Words: Sammy Chan
Photography: Sammy Chan
Published: September 8, 2020
Being an automotive writer can be envious to many, but being a nurse just does not stack up the same, particularly during these times when any health care facility or worker are viewed as sacrilegeous but best to approach from a distance. As odd as it may seems, I happen to wear these two hats at the same time and no matter how surreal it can be, it turned out to be one great achievement that only a half journalist half nurse can muster in the midst of a pandemic, a COVID-19 disaster.
As a Chinese saying goes，"患难见真情 Misfortune tests the sincerity of friends" and friends indeed or even better like "Helping without Compromise" launched by Yokohama Canada in recognizing and supporting front-line workers who risk their lives during the pandemic to keep Canadians safe. Through We Are Social of Toronto, a campaign sponsored by Yokohama-based creative agency, Yokohama gave each front-line worker nominated by its community a free set of tires each week over a period of 10 weeks. I for one have benefited from such a campaign, though not directly but by being recognized as a Registered Nurse (at Brampton Civic Hospital) and at the same time an Automotive journalist in quest of some new tires to do a story. So here I am replacing the original Pirelli Scorpion Zeros with spanking new Yokohama Avid Ascend LX on my 2018 Volvo XC60.
Offering longer tread life, year-round performance and excellent warranties, all-season tires are unarguably the most popular tire types in the market these days. For budget-minded consumers, Yokohama's AVID Ascend series is also one of the most technologically advanced budget-friendly all-season tires. With the recent launch of the all-new Avid Ascend LX, Yokohama has also pushed the performance envelope further by instilling rain and snow capabilities that touring tires have long fallen short of expectations.
Touted as the next-generation Grand Touring tire that delivers thrill without compromise, Yokohama's Avid Ascend LX replaces the aging Avid ENVigor while complementing the Ascend GT which remains the brand's top-end product. Yokohama says the Ascend LX now offers a longer tread life, improved traction on wet and snowy conditions while still providing a smooth and quiet ride. Now backed by an impressive 130,000 kilometers limited treadwear warranty, the AVID Ascend LX is undoubtedly one all-season tire consumers find hard to resist.
Produced at Yokohama’s plant in Virginia USA, the all-new Ascend LX is tailored for today's crossovers, SUVs, passenger cars and minivans. It is available in 39 different configurations covering tire sizes ranging from 15 to 18 inches, H and T-rated. Quoting prices from retailers like Canadian Tire, a set of 4 Ascend LX would start at $571.96 for 185/60R15 84H (smallest) to $923.96 for its largest size 235/60R18 103H. This latter model is exactly what Yokohama Canada provided and what my Volvo required for this review.
First thing I noticed when I picked up the Ascend LX was the wide circumferential grooves and there's four of them running circumferentially around the tire. Circumferential grooves improve braking performance in the wet while lateral grooves help to evacuate water and resist hydroplaning. Wavy 3D sipes on the shoulders and notches also serve as effective edges for excellent grip on any type of road conditions even wintry ones.
Expect the Ascend LX be quiet as well. Adopting an all-new tread pattern, these tires uses a multi-pitch design staggered in a five block sequences to achieve a quiet and comfortable ride. A wider and flatter contour also provides a large footprint to evenly distribute pressure to reduce wear and improve treadlife.
I have always used lemon oil to remove grease on my tires but never did I know that orange could be used on tires too till Bob, the most friendly mechanic who installed the tires for me at Markham Midas, told me that Yokohamas of late smell "orangy". It was more than 10 years ago that Yokohama started using oil derived from orange peels to displace some of the petroleum used in tires. What does matter and the reason for Yokohama to qualify for Blue Earth status is that orange oil increases longevity and hopefully mine too. Ascend LX tires are also constructed out of Yokohama’s most advanced L-2 compound featuring a distinct polymer blend that greatly improves wear resistance of the tread. Now before you start squeezing orange..
Spending most of my time on highways and open road, the two most important elements I look for when purchasing an all-season tire are comfort and durability. With warranty rate over and above industry standard, the second concern becomes moot. It also didn't take me long to find out how quiet and comfortable the tires are once I hit the freeway. Noise level was low and remained largely unchanged at higher speeds. It feels compliant and composed over road imperfections. However, vibrations coming from the steering wheel are noticeable, though not an issue at speeds under 100 km/h, guess being H-Rated is not without its cause.
The tires handled exceptionally well in the dry and feedback from the steering wheel was communicative. You can feel the bite the Ascend grips the tarmac when carving through curves tempting me to take corners a bit more aggressively. Braking distances were short and confidence inspiring. This summer has been one of the driest season on record in Toronto but nevertheless I did catch a few short minutes driving in the wet. Driving in the rain was a breeze and there was not a moment I had to restrain myself from driving too fast when roads turn slippery. The Ascend LX definitely outshines my Pirelli Scorpion Zeros in the wet though the Pirellis seem to excel better in dry-surface handling.
While dry and wet traction have been pretty good, how well will these tires perform on ice and snow can make all the difference for most Canadians anywhere east of Vancouver. Seeing that winter is still months ahead, I decided to browse the internet for reviews buyers had shared since the Ascend LX went on sale early this year. One reviewer on tirerack.com had these to say, "They handled wet, dry, and slushy conditions in a controlled, predictable way with no problems, and inspired confidence compared to the worn tires on compact snow and ice. They probably don't have the same grip as a dedicated snow tire, but pretty good, better than the Bridgestones in my memory."
Yokohama's newest Avid Ascend LX is undoubtedly one of the most value-for-money all-season tires I’ve come across in recent years. Besides offering outstanding performance in a variety of road conditions be it dry, wet or snow, they also come with a 130,000 km limited treadwear warranty. Not to mention BluEarth branding that could also be an influencer for an environmentally conscious person.
Diana Colosimo, Director of Brand Development, Yokohama sums it nicely, "The Avid Ascend LX are probably the most value-for-money touring tires in the market. These extraordinary times reveal extraordinary individuals, and Yokohama Canada believes in celebrating these heroes who make our communities safe. Social networks are an opportunity for us to listen to our community and find a way for our brand and retail network to take action and really make a difference."
On behalf of all my colleagues in nursing, Thanks a million!