Tire Test: Hankook Winter I*Cept Evo3 X

Hankook's I*Cept Evo3 X winter tires are a great choice for those who don't see much snow
Hankook's I*Cept Evo3 X winter tires are a great choice for those who don't see much snow

by Ben So | February 9, 2024

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When it comes to choosing the right tires for their vehicles, you might find it is easier to find the right set for summer than winter. That is because there are fewer variables to consider for the hotter months — most will be able to make a choice based on comfort, performance, and of course, price. However, for winter, you usually have to take into account how much driving you do over snow-covered versus cold but dry roads, how much driving feel you are willing to sacrifice, and more. Fortunately, newer winter tire options lessen the compromise and over the last few months, we have been testing one such set — the Hankook Winter I*Cept Evo3 X.

The long-standing Korean tire manufacturer touts these tires as “winter perfection in all conditions,” and we are curious to see if it lives up to the claim. But first, let’s go over our test subject, a 2007 Lexus LS 460. At first glance, it may not seem like these cars are too demanding — after all, it is just a large sedan that hardly sees much snow or performance driving. In reality, though, the LS 460 is a rear-wheel-drive, 380-horsepower flagship with top-notch comfort, and its asks for winter tires is likely more intensive than most other commuter cars. We expect the LS 460 will thoroughly bring out the Evo3 X’s attributes, and potentially expose any flaws along the way.

Onto the tires: the I*Cept Evo3 and Evo3 X — the latter of which available in more SUV-friendly sizing — are the performance-oriented offerings in Hankook’s winter tire lineup. They feature advanced technology, such as the company’s proprietary Winter Control Compound that resists flexibility loss in extreme cold weather to maintain braking performance, plus a V-shaped tread pattern and wide lateral grooves for better water dispersion, Hankook’s GripKontrol sipe design for even better grip, and wide shoulder blocks to maximize the contact patch for optimal handling over dry roads.

As always, winter started with cold but dry roads, which allowed us to get a feel for these new Hankooks over what has become typical winter conditions in southern Ontario. You can certainly hear the roar of the Hankooks, especially on the LS 460 where wind noise is so well-isolated, but it is far from excessive and is well within what we have come to expect from winter tires. We were further impressed by how little road feel was lost when compared to the all-seasons previously on the LS, and it had maintained similar levels of feel in the corners even as temperatures approached the freezing mark.

Though you would definitely know you are riding on winter tires given the change in feel and sound, the sacrifice in comfort is quite minimal. They do ride a bit stiffer than all-season tires, but the Evo3 X are not worse than most other winter tires on the market. The LS 460 also was able to retain much of that pillow-like ride quality so we consider that a job well done.

Over snowy roads, we noticed the I*Cept Evo3 X maintained good traction both in straight-line acceleration and through corners. It reaches its limits faster than traditional non-performance winter tires such as Hankook’s own I*Pike series, so if you are cross-shopping between the two, really consider your use case. The good news is that these limits are well-communicated, and the I*Cept also demonstrated good stopping power over both snowy and icy surfaces.

At the end of the day, the Hankook Winter I*Cept Evo3 X is a good choice for drivers who spend more time in urban areas and want to minimize the sacrifice to driving feel. With 45 sizing options between the I*Cept Evo3 and Evo3 X, most mainstream vehicles should be covered, and those who need to trek over snowier roads often can look for a more traditional set focusing on snow traction rather than dry-road performance.

 

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About Ben So

Editor-in-Chief

Ben has been living and breathing car magazines, spec sheets, and touring auto shows for his entire life. As proud member of the Automotive Journalists Association of Canada, he keeps a close eye on the latest-and-greatest in the auto industry. When he isn't geeking out about the coolest new cars, he's probably heading to the next hidden-gem ice cream shop with his three quickly growing kids.

Current Toys: '97 Integra Type R, '07 LS 460 RWD, '08 Corvette Z06, '13 JX35 Tech

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