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2006 Forester XT Limited
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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Hey guys,
I know there's alot of info on here, but I like to get the most up to date info. I'm considering the:

Continental ExtremeWinterContact
Bridgestone Blizzak WS60
Michelin X-Ice Xi-2
Pirelli Winter 210 Sottozero Serie II
Pirelli Winter Carving Edge

I'm leaning towards the Continental because of how much I loved the Contitactsport something or others on my old 330i. They were quiet and sticky. However, it seems as though the Blizzak is the gold standard of winter tires, no? I also have a soft spot for Michelin tires in general, so they are in the mix, and Pirelli makes some pretty amazing motorcycle tires, so they are in there too.

I'm looking for the best tires for snow and ice, and tire/road noise is a big concern for me as well. When it comes to tires cost is not an issue, safety is. My wife and I have my '06 XT for winter and her '06 civic for summer/high mileage trips, so I don't care at all how the tires work in the summer. We ski and also make numerous passes through Vail going from Grand Junction to Boulder. Any input on the matter would be greatly appreciated.
 

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Premium Member
2008 XS 4EAT
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cough,cough, General Altimax Arctic, cough,cough, read the survey's on Tire Rack, end of cough. Owned by Continental now and has shared some of the technology from some of the other companies Continental own. Still at a great price.
 

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2007 Sports XT 4EAT (former)
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I have the previous version of the Blizzaks (WS-50) and they are pretty awesome in snow/ice. Noise-wise my Blizzaks aren't loud at all for a winter tire IMO, but the Contis and X-Ice have better noise ratings on Tire Rack.
 

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Premium Member
2015 Highlander AWD XLE 6AT
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I'm looking for the best tires for snow and ice, and tire/road noise is a big concern for me as well.
The Michelin X-Ice XI 2 scored at the top of Consumer Reports winter tire ratings. It earned either "excellent" or "very good" marks for snow traction, ice braking, ride comfort, and noise.

I chose the Dunlop WinterSport 3D for our '06 Honda Accord and our '09 Forester. Following last winter's three blizzards in our neck o' the woods, we're very happy with or choice.

HTH,
Jim / crewzer
 

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2009 Forester XT Limited
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239 Posts
I did the Blizzak WS60's and was impressed with the snow performance, unstuckingflopable...
 

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2016 Outback and WRX CVT
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Like crewzer said, guroo270, the Michelin X-Ice Xi2 actually took away the "gold standard" status of the Bridgestone Blizzak WS60, in the "studless ice and snow" category, since it stepped onto the scene in 2008.

TireRack's raking of the WS60 as the leader in this segment stands apart from virtually *ALL* other recognized and highly-regarded independent reviewers, and that includes international sources, too.

When pressed about this:

The Official Winter Tire thread ... all winter tire questions go here !!! - Page 22 - NASIOC

TireRack's official stance essentially waffled.

The thing to really remember is that tires - currently, both the "summer" tire category as well as "winters" - are so technologically contested that last season's tires rarely come out again on top, in any head-to-head comparison. If you're absolutely hung-up on getting the best, you're, most likely, going to have to pay a premium for either the last "top ranked" tire, or, alternatively, going to have to lead the charge and purchase a new-for-this-season tire, without the help of known-quality independent-sourced reviews (i.e. Look at the early [c.2008] "Tire Rack Survey" posts about the Xi2: the vast majority of the public there completely blasted this tire, saying that they're "the worst tires I've ever owned" and the like. :lol: - Note how this completely changed, once CR and other international tests clearly showed dominance of the Xi2s. Remember, "public opinion" is only worth as much as the skill and knowledge-level of those rendering such opinion. It's not necessarily always correct. )


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Of your choices of "studless ice & snow" tires, guroo270, the Conti is the only one that's untested. It's also the newest of the bunch; if you can wait a little longer before purchase, there should be some testing of this particular tire, this season. The Xi2 and WS60 have plenty of reviews bout them, and I would base your selection between those two tires with what's currently known about them, as well as your driving (and resale) habits - once the WS60's proprietary surface layer wears off, its performance will noticeably decrease, so unless you either don't do much driving or intend on "60% of tire left" resale, I'd honestly be hard-pressed to go that route, given what's known about the Xi2's relative longevity (which Bridgestone has *not* contested).

If you're intent on going with TireRack as your purchase vendor, the Pirelli Winter Carving/Carving Edge is their only true premium studded winter (note here that I'm speaking solely of the studded variant of this studdable winter - why? because if you were to go with non-studded, I'd go with the "studless ice & snow" genre). It ranks significantly higher than the General Altimax Arctic in virtually all levels of performance, but remember that you'll be on a studded tire, and this may both compromise your duration-of-use as well as on cabin NVH.

Looking outside TireRack for the studded genre, I'd be hard-pressed to ignore the Nokian Hakka 5 - however, the new "gold standard" there, the Hakka 7, should be coming to North America either this winter or the next...and if the former possibility is true, then it would be a hard choice to make as to whether to wait for it or not, as the Hakka 5's aren't exactly cheaply had.
 

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2006 Forester XT Limited
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Discussion Starter #8 (Edited)
sorry guys, should have saved you the trouble and posted that I'm not interested in studded tires. Thanks for all the input so far though. Based on info I've looked at and received I'd have to say I'm probably going with the X ice Michelin. I'll check out the Nokian 7 also, but I'll still probably go with the Michelin.
 

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2016 Outback and WRX CVT
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^ The Hakka 7 - studded - is really dominating the European tests. It well outperforms modern "studless ice & snow" under virtually all conditions:

Vinterdekktest 2009. Test av piggdekk og piggfrie dekk - NAF

This test shows well that the old-think that studded winter tires are "dangerous" on clear or wet roadways is now completely unfounded - and that if such a conclusion is forced, then one must also say that even premium "studless ice & snow" are just as dangerous.

Furthermore, this test also calls into question the conclusions drawn by TireRack, regarding the "studded winters" versus "studless ice & snow" genres, due to the TireRack's lack of access to true premium studded winter tires (noting that the Pirelli offering is virtually the only one available, but was not reviewed - meanwhile, the General Altimax Arctic is actually an older variant of the Gislaved Nord Frost, the Nord Frost 3, and *not* the mid-pack Nord Frost 5 that was shown in that test [again, per the above outlink to NASIOC, you'll see that was discussed in that TireRack thread]).

But you don't want to go the way of studded tires, and that's definitely understandable, given your NVH requirements alone. :smile:

The Xi2s are definitely leading the pack, in terms of "studless ice & snows," now.

I took a gamble on them, back in 2008, and you'll see that my early review of the tires on TireRack, to confirm this claim of mine. I made the gamble as it had been three months into the season, and Bridgestone did not counterclaim against Michelin's assertion that the Xi2s would last 75% longer than the then-one-season-old WS60s. This claim interested me as although I'd been nearly committed to the WS60s, I was leery of the wear of the proprietary surface layer - which would then give my wife the double-bogey of one day having to deal with not only loss of adhesion from the compound having worn away, but also that of decreased tread-depth, to-boot.

If you have some leeway in terms of time-of-purchase, I'd see about waiting-out more reviews of that Conti offering. Its tread-pattern is interesting: suggesting better highway and clear-weather handling than its genre counterparts...and this is somewhat borne out by the few current subjective reviews of the tires as well as the testing done by TireRack. Given TireRack's seeming Bridgestone bias in winter testing, I am not 100% convinced about its supposed "ranking" (especially as the Xi2 was not tested? why this glaring oversight?) and would like to see more reviews, particularly from our better-knowledged overseas brothers and sisters (i.e. ADAC, NAF, etc.).

For a tire without studs, the Xi2s are about as capable and as well-rounded as they come - but in this game, where last season's best is typically reduced to at least second place the year following, if you're going to be paying top-dollar, you might as well play the game to the fullest. :smile:
 

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The Sub kit guy
2005 Forester X & XT VF39
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Hankook iPike w409 non-studded!
They last a LOT longer than any of the studless tires (Blizzaks, x ice etc.) and handle deep snow way better. I have a set on both my Foresters and I've never had any issues.

If you mainly drive city roads that are plowed but still have a little snow and ice, the studless tires are a great choice. If you ever drive a lot of mountain passes and deal with deep snow/unplowed areas, a tire like General Altimax Artic or Hankook iPike would be a better choice.
 

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^ The IceGuards were among the top-ranking tires (i.e. top-ranked in its genre) in a *comprehensive* 2007(? - not certain) Canadian test. I've tried finding a reprint of that article, with no success.
 

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^ The IceGuards were among the top-ranking tires (i.e. top-ranked in its genre) in a *comprehensive* 2007(? - not certain) Canadian test. I've tried finding a reprint of that article, with no success.
I found this article that basically says the IceGuards aced the tests and beat the other tires they compared them to hands down for what it's worth and on a side note, anyone thinking about studded tires for travel from State to State needs to be aware that they are still illegal in about ten different States so beware.

Best new winter tires | Wheels.ca


Driving pre-production IG20s last winter proved to me that the lab theory translated well where the rubber meets the ice.

In back-to-back comparisons with the new Ice Guard IG20, Goodyear UltraGrip Ice, Bridgestone Blizzak WS-50 and the Michelin Alpin, the new Ice Guard aced every test.

On an outdoor track laid out with snow, ice, slop and hard-packed snow, the IG20 was fastest in acceleration, quickest in stopping and highest in lateral grip. And it had a decent ride as well.
 

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Check out these Canadian reports.

HTH,
Jim / crewzer
^ Alas, it wasn't from that website (although that site remains a favorite of mine, for its timeliness and the subjective impressions) - it was a French-language comparo. A few fellow Subaru-community members had scanned-in the article and hosted it on their private sites, but I've not been able to find it, any more, and I suspect:

I found this article that basically says the IceGuards aced the tests and beat the other tires they compared them to hands down for what it's worth and on a side note, anyone thinking about studded tires for travel from State to State needs to be aware that they are still illegal in about ten different States so beware.

Best new winter tires | Wheels.ca

Driving pre-production IG20s last winter proved to me that the lab theory translated well where the rubber meets the ice.

In back-to-back comparisons with the new Ice Guard IG20, Goodyear UltraGrip Ice, Bridgestone Blizzak WS-50 and the Michelin Alpin, the new Ice Guard aced every test.

On an outdoor track laid out with snow, ice, slop and hard-packed snow, the IG20 was fastest in acceleration, quickest in stopping and highest in lateral grip. And it had a decent ride as well.
^ I think that was sourced from the test I referred to.

Certainly, at the date of that test, there was no WS60 or Xi2 in those tests, so, "by vintage," that would make sense, too.


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I think that one important thing that needs to be said here is that there's the search for something that's "the best" - that elusive distinction made by, say, one testing source or another: in this case, it's more than likely that "the latest and greatest" will take the cake, given the way tire-technology has evolved.

This is true of everything in the tire world, from competition tires to winter.

These tire companies spend untold amounts to develop their latest and greatest, and it would honestly surprise me if their latest evolutions did not just surpass - but obliterate - the competition/benchmark from the year before.

But this is very different from getting a "good" set of tires.

Exclusive of this need to somehow seek the latest and greatest, there really are quite a lot of excellent choices in any tire genre, and the winter-tire subset is no different.

The IceGuard IG20 remains on-market, as does the Hankook Winter iPike and IceBear, the Dunlop Graspic 3 and the 3D/M3, as well as other offerings from Michelin, Bridgestone/Firestone, etc. - all excellent offerings which, when combined with our Subaru's AWD, will allow for an awesome margin of safety as well as "go anywhere" power, when the wintry stuff starts coming down.

There's academic discussion - and then there's the real-world. :smile:
 

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I love tires. The technology is just staggering and fascinating. :smile:

I'm glad that my hobby interests really only extends to winter tires, though, as I would not be able to keep-track and keep-up, otherwise. If I had to keep track of today's various sporting tires, I'd be fighting a losing battle. :lol: "Insufficient Memory!" :lol:

The truth is that while I do keep a toe in the "Extreme/Max Performance Summer" category (i.e. Dunlop StarSpec, Yokohama AD08, Hankook V12 and RS3), it's not something that I actively pursue - instead, I tend to hang-back and observe what's written as well as discussed about those tires, rather than participate in discussions as I do with winters. This, of-course, is since most of our family's needs is focused on the latter, given our locale.

For me, a good set of "summer tires" to last me through 4 or 5 seasons is a guilty-pleasure luxury. :wink: While I'll gladly take the advice and knowledge/experience tips that come from all the track and AutoX racers out there - and allow that to translate itself for safety and fun-factor in my streets-only, mostly very sedate, daily-driving tasks - I just don't feel the need to tax the pea that I call a brain with any more information!

For me, winters are a necessity, and is something that I *should* be paying attention to. Summer doughnuts are a luxury. :smile:
 

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I read this with great interest. I like I loved the snow/ice ability of WS60's etc but hated the sloppy overall handling otherwise and went studded Gislaveds last. I see the IG20 is better technology than this however.

This time around I want to get a very capable winter tire that I can run longer or even as an alternative to my all out summer tires. Nokian seems to have a good option in the WR GR2 SUV but is pretty expensive.

Are there any other good options that are very winter capable but also good for summer and even light off road?
 

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I read this with great interest. I like I loved the snow/ice ability of WS60's etc but hated the sloppy overall handling otherwise and went studded Gislaveds last. I see the IG20 is better technology than this however.
Going with the IG20s, in comparison with what you've had (WS60), may or may not give you your desired results - remember, the above-cited Wheels.ca article you're referring to compares only the IG20s with the previous-generation WS50 - even of the original test that it was referring to, it's c.2007.

Aside from that 2007 test, I do not remember the IG20 being among the top-rated of that particular genre anymore, and remember, back in 2007, the Dunlop SP WinterSport 3D was king of its own sub-genre ("Performance Winter"), and it has long since been displaced of that coveted spot, and I think that's what happened to the IG20, too.

If you're speaking of winter tire technology, the IG20 is already 3 to 4 seasons behind when it displaced the WS50 (in that particular test) - and the WS60 is, itself, 2 to 3 seasons old (thus displaced by the Michelin Xi2, which was new 2 seasons ago, but gained top-honors this past season, with more complete testing).

Overall, I'm also somewhat hesitant to cross-compare the studded Gislaveds with the sub-genre that these two then-premium "studless ice & snows" otherwise occupy. The reason for that is because the Gislaved Nord Frost 3 - aka General Altimax Arctic - is a past-iteration variant of what is even now only a mid- to lower-mid pack performer, the Nord Frost 3. This would put the Nord Frost 3, if that's indeed what you had (and I'm making a total assumption, here :icon_redface:), at a severe cross-comparison disadvantage...at least in the way which I view the equation.

This time around I want to get a very capable winter tire that I can run longer or even as an alternative to my all out summer tires. Nokian seems to have a good option in the WR GR2 SUV but is pretty expensive.
Remember one thing - that a part of the winter equation is, undeniably, tread-depth.

Running a tire which you've chosen for winter duty all-year means that it will wear all year, and for every bit of tread-depth you sacrifice, you will compromise winter capabilities to some degree, to-boot, when the wintry stuff starts to accumulate on-ground.

Certainly, this is not to say that such a tire selection is either impractical or untenable - rather, it's just that it has to fit the end-user's expectations and needs. :smile:

Are there any other good options that are very winter capable but also good for summer and even light off road?
So, this ties back into what I just mentioned above: running the tire year-round will somewhat compromise things, based on treadwear alone.

The other complicating factor is that the winter/summer roles are unfortunately really quite disparate - expecting a tire to fulfill both roles will likely lead to disappointment one way or the other, depending on just which side of the compromise your final decision comes to rest on....

With winter tires, it would be logical to think that V-rated "Performance Winters" should be the closest, in terms of both performance and wear, to their "All Season" cousins. Even so, an enthusiastic driver will likely complain about the lack of directional stability and overall vagueness (from both tread-squirm as well as sidewall flex) of such tires, when driven aggressively, during the warmer months.

Go the other route, with more "winter capable" All-Season tires, such as the venerable Continental ContiExtremeContact, and you will also undeniably give up some winter capabilities, compared even against a comparable V-rated "Performance Winter" tire.

[ Of off-roading, I'm hesitant to render opinion, as I truly do not have enough experience in that regard. :icon_redface: ]

And this is, of-course, where the Nokian WR and WR G2 (SUV or otherwise) finds its unique niche - in being surprisingly effective in both extremes: unfortunately, it is pricy, and the problem of tread-depth/consumption is one that's inescapable.

Certainly, this is not to say that a compromise cannot be reached.

There's plenty of us who simply choose to, say, stay on a set of "Performance Winters" or even more aggressively-winterized tires all-around. At the same time, there's also those who utilize the more aggressively-winterized "All-Seasons" for their winter tires.

It's all about what compromises are most acceptable *_for you_*, as a unique individual, with unique needs and preferences. :icon_cool:
 

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Nokian seems to have a good option in the WR GR2 SUV but is pretty expensive.
I'm currently running these tires and I like them a lot, however I've only had them since May or June. I'm definitely concerned about losing winter traction having them on all summer but I figure its something I can live with until I free up enough cash for a second set of tires.. dedicated summers or dedicated snows, I've yet to decide. Being that these are "all weather" tires, I'm leaning towards picking up dedicated snows. The weather here in Oregon is completely hit or miss though.. sometimes snow falls in November... or doesn't fall until February.. and in any event, it only takes a light dusting to completely shut down the city. :icon_rolleyes:
 
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