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Toyota Prius as a Ski Car? (A ski car is ski gear)

post #1 of 157
Thread Starter 

I am contemplating trading in my subaru for a prius. I know I will be losing the all wheel drive capabilities but plan to use studded tires every winter season.

Anyone else drive a front wheel drive car for skiing?

The fact that I would save over 1000 bucks a year in gas is a big incentive.
post #2 of 157
I have been driving a small front wheel drive car skiing for many years (different ones depending on the years). I have never once had a problem. I've had to plow through snow that came over the top of the car but still didn't have a problem. I don't use studs because they don't give good traction in town on wet roads which is about 95% of what I drive on here in the winter. Plain old all-weather radials work fine (I have them siped). I drive to Mt. Baker and Stevens Pass a lot and have put my chains on once in the last 5 years. If you know about the road to Baker you understand what that means. It makes the road to Whistler look like a freeway.

I don't see a need for all wheel drive. Others do.
post #3 of 157


i had a ford explorer 4WD that i traded in for a front wheel drive corolla. i love it.
post #4 of 157
Where are you located and what is the drive like. I am orginally from snow country and most any vehicle with good tires did fine. Now living in CA and going to Tahoe where they have chain controls at the drop of a hat 4 whl or all whl drives are nice. Something wrong with putting on chains in the rain.

Having a background in automotive service I wonder about some of the newer hybrid cars. After the warranty is up the only place who can work on this car will be the dealer, which maybe expensive. What is the life of the electric parts, (esp the battery), I think these currently are very expensive, should go down with more vehicles on the road. Just a thought but there are other expenses to owning a car besides gas.
post #5 of 157
I have driven front wheel drive cars for skiing for many years. Just use good snow tires and you can go through anything. The snow tire technology in the last few years has gotten very good. It just cost more to change your tires twice a year.

You may also want to think about front wheel drive diesel like a VW Jetta.

Remember percentage wise there is a much larger savings going from 15MPG to 20MPG then there is going from 35MPG to 40MPG.
post #6 of 157
Thread Starter 
I'd be going from 28 mpg highway to 50 mpg highway.
post #7 of 157
My uncle just traded his Prius for a economical traditional car. The Prius is great for city driving where it is most efficient, but the milage wasn't that great on longer steady trips to his mountain cabin - plus the cargo room was too small (and this was the larger second generation model). It's a heavy car, so it should handle the snow better than most though.
post #8 of 157
Thread Starter 
I plan on putting a Thule Rack on top with a ski box for cargo expansion.
post #9 of 157
Originally Posted by ski nose popsicle
I plan on putting a Thule Rack on top with a ski box for cargo expansion.
In doing that you are reall changing the aerodynamics. As mentioned, I would suggest a VW Jetta wagon.
post #10 of 157
Thread Starter 
VW's are lame. I don't agree with their management style nor their Nazi history.
post #11 of 157
I work with someone who has a Prius and lives out of town on scantly plowed roads. He says the Prius does fantastic on snow & ice due to its advance transmission.....much better than a normal front wheel drive car.
post #12 of 157
Ive got a prius. It does fine in the snow. I've seen one in whistler which does fine in that snow too. I agree about the rocket box use - not a good idea. Get a hitch mount and mount a ski rack if you have to. It actually has a fair amount of space. As for serviceability and battery - well no-one will know for sure but take a look at the White Paper on the Prius technology downloadable from the toyota site and you will be impressed.
post #13 of 157
Thread Starter 
What's a hitch mount?

(edit) nevermind, I googled it and found out. Only concern I have with a hitch is road grime.
post #14 of 157
Originally Posted by ski nose popsicle
What's a hitch mount?

(edit) nevermind, I googled it and found out. Only concern I have with a hitch is road grime.
oops - you found it. priusonline is a good resource. Try a hitch mount search there too. There are ski racks options which mount on hitch mounts and hold the skis out of the way of road grime
post #15 of 157
I'd say properly equipped you should have no problems with a FWD ski car

Been running FWD's to the Hill for many yrs mostly SAAB's '03/'92/'88--also ran my ' oo Celica GT once in a while . We ski In Canada , the Adirondacks , the Whites , the Greens and the Berkshires, averaging 25-30 days /yr and in many whiteouts etc

Once 2 yrs ago while on a 4 day adventure @Tremblant (4hrs away) we used my '92 Saab in really hairball situation ---a -70 below windchill during a 15 inch blizzard NO PROBLEMO . Other cars wouldn't start that morning

. We were one of VERY few vehicles on the road that day and that sucker got us home safely and reconfirmed my belief that a very good FWD vehicle with ABS ,Traction control, etc is a pretty fair ski car for the NE Saabs start in super cold conditions , hold the road and we were using JUSt Good ALL_season radials

The 03 SAAB 9.3 5 speed Turbo gets me 34 mpg in winter and 38-39 in summer has traction contol / ABS and stability control and ONSTAR (Just in case )

Good luck !!
post #16 of 157
Originally Posted by ski nose popsicle
VW's are lame. I don't agree with their management style nor their Nazi history.
Ah, but their diesels can make it from Berlin to Paris on one tank!
post #17 of 157
A friend of mine has a Prius with a hitch mounted ski rack. He uses a ski bag to avoid the grime.
post #18 of 157
FWD in snow no problem. If you have to travel a good distance uphill to get to your ski area, a Prius may run out of juice. I talked to someone who drove a current model Prius from Denver to Loveland Basin, a distance of about 50 miles and a vertical climb of about 5000 ft, who said that for the last 5 miles or so on the interstate she could only go about 45 mph. The gas engine was breathless at that altitude, and the battery was depleted.

post #19 of 157
$1000 a year savings!!??, I'll promise, you will not get 50 mpg. Not to mention the added purchase price of a hybrid. Also since you'll be usiing it as a ski car, translate mountians, the car will only run on batteries when going down hill. Add a ski rack and it gets worse. Hybrids are great for city driving, for mountians and highway milage forget the hype, get a VW TDI or maybe a Jeep Liberty Diesel. As for Germany's Nazi past (VW's), they lost the war, it was 60 years ago, the counrty has changed. I have no idea what you mean about thier management practices.
post #20 of 157
Ski Nose Popsicle

Depends on whether your real desire is
a) to save money on gas
b) to make an environmental/fashion statement

If it is a) then, as others here have suggested get a direct injection diesel (in Europe where gas is $7-8/gallon, diesel takes in the order of 60%+ of the new car market - doesn't that tell you something?) And yes, most of the newer ones are every bit as good as gas engines

If it is b) then you have probably already made your mind up.
post #21 of 157
I don't drive in the snow, I just walk over to the mountain or ride my bike.
post #22 of 157
Was't the root company behind Toyota at least as fascist as VW? In fact, it'd be hard to think of a modern country that is still as racist as current day Japan... And unlike Nazi Germany, Japan treated American POWs really, really bad.

For that matter, Ford made a third of the Reich's military vehicles.

The only politically correct solution is to ride an American-made bike (if you can afford one...)
post #23 of 157
I drive a Subaru Outback and just love it. But I would not trade it for any frontwheel drive car for one simple reason. I don't want to have to put on chains.

How about keeping the Subaru but only using it for mountain trips. Get a used Volkswagen Golf with a diesel engine and get nearly 50mpg. And you can be environmentally friendly by running biodiesel. Just imagine smelling french fries and donuts as you cruise down the road.


post #24 of 157
My wife and I are looking at a Prius, too.

I've successfully avoided owning a car for over 40 years and I don't want to start now, but if I have to I figure this is a good one to start with.
If we are lucky enough to have children it would be nice for the kids to know that their parents have only ever owned a Prius, or other such greenmobiles.

One great surprise with the Prius: it is so quiet it feels like a $150,000 car. I was surprised at how nice the ride is - I've taken a lot of Prius taxis here(Vancouver)...and the city uses Smart Cars, but they're not really an interest for us.
post #25 of 157
Originally Posted by madeinchina
And unlike Nazi Germany, Japan treated American POWs really, really bad.
It's true. The Nazis get a bad rap. Did you know that everyone who entered a concentration camp would find a mint on their pillow? And the Germans would always read a bedtime story before putting someone into an oven.

Their slogan was, "We'll leave the light on...and the gas, too!"
post #26 of 157
I regularly drive into the mountains of WV to ski. These are some crazy mountain roads that are not cleared very well. It used to be a scary experience in FWD cars, even with snow tires, but my last three cars have been Outbacks and they are great in the snow. Now, on the other hand, if YOU don't have a solid appreciation/need for AWD in your ski driving, then maybe it's not required where you drive! When I lived in New England, I got by fine with FWD for many years. I guess to me, the bottom line is that you would not be considering FWD unless it was feasible for your driving, right??

Keep in mind that the Prius is a small car platform with a very limited payload and gross weight rating. Make sure you won't exceed it's ratings when you load it with people/gear. A lot of people buy Honda CR-Vs and Elements, and don't realize it's based on a Civic platform and has a limited load capability. It's just not safe to load these vehicles up past their recommended rating. Among other things, it seriously exceeds the tire's load rating.

Everything I have heard about the Pruis has been great and I am a big fan of the car and technology. Not sure it would make the best ski vehicle though. Have you considered the other hybrids that are better suited to active lifestyles?? Ford Escape hybrid, Lexus RX400H, Toyota Highlander Hybrid are a few that I can think of.

BTW, the Prius has a low drag "Kamm-back" design on the roof and rear end, and I am fairly certain any sort of roof rack or roof box will really increase the drag. Same goes for snow tires -- they will be considerably stickier than the low-rolling-resistance tires the Prius comes with. So on those two fronts, you'll be hobbling the capabilities of the car. And driving in the mountains, you will likely limit the hybrid powertrain's effectiveness. Look at some past articles about hybrids by Pat Bedard in Car & Driver. He is a fan of hybrids, but has run into several cases where they did not live up to their mileage claims. Mountain driving is one scenario.


P.S. My 05 Outback turbo requires premium fuel and gets 22mpg on the highway, a lot worse than my old Outback (which hit 28-30 on some trips). So I am spending a lot more on gas than before. But, the car is wicked fast (250HP/250FTLB) and a blast to drive. For me, the added fuel expenses are a fun tax I am willing to pay. Maybe someday I'll want to get better MPG, but for now I am enjoying the performance.
post #27 of 157
"The Downfall" is a great German film about Hitler's last ten days. I'm not at all sympathetic to the Nazis, but to buy Japanese cars instead of German cars because of their manufacturer's fascist history is wrong. The Japanese were at least as cruel and inhumane as the worst Germans, and more so, they treated your neighbors the worst - if you've ever heard stories from WW2 Pacific POWs, they had it far, far worse the the WW2 German POWs.

I don't mean to dismiss the sufferin the gas chambers, but should the Chinese and Koreans civilians who were slaughtered wholesale count any less?
post #28 of 157

political stuff aside

i know the hybrid is seen as a green vehicle - but that is based on emissions from it... i was curious about the environmental impact of making the batteries in them, and disposing of them...

does anyone know about the manufacturing process of the batteries?

just curious...
post #29 of 157
If you are looking at the Prius for purely economic reasons consider a Toyota Corolla. On the highway my Corolla gets almost the same MPGs as a Prius and is a blast to drive. Since it is thousands less than the Prius it will take years (even at today's gas prices) before the Prius might cost less to own.....the jury is still out on how long the batteries will last. The Corolla has many of the same features as the Prius in its engine making it one of the most environmentally friendly cars. It is also the only sub-compact (along with its Chevy model) to pass the latest side-impact safety tests.
post #30 of 157
The only ski car to own is a Hummer you can drive right over a Prius without hardley feeling a bump!
At US gas prices it would probably be cheaper to run than the most economical car available here in the UK with our huge tax rates on gas.
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