Cooper Evolution Winter Review: Great for Extreme Winter Weather

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  • Very good traction and braking on snow
  • Safe and reliable handling on snowy surfaces
  • Works very well on icy surfaces
  • Exceptional ice and snow traction when studded
  • Usable in slush as well
  • Completely safe in light and heavy rain
  • The ride is a tad bumpy over uneven surfaces
  • Dry handling is slightly inferior to premium winter tires
  • Not as cheap as expected from a Cooper product
  • No treadwear warranty

Driving becomes much more dangerous in the winter, and I hope that’s something that most drivers learned by now. Due to limited traction on slippery surfaces, such as snow, ice, and slush, drivers aren’t able to keep the vehicle in a straight line. Moreover, when winter car accidents happen, they sadly take more lives with them.

Fortunately, we can mitigate these accidents by using winter tires. These tires are specifically designed for very cold weather, but also for slippery surfaces, specifically snow, ice, and slush. As a result of that, winter tires have much shorter stopping distances than all-season tires on snow. In some tests, winter tires stop three times sooner.

For even better snow and ice traction, some manufacturers offer studdable winter tires. This means that you can put small metal studs on the tires to further improve traction on snow, and especially ice. One such tire is the Cooper Evolution Winter, a product that is aimed at drivers that live in Northern areas, mountainous regions, or anyone that encounters very adverse winter weather.

For a winter tire to be viable for drivers, though, it should also perform well on other surfaces. Most of the time, the Cooper Evolution Winter will be used on dry and wet surfaces, where most winter tires usually struggle. Naturally, as a serious tire manufacturer, Cooper paid a lot of attention to that aspect of the tire as well.

The Evolution Winter is a direct replacement to the popular Weather-Master S/T2 tire. According to Cooper, the new tire brings improved performance across the board, especially in harsh wintry conditions. On top of that, the engineers focused on improving the ride quality while simultaneously improving the noise qualities of the tire.

Cooper offers the Evolution Winter in 48 different sizes, ranging from 14-inch wheel diameter and up to 20-inch wheel diameter. With that lineup of sizes, Cooper covers a large portion of the passenger cars that drive on roads today.

These include smaller compact cars, mid-size sedans, coupes, compact crossovers, 7-seat crossovers, minivans, coupes, and even some SUVs. So, if you own a vehicle and you live in North America, the chances are that you will find a set of Evolution Winter’s that will fit your car perfectly.

Which begs the question: are they any good? That’s not an easy question to answer right away. When you think about it, tires need to work efficiently in various conditions, and almost no tire excels in each one. For that reason, you can learn how the tire performs on various surfaces in my detailed Cooper Evolution Winter review.

Before we jump to conclusions and real-life impressions, though, let’s see what features Cooper tire implemented in the tire to make it viable for drivers in North America.

According to Cooper Tire, the Evolution Winter is designed for stability and confidence when driving through deep snow. The company states that the tire plows through snow, which is an indication of its extreme-weather capability. The Three-Peak Mountain Snowflake symbol (3PMSF) is a further indication of the winter performance this tire offers.

Moreover, Cooper decided to make this tire studdable for even better snow and ice traction. The engineers carefully placed the stud pin holes to deliver the best possible traction on ice. The Evolution Winter accepts #12 studs, which should be applied by a professional tire technician. Please note that in some states you can’t drive with a studded tire. In others, you can only use studs when snow or ice covers the roads.

To achieve excellent winter traction, Cooper used a winter-focused tread compound on the Evolution Winter. The rubber is molded into a directional tread pattern that aims to provide the driver with better traction for accelerating and shorter braking distances on snow and ice.

The tread pattern consists of wide rigid tread blocks on the center rib. This should improve steering response, stability, and straight-line tracking. Moreover, the strong outboard shoulders improve lateral grip, which should help the driver achieve higher cornering speeds.

For better wet and slush traction, Cooper employed the SawTooth Circumferential Center Rib and open notches in the shoulders. These should give the tire an excellent ability to channel water and resist hydroplaning.

Snow and ice traction are covered with the Snow-Groove technology, which features high-density, multi-angle siping. This creates additional biting edges for driving on unpacked and packed snow, ice, and slush. Besides, the Snow-Groove technology also traps snow inside the tread, providing superior snow-to-snow traction.

What are the maintenance indicators?

Cooper Evolution Winter Review

Cooper utilizes the industry-standard treadwear indicators in all of its tires, including the Evolution Winter. The TWI’s are extremely important for safety because they show the driver how much tread there is left for safe wet and snow driving.

The TWI’s are narrow rubber bars that sit between the tread blocks of the tire – the Evolution Tour, you can see them between the circumferential SawTooth grooves. The rubber bars are heavily recessed in the tire, but as the tread wears down, they become more visible.

On the Evolution Winter, the minimum tread depth is 2/32-inch or 1.6mm, which is when the TWI’s will be completely flush with the surface of the tread. At that point, the tire won’t be able to provide the driver with good hydroplaning resistance, and snow traction will be severely worsened.

For safe driving, though, I recommend replacing the tires much sooner. That’s especially true for winter tires, which must have enough tread depth to provide safe handling and braking on snow and ice.

Sadly, winter tires aren’t known for excellent treadlife. I can’t say if the Evolution Winter changes that – the tire is still relatively new. Cooper also doesn’t provide any treadwear warranty, but that’s true for most winter tires.

How does it behave on a dry tarmac?

The Cooper Evolution Winter drives reasonably good on dry roads, especially when the weather is freezing cold. Handling is predictable, traction is sufficient, while the braking distances are fairly short.

The thing is, premium competitors from Michelin, Bridgestone, and Nokian still have the upper hand in dry handling. The difference isn’t easily noticeable on public roads – most will never tell the difference.

However, it is there. And, I state it only because the Evolution Winter isn’t as cheap as expected from a Cooper product.

How is it over wet and slippery roads?

Things improve on wet surfaces. The Evolution Winter is a very safe tire for driving in rainy situations. The hydroplaning resistance is exceptional, largely thanks to the deep and large grooves on the tire.

Moreover, I found that the tire performs admirably on slightly wet roads. Grip and traction are very good, while the stopping distances are close to what premium tires offer.

Overall, you certainly won’t be disappointed with the Evolution Winter in rainy weather.

With that being said, how is it on snowy roads?

Cooper Evolution Winter Review

The Evolution Winter is one of the most accomplished tires for winter driving right now. Without the studs attached, the tire proves a worthy competitor to other winter tires. It’s not the best by any means, but it is very close.

Over snowy surfaces, the tire shines in every regard. Handling is very safe and predictable, braking distances are short, and traction is sufficient even for deeper snow. Slush performance is also excellent – nothing bad to report there.

Ice performance without studs is also very good, albeit not on the level od the best winter tires, like the Bridgestone Blizzak WS90, for example.

However, the Evolution Tour can be studded, which improves ice traction by a significant margin. With the studs attached, this is one of the safest tires on snowy and icy surfaces, and certainly better than the WS90.

Is it suitable for off-road driving?

The Cooper Evolution Winter isn’t designed for off-road driving. Sure, thanks to the deep tread pattern, it might give you better traction than other tires. Nonetheless, the soft tread on winter tires can be easily damaged if driven on abrasive surfaces, such as gravel and dirt. So, if you want to keep your tire in check, I suggest driving only on paved roads.

Is it comfortable and refined?

Cooper focused on making the tire quieter and more comfortable. They succeeded in the former – the Evolution Winter is quiet for a winter tire. The ride quality also isn’t bad, but the tires can feel bouncy on some roads, especially at higher speeds. Nothing too serious, but worth mentioning.

You can see more Cooper Evolution Winter Review here: Video created by Michael

Should I buy the Cooper Evolution Winter?

Well, it depends on what you need from winter tires. If you are one of those people that really need a studded tire, then the Evolution Winter is one of the best products out there. So, yes, put it on your shortlist if you encounter severe wintry conditions more often than not, and the authorities permit the use of studded tires.

Nevertheless, the high price of the Evolution Winter stops me from fully recommending it to people that will never use it with the studs. The Bridgestone Blizzak WS90 and Michelin X-Ice Xi3 don’t cost a lot more money, yet they offer better performance across the range, and might be more durable.

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