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Driving 2008 Prius in the Mountains

post #1 of 10
Thread Starter 
We are planning our annual trip to Wolf Creek over Thanksgiving, and I recently bought a 2008 Prius hybrid. Are there any problems I should be aware of for driving this car in the mountains? Has anyone had experience? I live in Tucson, Arizona and I'm afraid the sheer change of weather and altitude might cause my car severe shock!
post #2 of 10
I own a 2007, and have driven it in the mountains, albeit without snow.

The two concerns I would have would be traction enhancement (not sure whether Prii are chain-friendly) and low ground clearance.
post #3 of 10
My S.O. drives a Prius. Get snow tires. She didn't have any last winter, and she ran into some trouble. The hybrid engine, IMO, does not allow one "feel" the engine turning/wheels spinning or catching while feathering the gas, and therefore made recovering from spinning tires and maintaining traction more difficult than it should be. (All my neg. experience is from low-speed, trying to get up a plowed yet snow/icy hill. I'm not sure how it would perform on the highway in those conditions, but we will be putting dedicated snow's on it this year.)
post #4 of 10
The good news is that the electric motor will not loose power at high altitude, so you don't need to worry about that. The gasoline engine will loose power, but probably not enough to cause any concern.
Electric motors have maximum torque at zero RPM, which is excellent for spinning your wheels from a dead stop. That may or may not be sufficiently controlled in a Prius, but it's probably the cause of the problem JPH noted.
Regardless of what you drive, you need 4 snow tires for serious winter driving. OTOH I drive all over Colorado in the smallest rental cars with no problem, although I try to avoid county roads.

BK
post #5 of 10
Thread Starter 
Thanks everybody! We've had varying conditions over Thanksgiving at Wolf Creek in previous years - from dry road to black ice! I will definitely bring chains.
post #6 of 10
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bode Klammer View Post
The good news is that the electric motor will not loose power at high altitude, so you don't need to worry about that. The gasoline engine will loose power, but probably not enough to cause any concern.
As long as the grade is short and flat enough that the controller doesn't cut out the battery for low state of charge, they work great and often pass me in my plain Otto cycle underpowered van. A certain small subset of people may climb bigger grades than the battery can handle, and then you've got a car with a really small engine and little power at altitude.

I've seen Prii in the Wolf Creek parking lot: no idea how fast they got there.
post #7 of 10
If you're driving at high altitude, beware of smug storms.
post #8 of 10
From what I saw a few years back, if there is more then 6" of snow on the Hi-way, think your going to have a rough go in a Prius.
The low ground clearance & the amount of snow under the car will keep you from going very far!
Don't forget to pack a shovel & some tube sand, you just might need it!
post #9 of 10
There are quite a few of them in Idaho Springs, CO. that people use daily.
post #10 of 10
Thread Starter 
Thanks for all the suggestions. They usually keep the road through Wolf Creek Pass well-maintained, but if they get a BIG dump, it might be hard for them to keep up. I'd rather be prepared than surprised. I will take a shovel too.
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