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  1. #1

    Winter and Prius

    My Prius in Saskatchewan (that's north of North Dakota) has 2500 km on it and I have had a chance to try it in cold weather. These comments are for highway driving at -30 Celsius (about the same in Farenheit), with steel wheels and winter tires.
    It starts and runs fine with a block heater. Everything works well, including the touch screen.
    Fuel consumption is very high for 10 minutes but decreases to about 5.5 litres per 100 km at highway speed (vs EPA figure of 4 litres). Average consumption is 6.5 - 7.5 litres per 100 km.
    It seems to take a while (20 minutes) for the battery to warm up, so it discharges quickly, causing the gas motor to run alone at high speed and consumption temporarily rises to 7.5 litres per 100 km at highway speed.
    The front defroster is very effective at low temperature, even with a cold engine. The rear defroster fails to clear the window. With three people in the car I need to run the air conditioner to keep the side windows clear.
    At -30 on the highway, the interior does not get really warm. The interior warms up fine at -20 (about -10 Farenheit).
    The gas engine rarely shuts down while stopped (I guess the car needs heat), and, in town, the vehicle never seems to cruise on the electric motor alone below -15 (0 Farenheit).
    Traction and handling are good on ice and snow, with winter tires and Vehicle Stability Control. The winter tires give the car a softer ride.
    I'm looking forward to having the "low exterior temperature" light go out some day.
    Scott, where the forecast is for -36 later this week

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  3. #2

    Winter and Prius

    Just a short note: my sister has been driving a Prius for almost a year now in Cleveland and, during the last few snowstorms over the holidays, has had no problems commuting to and from work with the stock tires. I don't have any word on how mileage is affected though. I'll try to get her to post.

    By the way: Toyota may build Priuses (Prii?) in the US.


  4. #3

    Winter and Prius

    My brother, Vince, reports correctly. The Prius has been great in the winter. I got my 2004 Prius (pkg #9 Tideland) March 2004, so this is its first winter. In the greater Cleveland area I have had snow, I have had sleet, I have had freezing rain, and I have had ice...all in the same 22 mile, 40 min commute!! And during the holidays we also had two 16" snowfalls. The Prius handled it all beautifully.
    I have the standard 15" aluminium wheels and tires, Traction Control, ABS brakes and Brake Assist. Since I have pkg #9 my Prius also came with VSC (vehicle stability control). I can't say enough about winter handling. No sliding or spinning while driving or braking. Whenever one of the wheels began to spin the VSC light flashed on the dash and the car ran true. The car managed the power and brakes smoothly and quickly such that by the time I was ready to react to the situation the car had "solved the problem". I would urge all potential Prius owners who live in winter climates to order VSC.
    Mileage does suffer with winter temperatures. I went from getting a high mpg of 57.3 (calculated not displayed) in August to my current record low of 34.6 (calculated) mpg which I got in late December during the 16" snow falls.

  5. #4

    Winter and Prius

    I forgot to mention that while my lowest mpg was the 34.6 I got during the 16" snowfalls, my average mpg for Nov and Dec is 43.6 (N=8, Range 50.9 - 34.6). And 6/8 mpgs were 41mpg or higher.

  6. #5

    Winter and Prius

    i think in general we are seeing drops in winter gas mileage on any hybrid MAINLY because the cars are unique & provide a MPG gage. we likely never monitored "regular" cars to the same extent or accuracy before.

    meanwhile, concepts are coming out to attack the winter mileage problems.

    ~ handy. we'll quickly see what works & maybe the automotive companies will add what they know to the next generation of hybrids they must certainly be working on.

    see ya

  7. #6

    Winter and Prius

    Actually, I have monitored my previous "regular" car's mpg. Before I bought my Prius I owned a used, 1992 4Dr, 5-speed, Mazda 626. I recorded the mpg for every fill-up I ever made for that car (November 1994 - March 2004).
    The best mpg I ever recorded for the Mazda was 34.8 (July). the worst was 21.5 (December). As can be seen from my previous post, the best Mazda mpg is essentially the same as the worst Prius mpg. And the best mpg, that I've so far gotten for the Prisus (57.3) is way above the best I've ever gotten for the Mazda (34.8).
    I think if people would record the mpg for their cars over the course of a single year, they would come to realize just how poorly their car performs and more importantly, how superior the Prius is, even at its worst.

  8. #7

    Winter and Prius

    What you folks say is absolutely true. It gets tiresome to read posts from people who compare their all-time-best summer highway mpg, against a hybrid's frozen winter worst mileage.

    If every car had an mpg gauge, then people would know how bad their mpg is in the winter. I don't care what car you drive, you are going to get severly worse mileage in a harsh winter climate, but most people don't realize it because they don't pay attention to mileage during that time.

  9. #8

    Winter and Prius

    Hi Stephanie,
    I'm glad to hear your Prius performs well without winter tires.
    Consumer's Reports (December 2002) did a comparison. The numbers are the number of feet required to increase speed from 5 to 20 mph on a snowy surface.
    Front-wheel drive with all-season tires: 95.
    Front-wheel drive with winter tires: 62.
    All-wheel drive with winter tires: 42.
    So winter tires seem like a cost-effective way to gain traction.

    Another factor is that winter tires are meant to be more flexible in extreme cold. This is supposed to provide better traction than all-season tires on dry pavement.

    One thing I forgot to mention: the limit of the "Outside temp" indicator on the Prius seems to be -30 Celsius. Needs to go to at least -45 around here.


  10. #9

    Winter and Prius

    I was just told my Prius would be in in a few weeks!!! So I am about to say goodbye to my 1992 Subaru Legacy with 226,000 mi. It's been a great car, but I'm ready to save even more bucks.....

    I have also monitored my gas mileage from when I bought the car new. The EPA ratings were 22/28. Since I buy highway (supposedly hi-mileage) tires, I usually average about 30-31 mpg on highway driving in the summer time. I have a second set of snow tires that I put on in December and generally get 26-27 mpg highway. 90% of my driving is highway, so that's what I report.

    I have used the Firestone Blizzaks for years and they are excellent snow tires. I have also used Vredestein snow tires, and they are also excellent. I called the Vredestein distributor in Canada several years ago and was told that the Blizzaks are probably better than the Vredesteins in the beginning, but when their special soft rubber wears out, the Vrdestein tire would then be better. Also, the Vredestein rubber, I was told, gets softer as the temperature decreases, rather odd, but I guess its possible.

    If you live in an area where the streets are generally snow-covered, the Blizzaks would be a better choice. If you live in a area where it snows, but then the streets get clear and stay that way for a while, I would recommend the Vredesteins, either SnowTrac, Wintrac, or IceTrac (studded).

  11. #10

    Winter and Prius

    with -30C temperature, it looks like the NiMh battery need a heater too as the engine does. I wonder if it is possible to get this solution from Toyota for cold area in Canada. Some one can suggest Toyota to provide such heater.

    Someone can modify current engine heater design
    to get a heater for NiMh battery with timer. Anyone to promote it?

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