SUV Winter Tire Test Shows Why AWD Doesn't Help With Turns And Stops

If you haven’t looked at the calendar recently, snow will soon be falling for us in the northern hemisphere. Heck, it’s already on the ground in some areas, and that means it’s time for the annual tire-swapping ritual from summer to winter rubber. What’s that you say? You don’t need snow tires because you have an SUV? Oh, dear.

All-wheel drive traction and more ground clearance afforded by SUVs certainly help when accelerating through snow, but that’s only 33 percent of driving. Braking and cornering most certainly matter, too. And as we’ve seen in previous articles regarding snow tires, having all-wheel drive doesn’t matter if the tires can’t grip the surface. That leads us to the latest video from Jonathan Benson at Tyre Reviews, and this one is special. The focus here is on dedicated winter tires designed specifically for the weight and handling characteristics of SUVs.

The test obviously evaluates the tires on snow, factoring in lap times along with acceleration and braking. However, the test also looks at tire performance in wet and dry conditions as well as noise, comfort, and rolling resistance. Specific tires featured in this video include:

  • Bridgestone Blizzak LM005
  • Continental WinterContact TS 870 P
  • Goodyear UltraGrip Performance Plus SUV
  • Hankook Winter i cept evo 3 X
  • Leao Winter Defender UHP
  • Maxxis Premitra Snow WP6 SUV
  • Michelin Pilot Alpin 5 SUV
  • Nokian Snowproof 2 SUV  
  • Pirelli Scorpion Winter 2

If you’ve seen our features on Benson’s video before, you know just how insanely thorough he gets. That tenacity is needed for this test, which he says is one of the closest in terms of results that he’s ever conducted. Using a Volkswagen Tiguan R in all the scenarios and going strictly by the numbers, he determined that the Continental WinterContact TS 870 P was the best tire. It scored well in all categories save for hydroplaning, where it had average performance. Rolling resistance was exceptional, making it a strong choice for EV owners seeking something with good efficiency.

However, Benson’s test goes far beyond the numbers to suss out more subjective aspects that might make a difference to tire shoppers. Among other things, he points out that the Michelin was the best in terms of snow handling and near the top everywhere else, save for rolling resistance where it performed quite badly, relegating it to the number two spot behind Continental. He also highlights characteristics such as understeer and oversteer throughout the brands. In that respect, the Nokian (which was fourth in points) was actually his personal favorite for its neutral, all-around performance.

As always, we recommend jumping into the video to catch all the details of this test. And as the snow starts to fly, stay safe out there.

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