I love my Honda Insight. I love its minimalism. I love its modern look. I love the function over form engineering dripping from every aluminum widget. And I love what it stands for: the first shot in the War for Sane Transportation.
What I do not love is driving it in Wisconsin Winters. See, the original Bridgestones are still on the car. They have 80k miles on them and will have enough tread to go another 50k at this
rate. They were specifically designed to be low rolling resistance, i.e. they are as hard as iron. This makes them noisy, interesting in the rain, and downright unfun in snow. They may have been fine new, but rubber compounds degrade over time and after 7 years mine have little grip left. Last year during snows I would take our Forester to work, but now Sprout is in school and Mia needs it to take him in. Though only one week of December is behind us we already have had 3 snows of over 2". Big Win for the aquifers, but my commute this time of year starts at 3:30am and roads are typically unplowed. 3 commutes with the only way to make a 90 degree turn consisted of grabbing the E-brake (every time) to swing the tail around once the front lost grip were enough to convince me I needed to do something or end up in a ditch-or worse.
Enter my new budget WinterForce snow tires. You know you are a die hard hybrid driver when you mount knobby snow tires and think "my, these tires sure are quiet!". Other than making my beloved Hybrid look like a Tonka Truck I am very impressed. I did alot of reading about dedicated snow tires back when I was looking at rally racing my Evo 8 (yes I traded a modified 350 whp Evo 8 for a Honda Insight) and they were always billed as having surreal traction. I must say that so far I am blown away by the difference!
Case in point-today I went to visit the Hoop House north of town. The property owner drives a Tacoma pickup and it wasn't until I entered his driveway that I remembered he doesn't plow. The ruts were deep enough that I left a flat mark as the Insight's ground clearance was not sufficient, and then I ended up parking off the driveway in 8" deep snow covering the ice from last week's sleet storm. After checking on the plants [The -4 degree night on Wed did the radishes in, but the beds are not frozen yet. Outside air temp was 3 degrees, but despite it only being 9:30 am interior temp was already 28 degrees. Spinach, mache, and claytonia are all small but fine!] I returned to the car and realized I was going to have to back up 250' or attempt a 3 point turn in the deep snow. 3 days ago I would spin all of 1st gear across plowed intersections, but despite cutting trail through deep snow I never spun a tire!
I am sold: the Safety alone make it worth while. Adding incredibly sticky tires has certainly hit my mileage... to the tune of about 10-15%. But then again, the Forester gets 30 mpg on a good day, and with my "knobbies" on I was able to run errands today and still eked out 49 mpg. I'll take it.