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Suv winter tires


With the cold season approaching, motorists can benefit from a wider option of tires, for the seasonal tire replacement, offered by all main producers, specifically dedicated to sport utility vehicles and crossovers 

Duilio Damiani

Winter is knocking at the door, and soon enough every tire fitter in the country will be overwhelmed with request for seasonal tire replacements.

As already established by a Ministerial Decree dated 2013, compulsory use of winter equipment in our Country runs between November 15 and April 15, regardless of the true weather conditions and/or the frequency and intensity of snowfalls. This period, though, is subject to changes in case of unusual weather conditions. In such cases, any Decree issued by local authorities must be considered compulsory. This article reviews all the options available to some of the fastest growing car segments on the market, Sport Utility Vehicles, crossovers and off-road vehicles. Taking into consideration the growing trend of SUV sales on the market, (one out of four vehicles sold in 2016) and their greater bearing on the European automotive sector, all the premium tire makers on the market dedicate increasingly specialized winter products able to make a real difference when inclement weather afflicts the roads we normally travel on each day.

Among some of the most popular products and (some) new products launched in 2016, here are the main options available to end users.






Bearing the name of the Greek wind God, this brand could not exempt itself from having dedicated tires for the winter season. As one of the emerging players on the market, Aeolus showcased, at the top of its range, its SnowAce AW03, launched a year ago as a quality product dedicated to mid-size and large sedans, but suitable also, with higher load index (XL) for small and mid-sized SUVs. Its characteristic tread pattern, with two large longitudinal grooves to improve water drainage, coupled to large tread blocks featuring three-dimensional sipe technology Bladesystem, the SnowAce AW03 comes in a variety of sizes, starting from a 195/50 R15 to a 225/40 R18, with H and V speed ratings.  












The Japanese manufacturer has established itself at the top of the winter segment for some time now with its Blizzak LM-80 EVO, the natural evolution of the older LM-80, and rather appreciated on the European winter tire market. The directional tread design featuring intermediate blocks and advanced siping, guarantee adequate grip on snow maintaining, at the same time, a steady behavior on dry roads as well, thanks to thin grooves running transversally across the tread. The lighter structure along with an advanced compound promote a greater reduction of rolling resistance, without penalizing grip at low temperatures. The Blizzak LM-80 EVO range can boast a wide number of sizes, starting from the 205/70 R15 to the 275/40 R20.












WinterContact TS 850P, the main winter offer of the German giant, must be considered the company’s flagship. Spearheading the new course of the brand (essentially, the name “Conti” disappears from the tires), WinterContact TS 850 P with its asymmetric tread design and  dense siping provide additional grip on snow and ice, while guaranteeing more than appropriate handling in dry conditions as well. Designed for some of the most powerful cars on our roads, the SUV version of the TS 850 P SUV, is available in 16 to 20 inch sizes, and boasts bigger tread blocks externally, as well as a sturdier casing and higher load index.







COOPER WeatherMaster WSC

From Cooper here is a product dedicated to the most severe winters, and designed to cope with the worst weather patterns, able to ensure perfect grip in the most severe conditions. Featuring a rugged design with "Circumferential Snow-Groove" technology, the WeatherMaster WSC has a directional tread with 66 grooves with biting edges for better grip on snow, ice and wet roads, ready to be equipped with optional studs, precisely 132 studs to help even in the most extreme situations. The compound, with high silica content and low modulus of elasticity prevents the loss of grip even at freezing temperatures, maintaining an appreciable level of comfort even at a lively pace. The size range is made up of a number of sizes from 15 to 20 inches.






DUNLOP Winter Sport 5 SUV

For the 2016/2017 season, Dunlop has recently presented the Winter Sports 5 Suv, the sturdier version of the recent Winter Sports 5 for passenger cars, intended to meet the need for winter traction on dry, wet and snow-clad roads, for medium and large size Sport Utility Vehicles. The technology used focuses on the design of the tread, with deep grooves to facilitate the evacuation of water and mud, sharp tread blocks and inclined central siping to improve grip when dealing with the most slippery road surface. A uniform distribution of the weight, through a larger contact patch, maximizes ground pressure, driving precision and handling in all conditions. Already available on most SUVs circulating today, the range includes sizes ranging from 16 to 20 inches.









FALKEN EuroWinter HS449                                     

With its Eurowinter HS449, Falken (part of the Japanese giant Sumitomo) boasts over 100 sizes, from 13 to 20 inches, with aspect ratios ranging between 70 to the extra-low profile 35 with T, H and V speed ratings. A sturdy winter product with deep grooves, wavy three-dimensional sipings, able to improve grip in persistent icy conditions. The five different levels in which the tread blocks are arranged provide a more than adequate driving comfort and low noise level, while the high silica content in the compound with improved polymer links improve mileage and the average lifespan of the tire. The Eurowinter range made up of a dozen sizes (from 16 to 19 inches) are available also as a run-flat option. 









FIRESTONE Destination Winter

The new Destination Winter expands Firestone’s Destination HP offer, dedicated to SUVs and mid-range crossovers, with the latter enjoying a specially designed seasonal replacement. With the experience gained in the high performance winter segment, the Destination Winter uses part of the technology found on Winterhawk 3, including the innovative NanoPro-Tech tread compound, supported by a suitably structured casing able to withstand the extra load imposed by the greater weight of SUVs. At first the range will have to rely on a limited 13, 16 and 17 inch option, yet still able to meet the needs of a large part of SUVs currently present on the market.





GOODYEAR UltraGrip Performance SUV

The new UltraGrip Performance SUV  (Gen -1) represents Goodyear’s proposal for Sport Utility Vehicles, a specialized range with a reinforced casing that completes the highly successful UltraGrip family. On this version, a larger footprint, possible through Goodyear’s Active-Grip technology, enhances the contact patch increasing stability and braking response. The 3D BIS design, created a curvy shaped tread pattern which preserves dynamic flexibility and grip on even the most slippery surface, without affecting the tire’s handling qualities in dry conditions. Waiting for a forthcoming expansion of the range on offer, during the first phase of the launch of UltraGrip’s SUV version, sixteen strategic sizes are available, between 16 to 21 inches, covering more than 40% of the sport utilities currently in circulation.








Savero WT is a particularly competitive high quality product range by GT Radial (flagship brand of the Asian group Giti Tire), designed for off-road vehicles and mid-sized SUVs, which require specific tires to deal with snow, ice and rain during even the harshest winters. Reason why the dimensional choice is quite limited, just a dozen sizes among the most commonly found on 4x4s, including those between 235/75 R15 and 235/65 R17. We are looking at a well-established tire in GT Radial’s catalog, created with a compound designed for cold climate zones, with a deeply grooved directional pattern, sharp tread blocks and dense siping over the entire surface of the tread, capable of maximizing grip even on the softest terrain.








Recently launched, last winter to be precise, Hankook’s I*Cept EVO 2 SUV has immediately obtained wide approval from that part of the public always on the lookout for premium products, and boasts a winter range for mid-size and large SUVs which draws directly from the namesake line designed for “normal” road vehicles suitably reinforced for use on high performance Sport Utility Vehicles. Beside its high silica compound, which guarantees more than adequate grip at very low temperatures, Hankook’s latest, features also a wider shoulder which results in an equally wider footprint, a reinforcing belt and a high resistance bead. The greater number of grooves, compared to the previous model, improves both grip and traction, while 3D siping reduce the deformation of the tread block on contact promoting stability even at a lively pace. The size range happens to be more than adequate going from 16 to 21 inch wheels, with T, H, V and W speed ratings.






Korean maker Kumho’s consolidated winter catalog, present in key markets worldwide, relies on its flagship model Zen RV KC15,  a specialized winter tire, with five specific sizes, between 17, 19 and 20 inches (H, V and W ), dedicated to high performance SUVs and top of the range 4x4 vehicles. The directional asymmetric design is made up of an outer strip designed to best meet the need for driving precision and handling even in dry conditions, leaving the inner section with the responsibility to guarantee the best possible grip on wet or snow-clad roads, favoring water expulsion through deep longitudinal and transversal grooves. Solid tread blocks with persistent wavy sipes, sticks to the ground even in icy conditions, ensuring stability and appreciable lateral grip at high speed.







Innovation, the leitmotiv that runs throughout the history of the French giant, is, in this 70th anniversary of the radial tire (patented by Michelin in 1946) evident from the launch of a dozen new sizes on the market, intended to widen the range of the already famous CrossClimate, including a specific CrossClimate SUV version. Designed specifically to equip medium and high range sport utilities and crossovers, this comfortable and “quiet” directional profile, suitable even for the winter season (certified and marked 3PMSF - 3 Peak Mountain Snow Flake), looks at that part of the market characterized by milder winters, where a tread compromise can afford greater handling qualities in the absence of extreme weather conditions. In this first marketing phase CrossClimate SUV is available in five different sizes, and can equip high-performance vehicles equipped with 18 and 19 inch wheels.







Nokian are set to continue to bet on their already popular WR SUV 3, an extreme winter product and one that has been thoroughly tested over the past two years, as the first tire in its segment to earn a double A on the European rating system. Produced with an innovative polymer mix, developed for some of the heaviest and more powerful vehicles, the WR SUV 3 ensures great driving precision even at high speed regardless of how slippery the surface might be, with reduced braking distance thanks to its deep V shaped grooves and sharp tread blocks. While 3D sipe technology provide more than adequate grip on snow and ice, they also prove effective in guaranteeing an appreciable acoustic comfort and grip in dry conditions. The size range claims more than 60 sizes available stretching between a 235/75 R15 T and a 315/40 R21 W. 








PIRELLI Scorpion Winter

For Pirelli the Scorpion range has always been synonymous with off-road. A well known name that has lasted for over three decades in a number of different versions, including, and it could not have been otherwise, a winter SUV tire, Scorpion Winter. Thoroughly tested throughout the last couple of winters, the Scorpion Winter relies on a reinforced structure made with lightweight materials and perfect for hi-performance SUVs, maintaining, at the same time an elastic support belt which enhances the footprint. The directional and symmetrical design of the tread has a central V shaped rib, flanked by two or four draining grooves, according to the width, and a specially profiled bead. The compound maintains its elastic qualities at extremely low temperatures thanks to a mix of silica, carbon black resin and special additives, already effective as the car starts moving. The sizes range between 16 and 22 inches, including special self-supporting runflat and Sealinside versions.





TOYO Open Country W/T

As the third largest Japanese tire maker after Bridgestone and Yokohama, Toyo, with its 70 years of experience in the business, stands out as a premium player on some of the main international markets, especially North America and Europe. The off road sector has always been of special interest, thanks mainly to the know-how developed over many years in off-road competitions, the most important of which being the Dakar. Already on the market for a few years, the Open Country in its W/T version features a sturdy design suitable for all the different driving conditions found during the winter season, with an asymmetric pattern and an innovative winter compound produced with Walnuts Technology, able to guarantee perfect grip at low temperatures enhancing the tire’s resistance to wear. The size range is rather large, in fact Toyo’s Open Country W/T comes in sizes ranging from 215/70 R15 to 295/40 R20. 





VREDESTEIN Wintrac Nextreme SUV

When the goal is not to sacrifice top car performance even in the harshest weather conditions, then a superior product with sporty characteristics is necessary. And that is the case of Nextreme SUV, the first Vredestein winter tire approved for speeds up to 300 km / h, and developed by the Dutch brand in collaboration with the Giugiaro design center. The eye-catching profile, which bears the Italian designer's signature, is coupled to an asymmetric non-directional tread pattern with a large footprint able to provide perfect grip, stability and handling on dry and wet roads alike, but also on ice and snow with no decline in performance even in the coldest weather. Only two sizes are currently present in the Vredestein catalog, both for some of the most prestigious vehicles on the market, a 295/35 R21 and a 295/30 R22, both with Y speed ratings.





YOKOHAMA Geolandar A/T G015

This overview could hardly be considered complete without the new All Terrain Geolander G015 by Yokohama, the Japanese giant’s offer for SUVs and 4x4 vehicles. A rather specialized winter tire compared to most other road tires, the new G015 (which succeeds the previous Geolandar A / TS G012) is a versatile all-terrain tire with deep longitudinal grooves designed to facilitate the ejection of mud and rubble, able to ensure perfect grip on snow-clad roads and not only; in fact Geolander represents the perfect compromise between road and off-road characteristics. Boasting a reinforced casing able to withstand the stress of driving on rough terrain, the Geolandar A / T is available in a range of fifty sizes, between 15 and 20 inches, thus meeting the needs of a large section of the market.



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