While we felt like we might skid off the road at any time with the slightly sloppy handling of the Prius, we never slipped once. In the Chevy Volt, the low-friction tires caused us to skid repeatedly on gravel surfaces–bone dry gravel surfaces. Neither one of these cars is going to do you very well on country roads in the winter, but we noticed distinctly better grip on gravel in the Prius compared to the Volt, which will serve you well in the city or country in any weather.
So, should you buy one? If you have been breathlessly waiting for the plug-in version of the Prius and obsessively researching it like the person who accosted us in the (you guessed it) Whole Foods parking lot, then you should sign up for a plug-in Prius now. It will make you so, so happy. But if you’re waiting for electric hybrids to get a little more power and a little more style, maybe wait a couple more years for the batch of plug-ins coming from more upmarket brands like Audi and Lexus and BMW. By then, advances in battery tech should make up for the performance these brands will refuse to compromise, and your mileage will be about the same. But if you just can’t wait, your plug-in chariot awaits.