Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Prius anti-skid props

The problem with having six inches of snow dumped on us is that the hill that leads to our house has a slope that isn't quite a vertical wall, but that's pretty close. So as I was heading home my wife assured me she'd seen the plow go by, and I decided to take the hill, which in good weather would be five minutes, as opposed to going the long way round and taking half an hour.

Up I started, accelerating to about 25 MPH and getting at least 30 or 40 yards before realizing that the plow hadn't been by recently enough to make a difference. It was easily the worst snow I'd ever tackled on the hill before, and it's not fun having to back down that slope, let me tell you. Especially with the literal vertical drop on the side that sends you ten feet straight down before the drop is conveniently stopped by a tree.

But here's what the Prius does, straight from the brochure:

Motor Traction Control (TRC) – TRC uses sensors which automatically apply the brake to any slipping wheel while delivering more power to the wheels with greater traction.
Vehicle Stability Control (VSC)* – VSC senses oversteer (tail slide) and understeer (nose pushing forward), and managing the power delivered to each wheel.


It was a beautiful thing. I kept the accelerator right around 25 and the car took over from there. It never slipped sideways, never fishtailed, and actually applied acceleration to the wheels in bursts of a couple of hundred milliseconds at a time, followed by coasting to grab what little traction it could, and then accelerating again, and I was at the top of the hill as nice as pie. I only felt guilty for not stopping the cars I passed and telling them, "Your car got TRC? Got VSC? Then DON'T try the hill tonight! Just because my car can do it doesn't mean yours can!" What a beautifully engineered vehicle.