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View Full Version : 550i with winter tires VS 550i xDrive with all-season tires


xsi123
10-18-2010, 07:53 AM
I live in Massachusetts. I know there are people that prefer RWD and winter tires and others that prefer AWD with all-season tires. The question is for this specific car (2011 550):

Do you save some money (about $2000 on a $65K car) by getting the 550i (RWD) and switch winter and summer tires twice a year

OR

you pay the extra money and get the 550i xDrive (AWD) with all-season tires and don't worry about switching tires?

What do you think? Can I get comments from current 550 (E60) owners? Which one you think will handle better in the snow?

(I asked the same question in the Tires forum but didn't get any answer so I will try here as well)

TJPark01
10-18-2010, 08:22 AM
Car and Driver asked the same question last year. This article makes it pretty clear...
http://www.caranddriver.com/features/09q4/2009_winter_tire_test-comparison_tests/what_about_all-wheel_drive_3f_page_8

xsi123
10-18-2010, 09:39 AM
Car and Driver asked the same question last year. This article makes it pretty clear...
http://www.caranddriver.com/features/09q4/2009_winter_tire_test-comparison_tests/what_about_all-wheel_drive_3f_page_8

Good article TJPark. Thanks.

My concern is definitely not performance driving in the snow. However, reading that "RWD with winter tires" outperforms "AWD with all-season tires" in breaking and turning is a big point for the RWD-winter-tires combination.

- What about though when you try to move out of your driveway or maybe a parking lot with snow? I would imagine that AWD even with all-season tires would be better?

- Also, what about if you are stopped on a small uphill (like maybe in a traffic light or a stop sign in a small hill)? Will the AWD with all-season tires be better than the RWD with winter tires?

My big concern is exactly these two situations. Stack in a parking lot with snow or a traffic light in an uphill and not being able to move. Do you think AWD with all-season would make a difference?

NH JG
10-18-2010, 09:58 AM
xsiI123, I could be wong but I beleive that I also saw another article posted in the forum or somewhere else that basically said it really depends as to where you live/drive. For example, after I read the other article, my impression was that if you live here in the Mass and New Hampshire area and deal with rainy, snowy, then wet, then dry roads off and on for approx. 3 to 3 1/2 months a year, then you're probably better off with xdrive with all season tires to deal with the constantly changing road conditions instead of having just dedicated snows. If I find the article, I'll post. I'm still waiting on the delivery of my 550xi but I also elected the xdrive as I also prefer to leave my wife & kids a vehicle that has all wheel drive when I go away snowmobiling and take her Yukon Denali to tow my trailer. So, there may be other factors you want to consider outside of just cost. Good luck. JG

NH JG
10-18-2010, 10:00 AM
BTW, I believe the article aslo specific called out AWD being better for hilly terrain which we have her in Mass & NH.

richschneid
10-18-2010, 11:27 AM
Good high performance winter tires such as the Dunlop Wintersport M3 3D RFTs or Bridgestone Blizzak LM-25 RFTs will perform quite well in rain or dry conditions. My Dunlop Wintersport M3s on my 650i were just fine in rain or dry, but of course not nearly as good as the Potenza summer tires. But I doubt there is much difference in rain or dry performance between the perfomance snows and the grand touring all seasons that are OE on the xDrive.

But in the snow AWD with dedicated snows are the absolute best. And if you are going to buy a car with 400hp for 70 or 80 grand that does 0-60 in 4.5 seconds, do you really want to drive it in the summer on all season tires. But, of course, that option is very expensive and BMW does not offer an option of summer tires on the xDrive cars.

TJPark01
10-18-2010, 11:42 AM
Good article TJPark. Thanks.
- What about though when you try to move out of your driveway or maybe a parking lot with snow? I would imagine that AWD even with all-season tires would be better?
AWD with A/S is better for traction in this situation.

- Also, what about if you are stopped on a small uphill (like maybe in a traffic light or a stop sign in a small hill)? Will the AWD with all-season tires be better than the RWD with winter tires?
I think it's a push here. Unless the road is covered in ice, in which case you're screwed either way.

My big concern is exactly these two situations. Stack in a parking lot with snow or a traffic light in an uphill and not being able to move. Do you think AWD with all-season would make a difference?
I lived in Boston for 6 years. I don't know where in Mass you live, but even though we can get some nasty snow, it melts pretty quickly due to our proximity to the ocean. If you live in Western Mass, it's a little different story. But the crews are pretty diligent about clearing the roads. If it gets real bad, you're better off staying at home. With that being said, personally I don't think AWD is worth it for the 10 days out of 365 when RWD is superior the other times.

richschneid
10-18-2010, 11:51 AM
AWD with A/S is better for traction in this situation.


I think it's a push here. Unless the road is covered in ice, in which case you're screwed either way.


I lived in Boston for 6 years. I don't know where in Mass you live, but even though we can get some nasty snow, it melts pretty quickly due to our proximity to the ocean. If you live in Western Mass, it's a little different story. But the crews are pretty diligent about clearing the roads. If it gets real bad, you're better off staying at home. With that being said, personally I don't think AWD is worth it for the 10 days out of 365 when RWD is superior the other times.

I think the calculus of whether or not RWD is better than xDrive in non snowy conditons may not still be true with modern AWD systems such as xDrive. I actully find the handling and acceleration under most conditions is actually improved in my 550i xDrive over my previous (4 cars) 8 cylinder high perfomance BMWs. The braking distances may be slightly longer because of the additional 150lb weight, but this is also largely dependent on the tires and a switch to performance snows and max perfromance summer tires might actually result in shorter stopping distances than RWD with the standard Goodyear grand touring tires.

5Xwen
10-18-2010, 11:56 AM
I live in Massachusetts. I know there are people that prefer RWD and winter tires and others that prefer AWD with all-season tires. The question is for this specific car (2011 550):



I don't think cost is the most important factor. If you live in an area that gets snow, and you value safety, comfort and covenience AWD is the way to go.

OTOH if you are constantly pushing your 550 to the limits of handling forgo the x-drive and swap tires.

ccbbrb
10-18-2010, 12:34 PM
I've been driving for 40+ years in Massachusetts winters. My opinion may not be shared by all, but here goes. Growing up in New England, we all had rear-wheel drive cars on belted tires (non-radial). In the winter, we took the summer tires off the back rims and put snow tires on the rear of the car and survived OK. Snow tires on the front were unheard of. The cars were heavier then, which was probably a factor that helped.

When I bought my first E39 in 2001, I bought an extra set of 4 Dunlop winter tires with Borbet wheels. My recollection is that the sport package weels were 17" and the winter rims were 16" They worked great, but having an extra set of tires in the garage was a bit of a pain, and twice annually, my wife would need to follow me to a shop with the Suburban to lug the tires for the change over, since the 4 tires wouldn't fit in the E39 trunk. When I sold the car, I sold the extra set of tires with it, and was somewhat glad to see them go.

When I got my second E39 in 2003, I went with all season radials year round. It worked fine. I made sure I had relatively new tread before the winter months, and if border-line, I got new tires.

Some observations with the all-season tires:> They clear the roads pretty well here in Massachusetts, and I don't usually venture out if the snow is >6" or so. Never had a problem in snow with the 4 winter tires.
> Ice was another matter, and I got stuck a couple of times in silly places (like parking spaces with an incline) and going up mild inclined back roads that weren't sanded. x-drive would probably have helped in these situations.
> I'm experienced at driving in snow. Your experience in winter driving is a key factor in your decision. A lot depends on your "training" and comfort level in driving in winter conditions. Most importantly, remember to drive much slower and leave plenty of space for stopping.
> My wife's car is a Suburban, so if I absoultely needed to be somewhere in a Blizzard, I could get there if I had to.

I put 178,000 miles on the E39 with all-season tires over 7 years and never regretted the decision not to go with an extra set of 4 snows.

So what did I do this time? I decided on x-drive and all seasons. I'll try it this winter without getting a second set of tires. I can't imagine the x-drive F10 will be worse than the RWD E-39 with all seasons. If it handles in snow worse than my E-39, I'll get a second set of rims and tires, ut I doubt I will need them.

One other point, is that when we get a foot or more, we take the day off, load the Suburban up with the skiis, and head for Vermont to go skiing. ...and the E39 waits in the garage for the roads to clear.

kocsis
10-18-2010, 12:48 PM
I live in Boston and drive North for skiing. I have 3 AWD cars and purchased the 550ix because of the availability of AWD, giving up my beloved E39 M5. If you keep a car long enough, the purchase of dedicated snows on their own rims makes enormous sense and is not that expensive - after all, while you drive the snows, you save on the wear of your regular tires. I am, however, quite annoyed that BMW doesn't permit us to switch out the AS tires for summers. I am tempted to swap out the AS for summers when I receive the car, but I might try the AS tires to see what they're like....

richschneid
10-18-2010, 04:04 PM
I live in Boston and drive North for skiing. I have 3 AWD cars and purchased the 550ix because of the availability of AWD, giving up my beloved E39 M5. If you keep a car long enough, the purchase of dedicated snows on their own rims makes enormous sense and is not that expensive - after all, while you drive the snows, you save on the wear of your regular tires. I am, however, quite annoyed that BMW doesn't permit us to switch out the AS tires for summers. I am tempted to swap out the AS for summers when I receive the car, but I might try the AS tires to see what they're like....

I was saying the exact same thing before I got my car. The AS tires aren't that bad, but they do not have the lateral g force of the Potenza's I had on my E39 M5 or the RFT Potenza's I had on my 650i.

BTW, the performance of the 550i xDrive is almost identical to my E39 M5. 1/4 mile in 13.1 sec @ 109 mph for the 550 and 13.2s at 109 mph for the M5. 0-60 for the M5 of 4.7 seconds, 4.5 or so on the xDrive 550i. The better 0-60 times are because the M5 had 369 lb ft of torque at 3900 rpm and the 550i has 450 lb ft of torque at only 1750 rpm. Plus the xDrive allows the car to accelerate from a stop without any loss of traction.

I had Potenza Pole Position S03s on my M5. I think if you put Poteza's on the 550i xDrive for the summer it will actually handle better than an E39 M5. The handling of the xDrive car is vastly enhanced by the instantaneous torque shifting from rear to front on hard turns which essentially eliminates understeer. The handling is amazing, it's just the tires that limit it.

kocsis
10-18-2010, 05:16 PM
My only concern is tha lack of a spare or even the garbage emergency puncture - fixer we had in the M5. I would hate to find myself with a flat and no remedy at 11PM on I94 or the Mass Pike. Is there a decent run-flat summer tire?

dunderhi
10-18-2010, 05:36 PM
I would say it depends on your terrain, conditions, and your car. I live on a very steep hill and here are my observations for climbing the hill over the past decade:

Ford F150 2wd w/AS - hopeless
Lincoln LS w/AS - tons of slippage (accent only possible w/o traction control)
Infiniti FX35 - got stuck a couple of times
Audi A6 w/AS - climbed like it was dry pavement
Dodge RAM 4wd w/AS - did the job w/o too much drama
Mercedes SL w/SNOWS - lot's of slippage, but got up the hill everytime (best w/o traction control)
Mercedes GL w/AS - liked to slide even on the flats, but hill accent & decent modes were incredible.

BTW, the road doesn't get cleared until I got home. :ouch:

TJPark01
10-18-2010, 05:41 PM
I would say it depends on your terrain, conditions, and your car. I live on a very steep hill and here are my observations for climbing the hill over the past decade:

What about the 335d?

richschneid
10-18-2010, 06:06 PM
My only concern is tha lack of a spare or even the garbage emergency puncture - fixer we had in the M5. I would hate to find myself with a flat and no remedy at 11PM on I94 or the Mass Pike. Is there a decent run-flat summer tire?

My 2006 650i sport package had OE Bridgestone Potenza RE050A RFTs and no spare. I thought they were excellent. Since I almost never needed a lot of trunk space, I also carried a snow tire and wheel in the trunk in case of a flat. I only had a flat once and just drove to the gas station and put air in the tire and then drove to the dealer. I think he gave me a loaner for a day until the replacement tire arrived from the tirerack the next morning. I also carried a snow tire and wheel as a spare in my M5. I also carry a summer tire in the trunk as a spare in the winter.

I think Pirelli and Dunlop also make high performance summer RFTs. I don't think Michelin does as yet, but I wouldn't be surprised if they do soon. I have also ordered the the M emergency tire inflation kit from BMW which I will carry in the space under the trunk mat if it fits. It lists at $130, but you should be able to get a discount.

Bridgestone and Dunlop also make high performance RFT snow tires which I'm going to put on my car.

dunderhi
10-19-2010, 04:07 PM
What about the 335d?

ED redelivery was June 30th, so no snow trials yet. Sometime within the next couple of weeks I will have Continental Extreme Contact DWS all seasons installed. In Dec/Jan, the fun will begin, ;)

TJPark01
10-19-2010, 04:12 PM
ED redelivery was June 30th, so no snow trials yet. Sometime within the next couple of weeks I will have Continental Extreme Contact DWS all seasons installed. In Dec/Jan, the fun will begin, ;)

I initially didn't like the pictures of the tread design on that tire. But I recently had to go to the tire shop to get an alignment done on another car and saw them up close on a CUV. They look great in person. As you probably already know, people have raved about their snow prowess for an A/S tire. Keep us posted on their performance in the winter. Thanks.

kocsis
10-20-2010, 07:15 AM
See the new tire/wheel recommendation from Tirerack for the 550ix
http://www.tirerack.com/snow/preferredpackages.jsp
What do you think?

gregb10
10-20-2010, 08:50 AM
I have a e60 x drive. Its the best car Ive ever owned and it handles great in the snow.

It is true that snow tires handle better on turns and handling, but X drive helps getting out of the driveway, going up a hill, acceleration, taking off. RWD cant do those things better than X drive, no matter what kind of tires.

We get these cars with sport packages, really expensive tires,, and where do we really use it?

I live on long island and have a house in the Adirondacks. I drive many country twisty roads on my x drive with 17 inch tires. I never get a real chance to bring the car to its limits. Ive never been presented with a condition where I felt that car was unable to safely handle a sharp turn or curve and i tend to drive fast and spirited

I love my X Drive. Maybe Im a fool and uninformed, but I enjoy it.

solstice
10-20-2010, 10:23 AM
"I love my X Drive. Maybe Im a fool and uninformed, but I enjoy it."

You'r neither. I have an E60 535xi loaner currently and it's a fun ride for sure, a lot more so than my F10 with dhp. The E60 535xi gives you plenty of the bmw magic. Though I had a 2008 535i with sports package and it signficantly amplifies the fun so it's also fair to say that the rwd with sport components gives an even sportier experience at all speeds and most conditions.