As we’ve noted earlier, the 2014 Land Rover Range Rover Sport HSE comes with 20-inch high-performance summer tires that make an appallingly bad choice for winter driving. To see just how bad, we did a little test pitting our Sport against a front-wheel-drive 2013 Nissan Altima wearing its own stock all-season tires.
With about an inch of fresh snow sitting on our track, we set up our plain-Jane $23,000 Altima side by side with the $74,000 Ranger Sport. Each galloped up to 30 mph and then braked to a full stop. The Rover, with its high-tech, all-wheel-drive system, got up to speed quicker than the Altima. Braking, though, was another matter.
The Rover took 77 feet longer to stop from just 30 mph than the Altima did. That’s about five car-lengths. If you’re approaching a stop sign or just following another car and it’s time to hit the brakes, you could be in big trouble. That eye-popping lack of stopping power is something to consider with any all-wheel drive vehicle: They’re good for pushing through snow and traveling over ice, but for cornering or stopping, you need good, grippy tires.
There’s nothing inherently wrong with the Rover’s Michelin Latitude Sport tires, so long as you don’t face winter weather. But it’s a little crazy for a high-end SUV touted as a go-anywhere-anytime vehicle to come with tires that can’t cope with four real seasons.
The real lesson here is to be aware of what tires your car is equipped with, and invest in proper tires for winter traction, if needed in your area.
See our comprehensive tire buying guide and tire ratings.
—Gene Petersen and Gordon Hard
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- Nissan Altima