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2013 OB 2.5i Ltd w/ EyeSight & Nav
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Discussion Starter #1
Hi folks. I acquired my 3rd Subaru (a 2013 Outback 2.5i Ltd with EyeSight/Nav) at the end of November as a replacement to a 2010 Audi A4 Avant which I loved but had outgrown in size. I previously had a 2005 Legacy 2.5 GT 5MT wagon (an awesome, affordable mid-life crisis car) preceeded by a 1998 Impreza Outback Sport. I'm well versed in the Subaru life, formerly a member of the LegacyGT forums.

I'll cut to the chase. I knew I would not be happy with the '13 OB tires (ContiProContact) from the start but have a huge dilemna about what is an appropriate substitute for my somewhat unique driving situation. With my previous vehicles, I have either run dedicated performance winter tires in winter (Dunlop M3s), or with the Audi and the LGT wagon I eventually switched to ContiExtremeContact DWS tires for a compromise using one tire in all four seasons. Life is more complicated now, however.

I have a home in the Mid-Hudson Valley/Catskill Mountains (anyone want to buy it?) and a new home on Lake Erie in western NY, south of Buffalo (the land of lake-effect snow). This year, I am between both homes, but next year the Catskills home will be no more. Driving conditions in the Catskills and in western New York technically both require winter tires but for different reasons. Both are generally very cold in winter, so even without much snow winter tires are a good idea. The Catskills have hilly roads with "predictable" snow falls and less predictable icing, whereas western NY is generally flat but with unpredictable lake-effect snow fall and less predictable snow-plowing. I go back and forth between the two homes at least once every 3 weeks, a 300+ mile trip one-way via I-90. So far, this isn't complicated. Given my driving habits, I usually replace tires every two years as I average 15k-24k miles annually).

Here's the complication: from Feb 1-Mar 15 this year, I drive down to South Florida to escape some of the winter. In previous winters I spent only a month in Florida, this year it will be 6 weeks, and next year it might be 8+ weeks (yeah, poor suffering me). My point is that I escape some of the winter, but I still have to deal with at least a bit if not a lot of winter driving. Then I end up in warm weather. So, using winter tires, IMO, is not practical unless I want to swap them on and off four times a year!

The '13 OB uses 225/60-17 size rubber, for which I have found no perfect all-season compound, except the winter-rated and expensive Nokian WR-G2 which I don't want to purchase because of the difficulty in getting replacements in an emergency situation. I'm not sure if I could do a plus-zero size 235/55-17 on the OB: if this would work, I could get the Conti DWS in that size and my problem might be solved.

So, I've considered other A/S tires in the running. The Hankook Optimo H727 seems like a decent compromise, but I have read about/seen less than ideal wet weather performance with it. The ContiProContact with EcoPlus is supposed to be better than the existing tire in winter conditions, but I question the tread design as it is almost identical. I know that everything is a compromise in an all-season rubber, so I want to know what brilliant ideas any of you enthusiasts might have for me.

From the frozen north to the warm Florida winter, what would you pick for the '13 OB as the best compromise to get me through winter driving safely, and yet be acceptable in warm and wet climates too? I might just suffer through the rest of this month with the existing tires and wait until next fall to deal with this, hoping that a better tire will materialize for next winter.

Thanks in advance for the feedback.
 

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OBW H6 VDC, Tribeca, XT6
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12,385 Posts
Run snows Fall to February? Swap when you leave for Florida?

I'd run snow tires and leave them. Change them out more frequently, like every 2 years instead of 4, or 3 instead of 5, or something like that. No matter what all seasons you get - they aren't snow tires. In light of the expense of all that driving, traveling, and of a new car - the cost of bumping up new snow tires an extra two years sooner is negligible and gives much added value.

If you're so inclined you might look into cheaper snow tires since they typically retain their best traction only a couple years anyway rather than getting Nokians...but either way is a great fit.

I've run snow tires in the summer because I had multiple sets, they were old but had plenty of tread, etc, they drive perfectly fine, but I don't autocross or anything close to it either.
 

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Somebody Else's XT
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14,437 Posts
I'd get a second set, deal with swaps for a year or so and then sell the snows when you finally bail on NY.

That way you'll have the right tires when you need them, and when it's all done your keeper tires won't reflect compromises made for driving in NY snow.

The only downside I see is a few swaps and some storage. That doesn't seem too bad to me.
 

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2013 OB 3.6R Limited, Black Silica
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383 Posts
I'm used to running the Nokian WRg2's year round but am trying a new tire this time. I am Not sure if they are available in the US yet (just came out in fall here) but it is called Hankook Optimo 4S. So far they handle really well,are quiet, great in the snow and ice (have the snow flake in mountain snow tire certification), and are a lot less expensive than the Nokians. It looks like they have a tread pattern similar to the 727's so it must mostly be a compound difference. We will see how long the last but have a better wear rating than Nokian if that matters to you.

PS. I have never found a continental tire I like and stay far away from them.
 

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Meh.
I has wagons.
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12,323 Posts
FWIW, the 235/55/17 should fit acceptably.

That being said, the goodyear ComfortTred is available in stock size and is a very similiar design to the Michelin Primacy MXV4, which is another decent all-season.

I've found the MXV4 to handle things other than ice or icy slush quite well for an all-season.

The Michelin Defender is another option, but I'd say it is too new to have a great amount of winter weather feedback.
 

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FWIW, the 235/55/17 should fit acceptably.

That being said, the goodyear ComfortTred is available in stock size and is a very similiar design to the Michelin Primacy MXV4, which is another decent all-season.

I've found the MXV4 to handle things other than ice or icy slush quite well for an all-season.

The Michelin Defender is another option, but I'd say it is too new to have a great amount of winter weather feedback.
OB is far far from a performance car - I think your Thinking too hard about this. Toss dedicated winter tires on steel wheels and keep the original continentals for your FL trips. No sense in tossing tires that have at lest 30,000 miles of life in them. They work fine for the drive south and wet roads etc. Nothing terrible about their traction ability. Only major issue is their being very soft and not holding balance beyond about 8000 miles or so. When they wear out get a better set of normal every day use all season tires for the FL stuff.
 

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2013 OB 2.5i Ltd w/ EyeSight & Nav
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Discussion Starter #8
Thanks, everyone, for the terrific replies. Since I have only 3 weeks left before the drive to Florida this year, I am going to tough it out and keep the ContiProContact tires on the car through next fall. By November, I will know my Florida plans for the winter 2014. My inclination is still not to run dedicated winter tires on their own wheels. I hate steelies and because of the TPMS in the car, I would need to buy sensors for all four wheels which drives up the cost significantly. In other cars I didn't need sensors as the TPMS used the ABS system to detect hi/low tire pressures. The sensors in the Subaru might be better, but less convenient and more expensive for those who swap wheels.

I hadn't heard about the Optimo 4S before as another all-weather alternative. I am hoping that by next fall it will become available for sale in the US as I think it could be a great, lower cost alternative to the Nokia WRG2. However, the cost for it in Canada at Canadian Tire this year is more than what the WRG2 costs in the US at TireSavings.com but that doesn't surprise me. You Canadians always pay more for similar (imported usually) products than we Americans do! I realize that a full blown winter tire is still my best bet, but I can't fathom doing a changeover to winter tires on 11/15 for only 45-75 days of use and then switching back to all-season rubber in early winter for the trip down to Florida. I moan and complain twice every year when it is time to swap out the tires on the other car in the household (JettaSportwagen TDI) as I hate getting the lugs loose since I don't have an air wrench.

Let's hope some more good options in all-weather (with mountain/snowflake) tires hit the USDM by next fall. We could really use them! Winter tires are addictive--if you have never used them before, you probably don't understand why you should have them over all-season rubber. However once you have experienced winter tuned rubber in the cold, snow and ice it is scary to drive on marginal all-season tires! Yeah, all weather tires aren't perfect, but they sound like the best option for my lifestyle as it is presently constructed.
 

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2013 OB 2.5i Ltd w/ EyeSight & Nav
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Discussion Starter #9
Hankook Optimo 4S

Bad news for USA residents who are waiting in 2013 for the sale of the Hankook Optimo 4S all-weather tire. I contacted Hankook USA about this tire over the weekend. I inquired whether it would be offered for sale before winter 2013 in the United States. At this time, there are no plans to offer it in the U.S.A. :(

Maybe if enough people inquire perhaps Hankook USA will rethink this decision? I realize that there are direct costs with getting a tire approved for use and bringing it to market in the United States. I can't help but think that Hankook could have an edge over Nokian with this tire because of the lower price and their wider dealer availability. Let's hope they reconsider. I would think that there could be a strong market for such a product for those living north of I-80 or I-90...
 
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