Experts say the Michelin X-Ice Xi2 is the best all-around winter tire. Testers find it sure-footed on both ice and snow, as well as quieter than other snow tires. It offers a lower rolling resistance (and therefore better gas mileage) than most others, approaching that of the more expensive Nokian Hakkapeliitta R (*Est. $135), which is specifically designed for low rolling resistance. Owners say the Michelin X-Ice Xi2 has proved durable and trustworthy since it hit the market in 2008. Its only drawback in tests is a tendency to hydroplane more than other winter tires do. The cheaper General Altimax Arctic (Est. $70) outclasses the Xi2 in one wet-road test, but the General doesn't grip quite as well on ice. Neither tire brakes or handles well on dry roads -- a common failing of nonperformance winter tires. The performance-oriented Michelin Pilot Alpin PA3 (*Est. $185) does a better job on bare roads, and it's also outstanding on snow and ice in tests.
ConsumerReports.org treats 36 winter tires to its precise, unbiased testing. Comparison reviews at Motor and Aftonbladet magazines are taken from large Scandinavian winter-tire tests. Canada's nonprofit Automobile Protection Association (APA) rates and ranks a large number of tires, although it gives no test results. TireRack.com ranks tires based on customer reviews. The Toronto Star's tire expert, John Mahler, chooses the Xi2 as one of his top winter-tire picks at Wheels.ca, but he doesn't provide any specific test results.
ConsumerReports.org tests 36 winter tires, including performance winter tires, those for light trucks and 17 standard winter tires such as the Michelin X-Ice Xi2. Editors rank the tires according to their performance on snowy, icy, wet and dry roads, as well as for noise, comfort and rolling resistance.
Review: Winter Tire Ratings, Editors of ConsumerReports.org
2. Motor magazine
Motor, the member magazine of the Norges Automobil Forbund (Norwegian Automobile Federation), publishes this comprehensive test of 19 winter tires. The Michelin X-Ice Xi2 "has made a few improvements" this year and regains its title as the best studless winter tire. The article is available online, but only in Norwegian.
Review: Winter Tire Test 2011, Rune Korsvoll and Jukka Antila, Oct. 7, 2011
This Swedish auto magazine tests 29 winter tires -- studded, studless and mild-climate. The Michelin X-Ice Xi2 is judged the best studless, severe-winter tire. Testers call it "balanced and calm in all road conditions."
Review: Aftonbladet 2011 Winter Tire Test, Editors of Aftonbladet, Oct. 2011
4. Automobile Protection Association
This Canadian nonprofit rates 20 winter tires for passenger cars. The Michelin X-Ice Xi2 is a top pick, but editors do note some owner complaints.
Review: Winter Tire Info: Passenger Car Tires, Editors of the Automobile Protection Association
5. Tire Rack
The Michelin X-Ice Xi2 is the top-ranked studless winter tire among customers at TireRack.com. About 400 owners post reviews of the tire, giving it superior or excellent ratings in every category, including performance on wet, dry and wintry roads and for comfort.
Review: Michelin X-Ice Xi2, Contributors to TireRack.com
Wheels.ca is the Toronto Star's auto website, where reviewer John Mahler posts his yearly winter tire roundup. He singles out the Michelin X-Ice Xi2 as a good choice for ultimate ice-grip, thanks to its multi-cell tire compound that picks up slippery water from the ice and spits it out from underneath the tire.
Review: The Time to Buy Your Winter Tires Is Now, John Mahler, Oct. 25, 2010