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Something I wanted to add - for both the OP, @pjt , as well as for others who are faced with this same decision....

Don't get too hung-up in the details.

For those of us in North America, sticking with the major brands - (in no particular order) Dunlop, Bridgestone, Goodyear, Cooper, Continental, General, Michelin, Pirelli, Nokian, Vredestein, etc. - you'll get a tire that is more than likely going to be just fine, regardless of which specific model you choose.

The biggest branch-point in your decision tree that's going to produce noticeable driving differences is going to be your selection of the genre/sub-genre of tire - to make sure that you have chosen the right one for your anticipated use-conditions.

The genre: "Summer," "All Season," "All Weather," "Winter." This is your biggest branch point. There's also "All-Terrain" that's somewhere in the mix, too, of-course.

From there, break into sub-genres -

  • Summer, there's ---> UHP or "Touring"
  • A/T ----> do you want to look at a severe-service rated, or is another performance characteristic going to be more useful?
  • "Winter," there's ---> "Performance Winter" versus "Studded Ice & Snow" versus "studdable winter"

The specific tire in that genre/sub-genre and whether it comes in first place or third in any one test or another is more on the scale of bench-racing than it is reality: when you look at those tests (that I so love to cite! :p ), look carefully not only at the rankings of each tire, but the actual numeric difference in the recorded test data. When the difference between first and fifth place is just a span of as many feet, ask yourself if it's worth it for you to really sweat that difference, or is good enough simply that. ;)
 

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I am desperately looking for advice aboutwhether I need snow tires or all weather tires. We moved to Oregon from SF California last year.( yup, we aren’t the most popular kids on the block) Last winter I kept my all season tires on, and my daughter drove up the mountain to the ski lodge and I just drove in town. She’s off to university and now I’m the ski taxi~
First off, I’m not the best driver and am not a seasoned snow driver~ soooooo which tires do I get~ I have looked at the past posts and I am still at a loss! The family buzz is ‘Mom’s gonna kill us driving up the mountain!’
I would just buy a set of brand name all terrain tires. The first correct step you made was buying a Subaru. The all wheel drive system is what is going to help you out the most in snow/ice. I have seen Jeeps stuck in the snow where I just drive right by simply because of the all wheel drive system and NOT the tires. I see a couple of post about buying another set of rims and winter tires. What a waste of money. The only reason to do this is that your track your Subaru and are running high performance race tires (near slicks). My guess is if you are doing this in an Ascent you are not going to be driving it on the track in the winter. Stick with all terrains and drive reasonably.
 

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I would just buy a set of brand name all terrain tires.
Many ATs are not really good tires in winter weather...they are too hard and not made for lower temperatures. They also dont' have the sipping designed for snow traction. Contrary to visual logic, most snow traction on a tire comes from the small sipes, not from the big tread lugs. But as has been mentioned many times here, there are some really good ATs that are all weather rated and very suitable for winter use in many areas.
 
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Many ATs are not really good tires in winter weather...they are too hard and not made for lower temperatures. They also dont' have the sipping designed for snow traction. Contrary to visual logic, most snow traction on a tire comes from the small sipes, not from the big tread lugs. But as has been mentioned many times here, there are some really good ATs that are all weather rated and very suitable for winter use in many areas.
I wonder how well the all weather AT tires are for the off road. Typically these are all trade offs.
 

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^ There's always trade-offs. :)

There are actually a number of A/Ts with severe service rating: for example, some of the most common fitments of the popular Fallen Wildpeak A/T bear the "Snowflake on the Mountain" 3PMS symbol on their sidewall. In the true off-road side of the equation, while I am much less well-versed there, my layman's understanding is that in-actuality, both "All Terrain" (A/T) and "Rough/Rugged Terrain" (R/T) tires will not infrequently be able to garner severe service rating, while "Mud Terrains" rarely will.

Winter traction -just as traction in any other circumstances- is about both physical architecture as well as compounding. Traditionally, tire engineers have maintained that for fresh powder and slushplane resistance, 2/3 of the job is that of tread design. That 2/3 vs. 1/3 balance-of-power shifts to compounding and "micro"-features of the tire, when the surfaces involved is ice or hardback.

Empirically, we can see this play out in the way even older, previous-generation winter tires manage to still be within the meat of the bell-curve where it comes to performance in fresh snow and on roadways covered in slush. Usually, high-void directional patterns tend to do very well, and we continue to see this both in end-user testimonials of the classics like the old version General Altimax Arctic, which shares the same tread pattern as the long-since discontinued Gislaved Nordfrost 3. Similarly, the shortcomings of these older tires -when compared against their newer counterparts- on ice and hardback in similar comparison tests can readily be attributed to the continued refinement of those parts of the tread pattern we can't really see, as well as the increasingly more sophisticated compounding that's used in modern winter tires.

An A/T tire has to be strong enough to hold up to the physical needs of off-roading, so neither its compounding nor tread architecture will be optimized for traction in wintry precipitation in the way that a "comparably rugged appearing" winter tire (typically, this would most likely be a "Studless Ice and Snow" or a studdable winter) will be. Similarly, that comparable winter tire's tread design won't give it optimal traction in more typical off-road conditions, either. Those small and tremendously zig-zagged sipes that allow winter tires their "bite" into snow? it's actually designed to retain snow so as to enhance snow traction - this versus the typical R/T, A/T, or even more exceptionally, the M/T tire's need to "self-clear" void areas of mud and dirt (the tighter the void, the higher the rotational speed must be to effect self-clearing - thus, the sipes bite the snow, the voids clear slush).
 

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^ There's always trade-offs. :)

There are actually a number of A/Ts with severe service rating: for example, some of the most common fitments of the popular Fallen Wildpeak A/T bear the "Snowflake on the Mountain" 3PMS symbol on their sidewall. In the true off-road side of the equation, while I am much less well-versed there, my layman's understanding is that in-actuality, both "All Terrain" (A/T) and "Rough/Rugged Terrain" (R/T) tires will not infrequently be able to garner severe service rating, while "Mud Terrains" rarely will.

Winter traction -just as traction in any other circumstances- is about both physical architecture as well as compounding. Traditionally, tire engineers have maintained that for fresh powder and slushplane resistance, 2/3 of the job is that of tread design. That 2/3 vs. 1/3 balance-of-power shifts to compounding and "micro"-features of the tire, when the surfaces involved is ice or hardback.

Empirically, we can see this play out in the way even older, previous-generation winter tires manage to still be within the meat of the bell-curve where it comes to performance in fresh snow and on roadways covered in slush. Usually, high-void directional patterns tend to do very well, and we continue to see this both in end-user testimonials of the classics like the old version General Altimax Arctic, which shares the same tread pattern as the long-since discontinued Gislaved Nordfrost 3. Similarly, the shortcomings of these older tires -when compared against their newer counterparts- on ice and hardback in similar comparison tests can readily be attributed to the continued refinement of those parts of the tread pattern we can't really see, as well as the increasingly more sophisticated compounding that's used in modern winter tires.

An A/T tire has to be strong enough to hold up to the physical needs of off-roading, so neither its compounding nor tread architecture will be optimized for traction in wintry precipitation in the way that a "comparably rugged appearing" winter tire (typically, this would most likely be a "Studless Ice and Snow" or a studdable winter) will be. Similarly, that comparable winter tire's tread design won't give it optimal traction in more typical off-road conditions, either. Those small and tremendously zig-zagged sipes that allow winter tires their "bite" into snow? it's actually designed to retain snow so as to enhance snow traction - this versus the typical R/T, A/T, or even more exceptionally, the M/T tire's need to "self-clear" void areas of mud and dirt (the tighter the void, the higher the rotational speed must be to effect self-clearing - thus, the sipes bite the snow, the voids clear slush).
I use the wildpeaks ony ascent
 

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...The first correct step you made was buying a Subaru. The all wheel drive system is what is going to help you out the most in snow/ice.
While AWD does help, it is far from the end all and be all where winter traction -or any other traction issue- is concerned.

In terms of gettin the vehicle going and keeping it going forward in a straight line, definitely, AWD or 4WD helps. However, when we look at both braking performance as well as lateral, what's more important (under any conditions) are the tires.

For the sake of this discussion, we'll simply focus on winter tires, and here, I think that some of @packout 's links to videos makes for some exceptionally clear arguments:



In each of these videos, the vehicle was held constant as the control, with the variables being the tires, and it's clear that tires appropriate for the conditions results in significant changes in measured performance, when the drivetrain is held constant as a control.

I have seen Jeeps stuck in the snow where I just drive right by simply because of the all wheel drive system and NOT the tires..
Unless both vehicles were on the same tires, of the same sizing and inflation pressures, the assumption that it's only about drivetrain differences is severely faulty. The corollary to this is how the most rigorous tests of tire performance utilizes the same vehicle for testing - the need to have controls so that individual variables can be examined is a crucial part of that comparison.

The simple fact is that traction both begins and ends at the contact patch.

Years ago, TyreReviews UK asked this drivetrain-versus-tires question, and this was their quick and ugly, early attempt -


For as fun as that early street-test was, the following is much better educational video:


Yes, I understand that these last two examples used the extreme of "summer tires" versus "winter tires," but it serves to illustrate that what's happening at the actual contact patch is more important than drivetrain differences.
 

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for me the Denver metro area is tricky given the wide swings in temp and winter precipitation as well as the travel to the mountains. While the temperature is lower all winter, the conditions can be three seasons in one week (summer excluded). I love it, but tire provisioning drives me nuts. Honestly, I go back and forth as to whether I need the Bridgestones for the winter. And then I think about my mountain excursions.
 

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^ Sounds like you could use a garage monkey to help you swap wheels/tires more frequently? ;) 😬
My 18 year old fits the bill, but he is 18 going on 40 so scheduling these switch-overs is not his priority (despite the fact he will probably starting work as a Subaru tech this month). Tonight he is out doing a photo shoot with my construction lights, some car buddies and his mod Impreza.
 

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The videos of AWD summer vs RWD winter are just plain dumb. For starters summer tires in snow are horrible to begin with, regardless of drivetrain.

Second, when people are comparing RWD vs AWD in snow it's usually with non-summer tires. So if you are going to compare AWD vs RWD them use the same tire.
 

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..but he is 18 going on 40 so scheduling these switch-overs is not his priority......
😅 I'm laughing with you, not at you.

I miss the days when she does more with me than without me. But alas, it's what we want them to do and what we have hopefully set them up to do, right? to be their own person? :giggle:

The joys of parenting!
 

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The videos of AWD summer vs RWD winter are just plain dumb. For starters summer tires in snow are horrible to begin with, regardless of drivetrain.

Second, when people are comparing RWD vs AWD in snow it's usually with non-summer tires. So if you are going to compare AWD vs RWD them use the same tire.
It's dumb, but it proves a point ;) - that the contact patch is what matters. When folks just doesn't understand that the story at the contact patch is not only the theme, plot, details, and even the individual letters all wrapped up into one, sometimes, it's only through these rather ludicrous and crazy stunts that folks finally are made to get the point.

That said, this old Tire Rack combines all three, for a very interesting view:


You're absolutely right, no-one should seriously use summer tires on snowy roadways as a comparison point, regardless of the drivetrain configurations or vehicles involved...which is why all the serious comparisons (as I'd abstracted a few in this thread - How much of a difference will winter tires make on cold... , for example) do just as you noted: keep the platform/drivetrain consistent, while evaluating the tires themselves.

As I wrote previously, any such comparisons should be about the merits of the tires alone.

Some of these tests go so far as to specify exactly what fitment is tested and to keep the test only to that fitment. This is because we've seen in past testing (Norwegian and Russian - this would be well over a decade ago) that the same make/model of tire, fitted to the same vehicle (i.e. holding the platform/drivetrain the same as control), can actually not insignificantly bias the results (not just in terms of how the weight is distributed to each tire, but also in terms of differences in tread pattern/features....and even sometimes in terms of exactly where the tire was manufactured, which carries with it implications for compounding differences).
 

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Yea, I get the spirit of those kinds of posts, its to convince those who are not in their right might that AWD doesn't make you invincible ;)

I just cant stand them though. It would be like going to a downhill mountain bike course with two bikes: one is $5,000 full suspension bike with narrow smooth road tires, and the second being a $100 Walmart special hard tail with 2.4" Maxxis downhill tires. Then using the argument of "see, suspension/frame doesn't matter, the tires do!" when the full suspension bike can't make it down the hill because of traction loss/tire failure.

Disingenuous examples just drive me bonkers :)
 

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I invested in Winter tires for 2 of my 3 cars. I was driving kids to swim practice over a fairly steep mountain in the Winter, and didn't want to risk anything.

I'm at the point now where, if I didn't already have a set of Winter wheels and tires for my Lincoln, I would probably get good all season tires for it, but I still will use the winter tires on my Ascent, as I am more likely to have kids in that car, and our driving situation has changed where we both don't necessarily need to drive-in the snow anymore. I do need one car that has Winter tires on it because when we're in the Berkshires, sometimes the roads don't get plowed on a regular basis and I need to get around up there. I will tell you I've gone through some pretty amazing situations with common sense, Winter tires, and X mode, where traffic was literally sliding off the roads both uphill and downhill in some of the situations I've been in....the maintenance of relatively constant momentum that x mode provides, is a huge benefit in icy conditions.

It's really a personal decision to decide when Winter tires are right for you. I also have an F pace, with high performance all season tires on it, I can drive that in the Winter when the roads are not icy. But if it were snowing out I wouldn't take that car anywhere even though it has a great awd drive system, only because the tires are not optimized for snow.

So there's a bazillion factors involved on whether or not you should get Winter tires. The benefit in the lousy weather is offset by slightly less ability in the dry. Although I will say I have the General Arctics on both my cars now, and they are very good, almost as good as the Hakkas I had on my old GLS450, for about 40% the cost. These are not high performance Winter tires, but a good comfortable general purpose Winter tire.
 

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Yea, I get the spirit of those kinds of posts, its to convince those who are not in their right might that AWD doesn't make you invincible ;)

I just cant stand them though. It would be like going to a downhill mountain bike course with two bikes: one is $5,000 full suspension bike with narrow smooth road tires, and the second being a $100 Walmart special hard tail with 2.4" Maxxis downhill tires. Then using the argument of "see, suspension/frame doesn't matter, the tires do!" when the full suspension bike can't make it down the hill because of traction loss/tire failure.

Disingenuous examples just drive me bonkers :)
I don't see them as disingenuous as much as I think they are rather ridiculous 😅 😬 :ROFLMAO: !!!!
 

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I have Nokian Hakkapeliitta R3, I have a spare set of wheels that I will install this when it is below 0F and also snow is either on the ground or it’s going to snow. Lots of side roads are covered in snow during the winter and never thaw until spring. The colder it is the more likely the snow will drift across the warm road thaw during the day then freeze and glaze over. They aren’t perfect on ice but they are by far better than any generic off the shelf all-season.
 
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