Thumbing through the March round of car magazines, I came across an interesting comparison between C7 launch articles. Sweet car, by the way, that C7. The comparison test? My Subaru BRZ versus another favorite of mind, the 2013 Ford Focus ST.
A lightweight rear-wheel drive junior Cayman against a roomy, practical and powerful front-wheel drive hatch? Kind of an odd couple to test with their only real commonality being their $25,000-$30,000 price point. Both cars tested well, but at the end of the day, the BRZ was about a second slower than the Focus ST on a 1.6-mile road course.
Did I buy the wrong car? No, not at all. I bought the right car that happens to be sold with the wrong tires. The BRZ and FR-S come equipped with 215/45R17 Michelin Primacy HP tires, while the Focus ST has the 235/40R18 Goodyear Eagle F1 Asymmetric 2. It's true the Focus ST boasts a huge power advantage, however stickier rubber would allow the BRZ to maximize its cornering grip. I suspect a simple swap to either a Max Performance Summer or Extreme Performance Summer tire would easily close that gap.
For those interested, before I got my BRZ, I had a set of Extreme Performance Summer tires in mind. After getting my new car, I was leaning towards the Bridgestone Potenza RE-11. After about 1,600 miles on my Original Equipment tires, I decided on the Michelin Pilot Super Sport in 225/45R17 on 17x7 48ET Sport Tuning T8 wheels. Michelin's Pilot Super Sport provides great wet grip and I wanted to avoid the harder ride of the Extreme Performance Summer tire. I noticed improvements across the board with the tires with no significant difference in ride or tread noise.
With the new 2014 Mazda6, Mazda has built the family sedan a mom and dad will want to drive.
Have you just brought home or ordered your new Mazda6? If so, you've made an excellent choice! Owners of this vehicle in a fair weather state may be looking to upgrade their Mazda6 with some new wheels. However, if you reside in the northern part of the country, you may want to consider adding some winter / snow tires to your purchase.
We were fortunate enough to bring a 2014 Mazda6 in for test fitting this past week. So expect it to appear as an option in our Upgrade Garage shortly. We'll have plenty of choices for both summer wheels, as well as winter options.
For example, Enkei Performance Series makes the Falcon in both a hyper silver with machined lip and gunmetal with machined lip finish. This clean, five-spoke design is an ideal complement to the 2014 Mazda6 Sport.
17x7 5-114 45ET Enkei Performance Series Falcon Hyper Silver with Machined Lip
17x7 5-114 45ET Enkei Performance Series Falcon Gunmetal with Machined Lip
Wheels are ultimately in the eye of the beholder, however I like how the hyper silver with machined lip finish looks on a black Mazda6. For the soul red, meteor gray, liquid silver and snowflake white pearl colors, I'd select the gunmetal with machined lip finish because it offers more contrast between wheel and vehicle colors.
Now you can zoom, zoom with a little bit more style!
Have you just picked up an E-Class Sedan, Coupe or Cabriolet? If so, and you live in the Snowbelt region, your E-Class is going to need to be equipped with a set of dedicated winter / snow tires. Given the wide variety of E-Class drivers, both Studless Ice and Snow and Performance Winter / Snow tires may be appropriate. Take a look at "Which Winter Performance Category is Right for You?" to see which winter tire is appropriate for how and where you drive.
Winter / Snow Tire Size
Depending on your exact model, Original Equipment sizes range between 17" and 19" including staggered (wider rear tire) fitments. An optimum winter size for most E350 drivers is 235/45R17. The heavier E550 excels with a 245/45R17 size. While the large brakes of the E63 require the use of either 18" or 19" wheels. Given the E63's prodigious horsepower and torque, most E63 drivers are best served by 255/40R18 in the front and 285/35R18 in the rear on 18" wheels or 255/35R19 in the front and 285/30R19 in the rear on 19" wheels.
Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS)
The E-Class uses valve-stem-mounted direct TPMS sensors priced at $62* each. You can register the TPMS sensors yourself by following the instructions in the owner's manual. There's no additional cost to install the sensors as part of our free mount and balance.
Winter / Snow Tire & Wheel Package for E350 4MATIC
Since you've selected your E350 4MATIC for ultimate safety in the worst conditions, I recommend 235/45R17 Studless Ice and Snow Bridgestone Blizzak WS70s on 17x8 44mm offset bright silver Sport Edition ST3 wheels at $1440*.
235/45R17 Bridgestone Blizzak WS70
17x8 5-112 44ET Sport Edition ST3
Winter / Snow Tire & Wheel Package for RWD E350
If you're a spirited driver who chose a rear-wheel drive E350 for its emphasis on handling, then the 245/45R17 Performance Winter / Snow Pirelli Winter Sottozero Serie II is a better choice. Four of these tires mounted and balanced on Sport Edition ST3 wheels is currently $1488*.
245/45R17 Pirelli Winter Sottozero Serie II
17x8 5-112 44 ET Sport Edition ST3
One vehicle that really stood out to me at the Detroit Auto Show was an ibis white Audi with traditional chrome wheels.
It's hard to find the right finish for a white car. Silver tends to blend too much with the body color. While a grey or black finish might contrast too much. I tend to believe chrome stands out on a larger white luxury car without being over the top. Wheels are a personal taste and you should go with the look you want.
If you drive an Audi S6 and you like the look of a chrome wheel, then you're going to love the savings on the Sport Edition ST5 marked down from $248 to a closeout price of just $79*.
Michelin Pilot Super Sport
Sport Edition ST5
Of course a great deal on wheels isn't complete without the right tire. The 265/35R19 Michelin Pilot Super Sport offers exceptional grip with decent wear for the Max Performance Summer category. Developed for the driver who cares about how tire technology can enhance their vehicle's performance and safety, the Pilot Super Sport delivers durability, handling and traction while increasing treadlife. For just $1516* plus shipping your Tire & Wheel Package will be mounted, balanced and shipped ready to install.
*Prices subject to change
Although Prius and Camry sales continue to climb, Toyota may still be best known for its reliable, economical and affordable Corolla. Not only did the Corolla put Toyota on the map, it still reigns as one the world's best-selling cars.
Have you joined the many with a new Corolla in your garage? Your Corolla has been engineered for durability and dependability, however snowy and icy conditions will challenge your all-season tires. No worries, a set of dedicated winter / snow tires is all you need to keep your Corolla steadfast and dependable in winter's harshest conditions.
Winter / Snow Tire Size
The Corolla is shod with 195/65R15 (L Trim Level) or 205/55R16 (LE and S Trim) tires as Original Equipment sizes. As covered in "Which Winter Performance Category is Right for You?", the relatively lightweight Corolla will benefit from a skinnier size.
When should you run a narrower size and how narrow should you go? Going to a narrower tire is especially helpful if you drive in deep snow. For example, Green Bay, Wisconsin averages 53.9" snow per year; if you're a Corolla driver in this area, narrower 185/65R15 tires are better at cutting through moderate and deep snow. At 24.5" in overall diameter, the 185/65R15 is about 1/2" smaller. This negligible difference in ground clearance and speedometer error (2% error) is trumped by the ability of the narrower tires to cut through snow.
For areas at a higher risk of ice storms and less of seeing deep snow, 195/65R15 is best. 195/65R15 is 25" in overall diameter, which is the same as the Original Equipment. This size offers a better balance for a winter weather mix of ice, wet roads and an occasional snowstorm. If you're a Corolla owner who resides somewhere like Cincinnati, Ohio (average snowfall of 22.1"), stay with 195/65R15.
"Green Bay" Winter / Snow Tire & Wheel Package
With the Corolla XRS phased out, all Corolla trim levels are tuned for a balance of ride comfort and safe handling. The Bridgestone Blizzak WS70's packed-snow and glare-ice grip provide the ultimate safety in the worst conditions. Therefore, the optimum winter package including this tire is the 185/65R15 option on black painted steel wheels at $576* (excludes TPMS sensors) plus shipping.
185/65R15 Bridgestone Blizzak
15x6 5-100 33mm ET Black Painted Steel
"Cincinnati" Winter / Snow Tire & Wheel Package
The ideal "Cincinnati" Winter / Snow Tire & Wheel Package is the 195/65R15 Blizzak WS70 on black painted steel wheels at $600* (excludes TPMS sensors) plus shipping.
195/65R15 Bridgestone Blizzak
15x6 5-100 33mm ET Black Painted Steel
*Prices subject to change
When it comes to maintaining your vehicle, everyone wants to save money without compromising safety. That's why we test tires and currently provide over 2.8 billion miles of customer feedback to help you select the right tire. With many different options to choose from, you're likely to find an option that works for you and your budget.
In addition to these services, we're also fortunate to have strong relationships with the manufacturers so we can offer you some great tires with closeout savings. At this time, take advantage of the the Ultra High Performance Summer Fuzion ZRi and On-/Off-Road All-Terrain Fuzion XTi at amazing pricing.
Take a look at the popular 225/45R17 ZRi that's been marked down to $61*. This tire is a good choice for drivers in rainy climates, such as Florida, because of its wet grip capabilities. Developed to meet the needs of sport compact and sports car driving enthusiasts and tuners, the tire provides crisp and responsive handling in both wet and dry conditions. Fuzion ZRi tires also feature Rim Guard rubber ridges on its lower sidewalls to function as bumpers to help protect wheels from curb damage.
Other closeout ZRi sizes include:
- 205/55R16 at $64*
- 245/45R16 at $86*
- 215/40R17 at $66*
- 235/40R17 at $88*
- 255/40R17 at $88*
- 215/35R18 at $85*
- 265/35R18 at $119*
- 245/35R19 at $177*
- 255/35R20 at $111*
Are you looking for some moderate off-road capability and a more rugged look for your Jeep, 1/2-ton truck or SUV? The Fuzion XTi will do the job without bombarding you with mud tire drone. Blending overall performance with aggressive styling, this tire meets enthusiasts needs without compromising comfort or affordability. Even better, you can purchase this tire at a great price! For example, the 225/70R16 option is priced at only $79*.
Other closeout XTi sizes include:
Whether you're ready for cruising the strip or about to hit some trails, take a look at what some customers are saying about their experiences with the tires:
"These tires have proved exceptional. Dry weather cornering is outstanding and very predictable. The main revelation is in the wet where the Fuzion has completely cured the unstable understeer exhibited with my previous tires. The A6 2.7T Quattro is quick, but heavy. It had an unpredictable push on the previous tires, but now it is a joy in both the wet and dry." -- Tire Rack Consumer Review, 2004 Audi A6 2.7T (Fuzion ZRi)
"I really liked the look of this tire for the price. This is the best tire I have ever bought. As an outdoorsman, this tire has been off road for many hunting trips. This tire has outperformed any tire in any condition I have subjected it to. I am on your website today to purchase a new set!" -- Tire Rack Consumer Review, 2007 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 4x4 Regular Cab Long Box (Fuzion XTi)
*Limited stock, prices subject to change
The last tire I bought for my old Prelude SH was the Extreme Performance Summer Dunlop Direzza Sport Z1 Star Spec (Zed One). I loved how the Zed One's steering response and high grip complemented my vehicle. Many drivers have been impressed by the tire's combination of value and performance; making it a popular choice for spirited street driving, autocrossing and lapping days.
With such high marks for this tire, could Dunlop improve upon it with the release of the Direzza ZII (Zed Two)? They were able to provide us with pre-production spec tires so we could perform a comparison test. Although overall lateral grip felt similar between the Sport Z1 Star Spec and Direzza ZII, the Zed Two provided better steering response, improved lateral stability and increased acceleration grip - yielding faster times of approximately half a second in the dry and over a second in the wet. These numbers show an improvement that is huge!
We just received great news from Dunlop that most popular sizes of the Direzza ZII will be reaching our Indiana distribution center in the next few weeks. For those of you out west and down south, you can start the autocross season with the the Zed Two before I can. Unfortunately, with our snowy weather here in Indiana, I'll have to wait until April or May to try this tire on my BRZ.
Most of the 27 sizes will arrive soon, however the 205/45R17, 215/40R17, 245/40R17, 225/40R18, 285/30R18 and 245/40R19 are currently expected to arrive in March or April. Also, Dunlop is offering the Direzza ZII in 285/30R18, 245/40R19 and 275/35R19. sizes that weren't available for the Direzza Sport Z1 Star Spec.
To see how the tire tested in our short time with it, read "Dunlop Direzza ZII Introductory Track Drive."
Regardless of how much they're liked or disliked, run-flat tires are here to stay. Are you a BMW or MINI driver who loves his or her car and has decided to stay with run-flats? Then you need to take advantage of the specials currently on the 225/45R17 size for your E90 BMW and 205/45R17 for your MINI Cooper S.
225/45R17 Michelin Primacy MXM4 ZP
205/45R17 Pirelli P Zero Run Flat
Not only are you getting a great deal, you're also getting some awesome tires. The non-run-flat version of the Michelin Primacy MXM4 delivers a great combination of wet grip, steering response and low tread noise for its class. Pirelli P Zero Run Flat's crisp steering response and high grip level make it a good choice for a spirited Mini Cooper S driver. Derived from 100 years of motorsport experience, this Max Performance Summer tire offers a great combination of wet and dry traction with the convenience of temporary extended mobility in the event of complete air pressure loss.
It's also possible to change from run-flat tires to non-run-flat options. These conventional tires will fit your Original Equipment wheels with your driveline, suspension and traction working as normal. To find the best tire option for your BMW or MINI Cooper S, shop by vehicle.
*Limited stock, prices subject to change
Although it's no DB5, the new 2013 Ford Fusion sure has a luxury vibe. Initial reports from the automotive press indicate this vehicle performs as well as it looks.
Have you just picked up a 2013 Ford Fusion? In addition to its styling and performance, I'm sure you're impressed with the Fusion's safety features. In a collision, your Fusion protects your family with airbags in the front, side and also at knee level. If you live in an area that experiences harsh winter conditions, four dedicated winter / snow tires will give you the traction, confidence and safe feeling you need to handle roads covered in snow and ice.
Winter / Snow Tire Sizes
The Fusion's Original Equipment tire comes in one of the following sizes: 215/60R16, 235/50R17, 235/45R18 or 235/40R19. With a curb weight of 3,615 lbs. (2.5 liter Auto S), most Fusion drivers are best served by a 215/60R16 tire size. 215/60R16 is narrow enough to cut through moderate and deep snow, but wide enough for packed snow, ice and dry roads.
Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS)
Ford uses the valve stem direct TPMS system, which you can purchase sensors for $32 per wheel. Your Fusion won't automatically learn the new sensor codes, therefore a Ford dealer will have to initialize them as you switch back and forth between your winter and all-season/summer tires. Are you installing the wheels and sensors yourself? Then the the optional Ford TPMS Triggering Tool is really a must as it allows you to initialize the sensors.
Winter / Snow Tire & Wheel Package (Steel Wheel)
215/60-16 Michelin X-Ice Xi3
16x6.5 50ET Black Painted
Steel Wheel $58*
Winter/ Snow Tire & Wheel Package (Alloy Wheel)
For those who prefer a little more style for winter, I'd recommend the 16x7.5 5-108 48mm ET silver painted Sport Edition SE-16 on the same 215/60R16 Michelin X-Ice Xi3 at $1064* plus shipping.
215/60-16 Michelin X-Ice Xi3
16x7.5 48ET Silver Painted Sport Edition
With the weather changing, be ready by creating your Winter / Snow Tire & Wheel Package today.
*Prices subject to change
When I tell people that I work for Tire Rack, they inevitably ask, "What is the best tire?"
Most drivers are aware of major brands such as Michelin, Goodyear and Firestone. Therefore, they expect me to name one manufacturer that stands above the rest. The same away our hometown Notre Dame Fighting Irish are the number one team in college football.
Most major innovations pioneered by the tire companies have been adapted by the tire industry as a whole. After testing hundreds of tires and talking to a large volume of drivers, I've concluded that there simply is no "best" brand. However, there is a tire that's best for how, where and what you drive.
As you research your choices, you'll find a few tires that are great for their niche. Snowbelt drivers should run dedicated winter / snow tires. If circumstances prevent you from doing so, the Ultra High Performance All-Season Continental ExtremeContact DWS provides surprisingly good snow grip for its class. If you need great wet and dry traction in warm weather driving, consider the Max Performance Summer Michelin Pilot Super Sport. If your primary concern in the winter is glare ice traction, then Bridgestone's Blizzak WS70 may be your best bet.
Michelin Pilot Super
You'll make the best choice for your vehicle by matching the tire's strengths to how you drive, regardless of the brand.
For optimum snow grip, nothing compares to dedicated winter / snow tires. But, what if you live on the edge of the Snowbelt and need to run one set of tires year-round? Then you're better served by purchasing a set of all-season tires with decent light snow capability.
How do different all-season tires perform in the snow? Our test team has traveled to Sweden the past few winters to find out. Below are brief recaps of five different all-season categories and how certain tires performed during our time near the Arctic Circle.
Ultra High Performance All-Season Test
In comparing the Bridgestone Potenza RE970AS Pole Position, Continental ExtremeContact DWS, Michelin Pilot Sport A/S Plus and Pirelli PZero Nero All Season we found the Continental ExtremeContact DWS to perform best in the snow with the Pirelli finishing a close second. On ice, the Michelin Pilot Sport A/S Plus led the way with Continental's ExtremeContact DWS and Pirelli's PZero Nero All Season coming in next. Bridgestone's Potenza RE970AS Pole Position trailed the others by a fair margin. Complete test results can be found here.
Eco-Focused All-Season Test
When driving on the Bridgestone Ecopia EP422, Continental ProContact with EcoPlus Technology, Goodyear Assurance Fuel Max and Yokohama AVID TRZ we found the Goodyear and Bridgestone options to be tops in the snow and on ice. Goodyear's Assurance Fuel Max delivered impressive results, especially under braking. Yokohama AVID TRZ tires were competitive, but showed lower overall snow traction than the other three tires.
High Performance All-Season Test
The Dunlop SP Sport Signature, Firestone Firehawk Wide Oval AS and Goodyear Eagle GT all offered decent snow and ice performance. The fourth tire in the test, the Yokohama AVID ENVigor, couldn't match the others on both surfaces. It provided a considerably lower level of acceleration, braking and cornering traction. To see how Dunlop's aggressive tread pattern paid a dividend in the snow, read "Testing High Performance All-Season Tires."
Eco-Focused Crossover/SUV Touring All-Season Test
Amongst the Bridgestone Dueler H/L 422 Ecopia, Continental CrossContact LX20 with EcoPlus Technology and the Goodyear Assurance CS Fuel Max, the Bridgestone did the best in the snow with the Goodyear coming in next. When it came to braking on the ice, Goodyear's Assurance CS Fuel Max edged out the Bridgestone Dueler H/L 422 Ecopia. The Continental CrossContact LX20 with EcoPlus Technology was fairly easy to control, but showed somewhat lower overall traction than the other two.
Goodyear Assurance TripleTred All-Season Introductory Comparison Test
In assessing the General AltiMAX HP, Goodyear Assurance TripleTred All-Season, Hankook Optimo H727 and Michelin HydroEdge with Green X, the Hankook Optimo H727 performed the best in snow and on ice. It was rather impressive in the snow, delivering very good overall traction and predictable handling. To view results from our test, take a look at "Testing the Goodyear Assurance TripleTred All-Season."
In the United States, Volvo made a big change to their game plan by discontinuing the V70 station wagon to focus on the XC70 Cross Country and XC90.
XC90 drivers like the fact they're getting the combination of safety and versatility in an SUV. If there's one quibble, it's a pattern of very average tire wear. Perhaps it's a combination of a higher center gravity and suspension dynamics, but whatever the root causes, many SUV/CUV vehicles wear their tires markedly faster compared to a sedan of similar mass. Therefore, XC90 drivers should also look at wear relative to cost so they can lower their treadwear cost per mile.
Be sure to check your tire size as Volvo used both 235/65R17 and 235/60R18 as Original Equipment. The best choice for your vehicle will depend on the weather conditions you encounter. If you're running the 235/65R17 size and need an all-season option to use year-round, consider the following options:
General Grabber HTS
Bridgestone Dueler H/L 422 Ecopia $158*
Goodyear Assurance CS TripleTred All-Season $169*
The General Grabber HTS stands out to me because of its wet grip capabilities. It was designed to combine style, comfort, durability and performance in a tire that offers pleasant road manners and a long life, in addition to year-round traction, including in light snow.
When testing the Bridgestone Dueler H/L422 Ecopia, I found it to offer average traction in wet conditions. The tire does provide handling and comfort with a reduced environmental impact. Dueler H/L 422 Ecopia tires are designed to enhance vehicle fuel economy by reducing tire rolling resistance along with the vehicle's carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions while delivering year-round all-season traction.
Goodyear's Assurance CS TripleTred All-Season's predecessor, the Fortera TripleTred, was successfully used by many Snowbelt drivers. This newer model displayed good emergency handling and decent wet grip during our tests. CS TripleTred All-Season tires feature three unique zones designed to provide all-season traction in dry, wet and wintry conditions.
Installing a set of winter / snow tires is the best option if you experience harsh winter conditions. If you reside in an area where all-season tires are what you need, keep these three options in mind as you search for a combination of treadwear, road manners, wet grip and light snow grip. Getting the right tire will help make your XC90 that much safer.
*Prices subject to change
New Contender in the Grand Touring All-Season Class: Continental's PureContact with EcoPlus Technology
100 meters in 9.63 seconds, that was Usain Bolt's winning time at the 2012 Olympics. This is approximately 1.2 seconds faster than the winning time in 1912. How did we become this much faster in 100 years? Well, competition definitely played a part. The better the competition, the harder athletes work to reach the top. Just like athletes, tire manufacturers are constantly challenging one another. They're always looking for ways to improve grip, efficiency, ride compliance, tread noise, treadwear and a myriad of other traits.
Recently, we tested some new competitors in the Grand Touring All-Season class. We compared the Bridgestone Turanza Serenity Plus (replacement for the Turanza Serenity), Yokohama AVID Ascend (H- or V-Speed Rated), Continental PureContact with EcoPlus Technology, along with Michelin's Primacy MXV4.
All four tires offer good ride compliance and low tread noise, however we noticed variations in the wet grip portion of our testing. The new Continental PureContact with EcoPlus Technology excelled on the wet track. It stopped 8 feet shorter than the second place finish of the Bridgestone Turanza Serenity Plus. Overall, the tire bested its competitors across the board in wet cornering grip, slalom time and wet lap time.
I view wet traction as the most important differentiator between average and great tires. Most tires are competent enough in the dry so that dry grip variances aren't felt in day-to-day use. Wet grip differences will be noticeable as a less effective tire slips and spins on wet surfaces.
Given its stellar wet performance, I feel that the Continental PureContact with EcoPlus Technology is our best Grand Touring All-Season tire. Although our official test report found the PureContact somewhat lacking in ride compliance, I personally didn't feel a significant deficiency during my time testing the tire. The bottom line is that the tire is a great choice in a very competitive field.
To see how our testing of these tires went this summer, watch "Testing Grand Touring All-Season Tires."
Have you been waiting for a new Accord? Well it's time to visit your Honda dealer because the new 2013 Honda Accord is in town.
Honda's done a great job with both the Accord Coupe and Sedan. I love how they've tweaked the styling on the Coupe, but still maintained its aggressive sporty look. If you've recently picked up a new Accord, your next step is to make sure your new Honda is ready for winter.
Winter / Snow Tire Sizes
Depending on trim level, your Accord Sedan's Original Equipment size will consist of one of the following sizes (model in parenthesis):
The standard Coupe is equipped with 215/55R17 tires.
When it comes time to purchase your winter / snow tires, what size should you get? Every driver's situation and preferences will vary, but a 215 width tire is narrow enough to cut through moderate and deep snow, yet wide enough to handle hard-packed snow, ice and dry roads.
Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS)
Honda has changed over to the indirect ABS-based TPMS sensor so you don' t have to worry about adding and initializing direct TPMS sensors when you change wheels.
Studless Ice & Snow Winter / Snow Tire & Wheel Package
I feel that the optimum Studless Ice & Snow combination for most drivers is a set of 215/60R16 Michelin X-Ice Xi3s on 16x6.5 50mm offset black painted steel wheels with wheel covers at $813* plus shipping. The X-Ice Xi3 offers a good combination of ice grip with dry road handling. Also, most sizes of the tire meet Michelin's Green X standard for low rolling resistance. This confirms the tire's contribution to reducing vehicle fuel consumption and emissions of CO2 gases.
215/60R16 Michelin X-Ice
16x6.5 50mm Offset Black Painted Steel Wheel $58*
Performance Winter / Snow Tire & Wheel Package
For a great tire and wheel combination using a Performance Winter / Snow tire, consider the 215/55R17 Dunlop SP Winter Sport 3D on 17x7.5 45mm offset silver or black painted MSW Type 22 wheels at $1100* plus shipping. The Winter Sport 3D's tread design handles the deep snow, but the larger outside shoulder tread blocks allow a spirited driver to enjoy his/her Accord on better days.
215/55R17 Dunlop SP Winter Sport
17x7.5 45mm Offset Silver Painted MSW Type 22 $108*
2013 Honda Accord FAQ:
I see two black painted steel wheels available, which one should I purchase? Select the 50mm offset version that's closer to your Original Equipment wheel's offset. The other option is 6.5" wide with 42mm offset. For reference, the Original Equipment 17" wheel is 7.5" wide with a 55mm offset.
The description of the 215/55R17 Dunlop SP Winter Sport 3D says "AO Audi", what does this mean? It means this tire is Audi's generic winter / snow tire suggestion. Audi feels the Winter Sport 3D's dry road ability matches up well with the handling capabilities of an Audi. However, this tire works well on a wide variety of sporty vehicles.
- I live out in the country and need a skinnier tire size for more emphasis on deep snow traction, what size should I run? I would suggest 205/65R16.
*Prices subject to change
For sports car owners in a large portion of the country, it's time to purchase winter / snow tires. Dedicated snow tires are obviously the optimum choice for the months we experience cold, icy and snowy weather. However, what if you reside on the borders of the Snowbelt? Then you may want to consider an Ultra High Performance All-Season tire. Exact differences will vary between tires, but compared to Ultra High Performance Summer tires, most Ultra High Performance All-Season tires will trade off some wet and dry grip and steering response to provide basic light snow traction.
There's a new option in the category that's worth a look, Goodyear's Eagle F1 Asymmetric All-Season. Compared to the other Ultra High Performance All-Season tires I've tested, this tire does a great job in combining all-season capability with good steering response. I really felt a difference when I drove through the five-cone slalom at the south end of our test track. From my standpoint, this tire allowed us to retain a fair amount of our F30 test cars' handling. It'll provide versatility on a fall day that starts out nice and sunny, but has the potential to worsen.
During our test of the tire this summer, we liked the tire's crisp steering feel and ultimate traction. When it came to improvements, we thought the ride could have been a little softer. All in all, the Goodyear Eagle F1 Asymmetric All-Season is a very sporty Ultra High Performance All-Season tire. Complete test results won't be completed until next year when we get the chance to test the tire in winter conditions.
What we do know is that the previous Goodyear Eagle F1 All Season needed a modest improvement in snow traction to push the tire to the front of the category in winter conditions and replace the leading Continental ExtremeContact DWS, which sets the standard in light snow and ice traction. Be sure to check back to see if its replacement, the Goodyear Eagle F1 Asymmetric All-Season, becomes the new leader.
In order to purchase the correct winter / snow tire, you should decide which performance category works best for your driving style and the winter weather you experience. The three major categories are: Studless Ice & Snow, Studdable Winter / Snow and Performance Winter / Snow.
Studless Ice & Snow tires give you optimum ice and packed snow grip, but are less responsive on dry roads. The tires trade a little handling for excellent ice and snow traction. On the dry roads, your vehicle will not respond as crisply or quickly to steering inputs.
Studdable Winter / Snow tires can be run studded or unstudded. When studded, they'll give comparable ice and packed snow grip but will be less responsive on dry roads. When unstudded, they'll perform well in moderate and deep snow. It's important to note that the use of studded tires may be prohibited or restricted in your area, be sure to check with local authorities to confirm legality.
Performance Winter / Snow tires will exhibit the above dry-road deficiencies to a much lesser degree. If your vehicle came with summer performance tires, the Performance Winter / Snow tires will be more comparable in steering response, acceleration, grip, braking and cornering grip. They'll give up some ice and packed snow grip. Tires in this category will wear slightly better compared to Studless Ice & Snow tires, especially during the early and late winter days when temperatures are a little warmer. All snow tires will have more tread noise and this will vary from tire to tire. Performance Winter / Snow tires do tend to be quieter than the other performance categories.
Studless Ice & Snow tires tend to be available in higher profile sizes and include the following:
- Bridgestone Blizzak WS70
- Michelin X-Ice Xi3
- Continental ExtremeWinterContact
- Goodyear Ultra Grip Ice WRT
- Dunlop Graspic DS-3
If you go with a Studless Ice and Snow tire, you should consider going with a narrower tire as it cuts through deeper snow better. This is especially true for a lighter car like the MINI Cooper.
Looking for the traditional security of winter tire studs for enhanced traction on ice? Consider the following Studdable Winter / Snow options:
The AltiMAX Arctic is slightly better on ice and packed snow and quieter than the the Winterforce. Winterforce tires will provide more effectiveness in deeper snow.
Available in lower profile sizes, the following Performance Winter / Snow tires are worth a look:
- Dunlop SP Winter Sport 3D
- Pirelli Winter Snowsport
- Michelin Pilot Alpin PA4
- Bridgestone Blizzak LM-60
Is a Studless Ice & Snow, Studdable Winter / Snow or a Performance Winter / Snow tire right for your vehicle? It depends on your car, where you live, how you drive on dry roads and how you want to balance the above compromises.
For example, my brother lives in Marion, Indiana, which is about an hour northeast of Indianapolis. He got the Blizzak WS60 Studless Ice & Snow in 235/40R18 on Sport Edition A7 wheels for his 2008 BMW M3. He chose this tire because central Indiana is more apt to get ice storms and there's the potential for heavier snow that wouldn't be quickly cleared from the country roads between his offices. He's willing to drive slower on dry roads.
Compare my brother's driving situation with another driver from Louisville with the same car but a heavier foot, he would be better served with the Performance Winter / Snow Dunlop SP Winter Sport 3D tires in 235/40R18 front and 255/40R18 rear. Louisville's milder weather allows him to emphasize dry road performance, but still have emergency snow capability.
Let it snow.
As your researching tires for your 911, Cayman or Boxster, you may come across N-0 designated tires. Tires may be specified for a particular vehicle or range of vehicles and must successfully pass the tire company's laboratory tests to assure they would be capable of supporting the Porsche vehicle while allowing it to reach its top speed on Germany's Autobahn. Additional tests are conducted to confirm prototype tires meet Porsche's noise, hydroplaning and handling requirements. These tires will also be evaluated to assess their high-speed durability, uniformity and serviceability. Production tires that have passed all the tests and received the engineering department's release can be branded with an N-specification.
Working with the tire manufacturers allows Porsche to have tires on their vehicles that help them steer, brake and accelerates the way they intended. Porsche and the manufacturers also use the tires to tune the chassis' overall understeer/oversteer bias to avoid a fishtail (oversteer) or excessive push (understeer).
That's where the N-Spec designation comes into play. It's critical that you match your front and rear tires so proper handling is retained. On your Porsche, rear tires will typically wear out sooner, so it's common to need replacement tires for the rear axle only. In addition to the brand and model, look on the tire's sidewall to see which N-specification is used on the tire: N-0, N-1, N-2, N-3 or N-4. These markings clearly identify them as approved by Porsche for their vehicles. You'll want to make sure your current front tires match the new rears you're purchasing.
For example, when looking to replace 18" tires on a 2008 Porsche 911 Carrera be sure to check your current tires to verify size as the vehicle also was available in a 19" wheel option. If you have Bridgestone Potenza RE050A N-0 tires on the front with plenty of service life left in them, then look at the matching tire in a 265/40R18 size for the rear.
For more information on Porsche tires, read "Porsche N-Specification Tire Approvals."
It has all the traits of my ideal car: weighs less than 3,000 lbs., handles great, seats four people if needed and priced around $25,000 (pretty close, I paid $26,680).
My final requirement was that it's got to be quick. How fast is fast enough? A six-something 0-60 is all I need. It's all relative, so if we're comparing the BRZ against the Dodge Challenger SRT8, then yes, by that comparison it's underpowered. However, in the real world, the BRZ is plenty quick for most drivers.
As one of my earlier posts stated,the FT-86 can definitely use some better tires for even crisper steering and improved dry grip. I'm actually a little surprised at how firm the car rides. The car definitely rides harder than my old Prelude SH, so I'm inclined to change the tires to the smoothest Extreme Performance Summer tire, the Bridgestone Potenza RE-11.
215/45R17 Bridgestone Potenza RE-11
225/45R17 Bridgestone Potenza RE-11
The optimum size for a BRZ or Scion FR-S running the 7" wide 48mm offset Original Equipment wheels is 215/45R17 because compared to 225/45R17 it provides better steering response and gearing. I'll probably run 225/45R17 because it's a very common tire size. I like to run common sizes so I can get seat time with different tires.
If there's one vehicle that brought the sport utility vehicle (SUV) into the mainstream, it was the Ford Explorer. As gas prices have risen, CUVs have gradually been overtaking the SUV as a popular option. Therefore, Ford has been busy manufacturing the new 2013 Ford Escape CUV.
From the photo above, you can tell Ford has done a great job with the new Escape. Depending on engine choice and trim level, the 2013 Escape wheel choices range from 17" steel wheels to 19" alloys. The Escape is simply too good looking of a vehicle to spend its life on drab steel wheels. If your new Escape came with Original Equipment steel wheels, consider new 17" alloys.
Tire Rack offers a large variety of choices so you're bound to find something you like. There's one wheel that really stands out as a great match for the new Escape's smooth, organic and modern styling, the Rial Catania.
Whether you go with the Catania or something different, you'll improve on the basic steel wheels. What's the end result? A better looking Escape, of course!
I got the check today! Someone from Tennessee is buying my 1998 Honda Prelude SH, my third 5th-generation Prelude. I love the vehicle's styling - I see it as modern interpretation of the Avanti II.
Prelude drivers are an eclectic bunch. Most love the Prelude for its combination of styling, durability, longevity and overall handling. Back in the day, the Prelude SH was deemed the "Best Handling Car" under $30,000. So when it's time to get tires for your fifth-generation Prelude, make sure you pick the right ones.
Fifth-Generation (1997-2001) Honda Prelude 205/50R16 Summer Tires:
If you're in a warmer climate and absolutely love driving curvy roads and put relatively low miles on your Prelude, then consider the following options: Dunlop Direzza Z1 Star Spec, BFGoodrich g-Force Sport COMP-2 and the Bridgestone Potenza RE760 Sport.
205/50R16 Dunlop Direzza Z1 Star Spec
205/50R16 BFGoodrich g-Force Sport COMP-2
205/50R16 Bridgestone Potenza RE760 Sport
- When I sold the vehicle, I had the Dunlop Direzza Z1 Star Specs installed on the car. I love its dry grip, steering response and adequate wet grip for the category. What is the tire's weakness? The noticeable tread noise and somewhat rough ride on bad roads.
- Compared to the Z1 Star Spec, the BFGoodrich g-Force Sport COMP-2 offers less dry grip, better wet grip and slightly better road manners.
- Relative to the COMP-2, the Bridgestone Potenza RE760 Sport offers better ride compliance, a slightly less crisp steering response, less tread noise and a non-directional tread pattern. This non-directional tread design allows for rotation in an "X-Pattern" to avoid noisy heel-and-toe wear.
Fifth-Generation (1997-2001) Honda Prelude 205/50R16 All-Season Tires:
The fifth-generation Prelude's low ground clearance makes it less then ideal for the Snowbelt region. If you prefer an all-season tire for light snow traction and/or better wear, and are willing to give up some dry grip and steering response, then consider these Ultra High Performance All-Season tires: Kumho Ecsta 4X, Continental ExtremeContact DWS and General G-MAX AS-03.
205/50R16 Continental ExtremeContact DWS
205/50R16 General G-MAX AS-03
- The Kumho Ecsta 4X provides crisp steering response for its category, decent dry grip and good wet traction. What are the concerns for this tire in the Snowbelt? It's unproven in the snow, and its predecessor, the Kumho Ecsta ASX, was average in light snow conditions.
- Continental ExtremeContact DWS tires offer similar strengths with good snow traction, but after driving on the Ecsta 4X and the ExtremeContact DWS in separate comparison tests, the Kumho Ecsta 4X has a little crisper steering response.
- With a good steering response, the General G-MAX AS-03 provides less dry grip when compared to the Kumho Ecsta 4X and less snow grip compared to the Continental ExtremeContact DWS.
With so many great options to choose from, I'll definitely miss being a Prelude owner!