2017~2021 Best Winter Tires for the CX-5?

Freedom55

2020 AWD GS Montreal Canada
I have the new Michelin X-Ice Snow 225/65/17 and no experience yet on snow or ice but on dry or wet pavement they handle really well and are quiet enough. My last few vehicles had Blizzak which were great on snow and ice but a bit mushy on cleared roads.
 
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2017 Mazda CX-5 GS
17” Toyo Observes here. I had a set of these on an Outback for several years and they worked very well. I was going to get Blizzaks, but Toyo was having a sale and giving a rebate, so I ended up with the Observes.
 
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Virginia
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2021 CX-5 White
This is my experience with my Subaru, which I believe would be instructive for those CX-5 drivers looking for winter tires. I had a great experience with the Tire Rack. I apologize for the long post.

I think the choices for the Mazda CX-5 are easier because the car can run anywhere from 16 inch to 20 inch wheels and tires pretty easily. For winter tires, I might choose 16 or 17s or 18s. There are so many more choices than are available for my Subaru.

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First, I performed a fair amount of research, with price, quality and performance being important factors, and I believe I found a good balanced compromise for my area and type of driving.

I used the following site, in combination with Tire Rack tire specification tables, for much of my research on fitment, matching acceptable diameters and offsets, as well as wheel tire combinations:
Tire and Wheel Calculator

This site was useful to confirm tire and wheel width compatibility,, load factors, diameter, offset and other choices
This is what I decided on for my 2019 WRX Limited
Stock Tires:
245/40R18 97W XL Dunlop Sport MAXX (Max Performance Summer Tires) 240AA
18x8.5 ET+55 (Subaru wheels made by Enkei OEM, cast aluminum)

Winter Purchased:
225/50R17 98H XL Pirelli Winter SottoZero 3 (Performance Winter Tires)
on 17x8 ET+45 (Motegi Racing MR 118 Black Painted, low pressure cast aluminum)

I think the exact same type of trades should be made for the CX-5 and winter tires. Same or narrower section width, higher aspect ratio, to maintain same rolling diameter/height (within <1% difference), load specifications. This includes going down to 16 inch wheels. Generally, the smaller the wheel and tire package, the lower the price.

My area and type of driving.
I drive in Northern Virginia, a suburb of Washington DC, in an area that sees excellent pretreatment of roads, and plowing. Generally, after 24 hours most of the roads are cleared. Very seldom is there packed snow on the roads, especially with the pretreatment. The weather is mostly just cold and wet 20s-40's F rarely in the teens or below. True snow/ice tires are not called for, but rather winter performance tires for cold, freezing conditions that could be dry, wet or snowy, but virtually never snow or ice packed...except maybe on the day of the snow or a day after if it is a big storm. I never really travel into the mountains, although the west coasters would call the Appalachians foot hills.

Pirelli Winter SottoZero 3 225/50-17: For me the Pirelli Winter SottoZero 3 ticked the right boxes of price and performance and available size. The 20 mm narrower section width meant better snow performance when there was snow. The higher aspect ratio helps protect the wheels from the inevitable potholes, and provides a cushier ride. I made sure to match load ratings with the summer tires, and accepted the H (<=130mph) rating for the winter tires vs the V (<=149mph) rating for the summer tires. (Who can drive that fast in the US suburban areas anyway?)

Experience shows that these winter tires handle quite differently than the summer tires, in part due to the narrower section and the lighter unsprung weight. The ride is much cushier, as expected. The car feels less planted than the summer tires, but feels much more maneuverable feeling (less grip means quicker turning). I think quickness is due in large part to the lower unsprung weight. My wife actually likes driving the car with the winter tires on it better than the summers because it handles more like cars she is used to driving. The above description is for cold conditions, dry or wet. In snow and ice, the car remains sure footed, so long, as you do not drive foolishly. Can you swing the tail out if you gun it, sure you can, but it is very controllable. Unless you were in a parking lot place playing around, why would you want to swing the tail out in winter driving?

Motegi Racing MR 118 17x8: For me, the Motegi Racing wheels ticked the right boxes also. There was a huge choice of 17 inch wheels, and while the Motegi's were made in China, they seemed to be higher quality being low pressure cast vs gravity cast (I did not want to spend the dollars on forged or similar wheels-I have gone through by BBS stage). The Tire Rack advisors were good in that they would not tell me what to pick but they said of the low priced wheels, look for low pressure cast vs gravity cast (which were most of the cheap Chinese wheels), and there were few choices, and the Motegi's just seemed to be the right balance of weight, width, offset, hub centric fit, low pressure cast construction and cost. The Motegis also had the advantage of being slightly wider 8 inches vs the usual 7 to 7.5 inches offered in cheaper wheels. 17's were also lighter than the stock 18's, another advantage. The fact that they looked like a black version of my old 19" BBS RS wheels (long gone) only helped. finally 17 inch wheels are much less expensive than 18 or 19 inch wheels.

The Motegis required different lug nuts than stock, and came with them as well as the narrow walled lug wrench tool. I ordered the wheels with compatible TPMS sensors.

Tire Rack Experience: Once I chose the package and ordered on line with the Tire Rack, they arrived by UPS or FedEx within two to three days, mounted and balanced, appropriately protected, with all required hardware. The Tire Rack called me within a couple of hours or the on line order, to confirm the order, and to offer me a choice of chrome or black lug nuts, and since the wheels were black, I chose the black lug nuts.

Again, I apologize for the length of this post, but I thought it might be helpful to those looking for winter tire packages. Consider narrower sections, higher aspect ratios, smaller wheel diameters. Pay attention to load rating (99 or 100), and speed rating (H or V).

In the end, even though there is full life left on the OEM Toyo Tires on our 2021 CX-5, I am always looking at new tires for a new car. I may not buy any for several years, but it is just a long term hobby. I will also have to see how good or bad the Toyo's are in the winter.
 

Freedom55

2020 AWD GS Montreal Canada
I have the new Michelin X-Ice Snow 225/65/17 and no experience yet on snow or ice but on dry or wet pavement they handle really well and are quiet enough. My last few vehicles had Blizzak which were great on snow and ice but a bit mushy on cleared roads.
I can't complaint on snow or ice and I'm really impressed on very cold dry pavement, the best I've ever had in nearly 50 years of driving! The load rating is XL 106 vs 102 for standard tire meaning a stiffer carcass and probably a better resistance to potholes...The CX-5 excellent driving dynamics sure help.
 

ColoradoDriver

Gen-1 Kodo Design
Contributor
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Denver, CO
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2014 CX-5 Touring
Very happy with my Blizzak WS90's in 225/65/17. Sacrifices minorly I think, but in return has been less mushy on dry roads. We actually haven't had much snow this year yet.
 

Freedom55

2020 AWD GS Montreal Canada
Very happy with my Blizzak WS90's in 225/65/17. Sacrifices minorly I think, but in return has been less mushy on dry roads. We actually haven't had much snow this year yet.
Excellent choice. I would have gone again with Blizzak but my dealer only had Michelin, BF Goodrich and Uniroyal. I've had WS70 on two different vehicles and DM-V1 on my previous ride. The WS90 is even better according to reviews and seems better on cleared pavement.
 

Freedom55

2020 AWD GS Montreal Canada
Size 225/65/17 WS90 is rated 102H which is usually seen on performance tires and X-Ice Snow is 106T. Continental Viking Contact7 is also 106T, they're all top tier interesting! Many winter tires are rated S or T and I've seen some Q and R.
 
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2014 Mazda CX-5 GT AWD w/Tech
I went with the 225/65/17 DM-V2 Blizzaks. Rated 102S, but I'll never approach that speed on them! Couldn't be happier - feels like I'm driving a snowmobile. Last set was DM-V1s which I also like, but these are better!
 
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