Batteries are a lot like us: They don't work as well when they're cold. Years ago, early EVs would lose upward of half their range on frigid days, dialing up the already chronic range anxiety. Today, battery chemistry and active thermal management have made huge strides, but there's still a preconception out there that EVs are a chore to own in the winter. This is why my favorite test for an EV is to go on a winter road trip, and that's exactly what I was just lucky enough to do in the white Polestar 2 Dual Motor pictured here.
What does Polestar call this beautiful, pearlescent color? Snow. Perfect.
I've been lucky to drive the Polestar 2 on a number of occasions, getting my first taste during a very different sort of weather situation: a hurricane. But the wind and rain of 2020's Isaias couldn't dampen my enthusiasm for Polestar's first all-electric sedan, a car that's become a real favorite among the Roadshow crew. Nor could plunging temperatures.
The 2021 Polestar 2 is a slick EV that defies segmentsSee all photos
This would be my first cold-weather test of the car, freshly outfitted on 19-inch Hankook winter tires expressly for this trip up the mountain. Mount Snow, specifically, in Dover, Vermont -- a trip I make frequently when conditions are good (or fair, at least) and a drive that happens to be a good mix of city, highway and country roads. The 160 miles of asphalt is also plenty rutted and torn up this time of year, making it a good test of a car's ability to suspend itself.
The Polestar's infotainment duties are handled by Android Automotive, and so I let Google Maps guide me along the 80-mile outward leg that is, by and large, uphill. The car predicted 54% range remaining when I arrived and, figuring consumption would be significantly lower on the downhill return leg, I dialed up the heat, cranked up the stereo and enjoyed the drive.
On the highway, the Polestar 2 was calm, quiet and comfortable -- perfect for escaping what little traffic Albany, New York had mustered at that time of morning. On the other side of Troy, New York, as the roads started to twist and turn, I got into the handling a bit more. Here, too, the Polestar 2 felt rewarding: Even on these softer and less-responsive snow tires, the tall Scandinavian sedan had a subtly engaging feel. Damping feels spot-on, the car staying firm and responsive but never punishing. And with 408 horsepower on tap, acceleration never waned.
The main roads were boringly clear of snow on this drive, so I made a quick detour up a poorly plowed logging access road. Here, when really pushed, the Polestar 2 responded. Left to its own devices, the car was competent and easy to keep going where I wanted. Sadly, there's no way to disable the stability control systems (I asked), but in Sport mode I was allowed to hang things out just a little bit before the power reined itself in. The Polestar 2 offers far more grip and poise than a 408-hp car weighing in excess of 4,700 pounds should.
Suffice to say the drive over was a lot of fun, but the mountain was calling. As I pulled into the Mount Snow parking lot, the car ticked over to 54% charge remaining -- exactly as predicted.
I really wish Polestar offered a proper wagon, but the Polestar 2's hatch offered plenty of room for my snowboard and gear. The cabin is a bit cramped for a car of this size, but I had no problem putting on my gear in the back seat, as well as taking it off again when I'd had enough of the day's miserable conditions on offer.
The car had burned 46% of its range on the way up the mountain, but the return trip was much easier: I cruised into my driveway with a healthy 15% of range remaining, enough for an additional 35 miles. That means a theoretical max range of just shy of 200 miles on a day with an average temperature in the mid-30s Fahrenheit, or approximately 25% lower than the Environmental Protection Agency-rated 249 miles the Polestar 2 should be able to go.
That reduction is a bit on the extreme side, but it's also safe to say I was driving a little more aggressively than an EPA tester would mandate. I was also doing it on snow tires, which typically reduce efficiency by 5% to 10%. Given those factors, I'd say the range performance was fair, given the driving dynamics.
Most importantly, I never had a hint of range anxiety or cold extremities. And I had a blast the whole time. A true winter wonder? Its batteries may not like the cold, but the Polestar 2 Dual Motor is certainly at home in any season.
Update, 12:23 p.m. Eastern: Corrected vehicle weight.