How does the Prius fair in cold climates?

Discussion in 'Gen 2 Prius Main Forum' started by chubbycheese, Feb 3, 2010.

  1. chubbycheese

    chubbycheese New Member

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    I live in North Dakota and have thought pretty seriously about getting a Prius. The average lowest temperature during the winter here is probably -20F to -30F without windchill. How does this affect the Prius. Is there more wear on the engine? I know I'll have to make sure that it has a block heater. I'm just wondering what all I should be aware of.
     
  2. qbee42

    qbee42 My other car is a boat

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    The Prius works fine in cold weather. The main thing to realize is that your mileage will take a big hit.

    Tom
     
  3. danl

    danl New Member

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    And better tires for snow conditions.
     
  4. Mooseman2409

    Mooseman2409 Junior Member

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    was getting 62MPG / 3.8l/100kms in summer ..at worst in winter in Ontario 44mpg / 5.4l/100kms

    rolling hills/ country roads - 80kph/50mph 70 miles a day and 12 miles highway - booting it
     
  5. Tom183

    Tom183 New Member

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    I don't think there's more wear than any other internal-combustion engine would have in the same climate - you would think maybe a little more since the engine stops/starts more often, but it only allows that after it has warmed up enough. (block heater will reduce/eliminate the warm-up time)

    Mileage definitely takes a hit, especially at highway speeds - you may see mpg in the high 30's during the worst months. But it rebounds in a big way above 50F.

    The cabin heater is unimpressive, I think in large part because it comes off the exhaust rather than the radiator - so if you like wearing a t-shirt in the car when temps are below zero, you might want something with a traditional engine. If you're used to having a suitable jacket on instead, it's not that bad.

    The OEM tires are absolute sh*t in snow. Seriously. Save them for 3-season use and buy full-on snows for winter.
     
  6. David Beale

    David Beale Senior Member

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    You don't really need the block heater either. It just improves the warmup time, but not a lot. It's only a 400W heater. DO block the grills in the winter. DO get some real tires. The OEM tires are junk in winter conditions. I threw mine away after a few months (when winter came).

    Pearl does just fine in winter. I average 4.6 l/100 km in _not winter_. I just filled up and burned 7.6 l/100 km on that tank. When I commented to someone on this who was asking how well the car worked in the winter, he replied "of course the mileage will drop in the winter. My truck gets 20 MPG in summer, but got 5 MPG on the last tank".

    Prius WILL NOT have any trouble starting, as long as you don't leave an interior light on. Even at -30. DO ensure you use 5W30 oil (I like Mobil 1 synthetic). You could even use a 0W30. It starts and stops the engine much smoother this way.

    Note that trying to warm up a Prius by letting it idle will take a long time. It's best to just drive it. It will be blowing nice hot air into the cabin after a few blocks at 35-40 MPH. If you're worried about the windows fogging (frosting actually), just turn on the front defrost. It works very well. Even before there is any heat.
     
  7. Patrick Wong

    Patrick Wong DIY Enthusiast

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    The cabin heater receives heat from engine coolant as well as two supplemental electric heaters. I agree that the cabin heater performance is unimpressive. This is because the gasoline engine is small and works efficiently, thus there's less waste heat generated.

    Perhaps you are thinking of the unusual engine coolant system where coolant flows past a heat exchanger heated by exhaust gases, to encourage the engine to warm up more quickly.
     
  8. 13Plug

    13Plug Active Member

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    Mine works great up here in Canada, just north of North Dakota in fact. I don't plug my car in but it's in the garage nearly all the time. I do the grill block and have dedicated winter tires. Runs fine, other than the worse-than-normal (not bad) gas mileage I have no complaints at all with it's winter capabilities.
     
  9. mk516

    mk516 New Member

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    I live in Buffalo, and I bought my 2008 Toyota Prius certified used before winter hit.
    So far, I'd say it's been fine. Huge hit on gas mileage, very cranky tire pressure light. But other than that, I've been dealing with it OK. I don't have snow tires or anything and I've managed.

    I used to be terrified to drive in the snow, but taking my time in my Prius has made it a bit better for me.
     
  10. Tom183

    Tom183 New Member

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    My mistake - thought this was one of the Gen III forums, but this is Gen II, so you are correct. I'm pretty sure the Gen III gets cabin heat from the exhaust (not the coolant), which seems less effective at heating the cabin (but better for warming the engine).
     
  11. qbee42

    qbee42 My other car is a boat

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    The Gen III uses engine coolant and electrical heaters, just like the Gen II. What the Gen III also has is a heat exchanger on the exhaust to recapture heat and send it back to the engine.

    Tom
     
  12. royzaboy

    royzaboy Junior Member

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    I live in Grand Forks (the icebox of North Dakota for those outsiders) and my 2010 is great. Mileage dropped from around 51 to 46 or so, but it gets around great, always starts and heats up faster than anything I've owned since my 1970 VW Beetle with a Gas heater. I have the block heater, but had forgotton to plug it in on our early January 33 below zero and it started as if it were in the middle of the summer. The primary advantage of a block heater is that it will warm up faster. I own a Oldsmobile Bravada AWD and my wife and I would rather drive the Prius on icy roads than the Bravada, even with the stock tires.
     
  13. john1701a

    john1701a Prius Guru

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    MPG drops to 40'ish. Starting, even after sitting in the extreme cold all day, is no big deal. You can even snap photos along the way to document those winter adventures...

    [​IMG]

    .
     
  14. mgoprius

    mgoprius My wife stole my Prius

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    Just got a 2004 before New Years and have been happy with winter performance. However, I agree with others that snow tires are a must-have and the interior is slow to warm up on really cold days.
     
  15. elcorazon

    elcorazon New Member

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    I get upper 40's in summer and struggle in the low 30's usually in winter in Chicago.

    Big factor is length of trips. Short trips + extreme cold = LOW mileage. Just driving 15-20 minutes and getting a chance to roll without stop lights, stop signs dramatically improves mileage, but when temps are very low, I can't see getting 40, frankly.
     
  16. a priori

    a priori Canonus Curiosus

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    I'm also in the Chicago area, and I've had both the GenII and GenIII. I'll agree with nearly all previous posters that the biggest winter "problem" is lower MPGs. The block heater is great for getting an early boost on mileage, particularly if you take shorter trips. I didn't use one during the first winter in my GenII, and I'm replicating the experience in my GenIII.

    My fuel efficiency has dropped considerably from the upper 50s to the upper 40s. I've had only one tank above 50 MPGs this winter (50.4, I believe), and I had that number only because I had many miles of driving 40 to 55 mph over 30 minute stretches. Also, I could do better on mileage, but I leave the heat on auto (at 69 or 70), and I use the seat warmers on those colder mornings.

    I'm a bit surprised at the surer handling in my GenIII. I have the Prius V with the wider, low profile tires, and I was concerned I would "float" on the snow. Very nice handling, really. (I'm comparing this to the GenII with OEM Integrities, so this may not be saying much!)
     
  17. elcorazon

    elcorazon New Member

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    This amazes me. I've not broken 40 since October. I think I could break 40 with the right trips; I'm just surprised when people can outperform my summer numbers in the winter. Even in summer, I think I've only broken 50 a couple of times ever for an entire tank.
     
  18. dfyffe

    dfyffe Junior Member

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    I live in Texas and it has been colder than normal here. In the Summer I can average mid 50's, but winters I get low to mid 40's mostly. hate the difference, but I know the gas motor runs a lot more to keep the battery temp up which results in lower mileage. Other than that, I LOVE my 2008 red!


     
  19. JDStep

    JDStep New Member

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    I live in Bismarck, and i've had no real problems with our 2006. I replaced the original tires with some better tires, and I think it gets around better than most of the FWD cars. I don't really care for the traction control, and you will not be able to move through 4 inches of snow without having some momentum. I don't have a block heater, and it started fine when it was -33F. Your mileage suffers in the winter, especially the way I drive 5 miles at a time; I'm getting middle 30's in the winter middle 40's to low 50's in the summer. Got a bit over 40,000 miles on the car so far.
     
  20. Tim in Hollywood

    Tim in Hollywood Junior Member

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    My 2008 Prius and I have been living near Omaha for the past couple years. Had it for two winters. I do complete grill blocking, and use Mobil1 0W30. It's been exceedingly cold here this winter. I don't do most of the driving of our car, so it gets driven as if it were a "normal" car (no hypermiling techniques). Has about 28,000 miles on it in 19 months of ownership.

    During the warmer months, it averages around 50.5mpg. During the winter, it only drops down to around 48.5mpg. I attribute that 2mpg (rather than a 5+mpg drop) to grill blocking. Grill blocking costs only about $2-3 and a few minutes of time. When it gets warmer, I just pull out the foam and save it for the next year. Also...it's barely visible when in place.
     
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