Q: My daughter bought herself a Mini Cooper S and is looking around at winter tire options. Since Mini (BMW) has gone into run-flats all around I’ve tried exploring those and haven’t liked what I’ve seen. We are trying to find a good solution for the Mini — regular or run-flat. She stays around the GTA — lives in Richmond Hill, works Dufferin and 401 area — so are snows necessary?
A: I actually like the three winter tires available in run-flats. I don’t like run-flats at all but if you have to have them, the Bridgestone Blizzak LM-60, Michelin Primacy Alpin PA3 and Pirelli Sottozero Serie II are all good winter tires.
Of the three the Pirelli is the best handling on cold wet or dry pavement, in terms of sportiness. The Michelin is best in deep snow. The Bridgestone Blizzak is a good all round tire with emphasis on ice grip. Unlike the regular Blizzak, this high performance model does not turn into an all-season tire after 60% wear.
Since the Mini is OE on run-flats, I’d be inclined to stick with them for winter. It is nasty changing a flat tire or trying to inflate a flat with tire goo at the roadside. However if you are willing to take the risk of a flat, the Michelin X-Ice Xi3 is the hot ticket, followed by the Goodyear Ultra Grip Ice WRT.
Q: I am the owner of a 2013 Grand Cherokee Overland. Like some other new vehicles, it came standard with 20 inch wheels fitted with tire pressure monitoring and all-season tires. Where can I find 20 inch all-weather tires?
A: I don’t know of any all-weather tires in your size of 265/50R20, if by all-weather you mean snow-flake rated tires that can be left on the vehicle all year round. You will have to go for dedicated winter tires. Your Grand Cherokee has rather large tires. In your OE size there are just two winter tires available for consideration, the Pirelli Winter Carving and the Pirelli Scorpion Ice and Snow.
The Winter Carving will work best for you if snow and ice are the main driving concerns. The Scorpion is more of a high performance winter tire. It works in the snow but is happiest on pavement.
If you intend to keep this vehicle for any length of time, I would seriously consider downsizing to an 18 inch winter wheel and tire package. You will get better traction and the tires cost much less. The correct size would be 265/60R18. In this size consider these premium tires: the Bridgestone Blizzak DM-V1, the Michelin Latitude X-Ice Xi-2 or the Toyo Observe GSi-5. The Bridgestone is the class leader in this size. For less money you can look at the Hankook RW11 i-Pike or the Cooper Weather-Master WSC.
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