Winter Driving

Lots of grip equals little slip: Answering your winter tire FAQs

If you live where it snows, getting snow tires for your car may help keep you safe this winter.

Photo by Getty Images

Whether you're new to driving in winter weather or a veteran in need of a reminder, we've taken the time to answer your winter tire frequently asked questions. Read below to find out the answers to common winter tire questions.

Why do I need winter tires?

All the four-wheel or all-wheel drive in the world won't help your vehicle stop any faster on snow and ice, and the features may actually be detrimental because of their tendency to make drivers feel invincible. Winter tires feature special rubber compounds and tread patterns that help them maintain traction and performance when temperatures dip and the weather turns.

Many vehicles leave the factory with all-season tires, which work well in a huge variety of conditions, temperatures, and weather. They don't, however, do as well in freezing temperatures and snowy conditions.

What's the difference between all-season and winter tires?

The rubber compounds in all-season tires tend to harden in cold weather, which can lead them to crack and fail to provide solid traction. Winter tires are made with special compounds that remain pliable in cold weather to provide the best traction possible. They also have deep tread cuts, which allow for better grip in snow and slush. According to Tire Rack, winter tires provide about 21 percent more grip than all-seasons in similar conditions.

Instead of all four, can I buy just two winter tires?

Owners of front- or rear-wheel drive vehicles may feel tempted to buy winter tires only for the two wheels that are being driven by the engine, but that's a mistake. While it may help with acceleration in snow and bad weather, installing only two winter tires can lead to instability and loss of control, because the two wheels without winter tires will have far less traction. If you're considering buying winter tires, wait until you can buy all four.

Do I need snow tires if I have all-wheel drive? Snow mode?

All-wheel drive is all about traction control. If your vehicle is equipped with tires that don't offer enough traction to get a grip on the road surface, it doesn't matter what the AWD system (or drive modes) get up to. You'll be slipping and sliding wishing for snow tires when the first few inches of snow get packed onto the roadway.

Can I drive on winter tires in the summer?

That depends. Some parts of the country that receive regular winter snow have limitations on the types of tires that can be used in warmer months. Many areas bad the use of studded winter tires outside of cold weather, due to the studs' tendency to damage roads and reduce traction when there's no snow on the ground. Beyond that, standard winter tires don't provide the same level of wet traction and grip that all-season or summer tires do, and they can wear more quickly because of their rubber compounds.

Can I use the same winter tires next year?

If you rotate between summer/all-season and winter tires, you should be able to get a few years out of your winter tires. As they wear, like other tires, they'll offer less grip and the rubber compound will become less flexible.

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The Nissan Pathfinder is just at home on the trial as it is on the road.

Photo courtesy of Nissan North America

One of my favorite poems is Robert Frost's "The Road Not Taken". The message is about making choices and, how the road taken made all the difference. Often in life and on the road, we have to make one choice. Take one road. No turning back. I thought of this poem on my recent test drive in the 2022 Nissan Pathfinder in the hinterlands of Montana, when I could take two different roads—paved and dirt—and that made all the difference!

Nissan has redesigned and retooled its fifth-generation Pathfinder instilling greater latitude for buyers who want to travel both types of roads and expand their adventure footprint. After seven decades of off-road development, 35 years in the business of selling Pathfinders, and with more than 1.8 million sold in the U.S., this Japanese automaker has moved the needle with a ground-up revision of the previous-gen model.

2022 Nissan Pathfinder The 2022 Nissan Pathfinder is a capable off-roader.Photo courtesy of Nissan North America

The full-sized sport utility is available in four trims (S, SV, SL and Platinum) and two- and four-wheel drive versions; Nissan expects that nearly 60 percent of buyers will choose four-wheel drive. The Pathfinder is in a segment that has grown larger each year as more families want a vehicle for around-town, school and playdate runs and for weekend getaways with traction technology that allows travel in the backcountry and good towing capability. Direct competitors are the Toyota Highlander, Honda Pilot, and Ford Explorer.

A day-long drive of approximately 150 miles on tarmac and over a variety of dirt roads and tracks provided the opportunity to assess the Pathfinder's updates. A late-spring snowstorm added slickness to all the road surfaces in the region and allowed the Pathfinder to show off its traction capabilities at both slow and higher speeds and with lane change and emergency-braking maneuvers, when towing. I concentrated my evaluation on the augmented hardware and software designed to enhance the crossover's capabilities for backcountry travel and towing.

What I found most notable over every road surface was the comfortable ride and responsive handling that come from a collection of upgrades—and, in particular, as a result of the following: the gearing on the new nine-speed transmission, with paddle shifters for personal and more precise shifting for sport driving and slowing over rough terrain; the new terrain mode system that's engineered for different driving conditions; the four-wheel drive system that moves torque more quickly to avoid wheel slip; the improved suspension system; and new tires with a larger contact patch and more aggressive tread pattern, among other changes.

2022 Nissan Pathfinder Pathfinder's drive modes are designed to inspire confidence. Photo courtesy of Nissan North America

The Pathfinder provided sure-footed motoring and comfort over uneven surfaces. Its 7.1 inches of ground clearance easily maneuvered over the small obstacles on the trail and hill descent control took the reigns without hesitation for steeper and longer downhills on traction-compromised surfaces.

I was also impressed with the Pathfinder's towing competence and appreciated the standard trailer sway control onboard all trims. It offered notably strong, mannered acceleration from a standing start and excellent straight-line braking without porpoising for either exercise.

The new 2022 Pathfinder brings off-road and towing attributes that are important to families who are seeking to spend time in the backcountry for days trips and longer and for overlanding in terrain that doesn't require a true off-road vehicle with a low range. It's will appeal to buyers who want don't want to have to choose only one road.

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New appearance package

2022 Kia Stinger gets new Scorpion Package

The range-topping GT2 trim is available with a new Scorpion Package.

Kia

Passenger cars have been losing ground to SUVs and trucks in the United States for years, but that hasn't stopped some automakers from continuing to build compelling, fun-to-drive coupes and sedans. Kia is among them, and has just announced a new addition to its Stinger lineup for 2022. The fastback sedan will still offer blazing performance from either a turbocharged four-cylinder or twin-turbocharged six-cylinder engine, but will also be available with a special edition package that adds unique exterior styling and interior trim pieces.


Kia Stinger GT2 with Scorpion Package The package includes exclusive wheels and exterior appearance changes.Kia


The Scorpion Special Edition will be limited to just 250 units per month and will only be available to customers in the United States. Kia says the package is expected to sell out quickly, and notes that it will be available for the Stinger GT2 RWD and AWD. The package will be offered in Snow White Pearl, Aurora Black, and Ceramic Silver paint colors.

The 2022 Stinger got several other meaningful updates to keep it fresh. They include a new LED exterior lighting scheme, geometric alloy wheels, and a sportier quad exhaust system. Kia also added a new GT-Line trim, which gets a turbocharged 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine that make 300 horsepower and 311 pound-feet of torque. The GT trim that can be equipped with the Scorpion package gets a twin-turbo 3.3-liter V6 that get a bump in power to 368 ponies and 375 pound-feet of torque. Power hits the rear or all four wheels through an eight-speed automatic transmission with paddle shifters.


Kia Stinger GT2 with Scorpion Package The Stinger GT2 is available with RWD or AWD.Kia


The Stinger can match its bark with some real bite, but it also happens to be a spacious, comfortable sedan with plenty to like inside. The car gets a standard 10.25-inch infotainment touchscreen, navigation, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, a multi-device Bluetooth system, wireless charging, and more. The Scorpion Edition adds carbon fiber pattern trim pieces throughout the cabin.

The 2022 Kia Stinger is on sale now. The base GT-Line trim starts at $37,135, which includes a $1,045 destination charge. The Stinger GT1 starts at $44,735 and the GT2 trim starts at $52,335. Adding the Scorpion Package to the GT2 model bumps the price by $1,295.


Kia Stinger GT2 with Scorpion Package The Stinger got a new exhaust for 2022.Kia

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