Winter Driving

These 3 winter tire options offer your best chance of slick road success

The Nokian Hakkapeliitta is one of the best winter tires you can buy.

Photo courtesy of Nokian

Winter is here, and many drivers are quickly finding out just how ill-equipped their vehicles are to handle the bad weather, which in many cases is due to having the wrong type of tires. Even beefy four-wheel drive pickup trucks can struggle in winter conditions if they don't have the right tires for the job. Winter tires are designed specifically to handle cold temperatures, and often provide far better snow performance than their all-season counterparts do.

Which tires are the best? There are plenty to choose from, but a few tire brands sit atop the pile. We've chosen our three favorite winter tires, each of which provides excellent snow and ice traction. The tires we've selected are widely available at most national tire chains and can even be found at local shops without much trouble.

Nokian Hakkapeliitta

Nokian Hakkapeliitta R2

Whether you've heard of them or not, it's hard to get much better for winter traction and performance than the Nokian Hakkapeliitta. Nokian, based in Finland, is far smaller than companies like Michelin and Bridgestone, but its specialty in winter tires puts it ahead of the pack. The hard-to-spell Hakkapeliitta is offered in a few different forms, some of which come studded from the factory. One tire in particular, the R2, performs in ways that other winter rubber can't, especially when turning and attempting to recover from a slide.

​Bridgestone Blizzak

The Bridgestone Blizzak winter tire is as popular and well-known as the Nokian Hakkapeliitta is obscure. One of the Blizzak's brightest spots is its ability to aid in stopping with snow. That's due, in part, to the tires' ability to bite into the driving surface even after snow has packed into the treads. All of that said, the Blizzak is not a performance tire and does not provide the same level of confidence and handling during evasive maneuvers that the Nokians do.

​Michelin X-Ice

Michelin X-Ice snow tires

Photo courtesy of Michelin North America

When in doubt, just pay for the Michelins. Few other brands offer the level of control and snow performance that the X-Ice tires do. The tires are nearly evenly matched with Nokian's offerings, and bring a solid level of traction when recovering from slides or when negotiating corners when the weather is bad. The Michelins also perform well in snow and ice braking, where they are almost evenly matched with the best tires from Finland.

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Volvo is allowing Super Bowl LV fans to enter to win a free car - terms and conditions apply.

Photo courtesy of Volvo Car USA

Volvo Car USA Is bringing back its Volvo Safety Sunday campaign for this year's big game. This time around, they're giving away up to $2 million worth of cars.

When the Kansas City Chiefs take on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Super Bowl LV on February 7, 2021, Volvo fans won't be talking about the old guard/new guard quarterback battle. They'll instead be hoping for a safety.

Here's how it works. For a chance to win a free car, contestants visit VolvoSafetySunday.com between January 25 and February 7, 2021 to design, in any trim and color available in the U.S. Entrants can build their car in the Volvo vehicle configurator or take a short quiz that will recommend a model based on their lifestyle. Once configured, users must click "Try to win this Volvo" on the summary page to enter. Full rules, terms and conditions can be found at VolvoSafetySunday.com.

Potential winners must enter the contest ahead of Super Bowll LV.Photo courtesy of Volvo Car USA

Volvo Safety Sunday 2021

Then, it's all up to the Chiefs and Bucs. It doesn't matter which team scores the safety. As long as one football lands in the end zone to score two points, there will be winners. Think it's a long shot? Remember that just last week the Buffalo Bills scored their first points of the game via a safety.

The giveaway is part of a larger push by Volvo to focus on the safety offered by their vehicles. The company is currently innovating to address the challenges of speed, intoxication, and distraction. Some of this work includes looking at how smart speed control and geofencing can automatically limit vehicle speeds near schools and hospitals in the future.

A new vehicle, designed to rise to meet some of this with hands-free driving software built in, is the redesigned 2022 Volvo XC90, which is expected to go on sale later this year. The XC90 is Volvo's best-selling SUV in the U.S. It comes in two- and three-row configurations, is available with a plug-in hybrid electric powertrain, and routinely is evaluated as having one of the poshest cabins in its class.

Last year, Volvo put $1 million worth of cars on the line to celebrate the more than one million lives saved by the three-point safety belt, a Volvo invention.

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The Lotus Exige Sport 410 20th Anniversary debuted last year to celebrate the milestone birthday of the model.

Photo courtesy of Lotus Cars

Lotus is turning the page. The company, now majority-owned by Geely, the parent company of Volvo and Polestar, is moving into more exotic territory. That means that it needs to bid adieu to three models as part of a larger Vision80 strategy.

The Lotus Evora, Exige, and Elise will exit the lineup after 2021. Lotus has announced that their production will end by December 31, but an exact manufacturing timeline is publicly unknown. Replacing the models is a new series of sports cars based on the Lotus Type 131 prototype, among others.

The new cars will be manufactured at a facility in Hethel, Norfolk, England. The strategy will ultimately result in the relocation of two Lotus sub-assembly facilities into one central operation in Norwich to support higher volumes of production and sales.

Lotus Evija The Lotus Evija hypercar is the company's future. Photo courtesy of Lotus Cars

That move is a £100-million-plus investment in the facilities that includes hiring of 250 employees. This is in addition to the 670 employees that the company has recruited since 2017, when Geely and Etika took ownership of the company.

The Lotus Elise debuted in 1995 showing off a body made of extruded and bonded aluminium, and lightweight composites. In May 2020, the Lotus Elise Classic Heritage Editions debuted, showing off unique paint jobs that are a nod to days past, and offering an enhanced exterior and interior spec over the Elise Sport 220 on which they're based.

In 2000, the Exige launched as the Lotus 'race car for the road'. In June 2020, the company debuted the Lotus Exige Sport 410 20th Anniversary to mark the model's birthday.

Lotus launched the Evora in 2008, marking the company's return to the super sports car sector. In January 2020, a cheaper version of the car, designed to better fit the daily driver lifestyle, was offered.

A plug-and-play digital instrument pack was made available in mid-2020 giving drivers of the three cars in the current lineup access to lap recording ability for over 4,000 race tracks.

Lotus Lotus has released this image teasing three future cars the company plans to produce.Photo courtesy of Lotus Cars

Lotus

By the time production is over, Lotus will have sold 55,000 units of the Elise, Exige, and Evora combined.

Lotus recently released video of the forthcoming Evija hypercar taking to the track, unleashing its 1,973 horsepower. The company's engineering team has bragged about its capability and it's safe to say a lot is expected of the model.

Though they're looking forward, the company is also giving an approving nod to its past, delivering its first Certificate of Provenance to a 1981 Turbo Esprit that was driven by Margaret Thatcher. Further certifications are underway.

In April, Lotus celebrated the 35th anniversary of Ayrton Senna's first Formula 1 win (in a Lotus) with a special edition podcast dedicated to the late, great racer.

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