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How does the 2004 Prius handle in moderate snow? I had decided that my next vehicle would be a hybrid with AWD---maybe the 2005 Highlander. The more I read about the Prius, the more interested I have become.
I'd like to hear from those of you who drove your new Prius this winter. How did it fare?
 

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Hello, Scilady!

John of http://john1701a.com fame can vouch for how well Prius handles in snow and cold. I'm sure he'll check in here sooner or later, but for the time being, you can check out his website for pictures and blogs.
 

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I'm wondering, too.

I've read what John says about snow and it sounds okay. I stopped by the local dealership this evening and was pleasantly surprised that an '04 Silver Millenium Prius was sitting there, probably awaiting delivery Monday morning. It is a sharp car. But I did notice what the saleslady said when I test drove one at a different dealership on Friday -- they are low to the ground so you don't have a lot of clearance for snow That could be a bit of a problem when you are attempting to drive on unplowed streets and roads.
There aren't a lot of times that you need to drive prior to the plow guys getting out, but when you live in Wisconsin (or Minnesota like John) you know it'll happen a couple of times a season. Combine the snow with living on the side of a bluff like I do (with a short but steep driveway with my house at the bottom and the street above) and there may be a time or two during the winter when I'll have no choice but to drive my Rav 4 AWD. But for the majority of the year I think the Prius will be awesome!

By the way, I've contacted three or four dealers and they've all told me the wait for my Prius would be 12 to 18 months. But then I contacted a MN dealer about 30 miles away and he told me if I ordered today I'd see my Prius in October/November! That may be the way I go.

I know I'm being wordy, but one other question for you financially minded folks out there. I understand the IRS is allowing a tax credit of $1500 on a Prius delivered this year and a $1000 credit if your Prius is delivered in 2005. If a family has an income of, say, $80K, what would the difference be in actual dollars saved on your taxes? In other words, how many dollars would I lose if I had my Prius delivered after the first of the year, rather than taking delivery in November?

Many thanks!
 

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Hey, WB! (I always wanted to say that)

Tax info: See the forms and publications at http://www.irs.gov .

And don't do your taxes based only on what I have reported below! I'm not a CPA. I'm a computer geek. And half the time I can't spell either one of those words correctly.

*** DISCLAIMER: I looked this stuff up, and figured it out as best I could. If you know my statements below to be wrong, please let us know. I certainly don't know it all.


Here goes: It's a "tax deduction", not a "tax cut." That means your taxes don't go down by $1500 (this year) or $1000 (next year). Your "marginal rate" is figured in.

So here's how you can figure your tax savings:

1500 X .mr = savings

where ".mr" is your marginal tax rate. The tax rates are as follows:

.15 = 15%
.28 = 28%
.33 = 33%
.35 = 35%
...and if you make more than $100,000, you're in the "bendover" tax rate, and you'll have to go do your own research. (or pay me an ungodly amount of money, and I'll be glad to do it for you)

.."ahem!"

You didn't say what your "taxable income" is. This can vary widely. It's on your 1040 form for tax year 2003, line 40. But for this example, I'll just guess: If you're married, filing jointly, and you have a combined gross income of 80K, you're probably reporting something around $65K for taxable income. This puts you squarely in the 25% marginal tax bracket.

Crash course on marginal rates: As a married couple, you'll be taxed as follows:
10% on your first $14,000.
15% on money you make between $14,000 and $56,800
25% on money you make from $56,800 to $114,700


Confusing? Yeah, it is. And I believe it's the only reason we don't have another violent revolution in this country. We're all too dizzy from confusing forms and booklets and tax law changes!

Anyhow, if I understand the deduction correctly, here's how you'd figure it with "kitchen table" math:

Buy car this year: $1500 X .25 = $375.00 less taxes to pay
Wait for next year: $1000 X .25 = $250.00 less taxes to pay


Deciding whether to buy a $20,000 or $25,000 vehicle this year or next should probably not hinge on the $125 difference my math above shows. Use other criteria.

<editorial mode on>
Yeah, it's nice to get some money back, but in my opinion, this is a government-instituted insult to taxpayers' intelligence, and it's an abyssmal treatment of people who want to do the right thing. For most people paying $20,000 to $30,000 for a hybrid car ), it won't even be a single month's payment!

If you're wondering about my math, well...yes, your #9 plus tint, plus tax, plus mirror, plus Lojack could well be at or above $30,000.
<editorial mode off>


As you can see, your savings in taxes is far far less than even the sales tax you will have paid on your car. Even with a hybrid, it's possible that you may even spend more in gasoline than you got back in taxes.

So the moral of the story is: If you decide to buy a hybrid, do it because you want to burn less fuel, or because you want to pollute less, or because you pride yourself on being an early-adopter for the benefit of other consumers next year or farther into the future. Or do it just because you want the damned car. But don't only do it because you want to save in taxes, because as you can see, the incentive just isn't all that great.
 

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re: snow

I have had my '04 for 5.5 months now. Went thru a nasty stretch of snow & ice in January. First car w/ traction control; I had a blast plowing through untracked +/- 6" of 'flurries'! NO PROBLEM
averaging >47 in town now. Very happy with performance
Portland, OR
 

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Re: re: snow

alnvilma said:
I have had my '04 for 5.5 months now. Went thru a nasty stretch of snow & ice in January. First car w/ traction control; I had a blast plowing through untracked +/- 6" of 'flurries'! NO PROBLEM
averaging >47 in town now. Very happy with performance
Portland, OR
I'll second that opinion. I bought my Prius in late October and took it into the mountains throughout the winter. The car is relatively heavy for its size and handles surprisingly well on general snow and/or ice covered roads. I once journeyed several miles over unpaved, unplowed back country roads in about 6" of snow. I heard and felt the snow against the bottom of the car on several deeply rutted tracks (rather unnerving) but the vehicle never lost traction and the Prius and I both made it out unscathed. I wouldn't recommend doing that under truly extreme conditions, especially if you were far from help, but all in all I'm very pleased with the winter driving performance of the Prius.
Drive happy,
Moo :)

P.S. I should add that I'm driving on the standard Goodyear Integrity tires that came mounted on the car.
 

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I'm not ready for snow discussions yet! This morning I was still working on my 2004 Prius photo shot from November 27, the day Minnesota got its first big snow. So I'm a bit behind still...

Anywho, both my 2001 & 2004 handled great in the snow. Breaking through new snow up to 6 inches deep was no big deal. Beyond that, I have no idea. Our plowing service doesn't ever let it accumlate deeper than that.

The factory tires work just fine in those conditions too. But if you have a steep driveway or routinely drive on nasty roads, you'd want to opt for snow tires instead. (I never needed to.)
 

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US taxes

The US federal tax info is found in IRS Publication 535, "business expenses," chapter 12.

As for what the deduction is worth to you, it depends on your tax bracket. see: http://www.usatoday.com/money/perfi/col ... 3-ym_x.htm

The supporting documents are on Toyota's prius site.
 

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I've never been in deep snow because I just don't drive before the snowplow comes through. But I've driven on glare ice, and the 2004 Prius handles like a dream. It is rock-solid.

(Note, however, that even in the bet car, driving on ice requires caution.)
 

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Prius in Snow

I live in midwest America and it snows like crazy from time to time here and it can take days to get the roads clean after a good snow. This last winter was a bit tough with my prius. It gets along ok at first in the snow but I noticed STRONG biuld up in the wheel wells after just a few hours. I do not have a heated garage and after a while the biuldup in the wheel wells really seemed to turn hard and rub against the wheels and cause noises. I feel that after just a couple of weinters the tires would go bad at the very least. This is one problem in prius design that I am not very happy with.
 
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No problems in SNOW

I actually felt safer driving my Prius than my Jeep Liberty. Sure the Liberty can plow through a foot of unplowed snow, but what real counts is stability and control. When rounding a corner, the tail of the Liberty (even with 4wd) would swing out and it almost felt uncontrollable! The Prius was extremely steady. I once drove over 80 miles on snowpack on the interstate and it was fantastic. If you put good snow tires on, you'd NEVER miss 4WD. I don't but I am lucky as the south shore of Long Island (where I reside) is relatively flat (like southern Florida).
 

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I don't know what you are talking about. I got my 04 prius a few days ago (got it off ebaymotors no wait $3000 over sticker =o( ) I love the car to death, but it slips and slides in the rain. I can't imagine how it does in snow.

the only other complaint I have is it has the most uncomfortable seats I've ever had in a car.

Other than that I'm very happy with the car and I'll never drive anything else.
 
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