Florida isn't the first place that comes to mind when you think of testing winter tires. It's more like the place we think of to escape such thoughts. So when Goodyear invited us to check out their new Ultra Grip Ice WRT winter tire in Fort Walton Beach, Florida, we were a little shocked.
The McKinley Climatic Laboratory at Eglin Air Force Base is a 68,000-square-foot building where indoor temperatures can be adjusted from -65°F to 165°F. Since its construction in 1947, the lab has primarily been used to test the durability of military aircrafts in the most extreme weather conditions. In the laboratory, controllers can create rain, wind, sand storms, freezing rain, and luckily for us, snow.
The winter tire segment has been growing since 2002 as consumers are becoming more educated about the safety benefits that they provide. While consumers are obviously concerned with traction in icy conditions when choosing a winter tire, they also want longevity. Goodyear looks to address this with the Ultra Grip Ice WRT (winter reactive technology). The Ultra Grip Ice is specifically made for trucks and comes in two distinct directional tread patterns for SUVS or light trucks. The secret to the winter reactive technology is the 3D Tredlock Technology blades. These waffle-looking molds hidden within the shoulder area of the tire flex back and forth creating exposed edges. These edges result is better cornering grip in the snow and ice. Although we weren't allowed to actually drive the test trucks on the snow or ice in the lab, the Ultra Grip Ice WRT seemed to provide good grip as we road shotgun around the indoor test course. But the most noticeable advantage was acceleration and stopping distance on ice.