As a car enthusiast that lives here in Southern California, it’s safe to say we spend about ninety-five percent of our time enjoying our vehicles on the roads and highways with some pretty ideal weather conditions.
So when it came time to plan a road trip from San Diego to the Grand Canyon over winter break, choosing the perfect tire for a 1,300+ mile trip was a big decision. Especially when we knew there might be a chance of snow during our trip.
Driving the 2016 Ford Focus RS as our daily driver here in SoCal for the last couple of years has been a blast. And this hot hatch has seen its share of fair weather road trips. We have driven this all-wheel-drive vehicle to high profile events like the SEMA Show in Las Vegas, up to Big Bear Lake for a little summer fun, and even to Ken Block’s Climbkhana World Premier at the Peterson Museum in Los Angeles.
But as the odometer rapidly approached the 50,000-mile mark on this Ford EcoBoost engine, we suddenly realized that we had never driven this vehicle in the snow. For whatever reason, our Focus RS had never been put to the test on a winter road trip where we may experience adverse weather conditions.
For a vehicle like the popular Ford Focus RS, the Toyo Extensa HP II tire is a great high-performance tire that is a perfect balance between high quality, outstanding performance, and dynamic styling. - Julie Sediq, Toyo
Now we know what you are thinking, the Focus RS is probably not most people’s vehicle of choice for a long road trip. Our car is outfitted with the manual Recaro seats which have been well documented as less than ideal for those longer than average commutes. The manual only option and loud aftermarket exhaust could also be considered no-go criteria as well.
But then we remembered just how much fun we had at the RS Adrenaline Academy at the Ford Performance Racing School Tooele, Utah. The one-day course indeed showed us what this all-wheel-drive vehicle is capable of and confirmed that the RS badge was well deserving. So we decided we would make the journey to the Grand Canyon in the little hot hatch.
Choosing the Ideal Tire For Our Journey
After it was decided that we would be piloting the RS on this five-day journey, we started making a checklist to ensure mission success. Because of the 50K miles that we had already put on the vehicle, we brought it into our local Ford dealership for a full service. Because we had kept up with the required maintenance on this vehicle, including the recommended brake pad replacement, our dealership found nothing wrong with the car and we were good to go.
But the one critical area that needed to be addressed before we started on our journey was choosing the ideal all-season tire that would keep all four wheels firmly planted during any of the changing weather conditions on a winter road trip such as this one.
We contacted Julie Sediq, Senior Manager for Marketing Communications at Toyo Tire U.S.A. Corp. to find out what all season options were available for the Ford Focus RS. Because our vehicle is equipped with the upgraded black forged wheels from the factory, the team at Toyo suggested installing the Extensa HP II High Performance All Season Tire.
“For a vehicle like the popular Ford Focus RS, the Toyo Extensa HP II tire is a great high-performance tire that is a perfect balance between high quality, outstanding performance, and dynamic styling,” said Julie.
Toyo also explained that for a long road trip like this the Extensa HP II tire would deliver superb all-season handling, a comfortable ride, and comes with a 45,000-mile warranty.
Toyo Extensa HP II All-Season Tire Features and Benefits
All Season High-Performance Tires
Unidirectional Tread Design
Full Depth Multi-Wave Sipes
Special Silica Compound
Single-Cut and Double-Cut Tapers
Comes In A Variety Of Sizes (15-inch through 20-inch)
Treadwear: 500 UTQG
Installing Our Toyo Tires For the Long Road Trip
Lucky for us, this particular tire was in stock at the Toyo Tires warehouse here in SoCal in the factory 235/35ZR19 size. We simply drove up to the Will Call area, checked in and before we knew it, we had four brand-new Extensa HP II tires ready to be loaded into the back of the hot hatch.
We were in a bit of a time crunch as we were scheduled to depart on our trip in two days. So the very next morning we took the car and the tires to our friends at San Diego Tire and Wheel to get them installed. It was a cold and foggy morning in San Diego, but we had some time to examine the new all season tires. Right away we could see just how aggressive the tread pattern was compared to the outgoing summer tires that were currently on our vehicle.
The team at SD Tire and Wheel went right to work on our hot hatch, and they had them balanced and installed in no time. From there it was time to do a final visual safety check and top off all the fluids before our 4:00 a.m. start time the next morning from San Diego.
Toyo Tires Being Put To The Test!
We knew the weather was going to be a bit unpredictable and even called for some light snow up at the higher elevations. As our three-vehicle convoy started on our holiday journey, we were pleasantly surprised by the lack of road noise that the new wheels displayed. Coming from a summer UHP tire, this was something we were a little worried about, but as we made our way across the border to Arizona, we did not notice any additional road noise.
We did notice that under certain uneven driving conditions you could “feel” that this was an all-season tire. But we knew that this was probably because our vehicle is lowered on Mountune lowering springs. It certainly did not make for an uncomfortable ride, but driving 50k miles on a summer tire–it’s easy to get used to how that tire reacts on the road.
It was at the higher, colder elevations where we felt these tires performed as expected. As we made our way through the Coconino National Forest on our way to our first stop in Flagstaff, Arizona, our SoCal driven Focus RS finally got to experience its first snowfall. Now I wish I could say I immediately put the vehicle into drift mode and went off on my own to have some fun with the hot hatch, but we were on a tight timeline, so I was only able to pull off the main road once to get my inner hooligan on.
We did, however, get to experience how these tires performed with the all-wheel-drive system that the RS possesses. The Extensa HP II tires kept this car firmly planted and even at speed. I felt like I was in control of the vehicle the entire time. Because the snow had started falling a lot heavier than anticipated, we did witness a few less fortunate cars slide off the road and lose traction. But this just was not the case for our Focus RS. We arrived at our hotel in Flagstaff, Arizona and we have to admit we got out of the car with smiles on our faces excited to get the chance to experience some light snow for the first time in this vehicle.
Toyo Extensa HP II Tires Excel In The Dirt And Gravel
The next morning the weather in Flagstaff, Arizona reached a low of about 19 degrees. There was a light amount of snow that was falling as we made the 30-mile drive from our hotel to our next destination which was Bearizona Wildlife Park.
The park in Bearizona allows you to drive a three-mile loop through the untamed (and more importantly for us unpaved!) Arizona wilderness, witnessing North American Wildlife in natural environments. Although it was no longer snowing when we arrived, the ground and trail still had a thin layer of snow and water which was not a problem for these tires.
From there it was about a 50-minute drive to the Grand Canyon. By the time we reached the Grand Canyon, it was clear skies and a perfect day for a drive. We did stop at a couple of the tourist attractions along the way, most of them which were off the main road leading up to the park. When we finally reached our destination and began exploring the Grand Canyon, our Focus RS looked right at home with the numerous all-wheel-drive SUV’s and Subaru’s that were also in the parking lot.
Day three was spent enjoying the sights around the Grand Canyon including jumping on the Grand Canyon Railways Polar Express train ride. On day four of our five-day road trip, we made the long drive back from Flagstaff, Arizona, to Anaheim, California, where we spent the day at Knotts Berry Farm. And the next morning we cruised back down to San Diego, California. Overall it was a very enjoyable road trip.
The Toyo Extensa HP II tires exceeded my expectations, and we are still running this tire on the RS with no plans of switching back to a summer tire any time soon. To find out more about the Toyo Extensa HP II tires, you can click on companies official website here.