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2020 Subaru Forester Sport
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hey all! I purchased a 2020 Forester Sport this past summer, and before that had a Honda Element for over a decade and almost 250k miles that I went through two sets of Nokian WRG3 SUVs and one set of WRG4 SUVs. I planned on purchasing a second set of wheels for the Forester with A/T tires for the Spring/Summer/Fall and dedicated winter tires for the winter. I drove the OEM Falkens for about a few thousand miles and in the Fall, I purchased and mounted the 225/55r18 Hakka's on the stock wheels and a set of Falken Wildpeak A/T Trails 225/65r17 on the second set of wheels, which I'll review later this year once I switch back and clock some more mileage on them. I considered oversizing the aspect ratio by one size to 225/60r18, as I did with the Wildpeaks for a touch more ground clearance and a much nicer aesthetic, but ultimately decided at least for this first set to keep the size OEM for the all wheel drive system, vehicle stability control, eyesight, etc all to behave and perform as perfectly as possible in the slipperiest conditions of the year.

Quick background: I live in the US lower-Northeast where summers are hot and winters can (and will!) be anywhere from temperate, wet, slushy and variable to freeze/thaw to arctic and icy. I also drive north to storm chase in the winter to snowboard so when I do drive north, it's usually in winter weather. Those drives can either be all snow or can be rain on the south end, snow on the north end, and mixed in between.

The Hakkas are my first set of dedicated winters I've owned. I have driven others, but not owned. I loved the WRGs for what they were and would highly recommend them to anyone looking for a single set of wheels & tires as a year-round solution living in my type of 4-season climate. However, I was looking forward to improving and maxing out winter performance with dedicated winter tires and not having the bit of oversteer, noise, ride quality reduction, extra wear, etc in the summer months.

I did a LOT of research before purchasing the WRGs for my Element, and a LOT of research before purchasing the Hakkas, especially considering they are among the most expensive winter tires available. Now keep in mind I only have one winter (not yet finished) and about 7k miles on the tires as I write this but so far, I could not be happier! But as much, please consider these notes as first impressions. I'll be sure to write a follow-up as the tires wear.

SNOW
Unsurprisingly, this is where the Hakkas absolutely shine. Just unreal grip, control, corning, acceleration & braking. From a dusting to deep snow. There's really not much more to be said here. Don't think any other tire can beat the Hakkas in snow, and I don't think anyone reading this is surprised to hear that.

ICE
The Hakka R3s are unstudded and I deliberately purchased unstudded tires for multiple reasons. This is where the studded 8s will have an advantage. The R3s can certainly slide on ice, but so can studdeds. That said, slow & careful driving is what gets it done on ice. With appropriate driving, it's the most confident I've ever felt short of having studded tires. The compound and tread pattern stays pliable and grip feels beyond reasonable for unstudded tires on ice. For contrast, my girlfriend purchased a 2020 Forester Premium (stock tires) a month after I purchased my Sport and we got caught in some unexpected slippery snow and icy spots in her car one day recently. I drove. It was complete and utter misery compared to the Hakkas. Really made me extra grateful to have them.

SLUSH/VARIABLE
As you'd expect, the performance is somewhere between snow and ice depending on the conditions. If it's slushy on top of a slick, icy layer, then they will slip more and require more delicate driving, but again just feel as confident as one can imagine without having those little metal spikes to help a bit. I, arguably stupidly, drove up to VT in the middle of one of the bad snow storms we got and the roads were very snowy, a little slushy, a little icy and VERY slick. It was a bit slow going, but not as slow going as anyone else on the road, and while driving wisely, felt nearly unstoppable.

WET/DRY
This is where I'm actually probably most impressed, especially from all my winter tire research. These tires performed exactly how I'd hoped and expected on snow, ice and slush. I expected a somewhat reduced ride quality and performance in wet or dry conditions, and I'm SO happy to report that has not been the case whatsoever thus far. I honestly don't notice any poor qualities in accelerating, braking, cornering, noise, ride quality, etc. Now granted in the beginning of winter, I was vigilant about swapping the A/Ts and winters a few times as necessary when the weather was varying a ton, but I have driven the tires up to between 45-55 degrees F on about a dozen or so days over the winter, and they have always felt great. I have a few buddies that have other brands of winter tires that complain of significantly noticeable reduction in all attributes over 40F, and even some below 40F but in wet or dry conditions. Not so for the Hakkas. Really, really happy about that.

WEAR
7k miles so far and almost immeasurable wear, even driving in some above recommended/ideal temps.

TL;DR: first impressions, these tires are worth every penny and I can't imagine how they could be beat as an unstudded winter tire. They've been providing me ultimate confidence & capability for everyday driving and extreme conditions. Highly recommend.

Happy to answer any questions to the best of my abilities, and will report back to updates as I have them!
 

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2020 Forester, CAD Touring, Horizon Blue
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76 Posts
Great review @dsky. I going the same route with an AT for 3 seasons (Yokohama G015 AT) and a dedicated winter (Michelin X-Ice).
 

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2019 Forester Limited
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1,065 Posts
nice review.

My son moved to Maine from Ohio years ago with his Outback. We couldn’t justify snow tires in Ohio, but he did his research and got Hakkas for his new home. This comment stuck with me, “Dad, these things are like the official state tire.” I thought that was a pretty good recommendation.
 

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2020 Subaru Forester Sport
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15 Posts
Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Great review @dsky. I going the same route with an AT for 3 seasons (Yokohama G015 AT) and a dedicated winter (Michelin X-Ice).
Enjoy yours! The All Weathers were SO much better than All Seasons, but the confidence of having the best possible traction, control & safety without compromise (other than opening the wallet, haha) is such a comforting feeling.

nice review.

My son moved to Maine from Ohio years ago with his Outback. We couldn’t justify snow tires in Ohio, but he did his research and got Hakkas for his new home. This comment stuck with me, “Dad, these things are like the official state tire.” I thought that was a pretty good recommendation.
Hahah, that's an awesome quote. And I'm sure a little extra relief for a Dad that his son has that extra safety on the winter roads!
 

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Nice writeup. We haven't had weather that has been too warm yet, but I've been very happy with my R3s as well, in 225/60R17 size. I managed to fishtail myself the other day, but I admit I was in a bad mood at the time so I was pushing it. I think the strongest point for me this winter is the great braking. I've barely felt the ABS kick in in the few months I've owned this Forester.

I find the love for Nokians funny. The company changes models constantly (which is good) but some models haven't been that great. I loved my R's, but the R2's didn't seem that good in snow. I had horrible luck with the studless 7's, getting two flats at one time, and maybe it was really icy the winters I had them, but I didn't think their traction was very good. Certain years I could only get a particular model vs another since their supply isn't so great which is a little frustrating. I haven't driven the R3s enough but your review makes me feel good about sticking with Nokian. (I was once employed at Nokia and had a good time while I was there so I've stuck with them.)
 

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2004 XT 5 MT
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1,113 Posts
I only run nokian studded tires on my Subaru’s and work van. They are superior in every aspect and environmentally responsible in their production processes
 

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2008 XT Sport 5-speed
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439 Posts
I ran the super studded hakka tens (or something like that) when I lived in Alaska...Can't beat them.
 

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2020 Subaru Forester Sport
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15 Posts
Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Environmentally friendly is always a big plus in my book!
 
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