows.

I wouldn't drive any small car on a wintery day because of all the morons in big SUVs who think 4wd somehow affects their brakes. I would not want to be attempting to avoid a full size SUV out of control in a torque happy electric motor Prius.

10-15-2008, 04:22 PM
Low ground clearance is the only main negative in the winter IMHO. Not sure what year Prius Nakman has but we have an 08 and the traction control works great for the novice driver on slick roads. Which is great for my wife. It takes to driver skill out of the equation so I hate it personally. But I think it's great for someone like her.

I tried to slide it sideways in a corner. Couldn't do it. Stability control kicked in (or what ever it is). When you are stopped on a slick incline you can't spin out so the car will come to a stop, which could be problems I suppose. But, moving back a few feet then getting the car moving again always enabled me to climb something very slick where tire spin would be big trouble.

Perhaps it's a new and improved traction control system now. Similar to the improvement I see with the Fj's traction control compared to the 01 runner.

10-16-2008, 07:26 AM
It takes to driver skill out of the equation so I hate it personally.


We have an 07, same traction control as you. Next time it snows, make a left turn in front of oncoming traffic.. pretend you don't have a big of a gap as you really do and give it a little extra gas, then see how the whole car just shuts down in the middle of the road on you. Any Honda would have been safely in the parking lot across the street, while the Prius is still chugging away with its little traction control light flashing, spinning your wheels 1/2 turn at a time. That brief moment in time feels like an eternity when there's actually a car coming. :eek:

12-26-2008, 04:06 PM
So have to give a little credit back to the Prius... I put on a new set of snow tires (http://www.discounttire.com/dtcs/tires/hankook/product/submitZipCode.do?typ=Passenger%2FPerformance&tmn=Winter+iPike+W409&postalCodeSelected=80439) and it seems to have made all the difference. Part of our driveway is hardpack/ice, and the Prius seems to scoot on up without much difficulty, we haven't had to walk up the driveway yet. :) Last year, with those worn stock tires, there's no way it would have made it up today after I plowed.

It's still sketchy around town and on the roads when it's snowing, but better than last year I'll give it that. But if there's snow in the forecast I'm taking the 80 instead. :D

edit: nice day today, snowed about 2" between 7:30-8:30, dumping pretty good. No snow since though, still partly sunny.

Jenny Cruiser
12-26-2008, 07:18 PM
Those look like iPikes. :thumb:

12-26-2008, 07:32 PM
Here is my reply to snow...

235/85/16 Cooper M+S studded on Tundra 16x7s


12-26-2008, 08:01 PM
Those look like really nice tires Tim. I have recently changed my opinion and have been disappointed lately on how quickly the Prius traction controls shuts you down when your stopped and triing to go up a little hill. Tires would be key but not worth it for me in the city.

12-29-2008, 09:27 PM
So what kind of tires are those Tim? I want to get a set of steel wheels and those tires for winter use. My wife just came back from skiing today with the Prius and the kids over Berthoud pass and gave me the thumbs up for snow tires.

12-29-2008, 09:44 PM
I have recently changed my opinion and have been disappointed lately on how quickly the Prius traction controls shuts you down when your stopped and triing to go up a little hill.

Dude, exactly. It would be so much more predictable and feel safer if you could just peel out, huh? But the computer takes over and you lose touch with the road surface....

and those are Hankook iPike 409's, click on the link I put above. VERY good in snow, but they will wear quick though and will be coming off in April. It was between these and Blizzaks, both pretty highly recommended by the priuschat guys, for whatever that's worth, but price swayed me towards the Hankooks.

However I also put Yokohama iceguard ig20 (http://www.discounttire.com/dtcs/tires/yokohama/product/submitProductSize.do?r=CODINT%7Cpc%7C80439&pc=44378)'s on the Subaru, and almost wish I would have put those on the Prius instead. They are not quite as aggressive and have less rolling resistance... as we instantly saw 1.5 mpg drop when the Hankooks went on. But with FWD only I wanted the best grip I could get short of studs, so iPikes still seem to fit the bill... want to try them for a weekend some time? Come on up to the driveway challenge... :D

12-29-2008, 10:50 PM
Only a 1.5 mpg drop? That's good. I was expecting more. The Yokohama's don't look near as aggressive. Huh, more tire decisions for me.

12-29-2008, 11:29 PM
Could have been 2, no more than 3 though. I think we get around 43-45 now.

but seriously, come up here and drive the iPikes up my driveway.. :) :beer:

12-30-2008, 08:20 AM
I did a bunch of research before I put new winter tire on the SAAB. I went with the new Michelin® X-Ice® Xi2. The tests I looked at from the norhtern europe gave this tire some of the best rating over the tires metioned so far.
Montana is driving the car currently, but the week or so I noticed no drop in ecomany in the saab, real grippy and according to the specs and such they should wear twice what a blizzak does(I hope to get 3 season out of them with the spare rims I have).
Mounted, balanced and out the door 501. jsut enough to do the 6 months same as cash with the discount tire card. Anyhow I had to wait for 10 days while the tires were shipped to boulder in my size. But well worth the wait.
Good luck with the choice, the Hankooks are a great tire, But the Happakillitta are still number 1 in europe, but silly money(like 265 tire here in the states.)
Happy hunting.