So, the first snow that’s actually stuck happened overnight, nothing’s been plowed, perfect for seeing what a car can do. The Miata’s parked for the winter, so that leaves the Prius.
As far as general driving, I’m actually surprised at how well the factory LRR tires are at handling this, I might not bother getting hubcentric rings to run my old Golf’s steelies with snows (General Altimax Arctics, my go-to cheap snow tire) on here. (Eventually I will get a second set of wheels, but...)
However, when presented with empty, unplowed parking lots, one is obligated to attempt to hoon their vehicle, no matter what that vehicle is. (It’s actually a legitimately good idea to intentionally push the limits in a safe environment, so you know what it’ll do in an unsafe environment, after all.) In a FWD vehicle, your winter hoonage will largely consist of Scandinavian flicks, and adding a dab of handbrake (which my Golf responded quite well to). However, seeing as the Prius has a push-on/push-off parking brake, I can’t add the dab of handbrake easily or safely, so that leaves the Scandinavian flick.
Now, based on my previous review of this Prius, I said that the car was quite eager to turn in... but that was in August, not December. I’ve actually gotten stability control interventions on freeway entrance ramps, but it was completely unobtrusive, and likely just helped to keep the line tight.
Unfortunately, in winter, it’s a completely different story. With traction control and stability control on, the moment you try to hoon it, stability control starts intervening quite aggressively, and giving you tanker trucks full of understeer (although if you keep turning, it will eventually figure out that you want to turn, and let you). Now, the Gen 4 Prius is the first generation with a traction control defeat button, and better yet, holding it for 3 seconds also defeats stability control.... but it doesn’t really defeat it. It just means that you get a tiny, tiny bit of glorious oppo before the nannies kill your fun and give you the understeer.