Best Tires for Subaru Outback

Monday, March 31, 2014 by Gary Stanley

If the tires on your Subaru Outback are nearing replacement, be sure to check out the Pirelli Cinturato P7 All Season Plus. While many drivers associate Pirelli with producing ultra high performance tires for exotic high-end sports cars like Ferrari and Lamborghini, they also make outstanding all-season touring tires. In fact, the Pirelli Cinturato P7 All Season Plus is currently ranked number one by our customers in the Grand Touring All-Season performance category.  

The tire's great balance of traction, handling and ride quality to go along with a 70,000-mile treadwear warranty make the Pirelli Cinturato P7 All Season Plus an ideal match for many Subaru Outback drivers.  

Take a look at what Outback owners are saying about their experience with the Pirelli Cinturato P7 All Season Plus:

"So glad I did my research with Tire Rack and compared the tires side-by-side. After a full week of research, I went with the Pirelli Cinturato P7 All Season Plus and the difference is amazing. The noise level from my previous Bridgestone Potenza is a 180. The Pirelli is hands down the best tire I've owned!" -- Tire Rack Consumer Review, 2003 Subaru Outback Wagon 

"This tire has amazed me since it was installed 10,000 miles ago. Immediately, I noticed a difference in decreased road noise and increased ride comfort over the O.E. Continental. It has been a great tire while driving in heavy rain and an equally as great tire when taking corners a little faster than you should." -- Tire Rack Consumer Review, 2011 Subaru Outback 2.5i Limited

"I bought these tires a month ago to replace tires damaged by road debris. These are by far the best tires I've had on this car, including O.E. Potenzas, Kumho Solus KH16 and two sets of General AltiMAX HPs. These Pirellis are amazing. The car is noticeably quieter and rides smoother - it's like a new car. We have had a snowy winter so far in Connecticut, so I have had many chances to test these on snow and ice. Truly impressive." -- Tire Rack Consumer Review, 2003 Subaru Outback L.L. Bean

While you're thinking about tires, check your tires' air pressure since they can lose 1 psi per month. To learn more about this important safety issue, read "Winter Air Pressure Versus Summer Air Pressure."

New Bridgestone Dueler H/L Alenza Plus Versus Dueler H/L Alenza for Crossovers and SUVs

Tuesday, March 25, 2014 by Gary Stanley

Back in 2004, the Bridgestone Dueler H/L Alenza was introduced to premium crossover and SUV drivers as the premier tire of choice. Always a good performer in our Crossover/SUV Touring All-Season category, it has been praised by our customers for its quiet ride, great wet traction, wear and good looks. Appropriate vehicle applications and Original Equipment fitments include the Cadillac Escalade, Acura MDX, BMW X5, Mercedes-Benz ML Class, Lexus RX, Buick Enclave and the new Cadillac ATS and ELR. For more on this tire's great reputation and feedback, take a look at "Best Tires for a Street-Driven SUV." 

Bridgestone is known for continually pushing the envelope, and ten years later, has introduced a new and improved version of the H/L Alenza. This new tire is the Dueler H/L Alenza Plus. 

This new version maintains the same appearance, popular sidewall design and efficient tread pattern of the current Bridgestone Dueler H/L Alenza. That is where the differences end. H/L Alenza Plus tires have a new tread compound that Bridgestone states will improve on the tire's fuel economy by reducing rolling resistance by up to 10% compared to the previous version of the tire without sacrificing wet, dry or snow traction. Bridgestone has also upped the ante for treadwear by offering the tire with an 80,000-mile limited treadwear warranty!

If you're in the market for a premium, quality replacement tire for your crossover or SUV, don't overlook the Bridgestone Dueler H/L Alenza Plus.

The All-Season General AltiMAX RT43 is Number One

Wednesday, March 19, 2014 by Gary Stanley

With its generous treadwear warranty, great ride quality and class-leading handling and traction, the General AltiMAX RT43 (T-Speed Rated) is a customer favorite for tires in the Standard Touring All-Season performance category. In a recent test, we concluded that the tire had impressive traction in both wet and dry conditions, very good handling and reasonable road manners. It finished in first place in our test, "Testing Standard Touring All-Season Tires: Which Tires Strike the Perfect Balance?

The General AltiMAX RT43 is available in a wide range of sizes, making it a great choice for a large variety of vehicles from compact cars like the Honda Civic and Toyota Corolla, to popular crossovers like the Nissan Rogue. Take a look at what some of our customers are saying about their experience with this tire:

"These are the best all-season tires I've ever purchased (and I've bought probably 15-20 sets of tires for various vehicles over the past 15 years, everything from snow tires to racing slicks). They actually defeat the purpose of my snow tires, as they offer about 8/10th of the snowy driving performance of them. This has to be the best all-season tire on the market. It just can't be beat for the price, performance, comfort and treadwear."  -- Tire Rack Consumer Review, 1985 BMW 535i

"Great tire thus far. Not many miles driven but they have already seen the worst of Pennsylvania's weather and potholes. These tires are impressively quiet, comfortable over bumps and potholes. It's near impossible to avoid them all now, and these tire seem up to the worst of them with no harshness at all. Great tire." -- Tire Rack Consumer Review, 2004 Subaru Forester

If you're looking for a great set of affordable tires, don't miss out on the General AltiMAX RT43! For more great options for your vehicle, read "Looking for Quiet Tires? Check Out My Top Three Picks!"

Choosing Between Performance Winter / Snow Tires and Studless Ice & Snow Tires

Monday, March 17, 2014 by Gary Stanley

As a moderator of several forums, I have received many questions on snow tires this winter. Recently, a customer had a question about choosing between Studless Ice & Snow tires and Performance Winter / Snow tires:

I’m getting ready to order winter tires and wheels. My concern is that here in Denver, we can have big changes in temperatures. It’s not uncommon to be able to wear short sleeves during February and March, while the ski resorts are getting pounded less than 80 miles away. Given the temperature range, are there any brands I should stay away from that get squirmy when it gets warmer? 95% of my driving is in the Denver area. I only have two clients in the foothills just west of town.

Here was my response to his question:

Most of the tires in the Studless Ice & Snow category like the Bridgestone Blizzak WS70, Continental ExtremeWinterContact and Michelin X-Ice Xi3 will have slower steering response in warmer temperatures, and thus, feel a little squirmy. Of these choices, the Michelin X-Ice Xi3 feels the least squirmy, but would still give you outstanding snow and ice traction for the times you have to drive on snow-covered roads. 

If you move to a Performance Winter / Snow tire like the Bridgestone Blizzak LM-32 or Dunlop SP Winter Sport 4D, you'll find that these tires have more responsive handling even in warmer temperatures. Unfortunately, there's a noticeable step down in snow and ice traction when compared to Studless Ice & Snow tires.

Are you trying to make a similar decision? You may want to lean towards one of the more aggressive snow tires like those listed above if one or more of the following are true :

  • Your geographical area gets heavy snowfall and/or lake-effect snow.
  • You are often driving on packed snow and ice.
  • You are willing to give up some dry grip and steering response for maximum winter traction.
  • You are a newer driver or want more confidence when driving in winter conditions. 

Choosing between these two performance categories may be difficult and is mostly a personal preference choice for the trade-off between snow traction and dry road handling. When making your decision, keep in mind what are the worst conditions you'll experience. This is the time when you will need traction the most!  You can read about my experience with winter tires by reading, "My Story on Winter Tires."

Is There a Bubble on Your Tire?

Thursday, March 6, 2014 by Gary Stanley

The roads are in particularly rough condition following this season's harsher-than-normal winter. As a result, there are more potholes and ruts in the roads, which are causing many drivers to experience problems with their tires, like sidewall bubbles. 

If you can see a round bulging area protruding on the sidewall of the tire, this is often referred to as a bubble. The bubble is appearing because air from inside the tire is leaking into the carcass and sidewall plys of the tire.

Most bubbles are caused by impact damage from road conditions. When a tire hits a pothole or a sharp object on the road, the force from the weight of the vehicle is focused on a relatively small area of contact. This compresses the tire enough that the inside of the tire's sidewall can be pinched and damaged. This damage to the (normally) air tight inner liner of the tire allows air to seep out, causing the bubble. The impact may not have even been noticed by the driver. 

Some common causes of impact damage are:

  • Potholes
  • Railroad Crossings
  • Speed Bumps
  • Curbs
  • Heavily Damaged Roads 
  • Construction Areas
  • Debris

Sometimes, while rare, a defect in the tire itself can cause a bubble. However, this is very uncommon on tires more than a few months old. A tire shop can inspect the tire to check to see whether the bubble was caused from a defect or from road damage. To do this, the shop will typically mark the bubble, dismount the tire and check for cuts or abrasions in the inner liner of the tire.  

It's important to note that sidewall bubbles can't be repaired. The area that's damaged is constantly flexing and moving so a tire patch cannot hold. Additionally, a bubble often indicates the tire has structural damage and is in a weakened state that can fail at any time without warning. No one can predict when a tire with a bubble will fail, but eventually it will. For this reason, a tire should immediately be taken out of service and a spare tire should be used until you can get a matching replacement tire.  

For additional information, take a look at, "Sidewall Separations/Bubbles."

New Dunlop Winter Maxx Tires Installed on My Car

Wednesday, February 26, 2014 by Gary Stanley

After three years of faithful service, my Michelin X-Ice Xi2 winter / snow tires have finally worn to the point where they needed to be replaced. While they were not bald, the tread depth had worn to about 4/32nds of an inch, which is more shallow than recommended for effective snow traction. Tires at low tread depths can only "nibble" into snow instead of biting through it to find grip. And with this brutal winter season still in full swing, I decided that it was time to be safe rather than sorry. Check out more information about how tread depth can affect snow traction by reading, "Do My Winter / Snow Tires Have Another Year in Them?

Dunlop has been producing studless winter tires for well over a decade beginning with the original Graspic DS-1. Subsequent generations of DS-2 and DS-3 models were well received and popular value-priced Studless Ice & Snow tires. These tires were known for their great deep snow and slush traction, but in general, fell a bit short in packed snow and ice traction compared to the competition from Bridgestone and Michelin. This gap in packed snow and ice traction seemed to be all but closed until Dunlop's introduction of the Winter Maxx.  

The roads were still covered with snow on the day I installed the tires on my 2009 Infiniti G37x Coupe. With a good mix of packed snow and ice, as well as loose snow and fresh powder on some roads, I was able to put the Winter Maxx tires through their paces. I can say with confidence that the tires are at least as good as my old Michelin X-Ice Xi2 tires. If you're considering buying a great set of dedicated winter / snow tires for your vehicle at a great value, be sure to take a look at the Dunlop Winter Maxx

Hoosier Tires Made in Indiana!

Wednesday, February 19, 2014 by Gary Stanley

If you're looking for race-winning performance in an autocross or road race tire, look no further than Hoosier Racing tires! Not only are Hoosier tires of outstanding quality, they're made right here in Indiana.

 Hoosier A6
Hoosier A6
 Hoosier R6
Hoosier R6


Manufactured in Plymouth, Indiana, Hoosier's tires are popular for competition use in:

  • Autocross
  • Road Racing
  • High Performance Driving Events
  • Miata Racing
  • Time Attack Racing

While the Hoosier A6 and R6 may look the same, they have different tread compounds. Which Hoosier tire is for you? If you are chasing cones in an autocross event or are a very light road racer, choose the Hoosier A6. This tire heats up very quickly for the short runs that are typical at most autocrossing events.

For heavier cars and most track driving applications, choose the Hoosier R6. It requires more of a gradual warm-up time and provides consistency lap after lap. Two factors that will help steer you to victory!

While Hoosier tires are DOT-legal, they are not intended for highway use. Due to their low tread depth and ultra sticky rubber compound, we recommend that these tires be used on the track only.

How Good Are Sumitomo Tires?

Tuesday, February 11, 2014 by Gary Stanley

Often times, people associate Sumitomo as a generic tire. In reality, quite the opposite is true! Did you know that Sumitomo is the Japanese subsidiary of Dunlop and traces its beginnings back to 1909? In 1997, Sumitomo and Goodyear formed a joint venture in which they agreed to manufacture tires for each other as well. Sumitomo produces many different types of world-class, affordable tires.  

I've personally had very good experience with the Sumitomo line on my own vehicles. I used the Max Performance Summer Sumitomo HTR Z III tire on my BMW M3. The reason I chose the tire was because of how it performed against other value-priced Max Performance Summer tires.   
 

 Sumitomo HTRZ III
Sumitomo HTR Z III
 Sumitomo Touring LS T
Sumitomo Touring LS T


If you don't have a sports car or need high performance tires, keep in mind that Sumitomo also makes all-season options with long treadwear ratings. If this is more the type of tire you're looking for, take a look at their Touring LS T and HTR A/S P01.  

If you're looking for a great tire at a great price, be sure to take a look at the options available from Sumitomo.

Looking for Quiet Tires? Check Out My Top Three Picks!

Tuesday, January 28, 2014 by Gary Stanley

When shopping for tires, most drivers place a good deal of emphasis on quietness. No one wants to listen to a loud tire on a long trip or have to shout at their passengers to have a conversation. Tire noise can be more than just an annoyance, it can also mask important sounds that affect vehicle performance, maintenance and safety.  

For most drivers, the quietest tires are found in the Passenger All-Season, Standard Touring All-Season and Grand Touring All-Season performance categories.  

Goodyear Assurance ComforTred
Goodyear Assurance
ComforTred
Michelin Defender
Michelin
Defender
Michelin Primacy MXV4
Michelin Primacy
MXV4


For Passenger All-Season tires, the Goodyear Assurance ComforTred and Michelin Energy Saver A/S both received top ratings for noise comfort. While the Goodyear is not available in many sizes, the Michelin is made in quite a few popular fitments ranging from compact cars to crossover vehicles.  

In the Standard Touring All-Season category, the Michelin Defender has consistently received high praise from our customers in regards to its smooth and quiet ride. It's also designed to deliver extra long wear and all-season traction in dry, wet and wintry conditions, even in light snow. 

If you're driving a vehicle that uses tires with higher speed ratings, check out the Pirelli Cinturato P7 All Season Plus and Michelin Primacy MXV4. The P7 All Season Plus is a relative newcomer with few miles reported in our surveys, but initial feedback has been outstanding. Developed to be environmentally friendly, Pirelli's EcoImpact icons confirm the tire's contribution to the environment with regards to energy efficiency, clean air, low noise and long wear. Michelin's Primacy MXV4 offers a quiet, comfortable ride, long treadlife, responsive handling and all-season traction. You can learn about my personal experience with this Michelin tire by reading "Michelin Primacy MXV4 Tires Installed on My Crossover."

Best Tires for Nissan Maxima

Wednesday, January 22, 2014 by Gary Stanley

The Nissan Maxima has been a popular sports sedan for many years due to its great combination of luxury features, sporty handling and room for full-sized adults to fit comfortably in the back seats. I've owned two Nissan Maximas and have fond memories of them. One thing I learned firsthand is that the type of tire you install can make a big difference on this car.    

Some tires can create very annoying road and tire noise, especially at highway speeds. Tires with poor grip and a slow steering response rob the Maxima of its fun-to-drive factor. Choosing an option from either the Grand Touring All-Season or Ultra High Performance All-Season category can improve the vehicle's ride. 


Continental ExtremeContact DWS

Michelin Pilot Sport A/S 3

 

 Continental PureContact with EcoPlus Technology
Continental PureContact with EcoPlus
Technology
 Bridgestone Turanza Serentiy Plus
Bridgestone Turanza Serenity
Plus


If you're an aggressive driver or you just prefer sportier handling and a quicker steering response, consider two Ultra High Performance All-Season tires: Continental ExtremeContact DWS and Michelin Pilot Sport A/S 3. Are you someone who can sacrifice some handling and sporty driving for a softer, quieter ride with longer wear? Then focus on the Grand Touring All-Season options: Continental PureContact with EcoPlus Technology and Bridgestone Turanza Serenity Plus.

The Continental PureContact with EcoPlus Technology has performed especially well. To view more about this tire, check out "Continental's PureContact with EcoPlus Technology vs. ContiProContact."

Black Rock Steel Wheels are Perfect for Your Truck

Friday, January 17, 2014 by Gary Stanley

We're proud to announce that we carry Black Rock steel wheels. Manufactured in California, these wheels are specifically engineered for serious off-road and rock climbing applications with fitments available for Jeeps, SUVs and lifted trucks.

Black Rock offers heavy gauge steel wheels that are clear coated and painted black with center caps included at no additional charge. The wheels won't chip or crack and provide a rugged style that also looks great. Some of the more popular fitments for these wheels include the newer Ford F-150 trucks, Ford Expeditions, Chevy Silverado trucks and the Dodge Ram. Also, we offer some of their wider, low offset off-road fitments.


Black Rock 937 Type 8P Steel

Black Rock 942 Type D Steel 17x8


For more steel wheel options for your vehicle, take a look at "Steel Wheels Available at Tire Rack."

Pirelli Makes Some of the Best Winter Tires for 2013

Tuesday, December 31, 2013 by Gary Stanley

Pirelli doesn't just make performance tires like the P Zero line, they also produce world class winter / snow tires for a range of vehicles from small cars and high performance sports cars to large SUVs, trucks and crossover vehicles. So, whether you need affordable studded snow tires for your Honda Civic, performance snow tires for your BMW 3 Series or tires for the family's SUV for ski trips, Pirelli has you covered!

 Pirelli Winter Carving
Pirelli Winter Carving
 Pirelli Scorpion Winter
Pirelli Scorpion Winter
 Pirelli Winter SottoZero 3
Pirelli Winter Sottozero 3


The Pirelli Winter Carving is a Studdable Winter / Snow tire made in a variety of sizes for those looking for a traditional studdable snow tire. With or without studs, the Winter Carving represents a great value in a traditional studdable winter tire. Note, that while studded tires are not the quietest tires, they do offer great snow and ice traction. To learn more about about using studded tires, read "Studded Tires for Winter Driving."

Pirelli's Scorpion Winter is an outstanding choice for crossovers, trucks and SUVs. It features an Ecoimpact icon branded on the sidewall to highlight the tire's contribution to the environment with regards to energy efficiency, clean air and low noise. The tire is designed to deliver low temperature wintertime driving performance by combining predictable handling on dry and wet roads with traction in snow and on ice.

Drivers looking for a high performance winter tire that will provide some winter traction for better dry road grip and steering response should consider the Pirelli Winter Sottozero 3. The tire was developed with the philosophy that winter tires must perform in a variety of unpredictable weather conditions.

All three tires feature aggressive, directional tread patterns for great water and snow/slush evacuation. Looking for winter aftermarket alloy wheels or steel wheels to mount your winter tires on? Check out "Steel Wheels Available at Tire Rack" for some great options.

Best Winter Tires for Snow for Crossovers and SUVs

Wednesday, December 11, 2013 by Gary Stanley

Crossovers and SUVs are a very popular vehicle segment and are available from smaller vehicles like the Ford Escape and Nissan Murano, to larger SUVs such as the Chevy Suburban and Cadillac Escalade. There are even high performance models like the Porsche Cayenne and Infiniti FX that have acceleration rivaling that of sports cars.  

Most owners of these vehicles aren't buying them primarily for their off-road capability or 0-60 times, but instead for their desire of a balance of utility, comfort and performance. They also want good all-season traction, including during the winter months. To get the most winter traction, the best option is to install a set of winter / snow tires because they provide much better snow and ice traction compared to their all-season counterparts.

Which winter tires are the best for snow and ice traction for your crossover, light truck or SUV? 

 Bridgestone Blizzak DM-V1
Bridgestone Blizzak DM-V1
 Pirelli Scorpion Winter
Pirelli Scorpion Winter


I would take a look at the Bridgestone Blizzak DM-V1 and Pirelli Scorpion Winter. Between the two, the Bridgestone Blizzak DM-V1 has better snow and ice traction. Pirelli's Scorpion Winter is a slight step down in snow and ice traction compared to the Blizzak, however it does have better dry road traction and quicker steering response for the days when the roads are dry. These tires aren't just available for SUVs and crossovers, but also make great winter truck tires. 

For more information on the Bridgestone Blizzak DM-V1, read "Winter Truck Tires."

Do Winter / Snow Tires Really Make a Difference?

Wednesday, December 4, 2013 by Gary Stanley

Many drivers are familiar with the advantages of using dedicated winter / snow tires on their vehicles during the colder months. However, I still occasionally get the question, "Do winter tires really make that much of a difference?" This question can be answered based on my own personal experience, my professional experience as a tire test driver at Tire Rack and customer feedback.

Personal Experience

Over the past two decades, I've used both all-season and winter tires on seven of my own personal vehicles, along with driving on many others that belong to family and friends. These included front-wheel drive, rear-wheel drive and all-wheel drive vehicles from compact cars to sports cars to full sized SUVs. The results were consistent in every case, with winter tires on all four corners, these vehicles accelerated faster, cornered more confidently and stopped quicker on snow and ice. 

Professional Experience

Part of my job at Tire Rack involves testing the tires we sell. We have completed tests over the years comparing the traction of all-season tires against winter tires in a controlled environment. For a comparison of the two tires and how they compare in winter conditions, read "Ice Traction Comparison of All-Season, Summer and Winter / Snow Tires." 

Customer Feedback

Whether from internet forum posts, customer survey data, customer reviews or just speaking with customers on the phone, I consistently get overwhelmingly positive feedback regarding the results of using winter tires. Drivers praise the superior winter traction and driving confidence that a set of snow tires provides.

So, do winter tires really make a difference? The answer is an unequivocal "yes." Instead of dreading this winter, why not try driving with confidence? Purchase a set of winter / snow tires today!

Best Winter / Snow Tires for 2013

Tuesday, November 26, 2013 by Gary Stanley

Which are the best winter / snow tires for 2013? The answer depends on your driving style, vehicle and the winter conditions you experience.

Studless Ice & Snow

Studless Ice & Snow tires deliver maximum snow and ice traction when conditions are the most severe. These tires will give up some dry grip and steering response compared to higher performance winter tires. Their rubber compounds have technology that keeps them soft and pliable even in subfreezing temperatures in order to give you great traction in snow and on ice. Studless snow tires have more aggressive tread patterns and often more tread depth to help them bite through the snow. 

They're available for nearly all types of vehicles, from small cars like the Smart ForTwo, all the way up to SUVs such as the Ford Expedition. Drivers who purchase these tires are typically driving in the central or northern regions of the snowbelt or higher altitudes. Studless Ice & Snow tires are also an excellent choice for new drivers and those that need extra confidence when driving in wintry conditions. Top tires in this category for 2013 include the Michelin X-Ice Xi3, Bridgestone Blizzak WS70 and Bridgestone Blizzak DM-V1

 Bridgestone Blizzak WS70
Bridgestone Blizzak WS70
 Michelin X-Ice Xi3
Michelin X-Ice Xi3
 Bridgestone Blizzak DMV-1
Bridgestone Blizzak DM-V1


Performance Winter / Snow

Performance Winter / Snow tires give up some ultimate snow and ice traction for better dry grip and faster steering response. The tread patterns on these tires aren't quite as aggressive as Studless Ice & Snow tires, and often have shallower tread depths which leads to more responsive handling. 

Tires in this category are also made for a wide variety of vehicles, from performance sedans such as the BMW 3 Series, as well as larger performance oriented crossover vehicles like the Porsche Cayenne. Drivers who purchase Performance Winter / Snow tires often drive higher performance vehicles and many drive in areas where snow is less frequent or where snow removal is very good. Despite their bias towards more performance, they still have much better snow and ice traction than a typical all-season tire. Top tires in this category include the Michelin Pilot Alpin PA4, Dunlop SP Winter Sport 4D and Bridgestone Blizzak LM-32.    

 Bridgestone Blizzak LM-32
Bridgestone Blizzak LM-32
 Michelin Pilot Alpin PA4
Michelin Pilot Alpin PA4
 Dunlop Winter Sport 4D
Dunlop SP Winter Sport 4D


For more help on selecting a winter tire from the proper performance category, take a look at "Should I Buy Performance Winter / Snow Tires or Studless Ice & Snow Tires?"

Blizzak vs X-Ice Winter Tire Recommendation for a BMW

Thursday, November 14, 2013 by Gary Stanley

As a moderator for some BMW forums, I receive many questions about these vehicles. Recently, I got the following e-mail from a BMW owner:

Gary,

I have read many of your posts regarding the topic of winter tire recommendations. I am currently looking to get a winter/snow tire for my 2009 BMW 335i w/sport package. I plan on getting four 225/45R17 tires. However, I am unsure what type of tire and brand I should buy for my area. Currently, I live in Kansas City, but I travel to Chicago about two to three times during the winter. Also, I might be moving to Chicago. I am looking for a tire that is dependable when it's the worst outside, but it's a hard decision because of the two different areas. I am currently looking at the Bridgestone Blizzak WS70 and Michelin X-Ice Xi3. What is your opinion/recommendation?

Bridgestone Blizzak WS70
Bridgestone Blizzak WS70
Michelin X-Ice Xi3
Michelin X-Ice Xi3


Since I get the opportunity to test tires at Tire Rack, I get to see what tires can do on the street, as well as in winter conditions. With many different models of winter / snow tires to test, we really get to see how each tire performs in different environments. With that in mind, here is what I recommended to the customer:

Thanks for your inquiry. Between the two, the Michelin X-Ice Xi3 has better dry grip and faster steering response for the days when there isn't snow on the roads. Bridgestone's Blizzak WS70 offers slightly better snow traction, but does not feel as stable on dry days or at highway speeds. Most drivers in your situation would lean towards the Michelin X-Ice Xi3 as the difference in snow/ice traction between the two is very small compared to the more noticeable difference in fair weather handling

You can learn about my experience with the Michelin X-Ice line of winter /snow tires by reading "My Story on Winter Tires."

What's the Best All-Season Tire for Snow? Our Snow Traction Test Results Will Help You Decide.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013 by Gary Stanley

The days are getting shorter, as well as colder. Yes, winter is just around the corner. Are your tires in good enough condition to make it through another winter season of driving in snow and on ice? If your tires' tread depth is less than 6/32", you may want to consider a new set for better snow traction. Winter tires need adequate tread depth in order to bite into the snow to find traction. Tires with shallow tread depths will have a much more difficult time getting through snowy conditions. 

When it comes to driving during the colder months, winter / snow tires perform the best. Winter tires, like the Bridgestone Blizzak DM-V1, provide much better winter traction than even the best all-season. To see how well this Bridgestone winter tire performed for me, read "My Story on Winter Tires."

If you've considered snow tires and still decided to go with an all-season set for year-round use, you're still concerned about which one offers the best snow traction. We recently tested a few of the top tires in the Crossover/SUV Touring All-Season category that will help you in your shopping process.


Bridgestone Dueler H/L
422 Ecopia

Bridgestone Blizzak
DM-V1

Continental CrossContact LX20 with EcoPlus Technology


The Bridgestone Dueler H/L 422 Ecopia offered quiet and comfortable road manners to go along with good snow traction. We determined that Goodyear's Assurance CS TripleTred All-Season is a good option for all seasons and Pirelli's Scorpion Verde All Season is a well-tuned tire that's a pleasure to drive but could use a little bump in snow traction. Another choice to consider that wasn't a part of this test is the Continental CrossContact LX20 with EcoPlus Technology

For a complete recap of our test, take a look at "Testing the Newest/Popular Crossover/SUV Touring All-Season Tires."

What are the Best Winter / Snow Tires for 2013? Find Out Here!

Wednesday, October 30, 2013 by Gary Stanley

Which are the best winter / snow tires for 2013? The answer will depend on your driving style, model of vehicle and the winter conditions you experience.

Studless Ice & Snow 

Studless Ice & Snow tires deliver maximum snow and ice traction when conditions are the most severe. These tires will give up some dry grip and steering response compared to higher performance winter / snow tires. Their rubber compounds have technology that keeps them soft and pliable even in sub freezing temperatures in order to give you great winter traction. Tires in this performance category have more aggressive tread patterns and often more tread depth to help them bite through the snow. 

They are available for nearly all types of vehicles from small cars like the SmartForTwo, all the way up to full sized SUVs such as the Ford Expedition. Drivers who purchase Studless Ice & Snow tires typically drive in the central to northern regions of the snowbelt or in higher altitudes. Studless Ice & Snow tires are also an excellent choice for new drivers that need extra confidence when driving in wintry conditions. A few top choices in the category for 2013 include the Michelin X-Ice Xi3, Bridgestone Blizzak WS70 and Bridgestone Blizzak DM-V1 (for light trucks, crossovers and SUVs).

 Bridgestone Blizzak WS70
Bridgestone Blizzak WS70
 Michelin X-Ice Xi3
Michelin X-Ice Xi3
 Bridgestone Blizzak DMV-1
Bridgestone Blizzak DM-V1


Performance Winter / Snow 

Performance Winter / Snow tires give up some ultimate snow and ice traction for better dry grip and faster steering response. The tread patterns on these tires aren't quite as aggressive as Studless Ice & Snow tires and often have shallower tread depths which leads to more responsive handling. 

Tires in this performance category are made for a wide variety of vehicles, from performance sedans such as the BMW 3 Series, to larger performance vehicles like the Porsche Cayenne. Drivers who purchase performance snow tires often drive higher performance vehicles, and many drive in areas where snow is less frequent or where snow removal is very good. Despite their bias towards more performance, they still have much better snow and ice traction than an all-season tire. Some top tires in this category include the Michelin Pilot Alpin PA4, Dunlop SP Winter Sport 4D and Bridgestone Blizzak LM-32.  

 Bridgestone Blizzak LM-32
Bridgestone Blizzak LM-32
 Michelin Pilot Alpin PA4
Michelin Pilot Alpin PA4
 Dunlop Winter Sport 4D
Dunlop SP Winter Sport 4D


Are you having trouble deciding between Studless Ice & Snow and Performance Winter / Snow tires? Then take a look at "Should I Buy Performance Winter / Snow Tires or Studless Ice & Snow Tires?"

 

New Dunlop SP Winter Sport 4D vs. SP Winter Sport 3D

Wednesday, October 23, 2013 by Gary Stanley

Are you looking for winter / snow tires, but still want a tire with respectable dry road handling? Dunlop's line of performance winter tires have been a customer favorite since the release of the original Winter Sport M2 over a decade ago. Each new generation of Dunlop SP Winter Sport has been a successful improvement over the last. For the 2013-2014 winter season, the Dunlop SP Winter Sport 3D is being replaced by the SP Winter Sport 4D. 

 Dunlop SP Winter Sport 3D
Dunlop SP Winter Sport 3D
 Dunlop SP Winter Sport 4D
Dunlop SP Winter Sport 4D


Dunlop's SP Winter Sport 3D is currently ranked number one in the Performance Winter / Snow category. It's praised by our customers, as well as many enthusiasts on BMW forums for its outstanding balance of snow and ice traction. They also like the tire's wet and dry grip compared to other performance snow tires. 

The SP Winter Sport 4D takes traction to a new high with its advanced transverse sipes which provide more biting edges for even better snow traction and cornering grip. The sipes lock together during vehicle acceleration, braking and cornering for a more stable feel, as opposed to some other winter / snow tires which can feel pretty loose and slow to react to steering inputs.  Dunlop even states that it has revised the winter rubber compound of the tire to reduce rolling resistance for slightly improved fuel economy. 

Shop by vehicle to find the winter tire that's best for how and where you drive.

Looking for an Affordable Winter / Snow Tire? Check Out Dunlop's Winter Maxx

Wednesday, October 16, 2013 by Gary Stanley

Since the original Dunlop Graspic was released over ten years ago, Dunlop has offered solid winter / snow tires with very good levels of snow and ice traction and a price point that's often lower than competitors. Although praised for great snow traction, the various generations of Dunlop's Graspic line of winter tires did not match the dry road handling of top competitors and suffered from slower steering response. 

Their latest iteration, the Graspic DS-3 is being replaced this year by the all-new Dunlop Winter Maxx. The Dunlop Winter Maxx continues in the tradition of a value-oriented price point that's lower than top tires in the Studless Ice & Snow category, such as the Bridgestone Blizzak WS70 and Michelin X-Ice Xi3. For more information on these two tires, read "Bridgestone Blizzak vs. Michelin X-Ice Winter / Snow Tires."

Unlike previous generations of Dunlop Studless Ice & Snow tires, the Winter Maxx has a T-speed rating, good up to 118 mph for a top speed. Because of this, we expect the Winter Maxx to have better handling for the days when there isn't snow on the road. 

If you're looking for a value-oriented, affordable set of winter / snow tires, check out the new Dunlop Winter Maxx!