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Hey there,

This is my first winter driving a front-wheel drive vehicle. All of my Lexus vehicles were rear-wheel drive, which meant brand and size were crucial to holding the road. I know that FWD cars do have better handling in poor weather, but need some input before I make my winter tire purchase. Currently on Mazzini ECO607 225/45/R18 that came when I purchased it used.

My 2015 Kia Optima SX Turbo is used as an Uber vehicle up here in Ontario, Canada. My passengers have been VERY impressed when they enter the car and I would like to ensure a great driving experience for them during the winter. So the questions I have:
  • What brand do you recommend or refuse?
  • Do you recommend staying on 18s?
Thanks for any help you can offer!

Ty
 

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Take a look at the General Altimax Arctic 12 in the OEM size, or if high performance wanted, Pirelli Sottozero 3, both rated for severe snow service.
 

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  • What brand do you recommend or refuse?
  • Do you recommend staying on 18s?
The Bridgestone Blizzak WS80 has good snow and ice traction because of the soft rubber they use, but they wear out quicker because of that.
The newer WS90 version has a harder rubber compound to last more than one season, but grip will definitely suffer because of that.
Refuse any winter tire that's so hard that you can't flex or bend the tread with your fingers. Hard rubber tires have lousy traction.

If you drive mostly on ice then stay with the OEM tire size.
If you're going to drive mostly on snow then consider choosing a narrower tire for a lot better traction. (skinny tires grip way better in snow)
Example: if your normal tire size is 225/45R18 then look for a 215/50R18 or 205/50R18 to go up hills without losing traction.

Check the clearance between your front disk brakes and the inside diameter of your current wheels.
If it's less than 1/2" then you'll have to stay with 18" because a 17" wheel will be too small to bolt on.

If you're new to driving a front wheel drive car in slippery conditions then remember this, applying too much power will tend to make the front wheels spin, which is bad if you're trying to negotiate a turn in the road because spinning front tires will make you go in a straight line no matter how much you turn the steering wheel. (Of course traction control will reduce this effect somewhat)

Snow and ice are the most slippery around the freezing mark. Also, the first snowfall usually catches a lot of people off guard, so you're most likely to get hit by another car in those conditions.
Maybe skip that first day of snow as an Uber driver if you want to keep your car intact.

Good luck.
 

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Contrary to public opinion, I always stay with the OEM size, or even larger if that's the size currently used, as in some instances they are better in the snow, and naturally in dry/wet conditions better than a narrow tire.

Look at this as an example in what is professed to be the correct tire sizing for winter driving, 2015 Optima:
225/45-18 one should use a 215, but 215 is the OEM metric size for an EX, but the EX should use a 205, but that is the metric size for the LX so one should use a 195. So one can see it makes no sense as the 3 models only differ by 100# and one would be using the OEM size, at least in the SX and EX, and a skinny tire on the LX, so stay with the same size and no negatives in dry/wet conditions, and personally I say no negatives in snow.
 

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I'm running Bridgestone Blizzak WS80s on my '12 Optima SX, in 215/55R-17. I have them on a second set of wheels for easy swapping. Minus-sizing the tires from the factory spec has two advantages: better snow traction because the tires put more force on a smaller area, pushing into the snow; and better compliance due to the higher sidewalls. In areas where winter weather inevitably leads to potholes, the SX's factory low-profile tires are a liability.

Keep in mind that Kia wants $500 each for '12 SX rims. (You can get very nice aftermarket rims to replace them at $600 for a set of four.) Trading out your wheels in winter for something less prone to damage is a worthwhile investment.
 

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Everyone has different opinions and they’ll know what’s best for them, all of my previous including current vehicles I always go down 1-2” smaller. Most manufacturers generally go down 2” in dia, for example if stock wheels are 255/50-20 then my winter set up would be 235/70-18 or 245/70-18. As far as tires, I have only use two brands which is Michelin X-ice or the Bridgestone Blizzak WS80. As the previous member mentioned the Blizzak do wear out quicker, currently I have the Michelin X-I’ve and my wife has the Blizzak WS80. Again to each his own and GL on picking the right tires for your set up .


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