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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New midsize sedan

Subaru announces refreshed 2023 Legacy

The new Legacy got a facelift and new lighting elements.

Subaru

Sedans are a dying breed as SUVs and pickup trucks take over, but there are still a few compelling options out there, and Subaru has one of them. The Legacy has been a long-time part of the Subaru lineup, and the all-wheel drive family sedan got a notable update for 2023.

2023 Subaru LegacyTop trims get luxury finishes inside.Subaru

Subaru offers the sedan in five trims: Base, Premium, Sport, Limited, and Touring XD. The automaker updated the Legacy with a facelift that brought a new front fascia, redesigned front bumper and new LED lighting. The car features a low dash and open cabin for great visibility in all directions, and the top Touring XT trim offers high-end accommodations, including Nappa leather and metal trim inside.

Every Legacy comes with the latest version of Subaru Starlink infotainment software. It runs on an 11.6-inch display and offers wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto as standard equipment. Higher trim levels get the same display with navigation and a new-for-2023 what3words integration.

2023 Subaru LegacyThe Legacy goes on sale this fall.Subaru

The 2023 Legacy comes standard with a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine that makes 182 horsepower and 176 pound-feet of torque. The top two trims come with a turbocharged 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine rated at 260 horsepower and 277 pound-feet of torque. Both engines come with a continuously variable transmission that offers an eight-speed manual shift mode.

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The IIHS may increase the speeds it uses to test advanced driver aids.

Insurance Institute for Highway Safety

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) recently announced that it is considering changing the speeds it uses to test vehicle-to-vehicle front crash prevention systems. The agency currently tests the systems at 12 and 25 mph, but says that the speeds don't accurately represent the types of crashes the safety tech is meant to prevent.

Front crash preventionwww.youtube.com

Automatic emergency braking (AEB) is designed to notify of a possible collision and help respond with automatic application of braking. Just like a human using the brake pedal, it can stop the car, but higher speeds make it difficult to stop in time. The new tests would be conducted at 35 to 45 mph, which is the range where a large number of rear-end crashes occur. As Automotive News noted, an IIHS study showed 43 percent of rear-end crashes occur at speeds of 45 mph or less, so it's important to have a test that shows how well the tech performs at those levels.

A whopping 85 percent of 2022 vehicles earned a "Superior" rating in the current testing regime, so the IIHS will remove it from 2023 testing and Top Safety Pick award evaluations. Their view is that, since the majority of vehicles meet the criteria, it's no longer an accurate way of evaluating performance. In its place, the agency introduced a night test for automatic emergency braking systems that will begin next year.

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