Review of Goodyear Ultra Grip Ice WRT

Goodyear Ultra Grip Ice WRT
Goodyear, Inc.

Goodyear's venerable winter tire, the Ultra Grip Ice WRT, has been around for a while, and for all that they are not the greatest winter tires in the world, they are assuredly not the worst either. While they could definitely use a technology update, the current line is firmly in the middle of the road when it comes to winter performance.

WRT stands for Winter Reactive Technology, Goodyear's name for the combination of features—including compound, sipes, and grooves—that give the tires their winter performance when starting, stopping, and turning in snow and on ice. The Ultra Grip Ice WRT does carry the mountain/snowflake symbol for snow performance.

Pros

  • Generally decent winter tires for daily drivers.
  • Excellent cornering stability on ice and snow.
  • Excellent dry road performance.
  • Excellent price compared to flashier tires.

Cons

  • Getting a bit long in the tooth compared to the market.
  • The Linear grip is relatively weak.

Compound

Ultra Grip Ice WRT tires use Goodyear's Winter Grip silica-enhanced compound that stays flexible under the coldest conditions.

Tread Design and Sipes

The directional tread features sweeping and counter-sweeping grooves that channel water and slush out from under the tire for improved grip in both wet and changing conditions.

The Ultra Grip Ice WRT features 3-dimensional TredLock Technology siping patterns on the shoulders of the tire. These sipes lock together to reduce tread block flexing, reduce wear and enhance cornering grip. More traditional 2-dimensional sipes are used in the center area of the tire to bite into snow and ice for linear grip.

Optional Studs

The Ice WRT can be fitted with optional metal studs for even better grip in packed snow and ice.

Rim Protector

A thick belt of rubber runs around the outer edge of the tire to protect wheel edges from curbs and other dangers to cosmetic finishes.

Performance

The Ultra Grip Ice WRT feels to me like a decent winter tire, with all that entails. They perform quite well on cold, dry roads, with precise handling, no squishiness, and very little road noise. It's decent on ice an in packed snow, with some trouble with loose or deep snow. On both ice and snow, the cornering is quite good, getting a pretty good bite on turn-ins and fighting hard against understeer. While it's a little easier than one would like to break the rear end loose on these tires, they do tend to recover well. Stopping power—especially on ice—simply doesn't hold up to newer and higher-tech tires like Nokian's Hakka R, Michelin's X-Ice Xi3 or Bridgestone's Blizzak WS80.

The Bottom Line

These are not the greatest winter tires ever, but they are certainly decent, workhorse tires that try hard. They're getting to be a bit old compared to the quantum leaps in technology being pushed by the industry leaders like Nokian and Michelin. On the other hand, they function well in moderate winter conditions and are priced well below the newer brands. Not everybody really needs a massively hardcore winter tire, especially when looking at the expense of having two sets of tires, to begin with.

For daily drivers who are not dealing with deep snow, large quantities of ice, or wildly varying conditions—especially in areas where roads are continuously kept plowed during the winter—the Ultra Grip Ice WRT should hold up well. In fact, TireRack's customer surveys continually place it at or near the top in terms of buyer satisfaction with the tires.

In the final analysis, though, it is well past time for Goodyear to update their winter tire line. The UltraGrip Ice2 is now available in Europe and is testing on a level with the best of them, but we may have to wait another year to see what Goodyear will bring us for Christmas here in the States.