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Toyota Yaris In Snow & Winter Driving? (Explained)

The Toyota Yaris is a great subcompact car that gets good fuel economy and offers a comfortable and dynamic riding experience.

How does it handle in snow? Let’s find out in this article.

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

Based on what owners say, the Toyota Yaris is more than capable of handling driving in winter conditions. It has many features, including Traction Control and ABS that increase its winter driving capabilities. The car also has Vehicle Stability Assist, Brake Assist, and fog lights.

Is a Toyota Yaris Good in the Snow?

Tell someone the Toyota Yaris is great in snow and you may get some scoffs. Not that we’d blame them–the Yaris doesn’t exactly look like a car suited for winter.

However, if you look past its dainty size, you will see a model that can satisfy most of your snow driving needs.

The Yaris is lighter than many cars, so it’s easy to regain control when careening on slick, snowy roads.

Moreover, the car has a low center of gravity compared to other models; this reduces chances of tipping over on ice or snow.

However, the same features that improve the Yaris’ performance in snow also diminish it in some situations. How? Let’s explain.

The low body mass, while it improves control, leads to a higher risk of “fishtailing”, i.e., bottoming out on snow.

Also, the low ground clearance, which decreases rollover risk, makes the Yaris unsuitable for navigating deep snow.

Your decision to buy a Toyota Yaris for snow driving should depend on how much snow you get.

If you get light snow where you live, a Yaris could be worth a try. However, if deep snow is prevalent, getting a bigger vehicle may be advisable.

Please also read our article about 11 Toyota Yaris statistics you should know.

What Features Will Improve Winter Driving?

We’ve already explained that the Toyota Yaris handles well in winter driving conditions. But what features allow this subcompact handle snow/winter driving with ease? Here are some of them:

1. Traction Control–TRAC

The Traction Control feature is part of Toyota’s Star Safety System, which promotes safer driving in all road conditions.

All Yaris models come standard with TRAC and other technologies in the Star Safety Sense package.

How does TRAC improve winter driving on Yaris models? Well, it prevents wheel slippage when the vehicle is accelerating or starting in slippery road conditions.

Without TRAC, your tires would spin rapidly while finding traction, and cause your car to go out of control.

Traction Control forestalls this by measuring wheel spins.

Once it detects excessive wheel rotation, Traction Control will slow the engine down to allow for proper contact between the tires and the road.

This way, your tires maintain acceptable levels of road grip and your vehicle stays on-course.

2. Anti-Lock Braking System/Electronic Brake-Force Distribution

If you notice, stopping on icy or snowy roads requires comparably more braking power than dry roads.

However, applying excessive braking power can lock up the wheels and cause your car to skid off the road.

The Anti-Lock Braking System (ABS) prevents such situations. It uses magnetic wheel speed sensors to monitor all wheels while a car is in transit.

When you slam the brakes, it can detect if one wheel is decelerating rapidly, indicating lockup.

To prevent the wheel(s) from locking, the ABS will release braking pressure for a while to allow the affected wheel to regain speed. This will prevent the wheel from locking and safeguard you against skids on ice and snow.

The Electronic Brake-Force Distribution works in a similar way to ABS.

The difference is that it distributes the braking force throughout the wheels to minimize chances of wheel locking. Particularly, it redistributes braking power from wheels with the lowest load on them, as these have a higher chance of locking.

3. Vehicle Stability Control–VSC

Whether you drive on ice or snow, there’s a high chance you can lose control and careen your car. The Vehicle Stability Control feature assists you in keeping your vehicle on-course while navigating treacherous winter roads.

The idea behind the VSC is simple: reduce engine power once it detects steering loss.

To do this, the VSC uses information from the steering wheel sensors and ABS wheel-speed sensors to judge if a vehicle is losing traction and/or is veering off the road.

If the VSC system notices loss of control and traction, it automatically reduces engine power supplied to the wheels to slow down the vehicle.

Sequel to this, it applies brake pressure on either side of the car to get your car back on the right track. The combination of these actions prevents your Yaris from skidding off an icy or snowy road.

4. Brake Assist–BA

Emergency braking is a more complex exercise on snow and ice because of the incidence of longer braking distances.

So, if a car suddenly pulls out ahead, you may be unable to stop immediately because of the longer stopping times typical on snow and ice. And you know what happens if you don’t stop fast–a collision or worse, a crash.

The Brake Assist system on the Toyota Yaris mitigates against this by increasing brake power during emergency braking. This contributes to about 30 percent reduction in stopping time, so you can stop quickly and avert that crash.

5. Fog Lights

Visibility in winter driving conditions is poor and crashes resulting from one driver running blindly into an oncoming vehicle are common. Regular headlights are often ineffective in winter months as the fog will scatter the light particles.

Fog lights like the ones on the Toyota Yaris provide excellent visibility when you need it on the dark nights that are common in winter. This way, you can see and be seen on the road, preventing a crash or collision in any form.

Make sure to also read our article about how long Toyota Yaris last.

Does a Yaris Have Snow Mode?

Some car models have a Snow Mode, which when activated, bolsters stability in winter road conditions. Pressing the Snow Mode button lets the car use as little torque and power as possible. This prevents excess wheel spinning and safeguards the car from loss of control.

However, you won’t find the Snow Mode feature on the Yaris or any other regular Toyota car.

Only bigger models like the Toyota Highlander SUV have this feature. Nevertheless, the absence of a Snow Mode doesn’t significantly affect the Yaris’s ability to drive in snow.

Can You Install Additional Snow Gear on Yaris?

It is possible to fit your Yaris with extra gear designed to improve its performance in snowy conditions. The list of such snow gear includes snow chains, snow socks, and winter tires.

However, we would advise checking local laws concerning the use of such gear before you put them on your Yaris.

Some regions allow the use of snow socks, while others prohibit it. Similarly, some places mandate the use of snow chains, while some make it an option. Do your research before you part with money for any snow gear.

How Much Snow Can a Yaris Handle?

Although the Yaris is great on snow, it is a subcompact, not an SUV or pickup. This means there’s a limit to the amount of snow you can traverse with your Yaris.

In fact, anything above two inches of snow will probably be too much for your little Yaris to handle.

If you live in an area that experiences heavy snowfall, a bigger model like a Highlander or even an Avalon sedan is better than a Yaris. Otherwise, you risk getting stuck in snow.

How Does Yaris Handle Low Winter Temperatures?

The Toyota Yaris has no problems with running in low temperature conditions.

And you don’t need to “warm” your car or carry out any extra activity to get it to start, even in sub-zero temperatures.

However, there’s a litany of issues that could cause your Yaris to start or run poorly in winter conditions. These include:

  • Bad battery
  • Faulty air filter
  • Wrong type of oil
  • Dead battery
  • Water in the fuel lines
  • Dirty spark plugs

Any of the aforementioned issues can prevent your Toyota Yaris from starting in cold weather. If you check those things and the issue persists, a visit to the mechanic may be necessary.

Can a Toyota Yaris Drive on Ice?

Given its low center of gravity, the Toyota Yaris is solid on icy surfaces.

Besides, the low body weight means it is easy to control on ice and will not skid off the road like some heavier models.

However, it is always better to avoid driving on ice, even if you have new winter tires because of the slick surface.

Also check our article about where the Toyota Yaris is made.

Does the Yaris Have 4WD?

No, the Yaris models use front-wheel-drive (FWD) in place of four-wheel-drive (4WD).

While 4WD is important for snow driving, its absence on the Yaris is not that much of a disadvantage in our estimation.

FWD increases stability and grip, thanks to the engine’s weight on the front wheels propelling the car forward.

What About Older Yaris Models and Winter Driving?

Not all older Yaris models are advisable for driving in winter, especially those between 2005 to 2009. This is because features such as ABS, TRAC, EBD, VSC, and many others were not standard and owners had to pay extra bucks for them.

Models released from 2009 onwards are significantly better. ABS and EBD became standard on the 2009 Yaris. Similarly, VSC and TRAC came standard on the 2010 Yaris models.

Do Yaris Need Snow Tires?

While it is tempting to cut costs by fitting all-season tires on your Toyota Yaris, we wouldn’t advise it. Why? All-season tires offer average performance on different road surfaces, including ice and snow.

If you are going to drive in winter with your Yaris, we suggest you buy dedicated snow tires that will improve your vehicle’ s grip and stability in snowy conditions.

Can You Mount A Snow Plow On A Yaris?

Snow plows are made for bigger vehicles such as ATVs, tractors, SUVs, and pickup trucks. It is highly impractical to use them on a Yaris and we suggest you avoid trying to do it.

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