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Has anyone noticed that the Prius has extremely good winter handling characteristics? We have the 2002 model, and I'm always surprised at how well this little guy pulls and handles in the snow. We recently changed the tires (got the Dunlops) and they seem even better than the originals (not surprising).

One thing I've noticed, is that the Prius seems to have "accidental" traction control. I say accidental, because it hasn't been advertised on the car. But, if you get a wheel spinning up while on ice or snow, the Prius will almost immediately drop the power back down to reduce the spin. Once I just put the pedal down in snow to see what would happen, and sure enough, even then when I was trying to give it full acceleration it backed the power down. It's interesting. Anyone know what's causing it?
 

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Winter Traction

The '01 to '03 Prius does have partial traction control, but it is more to protect the drivetrain than to provide better traction. If the car detects one of the drive wheels spinning faster than the other, it will reduce the power to the drive wheels to protect the drivetrain from the shock of the spinning wheel suddenly getting traction. The '04 Prius has full traction control.
By the way, what type of Dunlop tire do you have on your car? I have the Dunlop Sport A2 on my Prius and I noticed that the car handles much better with them. It is not as sensative to the wind as it was and has better traction on wet and snow covered roads. My gas mileage dropped by 5 mpg when I switched, but after about 10,000 miles, it has gone back to where it was with the original tires.
 

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My 2004 has the VSC package in addition to the traction conrol that is standard on all of them. It is great in the snow! The VSC is a must-have for icy roads since I have found that it will straighten the car out quickly when you start to slide sideways at an intersection. The technology is amazing. I run snow tires on all four wheels as Toyota recommends and am very happy with the handling of the car. Now, if spring would just come........
 
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