Toyota Prius In Snow & Winter Driving? (Explained)

The Toyota Prius is a full hybrid electric vehicle and has been produced since 1997.

Within that time, it has received several awards and accolades and has sold millions of units, mostly in Japan and the United States.

There is no gainsaying that the Prius is a top-tier hatchback, but what’s it like in snow and winter?

Well, this article tells you all about that.

Please note:
The current generation Prius cannot accept chains due to lack of clearance. Also, there is currently NO winter snowflake rated tire available for this vehicle due to the odd tire size.

Here is the short answer to whether the Toyota Prius is good for snow and winter driving:

The Toyota Prius offers decent performance for winter driving thanks to inbuilt features that facilitate stability and traction. There is the Vehicle Stability Control, Anti-Lock Brake system, Traction Control, Electronic Brake-Force Distribution, all of which make for great winter driving.

Is Toyota Prius Good in the Snow?

For a hybrid fastback of its size, the Toyota Prius can pull off a smooth drive in mild snow.

While the 5.3-inch ground clearance hampers its performance a bit, the Prius still holds its own in moderate snow.

The Toyota Prius embodies agility with light steering and powerful brakes, making it strong enough to plow through snow.

It also features available All-Wheel-Drive that sends help in the form of torque if any of your wheels lose traction.

Low traction is common in snowy conditions, and the Toyota Prius’ All-Wheel-Drive will be ready to counteract it.

Overall, the Toyota Prius offers a decent performance in snow which is laudable for a hybrid car.

What Features Will Improve Winter Driving?

Below is a list of the most important features that enhance the Toyota Prius’ performance during winter:

All-Wheel-Drive System

For an extra $1400, you can get a Toyota Prius model with the All-Wheel Drive system. This will prove very useful, especially if you live in an area that sees long winters or constantly have to ply snowy routes.

With the intelligent All-Wheel Drive (AWD), there is very little chance that your Prius slips on slick pavements.

The AWD is always on the lookout, and if it detects any wheel slip, the system immediately increases torque supply to the affected wheel.

Traction Control

The Toyota Prius comes with a standard traction control system.

Traction Control enhances traction on the Toyota Prius during winter when road grip is low.

The Prius’ Traction Control monitors the wheels to determine and mitigate loss of traction that can make your vehicle veer off the road.

If TC detects loss of traction, such as extreme wheelspin, it reinforces traction by reducing engine speed.

It may also actuate the brakes to limit the excessive spin.

Vehicle Stability

The Vehicle Stability Control (VSC) is an active feature on the Toyota Prius that facilitates safe winter driving.

The VSC works by tracking the Prius’s steering angle and yaw rate to determine whether it is on course.

If the VSC senses a threat to the Prius’ stability and control, it immediately brakes the engine to restore stability.

And if any of the wheels lose traction, the VSC automatically applies the brakes to help regain traction.

Without a doubt, the VSC plays a pivotal role in boosting the Toyota Prius’ performance during winter.

Anti-Lock Brake System

Braking on slick, wintry surfaces and pavements isn’t just irksome; it can also lead to a dangerous wheel lockup.

However, thanks to Anti-Lock Brake System (ABS), braking in winter has become a lot safer.

The ABS is equipped to detect signs of a wheel lockup when driving the Prius on wintry surfaces.

If it senses a lockup, it immediately restricts brake pressure and stops the wheel lock in its tracks. This essentially maintains the Prius’ stability and safety in such tricky conditions.

Electronic Brake Force Distribution

The Electronic Brake Force Distribution is another one of the features that enhances the Prius’ drivability in winter.

Think of it as a complement to the ABS because it also serves to prevent wheel locks on slick roads and surfaces.

In contrast to the ABS, the EBD works by allocating brake pressure to the wheels based on how much weight each wheel carries.

This will ensure none of the wheels suffers too much or too little pressure, thereby stopping a wheel lockup.

Comfort and Entertainment Features

The Toyota Prius features a comfortable interior comprising heated front seats and a heated steering wheel.

This effectively repels extreme coldness and guarantees warmth for both drivers and passengers.

Besides providing warmth, the Prius is also furnished with top-notch features that make for superb entertainment and winter driving pleasure.

The features include three USB ports, 10 JBL speakers, wireless charging, a 11.6-inch media display, and Amazon Alexa.

The warmth and entertainment features combine to relieve a Prius’ driver and passengers of the stress associated with winter driving.

Please also read our article about how long the Toyota Prius lasts.

Does a Prius Have Snow Mode?

Like most modern vehicles, the Prius Prime features multiple driving modes, namely: Electric Vehicle Mode (EV), EV Auto Mode, and Hybrid Vehicle Mode.

Unfortunately, the Toyota Prius doesn’t feature a dedicated snow mode.

However, the Prius’ intelligent All-Wheel-Drive system plus other traction control features make up for the nonexistence of a snow mode.

Can You Install Additional Snow Gear on Prius?

Installing snow gear on your Toyota Prius would help a great deal for winter driving.

Given its not-so-high ground clearance, snow gear would greatly enhance your Prius’ drivability during winter.

However, you must make sure that whatever snow gear you intend to purchase is an accurate fit for your car. Not only would an ill-fitting gear ruin your Prius’ looks, it would also perform way below par.

You should also ensure you aren’t flouting any municipal laws in your region by installing snow gear.

How Much Snow Can Prius Handle?

The Toyota Prius isn’t among the top vehicles for snow driving. However, it can traverse moderate snow pretty decently.

With a 5.3-inch ground clearance, the Prius can take on 2.5 to 3 inches of snow or more when equipped with efficient snow gear.

Make sure to also read our article about 5 common problems with the Toyota Prius.

How Does Prius Handle Low-Winter Temperatures?

The Toyota Prius can handle low-winter temperatures just fine thanks to its fuel injection engine. You should be able to start and drive your Prius even in extreme conditions.

However, if you have trouble starting your Prius, it could be because of the following issues:

  • Inactive battery
  • Deficient spark plugs
  • Obstructed fuel filters
  • Defective alternator
  • Faulty electrical system

Can a Toyota Prius Drive on Ice?

Icy roads are notorious for frequent rollovers and traction loss; however, the Toyota Prius can perform decently.

With the multiple stability features, the Toyota Prius will perform decently on ice when driven with care and caution.

Its 5.3-inch ground clearance also increases its body’s proximity to the road, which effectively cuts the chances of a rollover accident.

Also read our article about 10 Toyota Prius statistics you should know. 

Does the Prius Have 4WD?

The Toyota Prius does not have a four-wheel-drive system. However, this has no impact on its capabilities as it features an AWD system.

The AWD system, just like 4WD, preserves stability and traction, optimizing its winter driving performance.

What About Older Prius Models and Winter Driving?

Prius models in the United States didn’t feature AWD systems until late 2018, when Toyota introduced it for the 2019 model year.

Also, the Star Safety system comprising safety features like EBD, ABS, VSC, and TC, was launched for Toyota vehicles in 2011.

If you are looking to get an older Prius model for winter driving, we advise that you buy one with the Star Safety system.

The 2019 Prius models with an AWD option would also be perfect for winter driving.

Does Prius Need Snow Tires

Increased stability and optimal control are among the many features that have popularized the use of snow tires for winter driving.

Even with its stabilizing features, the Toyota Prius still doesn’t offer the greatest performance in snow.

Thus, it needs all the help it can get, and snow tires will certainly aid its performance.

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