Hankook i-Pike RW11 Studded Snow Tires Review
CONQUER WINTER WITH YOUR 4RUNNER – DON’T SURVIVE THE WINTER, CONQUER IT! An overview on the Hankook i-Pike RW11 Studded Tires
It’s a common misperception that you don’t need snow tires in a 4-wheel drive vehicle. If you know some physics or drive regularly in the snow, you know this isn’t necessarily true. There are plenty of reasons why you would want a 4wd 4Runner Vs 2wd 4Runner but just because you have 4wd doesn’t mean you are fully prepared.
The 4-wheel drive does not help you stop on snow and ice at all, and helps very minimally when you are sliding out of a turn into a rock hard snow berm or into the ditch. While the 4Runner has a wide variety of features, none of these are going to perform quite like a snow tire.
If all four tires have no traction, 4-wheel drive is also not a lot of help. The 4-wheel drive does help you track along to some extent and certainly helps you from getting stuck, but if you want to rule the roads in the Winter season, you are going to need something more.
IT’S ALL ABOUT THE TIRES – WHAT TIRES ARE RIGHT FOR THE JOB?
Just like the typical stock mud/snow tires on the 5th generation 4Runners do not seem sufficient for serious off-road use, and are often upgraded/replaced, they are also not sufficient for serious winter driving either. I live in a region we typically have snow four months out of the year. Some winters we have several feet of snow built up before we get some melt off. So just getting to work can sometimes be an adventure.
We also often hit a nearby mountain to ski or snowshoe on the weekends. This can get downright unpassable with an improper rig and/or tires. A couple weeks ago, I helped a hapless Prius out of the ditch halfway up the mountain with my snow recover tracks. They had to turn around, as it just got worse from there.
I welcomed the snow storm and difficult road conditions in my 2018 4Runner equipped with Hankook i-Pike RW11 studded snow tires. I powered up with great traction and clearance with no troubles. My destination was a 6-mile snowshoe hike through tons of powder with 1500 feet of gain. It was incredible.
Part of my love of body on frame SUVs is being able to go places others just can’t go and finding trails out in the woods away from the crowds. We still have an Off-Road edition Nissan Xterra that has taken us amazing places and now we look forward to all the places our new 4-Runner will take us.
WHAT TO BUY? Hankook i-Pike RW11 Studded Snow Tires
I have had a lot of different snow tires and the Hankook i-Pike RW11 studded are by far my favorite. They are priced mid-range, aggressive tread, soft high traction rubber, lots of sipes, strong construction and great studs that don’t easily pop out of the tire.
I know people that run Blizzaks, which are a great high traction stud-less snow tires, but they lack the aggressive tread pattern I like to have in case you hit a mix of snow, ice, rock, mud and/or gravel conditions.
Because of the less aggressive tread pattern, the Blizzak just visually look like they belong on a passenger car or a unibody SUV, not a truck. That being said, they perform well.
The Hankooks can be hard to locate if you wait too long to purchase before winter hits, but I managed to find mine at Walmart.com in early December (last possible place I could think of looking). They actually had a great price on the tires and shipped them for free to my local store from a warehouse. I have been powering through the winter roads ever since.
Where you can buy the Hankooks
WHAT MAKES A GOOD SNOW TIRE? THE SPECS
I highly recommend the Hankook i-Pike RW11 studded snow tires, but if you are shopping all your option, these are some things to consider:
- Tread Pattern (I like aggressive for compact snow or if you hit a mix of gravel)
- Sipes (The more sipes in the tires the better, this improves ice traction. Sipes are the small cuts you see in the tread pattern)
- Size (The narrower the better for not getting stuck in the snow, but I always just run stock size for the snow tires but try to avoid buying wide oversized tires for snow use)
- Studs (You want studs that don’t pop out easily and don’t pop through the tire itself and causing an air leak, and yes, that can happen on cheap tires)
- Quality Construction (You can read reviews, but even with just a visual look, you can tell when a tire is just cheaply constructed. Just looking at the Hankooks, you can tell they are not messing around)
WHAT ABOUT THE WHEELS?
Let’s talk about 4Runner wheels briefly. There are three trains of thought. Some run the same wheels all year and pay to have someone mount and balance the summer and winter tires each year on the same wheels. The costs of this can add up quickly, paying for two mountings and balancing per year.
The second method is to buy some cheap black steel wheels for winter and keep your stock wheels for summer. But you know what, that is just kind of boring, so I prefer the third method.
I always keep my stock wheels for my winter wheels and buy a set of unique custom summer wheels for not much more than steel wheels. Might as well add a little uniqueness to your ride, if you are buying a new set of wheels anyway.
Almost all tire stores will swap your summer and winter wheels FOR FREE as long as you bought them there are purchased a hazard warranty from them. No mounting or balancing with option two or three, so no yearly costs. After a few years, the custom wheels pay for themselves.
WHAT ALL TO BUY
- Extra set of wheels (Buy something unique you want to run in the summer. Maybe a wider wheel with a little negative offset)
- Tire sensors (Ugh, these can be costly, but required by the government. Try to find aftermarket sensors, Toyota ones are insanely expensive. Your local tire store can usually find some reasonably priced ones)
- Good snow tires (Again, I think you can’t go wrong with Hankook i-Pike studded tires, but everyone has their personal preference)
- Summer tires (Well, if you still have stock tires on your 4runner, you probably want to upgrade these tires also, I plan to buy BF Goodrich KO2s, as they have been excellent on my Xterra. Just out of funds at the moment, so will have to wait a bit)
This is a lot of upfront money but will be worth it in the long run. Also, keep in mind, every month you have your snow tires on, is one less month of wear on your summer all-terrain tires.
HAULING YOUR WINTER GEAR – KEEP IT ALL UNDER CONTROL
Right here, I have to comment on the D-ring Cargo system in the 5th Generation 4Runner, as I use them every trip up the mountain. I find it a simple, but very effective and user-friendly system. I actually like it better than the more complicated track system in the cargo area of my Xterra.
I can easily secure all my snowshoe gear, shovel, and snow recover tracks in the cargo area, so they are not flying around while I head up the winding mountain road. The all-weather cargo mat is a must also, catches all the melting snow.
FIND A BLIZZARD – GO CONQUER!
You all know how well the 4Runner performs off road and in low traction conditions. A set of all good all-terrain tires will improve your wintering driving from the stock tires provided from Toyota, but with a set of Hankook i-Pike studded snow tires you will notice a huge jump in traction and you will own the snowy/icy roads.
The only time you will need your off-road recovery strap is when you are yanking someone else out of the ditch. Happy Driving!