Standard all-wheel-drive tech is a big help.
The last time I drove our long-term Acura TLX Type S, it was a warm, sunny day and I was carving my way up a canyon road with a Diet Dr. Pepper in the cup holder and a grin on my face. This time, however, it’s 25 degrees Fahrenheit and I’m at 11,000 feet above sea level, driving through a snow storm atop the Eisenhower Pass on I-70 in Colorado.
I took the TLX on my usual winter holiday road trip, so I’m no stranger to inclement weather. The road is full of ice and snow and I’m about to head down a 7-mile stretch of highway at a 7% grade.
Before taking this trip, we swapped out our TLX Type S’ optional summer tires for a set of Michelin Pilot Sport all-seasons. This is no substitute for proper winter tires, which is what Michelin was going to provide, but supply chain issues and not being able to source other winter options left us with all-seasons. Better than nothing, I guess.
All-season tires are jacks of all trades and masters of none. Proper winter tires use different rubber compounds that can remain soft at colder temperatures. They also feature wider grooves to expel snow and water and little cuts in the tread called sipes that can prevent a car from sliding. All-season tires don’t have any of these benefits and they aren’t nearly as good as summer tires in dry-weather conditions, either. Still, like I said, better than nothing.
Thankfully, the TLX Type S has two things that really help its foul-weather performance: all-wheel drive and paddle shifters. Sure, Acura’s Super-Handling All-Wheel Drive system is tuned for maximum dry-pavement performance, but it’s still very helpful on this steep, slippery descent. By distributing the…