The studdable General Altimax Arctic is a solid runner-up winter tire in reviews. Studded, it doesn't grip quite as well on ice as the top-rated Nokian Hakkapeliitta 7 (Est. $130) -- and studless, its ice grip trails the best studless snow tire, the Michelin X-Ice Xi3 (Est. $105) . However, experts still recommend it as a good, inexpensive snow tire. And owners love it: The General Altimax Arctic is one of the top-rated snow tires of any type at TireRack.com.
Mediocre ice grip in one test -- but owners rave about it. Like most winter tires, the General Altimax Arctic plows effortlessly through snow in tests. With its studs, it can't quite match the ferocious ice grip of the pricier Nokian Hakkapeliitta 7 (although plenty of owners are satisfied).
Without studs, it gets mixed reviews on ice. It's just average at braking on ice without its studs in one leading test. But when TireRack.com drives the studless General on a naturally iced test track in northern Sweden -- roughed up and polished to approximate a busy Swedish intersection -- "the General Altimax Arctic felt sure-footed on the rough ice surface," testers say. Like all severe-winter tires, the General Altimax Arctic doesn't fare well on bare pavement.
Smooth-riding -- without its studs, anyway. Studded tires always ride rougher and noisier. Without studs, the General Altimax Arctic rides very comfortably -- just as smoothly as the Michelin X-Ice Xi3 in one test. It's not as quiet, though; the studless General earns middling scores for noise.
Although TireRack.com combines owner reviews for the General with and without studs, it still earns a rating of Excellent for both noise and comfort.
No treadwear warranty, but owners say it's durable. Unlike the Michelin X-Ice Xi3, the General Altimax Arctic (like most winter tires) carries no treadwear warranty. According to owner reviews, however, the General is one of the longest-wearing snow tires you can buy.
"First set lasted three winters," one Colorado driver says of the Altimax Arctic. "Just put my new set on yesterday." Another driver in New Hampshire reports that after 14,000 miles, the Generals "still look new with very little wear."
A Wisconsin driver still has half the tread left after 35,000 miles. "I didn't even bother to pull them off during the dry summer months and they have worn better than most all-season tires." This isn't recommended, though -- severe-winter tires don't grip well on wet and dry roads.
ConsumerReports.org tests the General Altimax Arctic without studs. Experts rate it for snow traction; braking on icy, dry and wet roads; handling; hydroplaning; ride comfort; noise and more before ranking it against other studless winter tires.`
Review: General Altimax Arctic, Editors of ConsumerReports.org, Not Dated
In this free article, ConsumerReports.org experts test the General Altimax Arctic with studs alongside four other studded winter tires. They don't say how the General did -- only that the Nokian Hakkapeliitta 7 wins.
Review: Putting Studded, Studless Winter Tires to the Test, Gene Petersen, Oct. 16, 2012
3. Tire Rack
Experts travel to northern Sweden to test the General Altimax Arctic -- both studded and without studs -- against two other studdable winter tires without their studs. The studded General gets the best ice grip and wins the test, but it does give up some traction on wet and dry roads. Without studs, the General still beats the other two unstudded tires -- the Firestone Winterforce and Pirelli Winter Carving Edge.
Review: Winter Testing at the Arctic Circle: Studdable Winter/Snow, Editors of TireRack.com, Not Dated
4. Tire Rack
Experts here recommend two studdable winter tires. The General Altimax Arctic is their top choice in most ways -- it's quieter and "slightly better on ice and packed snow" -- but the Firestone Winterforce proves more effective in deep snow.
Review: Which Winter Performance Category Is Right for You?, Cy Chowattukunnel, Oct. 10, 2013
5. Tire Rack
With more than 950 owner ratings posted, the General Altimax Arctic is the favorite studdable winter tire at TireRack.com (the Best Reviewed Nokian Hakkapeliitta 7 isn't sold here). The vast majority of owners are very happy with this tire, even without studs.
Review: General Altimax Arctic, Contributors to TireRack.com, As of November 2013