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 Videowww.youtube.com

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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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