Tires

Goodyear WinterCommand Ultra tires match up well against Bridgestone Blizzaks

New Goodyear WinterCommand Ultra tires provide the right amount of stopping power and stability on the road.

Photo courtesy of Goodyear

Testing vehicles is a great privilege and is also great fun, but having an opportunity to test a tire is almost better, as it brings the ability to dig deep on details and features from the comfort of my own vehicle. I was offered the opportunity to test the new Goodyear WinterCommand Ultra and jumped at the chance.

Before moving to Maine, I'd never given winter tires more than a passing thought, but they've quickly become an important part of my annual automotive maintenance schedule. So, before the weather warmed completely, I installed the Goodyears and got rolling.

Late winter and early spring here in Maine seem to drag on forever and can offer up weather that ranges from snow in the morning to deck-worthy sun in the afternoon. It's a tricky time of year to be a driver, because there are frequently times where tires can end up being drastically mismatched to changing conditions. This was the context in which I was able to test the new Goodyear WinterCommand Ultra.

A move to a new house and other challenges made it hard to coordinate a tire delivery, so the test was later in the season that I'd originally intended. In a way, I'm glad that the review took so long to come together, because it gave me the opportunity to try the tires in slushy snow, rain, and a warm sunny afternoon, all within the course of a couple of weeks.

It was 46 degrees and sunny the day I had the tires mounted to my 2015 Subaru Outback, and the first thing that stuck out was how quiet they are on the road. I usually rush to get the winter tires off once the snow slows down, because the tread patterns make a ton of noise on dry pavement. There's some noise here, to be fair, but far less of the typical winter tire "hum" than I've seen with the Bridgestone Blizzaks from winters past.

A couple of days after that blissful afternoon, the weather slipped back into a more typical cadence for March in Maine. Nearly eight inches of heavy, wet snow landed just in time for a run to kids' doctor appointments and an ill-timed shopping tip. We hit the road before the plows had been out in force, which meant inches of packed snow and slush. The Blizzaks I ran last season would feel planted and solid in these conditions, and surprisingly, the WinterCommand Ultras are nearly on that level.

We can debate whether or not winter tires are needed for all-wheel drive vehicles, but I'll always argue that winter tires are needed to improve stopping distance and traction on hills, and the WinterCommand Ultras did just that.

Of course, spring in Maine wouldn't be a thing without plenty of rain to make everything muddy. The Goodyears handled themselves well in the wet as well, and felt surprisingly confident in the near-freezing weather. There is no noticeable increase in hydroplaning or slipping under acceleration, and the tires retain their grip when driving quickly and cornering at higher speeds.

When it comes to pricing, the WinterCommand Ultras bring the value. Looking at Tire Rack, the Goodyears land at $171.92 per tire for my Subaru. Comparable Bridgestone Blizzaks start at around $180 and range up to $240 per tire. Michelins are also more expensive, starting at around $186 per tire. Though budget is important, price shouldn't be the only deciding factor when buying tires. In many cases, installation is free, and some tire shops offer free seasonal tire changes or tire storage.

The bottom line on the WinterCommand Ultra? It's a great tire for people who live in places that see varied weather in winter, especially if there are prolonged periods of dry weather. It's easily one of the quietest and most comfortable winter tires I've tested on dry pavement and it its snow/slush traction is lightyears ahead of even the best all-season tire. The Goodyears handled late-season Maine without complaint, and I suspect they'd be just fine in the thick of a nor'easter as well.

NEW! Goodyear WinterCommand® Ultra Winter Tire Product Launch Video www.youtube.com

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Dodge offers upgrades that push power to 885 ponies in some models.

Dodge

The world may be going electric, but Dodge is still offering plenty of support to owners of its famed Hellcat muscle cars. Today, the automaker announced a program to provide factory-backed performance parts for SRT Hellcat cars. The components can be ordered and installed by one of Dodge's "Power Broker" dealerships.

Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat Dodge's packages include graphics for the Challenger.Dodge

Called Direct Connection, the service is Dodge's official source for performance parts and other components. Dodge offers two kits for Challenger SRT models: Challenger SRT Hellcat Redeye cars can be upgraded to 885 horsepower and the standard Hellcat can be pushed to 750 ponies. In all, Direct Connection offers 14 kits for the Challenger and 13 race-ready kits. There are also four graphics packages for the Challenger Mopar Drag Park model.

Because of their connections with the company that designed and built the cars in the first place, factory-backed tuning and performance operations are usually top-notch. Dodge's program offers live technical support and an online catalog that allows users to mix and match performance parts using the site's "recipes." All parts that are installed or replaced by a certified Dodge dealer do not interfere with the cars' three-year/36,000-mile basic warranty or the five-year/60,000-mile powertrain warranty.

Direct Connection Challenger Performance Parts | Dodge youtu.be

If Dodge-approved performance parts get you excited, you don't have long left to wait. The kits will go on sale late in the first quarter of 2022. The Dodge Power Brokers dealer network will also start around that time.

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Electric vehicles

NHTSA looking into Tesla's in-car video games

Some owners have discovered that their car's video games work when the car is moving.

Tesla

Tesla's vehicles are among the most advanced and forward-thinking products of any kind, but serious innovation doesn't come with tradeoffs. The automaker has been in the news recently because of issues with how its advanced cruise control systems function, and now, Autoblog reports that the NHTSA is asking questions about Tesla giving drivers the ability to play video games and browse the internet while driving.

Tesla Arcade hands-on: the Model 3 is your video game console youtu.be

The feature is intended to be used while the car is parked, such as while charging, so the discovery that people can use them while driving is a serious one. Vince Patton, the person who filed the complaint with the NHTSA, tested his car and found that he could play Solitaire and a fairly involved action game while it was in motion. Internet browsing was also possible, meaning the driver could take their attention completely off the road ahead for extended periods of time.

Tesla Model 3 Tesla's screens offer advanced functions that many others do not. Tesla

Tesla was already under investigation over crashes involving its Autopilot feature. Several collisions have occurred between Teslas and emergency vehicles stopped on the side of the road. Following the initiation of that investigation, the NHTSA raised other questions with the automaker over a buggy software update that was pushed out, retracted, fixed, and reissued outside of the normal recall process. Despite their names, it's important to clarify that neither the Autopilot nor Full Self-Driving features are capable of driving the cars without driver awareness and input.

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