October 22, 2015
Coping with winter weather may be one of the reasons you drive a crossover, SUV or pick-up. Many have all-wheel drive, which can help get your vehicle moving in challenging traction situations by spreading the propulsion workload across more tires than a two-wheel drive vehicle. And odds are your vehicle also has anti-lock brakes, and may have electronic driver aids like traction or stability control. All of these systems work together to help the driver get moving and maintain control.
There's a common misperception that these advanced systems can create additional traction. Unfortunately, they can't change the laws of physics - their purpose is to help the driver make the most of whatever traction their tires can provide. It's up to you to give your vehicle the best traction tool to work with, while giving yourself the best safety device for coping with any winter road condition.
When choosing the right tool for the job of winter season driving, there is none better than a tire from the Studless Ice & Snow category. These winter season specialists all feature aggressive tread patterns, unique internal construction and special tread rubber compounds that remain pliable even at extreme low temperatures. All three work together to grip the cold winter road, in whatever condition.
The Studless Ice & Snow winter tires we're evaluating in this comparison are designed for crossovers, SUVS and light trucks. Bridgestone has just replaced their category-leading tire, with the all-new Blizzak DM-V2. A modified tread design increases the number of tread blocks for more biting edges than its predecessor, while 3D zigag sipes help each tread block grab slippery road surfaces. The Blizzak DM-V2 also features Bridgestone's latest NanoPro Tech Multicell tread compound engineered to further enhance traction by wicking away the thin film of water that forms when driving over ice and packed snow.
To see how the Blizzak DM-V2 performs, we're comparing it with two other popular tires from the category, the Michelin Latitude X-Ice Xi2 and Yokohama iceGUARD iG51v. Similar to the Bridgestone, both feature aggressive tread patterns molded into special winter rubber compounds to aid traction in whatever cold road surfaces they'll encounter during winter season driving. Our evaluation used 2016 Porsche V6 Cayenne SUVs fitted with new, full tread depth 255/55R18 tires mounted on 18x8.0 wheels.
Winter weather is often unpredictable, and road conditions can change so fast that it's hard to know what waits for you around the next corner. Studless Ice & Snow winter tires are all about maximizing ice and snow traction.
For many drivers, the glare ice found at a slick intersection or out on the highway is one of the most challenging winter conditions they will experience. To evaluate each tire's traction in this environment we headed to a local hockey rink where the smooth ice replicates the packed snow and polished ice often encountered during winter months.
12-0 mph (feet)
|Bridgestone Blizzak DM-V2||3.027||29.2|
|Michelin Latitude X-Ice Xi2||3.018||28.5|
|Yokohama iceGUARD iG51v||3.534||40.7|
All three tires delivered very good traction on the slippery ice. The Michelin Latitude X-Ice Xi2 and Bridgestone Blizzak DM-V2 led the way with the Latitude X-Ice Xi2 showing a subtle advantage over the nearly identical performance of the Blizzak DM-V2. A measurable step behind was the Yokohama iceGUARD iG51v, which couldn't match the leaders, but still performed better than typical all-season tires do.
A constantly changing test surface makes side-by-side comparisons difficult, so we use a dedicated winter testing facility in Northern Sweden with acres of groomed snow that provides the consistency we need to get reliable acceleration and braking comparisons. This facility also has a prepared snow-handling course where we evaluate the stability and control of each tire during abrupt maneuvers.
Driving on snow-covered roads (and test tracks) in an all-wheel drive vehicle equipped with good winter tires is an amazing experience. The blend of all-wheel drive and excellent traction create a formidable combination that makes getting moving effortless. During our snow tests we found the Bridgestone Blizzak DM-V2 and Michelin Latitude X-Ice Xi2 to be very similar. Less than two feet separated acceleration and braking distances, while lap time on the handling course was virtually identical. The Blizzak DM-V2 did differentiate with moderately better characteristics during cornering and while controlling at the limit. The Yokohama delivered traction above very good all-season tires, but couldn't match the acceleration, braking or cornering traction and stability of the Bridgestone and Michelin tires.
Our 6.0-mile loop of expressway, state highway and county roads provides a great variety of road conditions that include city and highway speeds, and smooth, coarse concrete, as well as new and patched asphalt. This route allows our team to experience noise comfort, ride quality and everyday handling, just as you would during your drive to school or work.
We waited to conduct our drive in the cooler temperatures of fall to better simulate what you'll experience when you install your dedicated winter / snow tires at the beginning of the season.
Out on the road the Michelin Latitude X-Ice Xi2 displayed the most refined manners, feeling the most like a typical all-season tire, with stable on-center feel and direct steering response combined with the lowest tread noise level of the group. The Bridgestone Blizzak DM-V2 followed, displaying a little delay in response to small inputs but becoming more direct and responsive during bigger maneuvers. The DM-V2 also produced somewhat more tread noise than the Michelin. The Yokohama iceGUARD iG51V trailed the others somewhat, ultimately driving and riding like more traditional winter tires, with somewhat more sluggish steering response and handling combined with additional tread noise over the other two tires in the test.
Bridgestone Blizzak DM-V2 (Light Truck/SUV Studless Ice & Snow): The Blizzak DM-V2 is Bridgestone's Light Truck/SUV Studless Ice & Snow winter tire developed for the drivers of pickup, crossover and sport utility vehicles looking for enhanced grip in slush, snow and on ice. Designed with a focus on ice traction and braking, as well as wet road handling and hydroplaning resistance, the Blizzak DM-V2 offers wintertime driving competence. Read more.
Michelin Latitude X-Ice Xi2 (Light Truck/SUV Studless Ice & Snow): The Latitude X-Ice Xi2 is Michelin's Studless Ice & Snow winter tire developed for the drivers of vans, crossover and sport utility vehicles, as well as light-duty pickups that want a boost in winter driving confidence. Latitude X-Ice Xi2 winter tires are designed to combine X-tra ice and snow traction with enhanced handling on wet and dry roads. Read more.
Yokohama iceGUARD iG51v (Light Truck/SUV Studless Ice & Snow): The iceGUARD iG51v is Yokohama's Light Truck/SUV Studless Ice & Snow winter tire developed for the drivers of crossovers, sport utility vehicles and light-duty pickups looking for traction in challenging winter driving conditions. Featuring Yokohama's advanced winter tire technology, iceGUARD iG51v tires are designed to be proficient in cold temperatures on dry, wet, slushy, snow-covered and icy roads. Read more.
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