Car Talk: Fact or fiction: Priuses don't function in cold weather?
By RAY MAGLIOZZI
I am moving from San Francisco to Boston and want to take my beloved 2010 Prius with me. It will have a garage and be driven daily. My daughter, who lives in Boston, says no one in Boston drives a Prius because they don’t work in the cold weather. Is that true? Do I have to sell my Prius before I move and buy the Subaru Outback that she thinks I should drive? Or is there something I can do for my Prius to help it survive the winters? — Margaret P.S. Yes, everyone wants to know why I would ever leave sunny California to live in snow and ice. The answer is: Because I love my daughter (even though she hates my Prius).
C’mon, Margaret. Fess up. No one loves her child enough to move from San Francisco to Boston! There must be an impending grandchild involved.
The good news is that while you have to give up your mild winters, earthquakes, mudslides, wildfires and stifling housing costs, you can keep your beloved Prius. We have dozens and dozens of customers who drive Priuses in Boston. And they work fine in the winter.
All batteries lose some power in low temperatures. But the Prius is a hybrid, so it’ll just use a little more gasoline when it’s cold. So, you might see a drop from 50 mpg down to 47. I’ll say a novena for you.
The only challenge you’ll have is in the snow. The Prius is a lightweight car with “low rolling resistance” tires: Those help improve fuel economy, but give up a little grip to do so.
Also, the electric motor in the Prius has a lot of torque, which is great for quick acceleration but not so great for driving in the snow. In snow, you want to do everything (accelerate, brake, turn) very gently, and electric drive makes that a little harder.
But there are steps you can take: You can get four good snow tires. That’ll help a lot. Just leave them in your garage when you’re not using them. Or you can take the train or Lyft on the days when it snows and you absolutely have to get around.
Or just do what everybody else does when there’s a blizzard: Stay home. Make yourself some hot chocolate (Bailey’s optional), and enjoy the peace and quiet and beautiful display of nature.
Best of luck with the move, Margaret. And make sure to constantly remind the future grandchildren just how much you suffered to be near them.Visit the Car Talk website at www.cartalk.com.