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Jim Clark

Snow Performance Of Rx400h And Tires.

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Well it's official, the RX400h AWD system is a joke and it totally sucks in snowy/icy conditions. Had it out yesterday in a fairly bad storm (at least for NoVA). A light/fluffy snow but it quickly became compacted in very cold weather and conditions got very bad. The traction control light came on many times and I wasn't pushing it. When making a turn while slowing with LIGHT braking, the ABS would kick in and the car would plow straight forward with the traction light blinking and a few beeps.

This is the 4th AWD vehicle I've owned after a Jeep Grand Cherokee and 3 Audi wagons. The Jeep was traded last year on a Prius in C4C. The Jeep and Audis would handle anything with ease. I always had confidence in them. Yesterday, I was actually fearful driving the RX. It is NOT an AWD vehicle.

Another part of this equation is the tires. The OEM Michelins suck in the snow both for traction and braking. We get relatively little snow in NoVA and "good" all seasons are all that is needed. I had good A/S tires on the Audis and A/T tires on the Jeep.

I went on Tirerack today to research possible tires. The OEM Michelins have absolute crap ratings (15th in their category). From the ratings in various categories, the new Continental ExtremeContact DWS appears to be the best A/S tire for the RX. They are rated #1 in the Ultra High Performance All Season category (including very good to excellent ratings for snow). Another possibility is the Yokohama Parada Spec-X, rated #1 in the Street/Sport Truck category. The Bridgestone Alenzas that many of you like were also highly rated in the Crossover/SUV All Season category.

I believe the ExtremeContact DWS replaced the ContiExtremes I had on my Audis and have on my BMW. That is/was a really good all-around tire and probably the best A/S for snow.

Anyone have experience with the ExtremeContact DWS or the Yokohama Parada Spec-X?

After yesterday's experience, I want to replace the Michelins.

BTW, winter tires are not an option here.

Any input appreciated.

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Update:

I took our Prius out today. Our neighborhood roads were still packed snow but not much ice. I put it through its paces, floored it, started normally, braked hard straight ahead, and braked hard turning.

It did surprisingly well. Traction control was kicking in but only when I got on it pretty good. Normal starts were handled just fine. Braking was just fine straight ahead. It was also good when I got on the brakes in a turn. Nose-dived for just a split second but then the traction control kicked in and got it back on the track in the turn.

The Prius has OEM Yokohama Avid S33 tires. They performed admirably. It convinced me even more that the POS Michelins on the RX need to be replaced.

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Granted the AWD on the 400h is not like Audi Quattro, Subaru Symmetrical, Jeep Quadra Trac etc. etc. However, tires make a HUGE difference on any vehicle, and as you've found out the OE Michelins suck.

I believe the ExtremeContact DWS, are the new breed of 'all weather' tires (not all season), in the sense that they meet the requirements to get the 'mountain/snowflake' symbol, meaning they are decent in snow, yet they can be left on all year, unlike a traditional winter tire. You may want to research all weather tires (they are a few out there, and more coming). Nokian WGR2, Goodyear Fortera Triple Tred and Yokohama W drive are all considered all weather tires and have the mountain/snowflake qualification.

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It was REALLY bad yesterday too...probably some of the worst DC area road conditions I've seen in a long time. Storm really caught them with their pants down.

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Granted the AWD on the 400h is not like Audi Quattro, Subaru Symmetrical, Jeep Quadra Trac etc. etc. However, tires make a HUGE difference on any vehicle, and as you've found out the OE Michelins suck.

I believe the ExtremeContact DWS, are the new breed of 'all weather' tires (not all season), in the sense that they meet the requirements to get the 'mountain/snowflake' symbol, meaning they are decent in snow, yet they can be left on all year, unlike a traditional all season. You may want to research all weather tires (they are a few out there, and more coming). Nokian WGR2, Goodyear Fortera Triple Tred and Yokohama W drive are all considered all weather tires and have the mountain/snowflake qualification.

I'm going to get verbose and digress:

Traditional all seasons got that designation because they work over a wider temperature range. "Summer" tires become to hard in below freezing temps and their performance suffers in all conditions. Some all seasons are much better in slippery conditions than others. The ContiExtremes I had on the Audis performed well in all temps and conditions, and excelled in real slippery conditions. One day we had a freak snow storm in this are that quickly got compacted and all the roads turned to a sheet of ice. We were about to go up a fairly steep hill in our Audi S6 and there was a guy at the bottom of the hill waving his arms at us basically saying "DON'T TRY IT!". I just smiled and waved at him and then proceeded up the hill without missing a beat, didn't even get traction control to kick in, LOL. Then we were diverted due to an accident and ended up getting stuck in severe traffic on a divided highway (due to the conditions and accidents). I opted to cross the snow-covered grass median to get to an alternate route. My wife said: "DON'T TRY IT!". I smiled and said "don't worry honey". No problem, it was a piece of cake with Audi Quattro and the ContiExtremes. IF I had those POS Michelins on that Audi, I probably couldn't have done either maneuver, even with the best-in-world Quattro AWD system.

The question remains...what tire to replace the POS Michelins.

The ExtremeContact DWS gets excellent reviews on Tirerack, but they are so new that they have relatively few miles reported in the reviews. But it's interesting that the excellent reviews come from owners ranging from BMW 3-series sports cars to SUV's.

Still looking for more input and opinions.

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Granted the AWD on the 400h is not like Audi Quattro, Subaru Symmetrical, Jeep Quadra Trac etc. etc. However, tires make a HUGE difference on any vehicle, and as you've found out the OE Michelins suck.

I believe the ExtremeContact DWS, are the new breed of 'all weather' tires (not all season), in the sense that they meet the requirements to get the 'mountain/snowflake' symbol, meaning they are decent in snow, yet they can be left on all year, unlike a traditional all season. You may want to research all weather tires (they are a few out there, and more coming). Nokian WGR2, Goodyear Fortera Triple Tred and Yokohama W drive are all considered all weather tires and have the mountain/snowflake qualification.

+1

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Still looking for opinions on tires for the RX400h.

The two options at the top of my list are the Continental ExtremeContact DWS and the Yokohama Parada Spec-X.

I want "good" all seasons that are good in all conditions and can "reasonably" handle the snow we "usually" get here. This year is the winter from hell. The OEM Michelins are downright scary in the slippery stuff.

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Get the Bridgestone Alenzas. Long-proven with a great track record for longevity as well as handling inclement weather and the best choice if you have 18-inch wheels. Plus a 65,000-mile treadwear warranty. My wife's 2004 RX330 AWD is on its second set of Alenzas (installed October 2009) and they handled our 7 inches of mostly sleet with some snow mixed in with absolutely no problem a week ago. And that's on a vehicle with "pretend AWD" at best....

I'm also interested in the Continental ExtremeContact DWS tires for our 2005 Jaguar S-Type sedan when new tire time rolls around for that vehicle later this year, but the DWS tires are far too new to have a real track record at this point. The most common complaint about the DWS tires, especially by folks with heavier vehicles, is that the sidewalls are too soft so the handling is mushy and they can't take even the most minor curb punishment that lousy curbside parkers typically dish out. Also, the treadwear warranty is just 50,000 miles....

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Get the Bridgestone Alenzas. Long-proven with a great track record for longevity as well as handling inclement weather and the best choice if you have 18-inch wheels. Plus a 65,000-mile treadwear warranty. My wife's 2004 RX330 AWD is on its second set of Alenzas (installed October 2009) and they handled our 7 inches of mostly sleet with some snow mixed in with absolutely no problem a week ago. And that's on a vehicle with "pretend AWD" at best....

I'm also interested in the Continental ExtremeContact DWS tires for our 2005 Jaguar S-Type sedan when new tire time rolls around for that vehicle later this year, but the DWS tires are far too new to have a real track record at this point. The most common complaint about the DWS tires, especially by folks with heavier vehicles, is that the sidewalls are too soft so the handling is mushy and they can't take even the most minor curb punishment that lousy curbside parkers typically dish out. Also, the treadwear warranty is just 50,000 miles....

Thanks for the input.

Your RX330 AWD is a lot better than our RX400h AWD. You have a center differential which connects to the front and rear differentials. The only connection in the 400h is the computer, there is no mechanical connection between the front and rear. The rear is only driven by the rear electric motor. When the system detects slippage, the traction control systems function MUCH to aggressively, allegedly to protect the sensitive hybrid drive system.

I don't care about longevity as long as it's not ridiculously low. I just want a good all-around all season tire than can handle the slop without scaring the hell out of me.

The ExtremeContacts are really new and there are relatively few miles reported in the reviews. The interesting thing I saw was that they are getting good reports on all types of cars from sports cars to SUV's. I've had ContiExtremes (apparent predecessor to the ExtremeContact) on two cars, an Audi S6 and my BMW 330Cic. Best all-season for snow ever and good in all conditions. I have to assume the ExtremeContact is an improvement, otherwise why reinvent the wheel?

The ExtremeContact and Parada are both pretty new, but initial reviews are excellent, both #1 in their categories at Tirerack.

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+1 for Alenzas. my wifes 2006 RX400h has them and they really do well in the snow. we're in Iowa and regularly get snow. just getting ready to replace the set she has on the car(with more Alenzas) and they still are performing well even with lower levels of tread left.

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Will read more of the reviews on the Alenzas again. More than a few reviews of the ExtremeContacts complained about noise and soft sidewalls. The Parada reviews were nearly all outstanding.

My dealer is running a special on tires this month. I'm going to call them to see if the deal is any good and ask them what they know about these 3 options.

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Our Alenzas now have about 32,000 miles on them and they are just starting to emit some howling. It's not enough to be extremely annoying but nonetheless, it is there. I'll let you know if it gets any worse.

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Our Alenzas now have about 32,000 miles on them and they are just starting to emit some howling. It's not enough to be extremely annoying but nonetheless, it is there. I'll let you know if it gets any worse.

30k+ for treadwear would be fine, since our Jeep was traded on a Prius in C4C, the 400h will not see many miles as I drive my BMW convertible most of the year. Just want something that performs better in all conditions than the OEM Michelins.

Any additional input appreciated.

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I just got through the blizzard here in the DC area with my wife's 07 rx400. I had put new Michelin mxv4's on in the Fall and I can't say enough good things about them. Maybe these are the OE that everyone says are crap, I know this car came with Michelins, but this car has cruised through this blizzard with hardly a spin - well very few, anyway. I go around all the stalled and spinning out cars and trucks and just get there. I live over a fairly steep hill and boy, this car is so sure footed on the snow and ice and just performs better than I have experienced any 4 or all wheel drive. In the middle of the blizzard with a base of 2 inches on the road and 6 new inches of snow I drove right up the hill, down the other side steeply 30 feet or so and made the turn into my driveway without a slide and I could just imagine the car continuing down the hill sideways!

I would not hesitate to put these tires on again and recommend them to anyone. YMMV, but I have been mightily impressed by these tires. You can say what you want, but I have been driving it and these just work.

BTW, I'm well past 50, spent years of my youth as a professional driver- trucks, buses, cars and motorcycles, drove Ford broncos, dodge and Jimmy 4 wheelers and so I know what good (and bad) performance is. my 2 cents

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I bet you replaced them with the Primacy MXV4, much better than the OEM MXV4 S8

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I bet you replaced them with the Primacy MXV4, much better than the OEM MXV4 S8

Actually they say "energy MXV4 S8 -- I guess people have different opinions about what good handling is- If it gets there with minimal sliding, I'm a fan. I'm not trying to go fast.

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Have you ever tried any other tires on the vehicle? I bet if you did you'd find those tires aren't so great in the snow-traction department.

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Honestly, after driving in the blizzard, it felt so great and I enjoyed it so much, that I wanted to come to this forum to share my experience and see if everyone else felt the same. Lo and behold, everyone here seems in agreement that these vehicles and these particular tires suck in the snow!

It's simply my opinion, but I know what I know. It's sure footed and goes where I want in the snow with plenty of power. Your Mileage May Vary.

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I don't think the vehicle sucks in the snow, but it is definately not as sure footed in the snow as something with an actual transfer case...

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I don't think the vehicle sucks in the snow, but it is definately not as sure footed in the snow as something with an actual transfer case...

After owning a Jeep and three Audis, the AWD on the 400h is a joke.

IMHO, the OEM Michelins suck in the snow. They're rated #15 overall in their category at Tirerack. People there certainly don't like them.

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Honestly, after driving in the blizzard, it felt so great and I enjoyed it so much, that I wanted to come to this forum to share my experience and see if everyone else felt the same. Lo and behold, everyone here seems in agreement that these vehicles and these particular tires suck in the snow!

It's simply my opinion, but I know what I know. It's sure footed and goes where I want in the snow with plenty of power. Your Mileage May Vary.

I haven't had any problems in the snow either, but I have dedicated winter tires on the vehicle. Honestly, winter tires will turn ANY vehicle from mediocre to more than acceptable in the snow.

I will admit, however, that my Subaru Outback felt more sure footed (wheeled?) in the snow.

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Honestly, after driving in the blizzard, it felt so great and I enjoyed it so much, that I wanted to come to this forum to share my experience and see if everyone else felt the same. Lo and behold, everyone here seems in agreement that these vehicles and these particular tires suck in the snow!

It's simply my opinion, but I know what I know. It's sure footed and goes where I want in the snow with plenty of power. Your Mileage May Vary.

I haven't had any problems in the snow either, but I have dedicated winter tires on the vehicle. Honestly, winter tires will turn ANY vehicle from mediocre to more than acceptable in the snow.

I will admit, however, that my Subaru Outback felt more sure footed (wheeled?) in the snow.

The dedicated winter tires make a big difference. "Good" all season tires can make a big difference. I had ContiExtreme's on my Audi S6. I believe they performed as well in the snow as a dedicated winter tire. I was in some extremely slippery conditions and they were very sure footed. The Audi Quattro system certainly had a lot to do with that.

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Well it's official, the RX400h AWD system is a joke and it totally sucks in snowy/icy conditions. Had it out yesterday in a fairly bad storm (at least for NoVA). A light/fluffy snow but it quickly became compacted in very cold weather and conditions got very bad. The traction control light came on many times and I wasn't pushing it. When making a turn while slowing with LIGHT braking, the ABS would kick in and the car would plow straight forward with the traction light blinking and a few beeps.

This is the 4th AWD vehicle I've owned after a Jeep Grand Cherokee and 3 Audi wagons. The Jeep was traded last year on a Prius in C4C. The Jeep and Audis would handle anything with ease. I always had confidence in them. Yesterday, I was actually fearful driving the RX. It is NOT an AWD vehicle.

Another part of this equation is the tires. The OEM Michelins suck in the snow both for traction and braking. We get relatively little snow in NoVA and "good" all seasons are all that is needed. I had good A/S tires on the Audis and A/T tires on the Jeep.

I went on Tirerack today to research possible tires. The OEM Michelins have absolute crap ratings (15th in their category). From the ratings in various categories, the new Continental ExtremeContact DWS appears to be the best A/S tire for the RX. They are rated #1 in the Ultra High Performance All Season category (including very good to excellent ratings for snow). Another possibility is the Yokohama Parada Spec-X, rated #1 in the Street/Sport Truck category. The Bridgestone Alenzas that many of you like were also highly rated in the Crossover/SUV All Season category.

I believe the ExtremeContact DWS replaced the ContiExtremes I had on my Audis and have on my BMW. That is/was a really good all-around tire and probably the best A/S for snow.

Anyone have experience with the ExtremeContact DWS or the Yokohama Parada Spec-X?

After yesterday's experience, I want to replace the Michelins.

BTW, winter tires are not an option here.

Any input appreciated.

Hi Jim,

I have a 2007 RX400h (only FWD, though) that had those wonderful OEM Michelins that had ~40k on them and were perfectly good for sledding over here in central Illinois winters. After reading your thread, I went ahead to tirerack.com and tried some ExtremeContact DWS tires. (Un)fortunately, after I installed them, the snow stopped, so cannot compare. However, I am confident that they would do much better than my previous tires (or skis). They seem to hold tight to the pavement in dry/wet conditions, and are aggressively styled. My two complaints are: (1) the gas mileage is about 2-3 mpg worse than with the other tires (I understand you can't have the best of both worlds...low rolling resistance and good grip) and (2) I have a subtle, yet annoying vibration in the steering wheel (and even felt in the brakes and gas pedal) when driving. The vibrations seem too small to be an out-of-round tire problem, but I do feel this at all speeds (5 mph up to 75 mph or more). It seems worse right after I start the vehicle up and drive around in the parking lot (you can feel one or more of the tires flip flopping). I've had them over 600 miles, and still have the same vibrations. I've been told they may be a rougher riding tire compared to the Michelins, but who can you trust when they are selling you something.

I was thinking of trying either the Yokohama Parada X tires or the Michelin Latitude Tour (Green X) tires. Both have good reviews on tirerack.com. I like the latter because they seem more decent in the snow than the Michelin Energy MXV4 S8 tires and have a 65k treadlife warranty, and have a supposedly smaller rolling resistance. It seems the Parada X's are more aggressive and probably better in ice/snow, and aren't as expensive. It's weird how the Michelin website does not recommend the Latitude Tour tires for my 235/55R18 size, but do for the 225/65R17. Maybe they are trying to sell the Energy MXV4s to Lexus hybrid owners like us with bad treadware history and poor ice/snow capabilities...so we can buy some more sooner...tirerack.com has the Latitudes in my size, so I may go with them.

I don't know about you, but there are so many choices out there and a lot of reviewer comments don't match up...gives me the same feeling as being in a grocery store trying to pick a box of cereal out (among hundreds).

I hope this helps...and please let me know if you have any input.

Best,

Nick

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I don't know about you, but there are so many choices out there and a lot of reviewer comments don't match up...gives me the same feeling as being in a grocery store trying to pick a box of cereal out (among hundreds).

Speaking to tires in general (not specifically snow tires)...

The best source of tire information is a forum like this where you can ask people who have actually had various tires on the exact same vehicle that you own and you can take into account their driving preferences and geographic conditions.

Sticking to well known brands that others on this forum have installed and liked is by far your best bet...

Bridgestone Alonza - reliable OEM and oversize tire with long life and good MPG

Goodyear ResponsEdge - oversize tire with excellent handling but relatively poor MPG

Toyo Proxy - oversize tire with a good balance between handling and MPG

Michelin MX4 - well behaved OEM replacement with good MPG but relativly poor handling

these are all safe bets... shop by driving needs, price and availability in your area.

Others who are happy with their tire choice may feel free to add to this list or debate my assessments, but I've been watching this forum for a long time and this is the sense of it that I can bring to the discussion.

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