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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Domino's and Nuro announced their partnership in 2019 — and now the robots are hitting the roads.

Photo courtesy of Nuro

After announcing their partnership to work on pizza deliveries via self-driving robots in 2019, Dominos and Nuro have officially rolled out their technology to one part of town.

Beginning this week, if you place a prepaid order from Domino's in Woodland Heights (3209 Houston Ave.), you might have the option to have one of Nuro's R2 robot come to your door. This vehicle is the first do deliver completely autonomously without occupants with a regulatory approval by the U.S. Department of Transportation, according to a news release.

"We're excited to continue innovating the delivery experience for Domino's customers by testing autonomous delivery with Nuro in Houston," says Dennis Maloney, Domino's senior vice president and chief innovation officer, in the release. "There is still so much for our brand to learn about the autonomous delivery space. This program will allow us to better understand how customers respond to the deliveries, how they interact with the robot and how it affects store operations."

Orders placed at select dates and times will have the option to be delivered autonomously. Photo courtesy of Nuro

Nuro Domino's delivery vehicle

The Nuro deliveries will be available on select days and times, and users will be able to opt for the autonomous deliveries when they make their prepaid orders online. They will then receive a code via text message to use on the robot to open the hatch to retrieve their order.

"Nuro's mission is to better everyday life through robotics. Now, for the first time, we're launching real world, autonomous deliveries with R2 and Domino's," says Dave Ferguson, Nuro co-founder and president, in the release. "We're excited to introduce our autonomous delivery bots to a select set of Domino's customers in Houston. We can't wait to see what they think."

California-based Nuro has launched a few delivery pilots in Houston over the past few years, including the first Nuro pilot program with Kroger in March 2019, grocery delivery from Walmart that was revealed in December 2019, and pharmacy delivery that launched last summer.

From being located in a state open to rolling out new AV regulations to Houston's diversity — both in its inhabitants to its roadways, the Bayou City stood out to Nuro, says Sola Lawal, product operations manager at Nuro.

"As a company, we tried to find a city that would allow us to test a number of different things to figure out what really works and who it works for," Lawal says on an episode of the Houston Innovators Podcast. "It's hard to find cities that are better than Houston at enabling that level of testing."

You can find out which self-driving vehicles are being tested in your neck of the woods by clicking here.

This article first appeared on AutomotiveMap's sister site InnovationMap.

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The 2021 Volkswagen ID.4 is on sale now.

Photo courtesy of Volkswagen AG
The all-electric range of the 2021 Volkswagen ID.4 has been confirmed. The model is the first modern electric Volkswagen to be sold in the U.S. and a model that the German automaker is resting a lot of hopes on for the future of sales in the country.

The 2021 Volkswagen ID.4 Pro with all-wheel drive will achieve an EPA-estimated 260 miles of all-electric range on a full charge. The ID.4 Pro S and 1st Edition, which have more features and equipment and therefore weigh more, achieve an estimated 250 miles of range.

The EPA-estimated fuel economy for ID.4 Pro RWD is 107 MPGe in the city; 91 MPGe on the highway, and 99 MPGe combined. The ID.4 Pro S and 1st Edition does slightly worse achieving 104 MPGe in the city, 89 MPGe on the highway, and 97 MPGe combined.

2021 Volkswagen ID.4: Exterior The "1st" badging denotes the vehicle as a first edition model. Photo courtesy of Volkswagen AG

These new numbers come as part of a second round of EPA testing. Original testing found that the model did not quite hit its target.

How does that compare to other EVs? The Nissan Leaf Plus offers 226 miles of all-electric power. The Hyundai Kona Electric delivers 258 miles. Volvo's XC40 Recharge has just 208 miles of all-electric range but the Tesla Model Y can go up to 326 miles on one full charge.

First out of the Volkswagen gate will be ID.4 models with an 82-kilowatt-hour battery and rear-mounted AC permanent-magnet synchronous motor. That system delivers 201 horsepower and 228 pound-feet of torque.

At a public DC fast-charging station with 125 kW charging, the ID.4 can go from five to 80 percent charged in about 38 minutes. With purchase, ID.4 owners receive three years of unlimited charging at Electrify America DC Fast Chargers at no additional cost.

The 2021 ID.4 is on sale now, with pricing for the rear-wheel-drive ID.4 Pro starting at $39,995 MSRP, before a potential Federal tax credit of up to $7,500. The Pro S carries an MSRP of $44,495. The limited-run ID.4 1st Edition, which sold out the day the vehicle was launched, carried an MSRP of $43,995.

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