The Continental ExtremeWinterContact doesn't grip quite as well or wear quite as long as the best severe-winter tire for passenger cars, the Michelin X-Ice Xi3 (Est. $105), but experts recommend it as a decent budget pick. Performance is markedly better for light trucks and SUVs; the Continental actually wins one major test, beating nine other winter truck/SUV tires.
A little less ice grip than the Michelin X-Ice Xi3. Slightly longer ice-braking distances relegate the Continental ExtremeWinterContact to runner-up status. Otherwise, it grips almost identically to the winning Michelin X-Ice Xi3 in two top passenger-tire tests. Both tires deliver excellent snow traction. Both handle fairly well (the Continental feels "predictable and stable" in TireRack.com's ice-rink test).Neither can brake quickly on wet or dry roads. But that's only true for passenger-car sizes (both tests run a 215/60R16 tire with a T speed rating). In a bigger SUV/light truck size (265/70R17, with a slower Q speed rating), the Continental ExtremeWinterContact dominates a major test, with good to excellent performance on all road conditions -- snowy, icy, wet and dry.
Quiet, comfortable ride. Like the Michelin X-Ice Xi3, the Continental ExtremeWinterContact rides smoothly and quietly. Both tires are highly rated for ride comfort and noise in a major test.
At TireRack.com, owners rank the ExtremeWinterContact as one of the very quietest winter tires. They award it the highest possible rating of Superior for ride comfort, too. Expert reviews at the same site judge the ExtremeWinterContact's ride to be just as comfortable as the Michelin. They do find it noisier than the Michelin at highway speeds, though.
Mixed reviews for durability -- and no treadwear warranty. The Michelin X-Ice Xi3 beats other snow tires with its rare 40,000-mile treadwear warranty. The Continental ExtremeWinterContact carries no tread warranty.
Owners rate the ExtremeWinterContact highly for durability overall, although several say they were disappointed in the treadwear. "After one long full season, they have more wear than I'd hoped," writes one Massachusetts customer at TireRack.com after putting 15,000 miles on the tires. "With rotation, these will give me only two winters of 'really good' service and one or two more of 'acceptable' traction. The soft rubber does its job well but doesn't last long."
Review Credibility: Excellent Experts here test both car and light-truck sizes of the Continental ExtremeWinterContact, with separate reviews -- and different results -- for each. They rate its snow traction, braking on icy, dry and wet roads, handling, hydroplaning, ride comfort, noise and more before ranking it against other winter tires.
Review: Continental ExtremeWinterContact, Editors of ConsumerReports.org, Not Dated
2. Tire Rack
Review Credibility: Good The Continental ExtremeWinterContact places second in this four-tire test, behind the winning Michelin X-Ice Xi3. The Continental accelerates and brakes a little more slowly on ice, and it's noisier at highway speeds.
Review: Testing the Newest Studless Ice & Snow Winter Tires, Editors of TireRack.com, Sept. 28, 2012
3. Tire Rack
Review Credibility: Good Even an inexpensive winter tire will keep you safer than all-season tires, experts here say. Gary Stanley names three affordable winter tires worth considering: the Continental ExtremeWinterContact, Dunlop Graspic DS-3 and General Altimax Arctic.
Review: Best Affordable Winter/Snow Tires, Gary Stanley, Nov. 14, 2012
Review Credibility: Good Each year, Haney Louka affixes a different set of winter tires to his family station wagon and tests them through a Winnipeg winter. He says the Continental ExtremeWinterContact proves one of the two best tires he has ever tested; the Nokian Hakkapeliitta RSi is the other.
Review: Winter Tire Review: Continental ExtremeWinterContact, Haney Louka, Oct. 14, 2010
5. Tire Rack
Review Credibility: Good With 250 owner reviews posted, the Continental ExtremeWinterContact ranks third in the studless passenger-tire category. It earns a rating of Superior or Excellent in every category, but snow tires from Michelin and Bridgestone score higher.
Review: Continental ExtremeWinterContact, Contributors to TireRack.com, As of November 2012