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Winter Driving Guide

The best new winter tires for 2012-13

Published November 14, 2012

Winter tires continue to improve their all-round performance. They are no longer excessively noisy, they don’t wobble in corners, and they actually drive like normal tires on cold bare pavement.

So as temperatures drop, if you want to keep driving with an easy mind, switch to winter tires, not snow tires, winter tires. As ambient temperatures drop, a winter tire’s grip level goes up, unlike summer performance tires and all-season tires whose grip lessens.

Assess your personal driving needs and choose a tire that fits your profile. There are new tires this winter in each tire type category.

Michelin X-Ice Xi3

Michelin X-Ice Xi3 is the latest version of a tire designed for ice grip above all else. In addition to regular ice buildup at intersections, black ice is always out there lurking in the shadows. Ice tires have special sipes, or air pockets, that can very quickly suck up moisture created by a car’s pressure on the ice. The water film is what makes ice such a hazard.

Michelin improved the sipe pattern for faster water evacuation out from under the contact patch. As a result, this tire now stops and accelerates better on both snow and ice. There are 15 per cent more tread blocks and it now comes with a 60,000 km treadlife warranty.

Canadian Tire Goodyear Nordic Winter

Canadian Tire has revised their successful Nordic line. It is made by Goodyear exclusively for CTC. The new Nordic stops 28 feet shorter on ice than their original design. At 60 km/h it stops 45 feet shorter than their bestselling all-season tire. The Nordic now has a V-shaped tread pattern like most of the state-of-the-art winter rubber.

Pirelli Scorpion Winter

Pirelli has created a new tire line for SUVs, the Scorpion Winter. It improves over the very competent previous generation tire. Braking distances on snow (50-0 km/h) are improved by 10 per cent, braking on wet pavement (80-0 km/h) is cut by 2.5 metres, and braking distances on dry pavement are cut by 1.7 metres. Go-ahead traction on snow is bettered by 9 per cent.

The Scorpion Winter has reduced its rolling resistance and promises a 4 per cent improvement in fuel consumption. In recent TUV (German Auto Association) tests in Europe it was named the best SUV tire. The Winter Carving Edge tire, Pirelli’s meat and potatoes tire, is also improved for this winter.

Yokohama Ice Guard iG51v

The iG51v is a light truck/SUV tire that features their resin-coated micro-bubbles throughout the rubber. When these air bubbles burst on contact with the road they act as mini suction cups. Water is removed from the contact patch enabling the rubber compound to get better grip.

By having these air pockets enclosed in a hard resin shell, the tire is more stable and produces less squirm. That’s a good thing. It means a slower wear rate and more stable cornering ability.

Correction: A previous version of this article incorrectly listed the Yokohama Ice Guard iG51v as a Toyo product. 

Goodyear Ultra Grip Winter

Goodyear has a new tire for deep snow conditions. The Goodyear Ultra Grip Winter features big biting blocks in a directional pattern. It has multiple biting edges to dig in and grab and very wide channels to release snow as it rotates. It can be studded where it is legal to do so. This tire joins the Ultra Grip Ice WRT to round out the winter choices for all weather conditions, ice or snow.

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