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My drive home from Keystone yesterday in a steady snow convinced me that I need something better than the OEM tires for winter driving in the mountains. My Ascent slipped a few times on the packed slush on I70 so I'm going to get snow tires.

I've had both Blizzaks and studded snow tires on different vehicles, but I don't know which would be best (traction in ice and snow) on the Ascent. Safety is primary over longevity so traction over tread life. I will use swap tires out for spring and summer driving so all season driving is not a concern.

Anyone have experience with studded snow tires vs. Blizzaks on the Ascent?
 

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My drive home from Keystone yesterday in a steady snow convinced me that I need something better than the OEM tires for winter driving in the mountains. My Ascent slipped a few times on the packed slush on I70 so I'm going to get snow tires.

I've had both Blizzaks and studded snow tires on different vehicles, but I don't know which would be best (traction in ice and snow) on the Ascent. Safety is primary over longevity so traction over tread life. I will use swap tires out for spring and summer driving so all season driving is not a concern.

Anyone have experience with studded snow tires vs. Blizzaks on the Ascent?
Studded tires will destroy the dry road which is the primary road condition here in Colorado for most of us. Studded tires are great if the road is always covered in snow or ice. I mounted Blizzaks on my Ascent and they work great. You will do just fine with these winter tires here in Colorado. Of course they will not get you over very deep snow that you bottom out on (but can not push through). Nothing will. I travelled with the winter tires in the high country without any problems and will be driving to Steamboat in January. The Blizzaks did great on the cold roads in Granby through Grand Lake during this year's recent Thanksgiving snow storm. Also some back country areas for snow shoeing. I mounted the DM-V2 tires.
 

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The decision between studded and non-studded should be driven by the anticipated road conditions as it relates to temperature. I addressed this in the second portion of my "myths" post here:


If you mainly experience trouble with icing on roadways at temperatures hovering around freezing or otherwise see totally ungroomed surfaces(i.e. private roadway that does not get much other traffic and/or is treated), studs can be of tremendous help.

Ancillary to this consideration will be the driver's (as well as passengers, of-course!) tolerance for Noise/Vibration/Harshness - or "NVH."

While many non-OE tires will increase cabin noise and may even cause some felt vibration, winters - and studded winters especially at that - typically causes more issues than "All Season" alternatives. Unfortunately, there's really no way to objectively define this cabin intrusion: a lot is dependent on the end-user's personal hearing acuity and tolerance levels - things that are simply subjective by nature.

Also, you'll want to consider any legality issues in your area. In some locales, you can use non-studded winters for longer than you can use studded, so if you have transitional season concerns, a bit of compromise here might be what you need.

Finally, resist the temptation of cheaper winter tire. The marketing catchphrase that "any winter tire is better than an All-Season in the winter" is simply -NOT- true, and multiple winter tire tests' hard numbers data demonstrates this finding ( https://www.ascentforums.com/thread...cold-dry-roads-versus-all-seasons-tires.8765/ ). A bad tire is simply a bad tire, period. This holds validity with studded winter tires as well. If you are pursuing studded winters, consider the General Altimax Arctic or Pirelli Winter Carving/Winter Carving Edge as base investments, but if you can swing it, I'd highly recommend that you look at the Nokian Hakkapeliitta studded, 8 or 9.
 

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A couple of additional notes:

While packout is absolutely right - "hard" metal studded tires do damage roadways, that is not a parameter which affects the safety (i.e. performance) of the tire, in comparison with "Studless Ice & Snow" tires.

Also, Dean Schulze, you'll want to note that the "Blizzak" name is one that Bridgestone assigns to quite a number of its various winter tires, spanning everything from the passenger vehicle "Performance Winter" sub-genre all the way to LT/SUV-fitment "Studless Ice & Snow" tires. The targeted performance parameters for a "Performance Winter" differs significantly from that of a "Studless Ice & Snow" tire. Just as the targeted performance (the "mission," if you will) of a studdable winter differs versus "Studless Ice & Snow."

As I noted in other threads, this difference is so pronounced that with the exception of "benchmarking" performance - much like how a test of "All Season" tires will benchmark a summer tire and a winter tire to bracket either end of the spectrum - the Scandinavian and Russian tests (the two powerhouses in this area) completely separate the two sub-genres, electing to test studded tires by themselves, and "Studless Ice & Snows" in an equally separate manner.

Finally, Dean Schulze, I wouldn't say that it's impossible for someone to have done so already, but remember that for the early adopters, this is only their second winter with the Ascent. Few folks are likely to have gone through even one set of winter tires in this time-frame (even with the dual-layer compound seen on select Bridgestone Blizzaks).

Personally, I'm now in my second winter with a set of DM-V2s on my Ascent, having come from a set of Pirelli Winter Carving Edge studded on my '13 Tribeca and then '16 Outback. Unfortunately, differences in how each platform reacts under varying conditions have colored my take of this switch, so I can't really make a direct comparison. Similarly, because we had a mild winter last year and have yet to experience significant icing/snowfall this year, it again makes it hard for me to make a direct cross-comparison, other than to say that yes, the temperature-mediated effects on traction really does play out in real-life as it has in the countless tests that have spanned the last decade and a half.
 

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I’m a huge fan of all the hakkappelliita tires- both all weather and winter. The R3 SUV Non studded have been in my ‘14 outback for 5 seasons. They are incredible. This year I wanted to try the studded Hakka 9 for the mountain passes around here. Needless to say I’m hoping for an above average precipitation this winter :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
I’m a huge fan of all the hakkappelliita tires- both all weather and winter. The R3 SUV Non studded have been in my ‘14 outback for 5 seasons. They are incredible. This year I wanted to try the studded Hakka 9 for the mountain passes around here. Needless to say I’m hoping for an above average precipitation this winter :)
The reviews I've read for the Nokian Hakka's say that they are great in the cold, but when the temperature gets above 40 F (as it often does in Denver in the winter) that they become so soft that they are almost unsafe. Have you had a different experience driving the Hakka's on warm winter days?
 

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That’s hard to say
The reviews I've read for the Nokian Hakka's say that they are great in the cold, but when the temperature gets above 40 F (as it often does in Denver in the winter) that they become so soft that they are almost unsafe. Have you had a different experience driving the Hakka's on warm winter days?
Sure I’ve driven in 40F+ weather on them. But usually it’s local in the city on Some warm days so conditions are great. No I have not noticed any difference at all. I have not taken them on highways at speed with warm weather. Our winters are usually close to freezing most of the time.
 

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The reviews I've read for the Nokian Hakka's say that they are great in the cold, but when the temperature gets above 40 F (as it often does in Denver in the winter) that they become so soft that they are almost unsafe. Have you had a different experience driving the Hakka's on warm winter days?
"Unsafe" is relative. But even more so, there's a bit of a confounding factor here - please, read-on:

First, try not to just say "Hakka," as you would not from here on out (I hope) ever just say "Blizzak" again, either. ;) Similar to Bridgestone's "Blizzak" tag, the "Hakka" tag for Nokians encompasses winter tires with fitments for passenger vehicles to light-trucks/SUVs to even heavier-duty transports. And also similar to the Blizzaks, the Hakka tag spans the sub-genres of "Studless Ice & Snow" to studdable winters.

Just as their performance in wintry weather differs, the sub-genre to which the winter tires in-question belong to will also noticeably impact their performance in the clear (wet or dry, this simply means without frozen precipitation on the roadway) - be it in cooler temperatures or warmer.

Unfortunately, the compounding that makes "Studless Ice & Snow" tires excel at the coldest temperatures also makes them less able to compensate for the increased stresses that arise from extra heat - repeated emergency maneuvers - or even just that singular instance in warmer weather - will cause them to wear more, and both their compounding and often their physical architecture makes them less resilient to these stresses. That said, the days when they are outright "unsafe" are long gone - the last instance I could think of this label being attached to a top-tier "Studless Ice & Snow" tire was back in the early 2000s, with the Bridgestone WS40, which is long since defunct (strange that right after some European testing made this declaration that Bridgestone introduced the WS50, isn't it?).

That said, this trade-off in the performance envelope - increasing capabilities in wintry conditions for an equal decrease in the clear - is definitely "real," and the raw data which I've cited in the threads I've referenced above serve as incontrovertible proof.

If clear and/or warmer roadway concerns factor more into your decision, look instead at either the "Performance Winter" sub-genre or, alternatively, the studdable winter tires (just don't outfit them with studs, if you don't want - keep in mind here, however, that you will be giving up considerable ice traction, without). The former sub-genre is specifically designed for just this type of use, while the typically more resilient compounding and physical architecture of the latter (think about the need for these tires to support studs in their treadblocks) will handle the stresses a bit better (for a more "historical" perspective, consider these two threads on SubaruForester.org - https://www.subaruforester.org/threads/studded-vs-studdless-winter-tires-on-forester.532537/ and https://www.subaruforester.org/threads/wasting-money-on-studded-tires.515697/ , and yes, that's my screen-name there, too, from the days when my wife had FXTs: note that to this day, I'm still trying to correct the misinformation and old-think that pervades regarding modern premium studded winters, and you can rest assured that up-to-date data continues to show the trends that had by then already been seen for several years past).

Finally, if clear/warmer roadway concerns for you includes the fact that you can elect to simply not go to work or otherwise venture out onto the roads when it's just nasty out there, you may even want to consider an "All Weather" or "All Season" tire. As the latest rounds of European testing showed, the most capable of the of the "All Season" breed can run neck-and-neck with even the top-tier "Performance Winter" tires when there's wintry precipitation on the ground (and vice-versa, too).
 

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Just be aware that in some jurisdictions, metal studs are illegal (but rubber or plastic ones aren't), in other jurisdictions, all studs are illegal (possibly because the regulations were written before non-metal ones came out).

Only six states permit the use of studded tires without restriction: Colorado, Kentucky, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Vermont, and Wyoming. Most of the remaining states allow studded tires with date restrictions.

2590
 

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^ Oh! Very good point! I totally forgot about non-metallic studs: thank you, Robert.Mauro!

Also, as clarification, if you outfit your vehicle legally with studded tires but find yourself driving into a state/locale with restrictions, don't worry. Enforcement understands that the equipment which is legally fitted to your vehicle in the state where it is registered is still legal. :)

You'll get weird looks from valets and folks on the sidewalk, but enforcement won't care less. ;)

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There's a lot of old-think and incorrect information regarding studded tire performance and compromises in that article.

First, it's been proven for well over the last decade and a half that premium studded winter tires do -NOT- perform any worse in either the wet or the dry, versus comparable premium "Studless Ice & Snow" tires. Comparing roadgoing winter tires with dedicated rally-racing winters is an exercise in futility - they are simply NOT comparable, and the analogy offers no validity whatsoever. Again, data from the last 15 years proves this old-think to simply be absolutely false.

Similarly, one cannot just say that a modern premium studded winter will perform better than modern premium "Studless Ice & Snow" tires on icy surfaces. Again, data from the last 15 years consistently demonstrates that this is both a function of the base tire (i.e. a worse studded winter [think of an el-cheapotire] will still be beat by a better [think premium] "Studless Ice & Snow") as well as is temperature-dependent. Ice can actually be so cold that studs have difficulties chipping into them to offer traction - and what's even more important is that as ice gets that cold, it actually starts to allow for grip in a manner that mimics clear concrete: ice is not always "slippery."
 

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The trick in all of this is to figure out which research is applicable to how and where you drive, and we're all different. I have been using studless Michelin X-ice tires for years, we"re on our 6th set on 6 different vehicles. Are they better than Blizzaks? Depends on the tester and the vehicle. I prefer a tire that has the same tread compound all the way, even though I don't intend to run them down that far. Are they better than studded tires, probably not on black ice, but the difference isn't huge. I used to run studded tires, but the Michelins are nearly as quiet as my regular tires, have low rolling resistance, and if necessary I can leave them on past the "get rid of your studded tires" date. I bought a set for my Ascent last January and I'm pleased with them. I see no reason to switch. For years I had to be at work at 6:30AM, well ahead of the snowplows and de-icing trucks. The X-Ice tires always got me through and kept me out of the ditch.
 

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I personally don't like Blizzaks. Yes, they are the best (along with Nokian) in most tests, but that is for a NEW tire (as Azstomper noted). The ultra-special compound they use wears off in about 15-20k of use, then you have an all-season tire.

Get a consumer rated tire from any of the big online vendors, that has at least 11/32-12/32 of deep void tread, and the design of the tire keeps up siping/tread the whole life of the tire.

I run Cooper Evolution snows on my Q5, and Toyo GSI on the Ascent. The Coopers are much, much better. The Toyos are better than all seasons, and a average snow tire, but I can climb walls with the Coopers.
 

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The trick in all of this is to figure out which research is applicable to how and where you drive, and we're all different.
^ +1.

This is probably the single most important factor, along with that individual's driving habits.

The biggest problem with location is that outside of those who are from or have had extensive experience in that particular locale, it's very, very hard for folks to get an accurate picture of what their particular winter conditions are like. My relatives in Atlanta, Georgia, often ask about my weather conditions when they call during the winter holidays, and are amazed that where I am in Cleveland-metro (Ohio), that I either haven't seen much snow or even don't have any snow on the ground, when all they see from various national weather reports is that this area got blasted by a winter storm.

This is pretty funny when it happens, and it's also endearing when it's an older parent calling out of worry, but just imagine if this was a sales-person on the other side of the phone or chat window.

Individual driving habits should be factored-in, too, as Azstomper wrote towards the end of his/her post above.

Those who can simply elect not to drive or can drive a different vehicle during such conditions should have different tire priorities than those who MUST drive even in the worst conditions (i.e. first-responders, first/third-shift workers, etc.). Even being able to wait-out (or simply having one's commute timed to such events) until municipal road-maintenance crews have been able to clear and groom the roadway should also affect one's final choice of tire sub-genre.

I have been using studless Michelin X-ice tires for years, we"re on our 6th set on 6 different vehicles. Are they better than Blizzaks? Depends on the tester and the vehicle.
I think that tire shoppers should realize this truth, and that instead of seeking something that's "#1" in any particular test/comparison, they should simply be willing in the top-tier performers.

In addition to the two factors above, the specifics of the testing conditions (more on this in just a minute ;)) can significantly impact any one tire's final standing relative to another, but it is much less often that tires scoring within the top tier of any one test will fall out of that same tier in similar testing conducted by others during that same season.

Year-to-year, variability can be seen - and to an extent should be expected - as manufacturers make incremental modifications. And certainly, there's also always the chance that one or another make will bring out something that's new and a cut above the rest (recall Bridgestone's disgrace in the European marketplace over the WS40 and their brilliant recovery via the WS50/60, followed by the dominance of Michelin's Xi2 and today's marvelous Continental TS860).

With the latter, though, one should remember that the bias is always present. With test-data being the driving force behind sales overseas, the community famously saw one tire maker submitting "ringer" tires into crucial tests. Similarly, one manufacturer's slip-of-the-tongue during an interview revealed to the North-American community their vulnerability to emotionally-driven advertising campaigns and influencers, and how this manufacturer tries to exploit these weaknesses in their advertising.

...Are they better than studded tires, probably not on black ice, but the difference isn't huge.
Don't think of it that way. :)

You (and other - including myself - modern "Studless Ice & Snow" users) should never feel "ashamed" that their chosen winter tire does not carry studs and may therefore somehow be weaker (an incorrect assumption) on ice.

The reason this assumption is wrong is because testing over the course of the last decade-and-a-half consistently showed that the differences in traction on icy surfaces per modern premium studded winters versus modern premium "Studless Ice & Snow" tires depends tremendously on roadway temperature.

Remember when I mentioned above that I'd come back to specific testing conditions? Yup, that's why. ;)

Where temperatures are higher (closer to freezing), premium modern studded tires consistently perform better, while modern premium "Studless Ice & Snow" tires start to reverse that trend by at approx. 9 deg. F. (-13 deg. C.) By the time roadway temperatures reach 0 deg. F (-18 deg C.), the ice surface has become so cold that studs can no longer effectively chip into the ice surface to enhance traction, and modern "Studless Ice & Snow" tires start to really shine. Our Russian friends were among the first to report this data well over a decade ago ( https://www.zr.ru/content/articles/16906-test_shipy_i_lipuchki_na_ldu_kazus_gradusa/ ), and soon after, European and Scandinavian tests stopped bothering to cross-compare these two winter tire sub-genres, noting clear advantages of either as based on such conditions.

Users of modern premium "Studless Ice & Snow" tires shouldn't feel somehow ashamed that their tires don't carry metal spikes - and similarly, modern premium studded winter tire users should also not feel ashamed that their tires do. :) It's all about seeking that edge in performance based on actual conditions.
 

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I personally don't like Blizzaks. Yes, they are the best (along with Nokian) in most tests, but that is for a NEW tire (as Azstomper noted). The ultra-special compound they use wears off in about 15-20k of use, then you have an all-season tire.

Get a consumer rated tire from any of the big online vendors, that has at least 11/32-12/32 of deep void tread, and the design of the tire keeps up siping/tread the whole life of the tire.
Yup.

Michelin really (and rightfully) exploited this when they brought out the then-new Xi2 (I want to say 2008?), when at the (Canadian?) press event, they rolled out shaved-to-depth Xi2s and WS60.

That said, as I noted above, I think it's critically important for folks to understand their own driving habits, and tailor their purchase accordingly.

A significant portion of drivers who choose to seasonally switch to winter tires are cognizant of the significant decrease in fresh powder mobility and slushplane resistance as their winters wear to the half-way mark (~ 6/32 inch) as indicated by the tire's "Winter/Snow Platform" indicator, and will readily purchase/install replacements at this wear-point. Luckily, this is a key idea that tire manufacturers as well as retailers properly promote - probably because it helps them with more sales/profits! :) I find it hard to complain about this one, though, as even tire engineers still - even to this day - maintain that winter traction in powder snow is mostly dependent on tread depth and physical architecture (versus compounding, at the ratio of 2/3 to 1/3, respectively - note that this ratio is swapped, where it comes to ice and hardpack traction).

This kind of a replacement schedule helps mitigate the "double bogey" effect of diminishing tread-depth on the dual-layer Bridgestone "Studless Ice & Snow" winters.

That said, those who are on a budget and like to take advantage of secondary-market resale of gently used winter tires should be cognizant of this issue, as well as taking note of the date-of-manufacture of their second-hand tires to insure safety.

Regardless, potential buyers should remember that the "Blizzak" trade-name applies also to Bridgestone winter tires -NOT- utilizing their dual-layer compounding, and that these single-compound through/full-tread-depth tires are available in their passenger vehicle "Performance Winter," LT/SUV "Performance Winters," as well as LT/SUV "Studless Ice & Snow" tires.

I run Cooper Evolution snows on my Q5, and Toyo GSI on the Ascent. The Coopers are much, much better. The Toyos are better than all seasons, and a average snow tire, but I can climb walls with the Coopers.
I really wish that some of the overseas tests would include tires we usually see only here in the North American market. Coopers Tires have always been hidden gems.
 

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My drive home from Keystone yesterday in a steady snow convinced me that I need something better than the OEM tires for winter driving in the mountains. My Ascent slipped a few times on the packed slush on I70 so I'm going to get snow tires.

I've had both Blizzaks and studded snow tires on different vehicles, but I don't know which would be best (traction in ice and snow) on the Ascent. Safety is primary over longevity so traction over tread life. I will use swap tires out for spring and summer driving so all season driving is not a concern.

Anyone have experience with studded snow tires vs. Blizzaks on the Ascent?
I have 255/50R20 Blizzaks and love them. They are from a Ford Explorer, so are 255/50 vs 245/50. As long as you put all four on the same size, no problem. They virtually stick to the road and I live outside of Buffalo, NY.
 

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^ Which Blizzak, JES3? I'm guessing DMV2s due to that fitment?
i have the dmv2 and so far so good. heading to Steamboat after the new year, so I will report back then since there will be plenty of opportunity to test them out not just in cold weather but back country snow.
 
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