It looked like we were going to have an early spring here in Colorado, but the last couple weeks showed we still have some cold, miserable winter weather ahead. So while it’s not time to roll out the motorcycles and convertibles just yet, it does give us some more opportunity to test in the snow. In this video, Roman takes a look at just how capable our long-term Tesla Model X is in the slick conditions, against a more conventional baseline: the 2020 Land Rover Discovery HSE.
What do you need to really hack it in the snow? Having a car with decent ground clearance helps, as does all-wheel drive. Perhaps more important than either though are the tires you’re running. While “all-seasons” are built to handle winter conditions better than a summer tire, they’re still no substitute for a good, purpose-built winter tire. The Tesla Model X Dual Motor has reasonable ground clearance around 8 inches. For its part, the Land Rover Discovery can raise itself up to 11.1 inches of clearance thanks to its air suspension and terrain management systems.
Here’s why you need good tires.
When it comes to driving in winter conditions, there’s three things drivers need to consider. Acceleration, steering and braking are all important, and modern cars all have stability and traction control systems to keep the driver in control on slick surfaces. However, as Roman shows in the Tesla Model X on its stock Continental CrossContact LX Sport tires, those systems are always limited by the mechanical grip that comes from the tires actually biting into the snow. If you don’t have the grip, those systems can only do so much and you become a passenger when you do lose traction in winter weather.
In the Discovery, on its Pirelli Scorpion winter tires, the tests produced remarkably different results. Acceleration, steering and braking were all notably less dramatic, which means you should feel much more in control of the situation when you’re on snow and ice.
Despite the Tesla Model X’s heft, which somewhat helps push the car into the snow to gain some traction, its tires were its main point of weakness. So to answer the question, “Are Teslas any good in the snow?”, we can’t say the Model X is bad without any qualification. In fact, it’s not so much the vehicle you’re driving, but your tires that can truly make the difference. In some cases, the hundreds of dollars you’ll spend on good winter tires can mean the difference between safe travels and a nasty accident.
Let us know some of your all-season versus winter tire stories in the comments below!