First, which snow tires am I using? I purchased Bridgestone Blizzak DM-V2 snow and ice tires, a little earlier than necessary since the temperatures in the Seattle area are still in the mid 70’s to low 80’s (at least for another week or so, which is pretty unusual for mid October). I was somewhat concerned about availability later in the fall as I had seen several other brands out of stock when I began browsing, so I decided to go ahead and get them early. It was also time to rotate my all-season tires anyway, so I also took care of that need. I have used Blizzak tires before, on my old Honda Accord and AWD Civic wagon and trust them after successfully driving through some pretty harrowing winter conditions with them (like complete white out conditions on unplowed interstate 90 with several inches of accumulated snow).
Other details about this initial range test that may matter to my readers: my tires were inflated to 37 psi, cold, as measured via my trusted pressure gauge but the TPMS sensors reported them at 40 PSI on the dashboard; I drove a 38 mile round trip route that I have taken many times this spring and summer that is about 40% 40-50 MPH 4 lane state highway, and the rest 25-35 MPH suburban streets; I had my Yakima racks with paddleboard attachments mounted on the outbound leg and my 12.5 foot long paddleboard and paddle mounted to the roof coming back. The temperatures ranged from 69 - 76F during the drive, and I was alone in the vehicle with only a few lightweight items with me (wetsuit, change of clothes, and a bottle of water). I have been able to make this 38 mile round trip solely in EV mode, without using any gas, every single time I have driven it between April and October, until today. I usually have 1 - 2 miles of range left at the end of the drive, too. This time, at about 36 miles, I had to switch to hybrid (HEV) mode and finish the last 2 miles home on gas.
I have made multiple trips throughout the spring and summer with my paddleboard mounted to my roof, too. I don’t believe it reduces my range more than a few percent, based on the way I drive and the conditions. I’ll estimate about 3% loss of range from the paddleboard on the roof, based on what I have seen on previous drives. As such, I would say that at least in warm temperatures, at the speeds and conditions I described, the Blizzak snow tires caused approximately an additional 7% of EV range loss, compared to the factory all season tires I have been driving on since I purchased my Kia Sorento PHEV. I am interested to know if the impact on fuel efficiency/miles per gallon might be similar. If so, on the 150 mile day trip I am taking tomorrow, I should see something like 33 MPG (if factoring in the miles covered in EV mode, or more like 30-31 MPG if not). Also, since my trip tomorrow will be mostly on the interstate at speeds of 55-65 MPH, I am curious to test other qualities of this tire that readers may care about: their noise level and handling on dry, warm pavement (be patient, I’ll definitely review and test them when it gets cold and wet and snowy, too). For your reference, on my 38 mile round trip today, I found the tires to be slightly noisier than the factory Continental all-season tires, producing a low rumbling or roaring sound that made me think of what it sounds like when I hold a cupped hand to my ear. The Sorento PHEV proves once again that it has good sound insulation as I couldn’t hear the low tire roar over the slightly louder gas engine when it fired up. The tires also created a slight vibration similar to what I experience when driving on concrete interstates (which are less smooth than asphalt). That vibration was small, but constant as I drove, and I may only have noticed it since I was trying to detect every nuance of difference between these snow tires and my all-seasons.
Do you have any requests for other tests of these tires on the Sorento? It will be a few months before the snow might arrive, but I’ll have plenty of opportunities to review their performance in cold wet conditions in the coming weeks. Please leave any comments below.
Images courtesy of Justin Hart
Justin Hart has owned and driven electric vehicles for over 14 years, including a first generation Nissan LEAF, second generation Chevy Volt, Tesla Model 3, an electric bicycle and most recently a Kia Sorento PHEV. He is also an avid SUP rider, poet, photographer and wine lover. He enjoys taking long EV and PHEV road trips to beautiful and serene places with the people he loves. Follow Justin on Twitter for daily KIA EV news coverage.