I ran a set of G072s on a FWD Escape for a few winters, and was as happy with them as I have been with any other studless winter. Other studless winter tires I have used include Nokian Hakkapeliitta, Bridgestone Blizzak, and Michelin X-Ice, with only the X-Ice being a disappointment.
I have very little experience with A/T or studded winter tire use on snow and ice, so I can't speak to a comparison.
Thank you for sharing your experience with the G072's. I appreciate it very much!
Per Tire RAck's search function, you're planning to run snow tires that are 3-5 sizes too big for your H3.
~5% taller and ~9% wider than stock. You're trying to make the difference sound a lot bigger than it is. "too big" is also subjective. There's conjecture in the H3 community that GM actually intended to sell the H3 with 315's, but couldn't "fit" the fuel economy/emissions issue into their fleet. It does fit 315's pretty comfortably with no lift, even has room for 315 on the spare mount position above the rear bumper.
For my driving style offroad and in deep snow, 315's are going to be fine. The skinny pedal is not the solution to anything for me, so my driving method has headroom to support more strain on the driveline from larger tires. I don't drive 90 on the highway, I'm fine with the reduced mileage/power and increase in bearing and bushing wear.
You don't want "flotation" in snow; you should prefer skinny and tall for snow,
Can you share your experience with a large studded all terrain tire or Geolander I/T for reference?
75 series tires are pretty skinny and tall (relatively speaking) by definition. The stock 265, 285, and oversized 315 wide sizes with a 75 ratio on 16 inch rims all share the same ratio of sidewall height to width. I do prefer tall skinny tires for most typical road going conditions in snow and ice. 85 series are indeed the best I have ever run on an SUV for typical winter conditions on roadways. However, not all conditions are typical, and 315/75-16 is the tallest, skinniest option I can run without modification to the vehicle, with priority on the tallest part. Anything skinnier is going to be shorter, or on a larger rim, which is a compromise I don't want to make.
Floatation is absolutely desirable in snow. When the snow is really deep, I do not want to go digging around for earth to get traction on, that's just a recipe for getting high centered and is the mentality of typical skinny-pedal-solution drivers who wind up stuck. Tires that are both wide and tall, when carefully driven, form a compacted track of snow under them that "floats" the vehicle several inches above ground level. This "buys" clearance for making passage in ridiculously deep snow. I'm not talking about 6", or 8" or 12" conditions here. I'm talking about when the drifts in the road are up to the hood of the vehicle, when we're carefully plunging in without breaking traction or letting the tires dig down then carefully backing out to pack the floated trail for another run at it.
if you're going to depart from the tire size the vehicle was designed for. "Tall" minimizes high-centering; "skinny" helps cut through the snow to where the traction is, and maximizes the vehicle's pressure on the contact patch, which is good for slick conditions.
The reason skinny/tall is associated with good winter performance has a lot more to do being associated with high ratio sidewalls. The 65-85 series tires are preferable to optimize the treadpatch shape and size for snow and ice in typical road going winter conditions. The only time maximizing contact pressure is useful, is if the conditions are such that enough pressure gets you down to the road surface. Once there is sufficient snow/ice coverage to prevent reaching a material with more available friction, a larger contact patch of modern silica rich or winter compound rubber or studs or both is better than a smaller one, for many reasons. The long treadpatch of a tall skinny actually produces a scenario where the tire is less apt to bite DOWN as the material under the tire is subjected to a more gradual distribution of pressure over the length of the treadpatch as it moves over, preventing the tire from cutting itself down into a hard packed pocket/hole. I see modern crossovers with "reasonable" tire widths (215-265), but with a low profile, high pressure contact patches dig themselves stuck in 2 seconds flat in 6 inches of snow all the time. Garbage driving technique is often to blame, but if they were on taller profile tires their lousy driving would lead to less problems on ice/snow.
The reason wide is often associated with being terrible on snow/ice, is that there are really only 2 types of wide tires commonly put on vehicles. Mud tires on trucks and low profile "sporty" tires on cars. Both of these have drawbacks for snow/ice traction for many reasons unrelated to width. That being said, a new/young modern silica rich mud tire with more smaller lugs than the muds of old, with more factory groves/sipes, in a 75+ series, is actually pretty good in most snow conditions. They struggle a bit on ice and get much worse after a year or 2 of aging but aren't as bad as they were years ago.
Unfortunately, no 85 series tire exists in the height I want. An ideal tire for typical winter road conditions with similar height to these factory sizes would be 235/85-16 (in place of the factory 265/75-17) and 255/85-16 (in place of the factory 285/75-16), as these both produce very long treadpatches when inflated properly for the weight of the vehicle and conditions. Unfortunately, I want the clearance and even larger (albeit less optimized shape) treadpatch of the 315/75-16. It's a compromise. If 275/85-16 were a common size that would be what I would put on the H3, but it doesn't exist.
You won't turn your H3 into a powder-floating snowmobile with oversized tires; you'll just turn it into a tobogan with less directional control.
I'm not going to turn it into a snowmobile or a tabogan with a 9% change in width and a 6% change in height. You're exaggerating. It wouldn't matter if I were running 285's or 315's, both are a bit on the wide side but both have excellent treadpatch shapes for winter driving being 75 series tires.
I have run sizes from 235/85-16 to 245/70-16 to 265/75-16 to 285/75-16 on my previous SUV (a smaller/lighter SUV). Never had dedicated winter tire but I always replaced rubber every few years regardless of treadwear as newer rubber is important for winter performance, and my old SUV was hard on tires anyway. A ~22% difference in treadwidth across this range seems immense. Of the bunch, the 245/70-16's actually have the smallest treadpatch and the highest contact pressure, but they were not the best performers (though not bad either). The 235/85 and 285/75 both worked fine with different strengths and weaknesses. For any snow/ice condition under ~12" deep, the 235/85 was better. In very deep snow, like 20"+ the 285's were better. In the middle they sort of traded blows. On glare ice and certain types of slippery slush the 285/75's were more tricky, requiring more care and slower speeds while the 235's did find more traction to work with. That said, I attribute the superior ice performance of the 235's to a more modernized tread compound more than anything else. The 285's I ran were very "last generation" in terms of rubber tech (previous gen BF AT KO), while the 235's were the modern popular duratrac that are renowned for having good ice/snow performance in all sorts of sizes. They all served me well but I do recognise the 85 series as having advantages for tread patch shape.
What khittner says is true: there is no such thing as a good snow tire that wide. They just don't exist. Wide is the antithesis of good in snow tires. It's like saying, "I want a tall narrow tire that's good in cornering"...
Wide is not the issue. Short contact patches of wide low profile tires have problems on snow/ice. Typically wie mud tires don't do well on ice because they have the wrong tread, wrong compounds, and no studs.
So, what you're considering, then, is the range of tires that suck less than others in their size,
Don't try to church it up or anything...
but just be forewarned, that nothing in that 315 width is going to be good. Even with studs.
The rubber compound, tread pattern, siping, studs, and length of tread patch (sidewall ratio related) etc, will all have more impact on ice performance than the width. Being slightly wider than ideal is a minor issue here. Furthermore, I think it's worth pointing out, that a 315/75-16 is about 34.5" tall, and has a ~9.75" treadwidth. In terms of treadwidth to height, this ratio is about the same as the tires on your volvo.
Better winter performance comes from rubber compounding that allows flexibility on cold temperature, from high void to rubber ratio, and from siping that allows better grip on ice. So, an aggressive AT tire will have one, perhaps two, of those three things while a true winter tire (like a Nokian Hakkapelliitta or Bridgestone Blizzak) will have all three.
Most of these modern winter tires have a low void to rubber ratio. They are trying to put MORE of that soft rubber in contact with the ice. For true winter compound tires, the manufactures do not advise going narrower than stock because they know their tires will perform best with more contact area.
The dedicated winter tire will be your best bet for winter performance, even though you're ham-stringing the tire by insisting on that size on that truck. Studs will only make a difference on glare ice, which is rare in CO,
Glare ice forming around freezing temps on main roads and intersections during storms, as well as glare ice formed from freeze/thaw cycles and on sunny days on hard packed snow in the days following a storm are the most common treacherous conditions along the front range for driving.
[/quote]so I would skip the stud requirement and simply pick a good winter tire. The only one that I can find in that size, is the Geolander that you mention.
Go for them. Skip the studs.[/quote]
Glare ice is common, and one of the biggest problems here. If you're saying that studs are better on glare ice then that's going to be a major consideration at play here. Can you share your experiences on the Geolander I/T or a studded AT for further clarification?
And don't be surprised when some rattle-trap Subie with 4 regular size Hakkapellittas on it runs rings around your truck in the snow, significantly out braking, out accelerating, and out cornering you. Because in the snow, only grip matters. Not HP, not fancy suspension, not big brakes, just grip.
Thanks for the public service announcement. I actually purchased the H3 because I was told by the car salesman that its as close as I could get to a 4WD sports car. It's also very fuel efficient, and its exhaust smells like cherry pie. /sarcasm off
I have no delusions about about what the H3 is and isn't. You're not telling me anything I don't already know. Our turbo AWD volvo with studded 215/70-16 winter tires will run circles around the H3 in anything up to ~8-10" of snow. Why would I be surprised? I'll just take the volvo and enjoy zipping away from morons with trucks on mud tires spinning in circles.
When the going gets rough and the snow gets deep, I want to be able to get home, or get out to help family/friends/community if required. The H3 with large tires and a skillful, patient driving technique, like any SUV or truck with good rubber and a good driver, can navigate very deep snow. The kind of snow that shuts cities down. Done it before many times. The compromise in "typical" winter conditions, is worth it, for the ability to be able to help myself or help my family or community when the need arises.
In fact, I would pit my old Volvo 240 Turbo wagon (RWD) with 4 Hakkapelliittas on it vs. any SUV with inappropriate tires. I've seen so many SUV crashes in CO and VT that were the result of poor grip. All that AWD and ABS and Stability control meant nothing when the tires were unable to grip the snowy surface of the road.
On glare ice up to a few inches of snow, absolutely. In 20"+ of snow, our volvo's are useless and stranded.
I've already considered the compromises and narrowed down my decision to this size tire. I've been through the possibilities of a dedicated 235 or 255 wide tire for winter. Yes, I know they would be better for typical conditions. When conditions are typical, we can take the volvo to the grocery store. When conditions are not typical, I want to know I've done everything I can to maximize the capabilities of the H3 in deep snow.