I snagged a bunch of winter tire info from TIRERACK.com and searched for a list of snow - winter - all season - and HP all season tires with prices.
ALL TIRES IN 225/55 R16
|Pirelli||P4000 Super Tour||HR||Touring||
|Pirelli||P4000 Super Tour||VR||Touring||
|Dunlop||Winter Sport M2||HR||Winter||
|Pirelli||Winter 210 Asim||HR||Winter||
|BFGoodrich||Comp T/A HR4-2||HR||HP-All Season||
|Goodyear||Eagle GT+4||VR||HP-All Season||
|Goodyear||Eagle RS-A||HR||HP-All Season||
|Goodyear||Eagle RS-A||ZR||HP-All Season||
|Pirelli||P600 M+S||HR||HP-All Season||
|Yokohama||Avid V4||VR||HP-All Season||
|Dunlop||SP Sport 2000||ZR||Per-All Season||
|Dunlop||SP Sport 2000||ZR||Per-All Season||
|BFGoodrich||Comp T/A VR4||VR||UHP-All Season||
|BFGoodrich||Comp T/A ZR4||ZR||UHP-All Season||
|Bridgestone||Potenza R940||ZR||UHP-All Season||
|Dunlop||SP Sport 4000 A/S||ZR||UHP-All Season||
|Firestone||Firehawk SVX||ZR||UHP-All Season||
|Michelin||Pilot XGT H4||HR||UHP-All Season||
|Michelin||Pilot XGT Z4 P||ZR||UHP-All Season||
|Pirelli||P7000 Supersport||ZR||UHP-All Season||
|Yokohama||AVS S4-Z||ZR||UHP-All Season||
In 1996, three major tire manufacturers introduced Ultra High Performance All-Season (UHPAS) or all-weather tires in North America. These new tires are the Michelin Pilot XGT Z4, Pirelli P7000 SuperSport, and Yokohama AVS S4 - Z. By definition, Ultra High Performance All-Season tires are for the drivers who want low profile high speed performance tires for their vehicle, and are willing to trade a little handling and steering response for some all-season versatility and light snow traction. Typically these tires feature tread designs that provide more biting edges, and tread compounds that remain more flexible in cold weather for enhanced snow traction than Ultra High Performance Summer tires.
It is important to remember that because of the typical low profile sizes and wide tread faces of all of these tires, they are best suited to the drivers who live in the southern portion of the snow belt and/or only encounter light snow because all of these tires have to "plow" a wide path through the snow.
The Pirelli P7000 SuperSport was the first of these tires to be introduced and features a tread design derived from Pirelli tires used in the World Rally Championship. Since international rally rules now restrict the number of opportunities to change tires, additional emphasis is being placed on developing tires that offer more performance over a wider array of conditions. While in our previous test track evaluation, the P7000 SuperSport's big block directional tread design was credited for providing responsive and predictable wet and dry handling, those same tread features usually reduce snow traction.
The Pilot XGT Z4 (and Pilot XGT V4) are Michelin's first UHPAS tires to carry the Pilot performance tire family name. Developed to be the tires that resolve many of the traditional tradeoffs between dry road performance and poor-weather grip, the Pilot XGTs are designed to let the driver drive harder while the tires live longer. On the test track the Pilot XGT Z4 provided predictable handling, but offered just a little less steering response than the P7000 SuperSports. Some of the slightly slower steering response is due to the Pilot XGT Z4's directional tread design that is made up of more numerous, smaller, heavily siped tread blocks that typically provide better winter time snow traction.
The Yokohama AVS S4-Z (and AVS S4-V) are Yokohama's new UHPAS tires in their AVS (Advanced Vehicle System) lineup. The AVS S4-Z features two large circumferential channels to reduce hydroplaning and enhance wet traction along with a directional tread design that, like the Michelin tires, incorporates numerous, smaller, heavily siped tread blocks that typically provide better winter time snow traction. On the test track the Yokohama AVS S4-Z provided predictable handling and steering response that is similar to the Pilot XGT Z4.
|The Tire Rack Ride & Drive||Tire Evaluation Categories||Michelin Pilot XGT Z4 225/50ZR16 16x7.5 wheels||Pirelli P7000 SuperSport 225/50ZR16 16x7.5 wheels||Yokohama AVS S4-Z 225/50ZR16 16x7.5 wheels|
|Real World Road Ride||Ride Comfort||7.2||7.3||7.6|
|Tires Overall Grade||7.2||7.6||7.5|
During the past few years many tire manufacturers have introduced Ultra High Performance All-Season tires for sports cars, coupes and sedans that use high speed rated, low profile tires. The intent of the tire manufacturers is to combine acceptable slush, snow and ice traction with good handling and high speed capability. However unlike the typically narrower all-season passenger tires for standard sedans, the ultra high performance tire sizes wider tread widths and the high speed, high temperature tread compounds they feature prevents them from approaching the snow performance of dedicated winter tires. Therefore, they are only a good choice for the drivers that will only face a limited ammount of snow due to their location, quality of local snow removal, or have access to the family Sport Utility Vehicle during times of inclement weather. However, if your driving conditions don't include any snow but wet traction is important, you will probably be better served by Ultra High Performance Tires (non-all-season).
AVS S4-Z - Ultra High Performance All-Season
The new Yokohama AVS S4-Z (AVS = Advanced Vehicle System) was developed for the North American market and features a directional tread design made up of numerous small blocks to provide slush and snow traction. It also features two extra wide circumferential grooves to provide wet traction and hydroplaning resistance. Its internal construction places emphasis on ride comfort by featuring a polyester cord body, and single steel ply + single aramid ply belt package in place of the traditional two steel belts. While this helps provide some of the touring tire type ride traits desired for this tire, it is a little slower to respond and can't quite equal the other tires' handling qualities. The AVS S4-Z is expected to offer average to better than average slush and snow traction.
P7000 SuperSport - Ultra High Performance All-Season
The Pirelli P7000 SuperSports features a competition inspired directional tread design developed for the tires used in the Monte Carlo Rally. The P7000's unique combination of circumferential, diagional and radial grooves in its tread design provides very sporty wet & dry traction and handling. First tested at its introduction in '95, the Pirelli P7000 SuperSports's high marks for ride quality and low noise were reconfirmed in this evaluation. Of the tires tested in this evaluation, the Pirelli P7000 SuperSports is felt to have the least snow traction potential.
SP Sport 4000 A/S - Ultra High Performance All-Season
The Dunlop SP Sport 4000 A/S features
an symmetric block tread design which allows a standard tire rotation capability
not available from the directional tires. This may help reduce the SP Sport
4000 A/S tire's worn noise level and add extra miles to its treadwear.
While the SP Sport 4000 A/S can't quite match the other tires for ride
comfort and new noise level, it does provide very good wet & dry handling
and better than average snow traction.
|The Tire Rack Ride & Drive||Tire Evaluation Categories||Yokohama AVS S4-Z 225/50ZR16 16x7.5 wheels||Pirelli P7000 SuperSport 225/50ZR16 16x7.5 wheels||Dunlop SP Sport 4000 A/S 225/50ZR16 16x7.5 wheels|
|Tires Overall Grade||7.5||7.7||7.1|
Many of the drivers who live in the snow belt have chosen to run dedicated "snow & ice" tires during winter, and "three season" tires for spring, summer, and fall. This provides them with the best tires for their conditions all year round. However there are also drivers who live at the edge of the snowbelt and usually experience mild winters and light snow. These are the drivers that all season tires are best suited to.
Compared to a three season tire, all season tires require significant tread design and tread compound changes to be effective in slush and light snow. The tread requires more biting edges to provide grip, and this is usually accomplished by dividing it into more numerous, slightly smaller blocks, and by adding sipes (narrow slits in the tread blocks). The tire's tread compound must remain more pliably in colder temperatures to be capably of interlocking with the road's "frozen" surface.
This evaluation tested one new tire, the Bridgestone Eager, along with two other popular tires, the Bridgestone Potenza RE930 and the Dunlop D60 A2. Each tire was tested in the BMW 325i's original equipment 205/60HR15 size.
Bridgestone Eager - The new Eager tire was originally developed as an entry level (i.e., a lower priced) three season H-speed rated performance tire. However the demand for all season flexibility in America convinced Bridgestone to modify the tire before its U.S. introduction to meet traditional all season standards. The Eager features a tread design with grooves that eject water with a side-to-rear-spray to help reduce the risk of hydroplaning and large shoulder blocks for cornering traction (however the Eager's large blocks and limited siping reduce slush and snow grip).
On the road the Eager delivered good ride and noise comfort, but couldn't match the light handling responsiveness of the other tires. On the track the Eager tires made the BMW tossable and invited large steering angles to extract their full potential, but couldn't match the speed and precision of the other tires. While we have not had a chance to evaluate the new Eager in winter conditions yet, we feel that its tread design will limit it to drivers who will only rarely encounter slush and snow.
Bridgestone Potenza RE930 - The Potenza RE930 is Bridgestone's H-speed rated all season performance tire that is priced a little higher (10% - 15%) than the Eager. The Potenza RE930 also features a tread design with grooves that eject water with a side-to-rear-spray to help reduce the risk of hydroplaning and wide shoulder blocks to help provide cornering traction (however, there are more blocks around the tire's circumference to help provide more slush and snow traction).
On the road the Potenza RE930 was the most quiet and comfortable of the three tires, and had light handling traits that were preferred as well. On the track the Potenza RE930 performed well, finishing between the Eager and the D60 A2 W/JLB. Overall the Potenza RE930's combined ratings were the best of the group. And that doesn't take into account the RE930's warranty strengths. The RE930 is backed by Bridgestone's 30 Day Test Drive (a 30 day money back customer satisfaction guarantee) and Platinum Pact Free Replacement Warranty if the tire needs to be removed from service due to defects in materials or workmanship for up to 5 years.
Dunlop D60 A2 W/JLB - The D60 A2 W/JLB is Dunlop's latest version of their all season high performance tire that won a leading consumer magazine's tire test a few years ago. The "JLB" in the D60 A2 W/JLB refers to the Jointless Band of nylon that is spirally wound around the tire's steel belts to provide high speed capability along with lighter weight and a smoother ride (both Bridgestone tires in this test also feature spiral wrapped belt reinforcement).
While on the road the D60 A2 provided very good ride and noise comfort, it couldn't match the other tire's ability to cushion the impacts of pavement expansion joints and small potholes, and it's real world handling was rated as almost equal to the Potenza RE930. On the track the D60 A2 W/JLB's responsiveness handling and traction was praised for providing the sportiest feel and fastest lap times. Overall the D60 A2's combined rating places it between the other two tires in this evaluation.
|REAL WORLD ROAD RIDE RATINGS|
HP "All Season"
HP All Season
HP All Season
|PERFORMANCE TEST TRACK DRIVE RATINGS|
|PERFORMANCE TEST TRACK DRIVE LAP TIMES|
|Dry Track (Seconds)||32.92||32.52||32.22|
Winter's worst driving conditions are not when the roads are covered by snow...but when they are coated with ice. And because ice offers so little traction (about half that of snow) it usually means its white knuckle time for the driver during every moment behind the wheel. An early solution to providing more ice traction was by inserting metal studs designed to chip into the ice for more grip. Unfortunately, studded tires also wear ruts in the road surface which collect rain in summer and increase the risk of hydroplaning. Because of this damage studded tires have become restricted or prohibited in many states.
In 1993, a new type of winter tire was introduced...a studless winter tire. Immediately following its introduction, it repeatedly proved its ice and snow traction superiority over the typical all season tires used as original equipment on cars and light trucks in North America. By featuring a relatively aggressive, deep tread design and new type of tread compound, it came amazingly close to providing the snow and ice traction of a studded winter tire without having to accept the extra noise and rough ride quality associated with studded tires. This tire was the Bridgestone Blizzak WS-15 and since its introduction it has become our most popular winter tire.
In time for the winter of 1998, Bridgestone has introduced a companion to the original Blizzak WS-15, the new Blizzak MZ-02. In addition, Michelin has introduced their new Arctic-Alpin (the successor to their XM+S Alpin). To get a better understanding of how these new winter tires compare to the original Blizzak WS-15, we conducted a real world road ride and an ice rink test drive of the three studless winter tires in the 215/60R16 size using 1998 Lexus GS300 test cars equipped with traction control, yaw control and ABS brakes.
Bridgestone Blizzak WS-15 - The Blizzak WS-15 was designed to bite through snow and stick to ice. Since its introduction it has received favorable reviews from both the media and driving public who have experienced its balance of snow and ice traction. Documented tests show it provides a demonstrable difference on ice where at just 30 mph it stopped a car 35 feet shorter than all-season tires.
The Blizzak WS-15 features an interlocking tread design made up of nine "rows" of relatively small tread blocks, and features thousands of lateral Tracpoint tread sipes to provide additional biting edges to dig into snow. It also features a Multicell tread compound which has millions of micro-pores (under a powerful microscope it looks a lot like a block of swiss cheese) to help eliminate the traction reducing thin film of water that forms between the ice and a rolling or spinning tire.
Starting with 13/32" of tread depth, the Blizzak WS-15 winter tire's Multicell compound is used for the top 55% of the tire's tread depth (down to about 6/32" of remaining tread depth) while an all season compound is used for the remaining 45%. While using two layers of tread compound may seem unusual, as every tire wears it gradually looses the tread depth required to effectively remove large amounts of snow. Because of this, we recommend replacing winter tires used in moderate to deep snow when approximately 5/32" to 6/32" of tread depth remains. Our experience indicates that the Blizzak WS-15's Multicell tread compound will typically provide about 15,000 to 20,000 miles of winter driving (usually 3 to 4 winters for most drivers). Once the Blizzak WS-15 has worn below 6/32" of remaining tread depth, the all season tread compound molded under the Multicell compound can continue to be run for an additional 10,000 miles during the following spring, summer and fall.
Blizzak winter tires should be installed in late fall and removed in early spring in order to maximize their winter life. The Bridgestone Blizzak WS-15 is available in sizes for many imported and domestic cars, vans and light truck vehicles. All sizes are Q-speed rated and most feature blackwall styling while light truck sizes also offer outline white letters.
In this test, the Blizzak WS-15 provided the benchmark for the other two new studless tires to meet or beat. On the road the Blizzak WS-15 provided good ride qualities, and while a relatively quiet member of the winter tire category, it was a little noisier than the other two tires. Additionally, while the Blizzak WS-15 offered predictable real world handling, it couldn't match the responsiveness provided by the two new studless winter tires in this test. At the ice rink, the Blizzak WS-15 again provided all of the ice performance that we have come to expect. Its acceleration, braking and cornering grip provided ice driving confidence and far exceeded the capabilities of all season tires and standard winter tires. While this test didn't include packed or deep snow traction, the Blizzak WS-15's snow traction performance has earned it a loyal following.
Bridgestone Blizzak MZ-02 - Bridgestone has developed their next generation Blizzak MZ-02 studless winter tire to provide even more traction when winter roads are at their best (dry) and at their worst (coated with ice). The Blizzak MZ-02 features UNI-T, Bridgestone's Ultimate Network of Intelligent Tire Technology which is a comprehensive combination of tire design and manufacturing methods that integrates everything from the tire's casing design to its tread compound.
The Blizzak MZ-02 features a tread design made up of a total of six "ribs" (four of which, the shoulder and intermediate ribs, are moderately sized, independent tread blocks which flank the two continuous circumferential center ribs) and features thousands of offset zig-zag tread sipes to enhance ice traction while increasing tread block stiffness for dry road handling. The Blizzak MZ-02 also features a new Multicell tread compound which in addition to the original Blizzak WS-15's micro-pores features radical new circumferential micro-channels which provide even more efficient drainage as it helps eliminate the thin film of water that forms as tires run over ice.
Starting with 12/32" of tread depth, the Blizzak MZ-02's new Multicell compound makes up the top 55% of the tire's tread depth (also down to about 6/32" of remaining tread depth) while an all season compound is again used for the remaining 45%. Based on Bridgestone's treadwear tests (and 1/32" less starting tread depth than the Blizzak WS-15) we expect that the new Blizzak MZ-02 will provide about 14,000 to 19,000 Multicell miles of winter driving (still 3 to 4 winters for most drivers) with a final 10,000 all season miles after it wears below 6/32" of remaining tread depth.
The Bridgestone Blizzak MZ-02 uses a new tread design and compound technology to provide drivers with outstanding ice performance and is available in sizes for many imported and domestic cars and vans. All sizes feature blackwall styling and are Q-speed rated.
On the road the Blizzak MZ-02 was praised for its improvements over the original Blizzak WS-15. It proved to be a bit quieter, more comfortable riding, and more stable and responsive in real world handling situations. At the ice rink, the Blizzak MZ-02's performance proved that it was the best balanced tire on the ice. It consistently finished slightly ahead of the new Arctic-Alpin and the original Blizzak WS-15 in both straight line and cornering performance. Again, this test didn't include packed or deep snow traction, but Bridgestone's testing indicates that the new Blizzak MZ-02 was able to make the dry road handling and ice traction improvements with a very slight reduction in deep snow traction.
Michelin Arctic-Alpin - The Arctic-Alpin is designed to provide drivers with the same driving confidence in winter that they get from riding on Michelin tires the rest of the year. Michelin engineers eliminated the typical noisy, knobby tread patterns, and replaced them with a high-contact tread design which provides enhanced responsiveness on dry roads along with traction on ice and hard packed snow.
Starting with a wide, dense and directional five rib tread design, the Arctic-Alpin features self-cleaning circumferential arrowhead shaped grooves that continuously trap and release loose snow and slush with every tire revolution. Then more than a thousand of Michelin's patented torque-locking sipes not only provide nearly 180 feet of flexible, grabbing lateral edges per tire for traction on packed snow and ice...but they also interlock for rigidity to provide more responsive handling when the vehicle is driving on dry roads. And finally, Michelin has developed a unique rubber compound which maintains unusual compliance to retain its grip in freezing temperatures and is used for the full 10/32" depth of the Arctic-Alpin's tread design.
The Michelin Arctic-Alpin uses a new tread design and compound technology to provide drivers with good dry road performance along with excellent packed snow and ice traction. The Arctic-Alpin is available in sizes for many cars and vans. All sizes feature blackwall styling and are Q-speed rated.
On the road the Arctic-Alpin was acknowledged for its comfortable ride, was praised for its noise comfort and for providing the most stable and responsive real world handling of these studless winter tires. As in our recent 2 vs. 4 snow tire test, the Arctic-Alpin studless winter tire showed that when it is used in sets of four, its real world road ride characteristics in dry and wet conditions are very similar to those of today's original equipment all season tires. At the ice rink the Arctic-Alpin equaled the ice traction capabilities of the original Blizzak WS-15 for cornering, and exceeded them in straight line acceleration and braking.
Since today there is a choice between the original and the newest generation of studless winter tires, it allows us to help our customers select the set of tires that most closely match their driving conditions. First, consider your typical and worst driving conditions, and then select the tire that best matches them. Based on this test and our previous experience, we recommend the following tires for the driving conditions identified with them.
The best dry road handling with very good ice traction for urban areas with moderate snowfall, efficient snow removal, and on snow packed down by heavy traffic. Frequent or lengthy winter travel on crowded, dry expressways and/or winding roads.
Bridgestone Blizzak MZ-02
The best ice traction with good snow traction and dry road handling for urban and rural areas with moderate to heavy snowfall, inconsistent snow removal, and on snow packed down by heavy traffic. Frequent or lengthy winter travel on crowded, dry expressways, as well as, on snow covered highways and winding roads.
Bridgestone Blizzak WS-15
The best balance of ice and snow traction
for urban and rural areas with moderate to extreme snowfall, little traffic
and inconsistent snow removal. Frequent or lengthy winter travel on rural
and deep snow covered highways and roads.
RATINGS - DRY
|Real World Handling||5.56||5.94||6.13|
|Overall Road Rating||6.42||6.62||6.69|
Tire manufacturers continually research and develop new technologies which allow their products to better serve their customers. Recent developments have improved both types of tires (all-season and dedicated winter) typically used for winter driving on cars and light duty trucks. This review will provide general information on these tire categories and detailed information on several new Michelin tires.
All-season tires are developed to blend the features required to provide summer performance with those needed for winter traction. Unfortunately this diversity of duties requires all-season tires to be a compromise. In order to provide light snow traction an all-season tire's tread pattern is typically designed with moderately sized, siped tread blocks that provide more snow and ice biting edges than summer tires, and includes tread compounds which remain more flexible in freezing temperatures. The most recent development in all-season tire tread compounds has been the addition of silica (an ultra fine processed sand) which enhances traction in rain, as well as on snow and ice.
While many all-season tires offer acceptable snow traction when they are new, they become less effective as they wear. This is because new all-season tires (which typically start with 9/32" to 10/32" of tread depth) use the open areas of their tread designs (the circumferential and lateral grooves) to trap and release loose snow in order to remove it from under the tire. However as the tire wears it gradually looses the tread depth required to effectively remove large amounts of snow. Because of this, we recommend replacing all-season tires used in snow when approximately 5/32" to 6/32" of tread depth remains.
When driving all-season tires in the snow, patience and anticipation are required. Don't become frustrated when the slippery conditions slow your travel plans. Typically a delicate application of pressure on the accelerator is required to avoid wheelspin in the snow. So try a moderate pace and maintain your vehicle's momentum whenever possible. You may find it especially helpful to cautiously "time" traffic lights so that you catch them when they are green and only have to slow rather than come to a full stop. Also be aware that while an all-season tire's rounded shoulder profile enhances dry road cornering, it does so at the expense of cornering traction on snow covered roads.
Dedicated winter tires are designed to maximize the snow and ice traction that is available. They typically rely on tread patterns that include small heavily siped blocks and tread compounds that remain flexible in sub zero temperatures. Unfortunately in their quest for enhanced ice and snow traction, these features sacrifice some dry road handling. Winter tires (which typically start with 10/32" to 13/32" of tread depth) use their deep tread grooves and more aggressive tread designs to help bite into loose snow to remove it from under the tire. And just like all-season tires, as the winter tire wears it gradually sacrifices the tread depth required for biting into the snow. Because of this we also recommend replacing winter tires used in deep snow when approximately 5/32" to 6/32" of tread depth remains.
Winter tires typically require the driver's patience and moderation when driving on dry roads because they can't match the performance available from summer tires. While providing stopping traction similar to summer tires on dry and wet roads, a winter tire's more aggressive tread designs sacrifice some responsiveness and cornering traction. It is especially important to re-acquaint yourself with the handling qualities of your winter tires when they are installed each fall. Because winter tires provide more traction in snow, you'll find it easier to maintain a comfortable pace and your vehicle's momentum. Slowly increasing your pressure on the accelerator will usually minimize wheelspin when accelerating away from a stop. Also be aware that since winter tires have aggressive tread designs to increase snow traction, they will wear quickly when driven aggressively on dry roads and require that your vehicle have an accurate wheel alignment to maximize their treadlife.
To get a better picture of the original equipment all-season and replacement winter tires available to our customers, we conducted a real world road ride and a test track drive on some of Michelin's newest all-season and dedicated winter tires in the 225/60R16 size using our Lexus GS300 test cars.
Michelin Energy MXV4 Plus - Every tire engineer will confirm that it's relatively easy to develop a tire which is designed to excel in any single area, yet it is almost impossible to build a tire which improves all areas at once. With the new Energy MXV4 Plus, Michelin engineers have improved a dozen performance, handling and comfort perimeters without the traditional tradeoffs.
The Energy MXV4 Plus is an "all-season luxury performance touring tire" (we categorize them as Grand Touring) for both original equipment and replacement tire markets. Incorporating an advanced version of Michelin's Radial XSE Technology (which consists of a "Smart Tread Compound, Optimized Casing Shape and Optimized Mass Distribution), the Energy MXV4 Plus offers more performance than the original Energy MXV4 in every category.
On the outside, the Energy MXV4 Plus features a new 7-rib tread design (Energy MXV4 tires typically had 4) which provides more grooves to enhance foul weather traction. It also incorporates offset shoulder and diagonal intermediate blocks that are designed to "flow" through the contact patch for a quiet ride. On the inside, the Energy MXV4 Plus features a rounded casing shape to provide predictable handling, and has been optimized to equalize the tire's footprint pressure to extend its tread life. BAZ Technology (spiral wrapped nylon Banded At Zero degrees) reinforces the Energy MXV4 Plus' twin steel belts to provide high speed durability while it helps maintain ride comfort. Depending on their size and anticipated application, Energy MXV4 Plus tires are H-, or V-speed rated.
On the road the Energy MXV4 Plus was praised for its good ride, low noise and responsive real world handling. On the track it was rated as responsive and predictable while providing very good braking, cornering traction and handling.
Michelin Arctic Alpin - The Arctic Alpin is designed to provide drivers with the same confidence in winter that they get from riding on Michelin tires the rest of the year...and it may change the way you think about winter tires. Michelin engineers have eliminated the typical noisy, knobby tread patterns, and replaced them with a high-contact tread design which provides enhanced responsiveness on dry roads along with great traction on ice and hard packed snow.
Starting with a dense, directional tread design the Arctic Alpin features self-cleaning circumferential arrowhead shaped grooves that continuously trap and release loose snow and slush with every tire revolution. Then over a thousand of Michelin's patented torque-locking sipes not only provide nearly 180 feet of flexible, grabbing edges per tire for traction in snow and on ice...but they also interlock for rigidity to provide more responsive handling when the vehicle is driving on dry roads. Finally, Michelin has developed a unique rubber compound which is used for the full depth of the tread, and maintains unusual compliance to retain its grip in freezing temperatures. Arctic Alpin winter tires are Q-speed rated.
On the road the Arctic Alpin winter tires provided very good ride and noise qualities, and its light handling was rated as close to the Energy MXV4 Plus. However, at its limit on the track, the Arctic Alpin winter tires demonstrated that they could only come close to the Energy MXV4 Plus' performance in straight line stopping distances. Even with more steering input the Arctic Alpin responded slower and could not match the Energy MXV4 Plus's ability to run the test course.
Michelin MXV4 Plus (front) and Arctic Alpin (rear) combination - On the test track at slow speeds, the all-season & winter tire combination seemed almost normal. But as the test speeds increased the only conditions that this combination felt acceptable for was straight line acceleration and braking. We found that when driven to their cornering limit, or during our 40-45 mph lane changes, the winter tires exceed their handling capabilities before the all-season tires and allowed our rear wheel drive Lexus to oversteer uncomfortably. It's also important to realize that the difficulty of controlling a vehicle increases as the speeds climb, so what we felt on our test track at 40 mph is multiplied when driving on the highway at 70 mph. Additionally, if we added a few inches of snow over a layer of ice to this track evaluation, the test vehicle's handling traits would be somewhat reversed. The tires that grip better on dry pavement would slip in the snow, and the tires that slip on dry pavement would provide better grip in the snow. Therefore the handling differences on dry vs. snow covered roads would result in a vehicle that would drive like it had a "split personality" depending on the weather conditions. This isn't a comforting thought since ice and snow covered winter roads are already the slipperiest surfaces that we are likely to drive on each year. While our evaluation conclusively showed why matching tires is desirable to maintain the vehicle's handling balance when it is required to be pushed to its limit, it is also important to remember that our team members had the benefit of knowing the test course and could not be "surprised" into making the mistakes that any driver might make during a real emergency situation on the road.
This is the third year that we have
evaluated the dry road performance impact of combining a pair of new generation
winter tires on the drive axle with a pair of equally sized all-season
tires on the non-driven axle. Two years ago we tested the 205/65R15 size
used on America's most popular family sedan of the day, the front wheel
drive Ford Taurus. Last year we tested low profile 225/50R16 sized tires
to see if their shorter sidewall's would help overcome the differences
between the tires' tread designs and compounds on the rear wheel drive
BMW 325i. And this year we evaluated one of the most popular 60-series
sizes on the rear wheel drive Lexus GS300. While the differences between
the all-season and winter tires have varied in degree only, their overall
impact on limiting the drivers ability to control the vehicle in an emergency
situation or when cornering at the limit remains the same.
Energy MXV4 Plus
and Arctic Alpin
|Overall Road Rating||7.36||6.79||N/A|
|Overall Track Rating||5.98||5.03||3.13|