In general, owners are more enthusiastic about the Bridgestone Blizzak WS70 than professional reviewers. On snow and ice, the Bridgestone Blizzak WS70 nearly matches the top-rated Michelin X-Ice Xi3 (*Est. $105) -- but once roads are cleared, the Blizzak slips and slides in professional tests. Plenty of drivers have sworn by Blizzaks for years, but expert testers in North America and Scandinavia almost always prefer the Michelins.
Snow-and-ice specialists get squirmy on bare roads. Blizzards are what the Blizzak WS70 does best, reviews say. "They practically turn the car into a tractor in snow and ice!" writes one owner, who commutes over a mountainous dirt road in a Honda Accord. "The best winter tire I've used in over 40 years of driving."
In fact, owners at TireRack.com rate the Blizzak WS70 as the absolute best winter tire on snow and ice, period. Expert testers there agree that it brakes a tiny bit faster, and corners slightly better, in their ice-rink test than their top-recommended Michelin X-Ice Xi3.
Picky Scandinavian and North American testing authorities usually judge the Blizzak WS70 about on par with the Michelin Xi3 on snow and ice. Unfortunately, both tires flounder like a fish out of water on bare roads, and the Blizzak fares even worse than the Michelin. On wet and dry pavement "it does not work at all," says Sweden's Aftonbladet, which ranks the Blizzak WS70 next-to-last among severe-winter tires. "It is way too soft and difficult to drive and skids easily."
The Norwegian Automobile Federation agrees. "On wet roads the tire has long stopping distances and it is so soft that the car is difficult to control in critical maneuvers," testers say of the Blizzak WS70.
Plenty of owners agree that the Blizzak WS70 feels squirmy on dry roads or above 70 mph -- but they still gladly don Blizzaks every winter. "My best description is that they feel like summer tires that are 5-10 psi low on air," writes one owner who is very happy with the tires anyway, because they manage to keep a Dodge Caliber R/T out of the ditch when it snows.
Easy-riding tire. The Blizzak WS70 beats every other snow tire for ride comfort in two tests, one conducted by a leading consumer publication and the other by TireRack.com. Noise is about average for a studless winter tire, four top testers agree. Owners don't complain about noise -- in fact, they rate the Blizzak WS70 highly at TireRack.com -- but the Michelin Xi3 is a little quieter, according to reviews.
Durable in real-life use -- but no treadwear warranty. Unlike the Michelin X-Ice Xi3 -- which carries a 40,000-mile treadwear warranty, rare for a snow tire -- the Bridgestone Blizzak WS70 has no tread warranty at all. Owners rate the Blizzak WS70 highly for durability. Several owners say you can expect one set to last three winters.
Review Credibility: Excellent Testers here rank the Bridgestone Blizzak WS70 alongside 15 other studless winter tires for passenger cars. They test each tire's snow traction, braking on icy, dry and wet roads, handling, hydroplaning, ride comfort, noise and more before recommending best buys.
Review: Bridgestone Blizzak WS70, Editors of ConsumerReports.org, Not Dated
Review Credibility: Very Good The Bridgestone Blizzak WS70 delivers mediocre results in this winter-tire shootout by the Swedish Automobile Association. Braking performance on ice and snow is only fair, and performance on both dry and wet pavement isn't impressive, either.
Review: Best Winter Tires 2012, Editors of Motormännen, Oct. 19, 2012
Review Credibility: Very Good Terrible bare-pavement handling relegates the Bridgestone Blizzak WS70 to second-to-last place among severe-winter tires at this Swedish publication. The tire handles reasonably well on ice and snow, but in their 28-tire test experts say there are better choices.
Review: Sweden's Biggest Winter Tire Test, Editors of Aftonbladet, Autumn 2012
4. Norwegian Automobile Federation
Review Credibility: Very Good This group participates in the same lengthy Arctic tire test as Aftonbladet. Editors come to different conclusions about some tires, but they likewise rank the Bridgestone Blizzak WS70 next to last. They say it brakes poorly on wet pavement, and it's so soft that it makes the car hard to control at times.
Review: Winter Tire Test 2012, Rune Korsvoll and Jukka Antila, Oct. 11, 2012
5. Vi Bilagare
Review Credibility: Very Good Once again, the Blizzak WS70's poor wet- and dry-road performance drags its overall score down. It trails a bit on snow and ice, too, compared with the Michelin X-Ice Xi3. This Swedish auto magazine's winter-tire shootout painstakingly tests 10 winter tires -- all studless except one -- and the Blizzak ranks close to the bottom.
Review: Tires to Count On In Wet or Dry, Erik Rönnblom, Sept. 25, 2012
6. Automobile Protection Association
Review Credibility: Good Canada's Automobile Protection Association gives more weight to snow-and-ice grip than other sources. Here, the Bridgestone Blizzak WS70 is the number-one pick among snow tires for passenger cars. Editors say it has "a somewhat deeper tread and better traction in slush" than the Michelin X-Ice Xi2 -- but they haven't updated their picks for this year, so they don't cover the new Michelin X-Ice Xi3.
Review: Passenger Car Tires, Editors of the Automobile Protection Association, Not Dated
7. Tire Rack
Review Credibility: Good The Bridgestone Blizzak WS70 finishes third in this four-tire test -- even though it brakes a tiny bit faster and corners slightly better on an ice rink than the winning Michelin X-Ice Xi3. The Blizzak rides a little more comfortably, too. But testers prefer the Michelin's handling, which feels more "like an all-season tire."
Review: Testing the Newest Studless Ice & Snow Winter Tires, Editors of TireRack.com, Sept. 28, 2012
8. Tire Rack
Review Credibility: Good With nearly 300 owner reviews posted, the Bridgestone Blizzak WS70 ranks second to the Michelin X-Ice Xi2 (the newer Xi3 hasn't accumulated enough reviews yet) in the studless passenger-tire category. Owners actually rate the Blizzak a little higher than the Michelin on ice and snow, and about equal on wet roads but lower on dry roads. They find the Blizzak a little noisier, with a less comfortable ride and less durable, too -- although both tires are reated as Superior or Excellent on all measures.
Review: Bridgestone Blizzak WS70, Contributors to TireRack.com, As of November 2012