If your winter roads are consistenly snow- or ice-packed, the studded Nokian Hakkapeliitta 7 is for you. With its built-in metal teeth, the Hakkapeliitta 7 literally bites into ice. Tests confirm that it performs better than any other studded or studless snow tire available in North America.
But studded tires have a downside. Their metal studs tend to skid over bare pavement, hampering performance and handling. They're loud, transmitting far more road noise than studless tires. And they can damage pavement; some states ban or restrict studded tires.
Flawless on ice, but disappointing on bare roads. The Nokian Hakkapeliitta 7 is unbeatable on ice, finishing first place in three rigorous professional Scandinavian tests. "The Nokian is, as usual, the best choice for those who require safety and navigability on winter road conditions and was the test team's overwhelming favorite," say experts at Aftonbladet, after spending two months testing 28 winter tires north of the Arctic Circle. It's the best studded tire at ConsumerReports.org, too -- "even slightly better than the impressive studless Michelin X-ice Xi3\" (*Est. $105) on ice, editors say.
But on clear roads studded tires aren't so great. Their metal teeth skitter over bare pavement, and on wet and dry roads braking suffers. "That is the price one has to pay for the excellent ice and snow properties," say experts at Auto Motor & Sport, where the Hakkapeliitta 7 is still judged "one of the best tires ... on real winter roads."
Like all studded tires, it's loud. "While ride compliance was impressive, there was no escaping the tire noise on cleared pavement," ConsumerReports.org testers say of the Nokian Hakkapeliitta 7. Scandinavian reviewers agree: The Norwegian Automobile Federation and Aftonbladet both judge the Nokian Hakkapeliitta 7 to be one of the loudest snow tires in the test.
No treadwear warranty or durability ratings. Durability data is sorely lacking. None of our sources have tested the Nokian Hakkapeliitta 7 for durability, and we couldn't find any large owner surveys for this tire, either. Like most snow tires, the Hakkapeliitta 7 carries no treadwear warranty. Some snow tires do -- for example, the studless Michelin X-Ice Xi3 has a 40,000-mile treadwear warranty.
Review Credibility: Excellent The Nokian Hakkapeliitta 7 beats four other studded winter tires in this test. It brakes better on ice than any other winter tire -- studded or studless -- with excellent traction in snow, but like all studded tires, it's noisy.
Review: Putting Studded, Studless Winter Tires to the Test, Gene Petersen, Oct. 16, 2012
Review Credibility: Very Good Ice and snow pose no problem for the Nokian Hakkapeliitta 7, and it brakes and handles pretty well on bare pavement, too. In fact, it outperforms the highly rated Michelin X-Ice Xi3 on wet roads. However, the Michelin brakes better on dry pavement, and it more confidently handles the panic-swerve moose test.
Review: Best Winter Tires 2012, Editors of Motormännen, Oct. 19, 2012
Review Credibility: Very Good Perfect on ice and nearly perfect on snow, the Nokian Hakkapeliitta 7 is "the test team's overwhelming favorite" in this Swedish publication's painstaking 28-tire comparison test. It's loud, with long braking distances on wet pavement, but it's "the best choice" on snow and ice.
Review: Sweden's Biggest Winter Tire Test, Editors of Aftonbladet, Autumn 2012
4. Norwegian Automobile Federation
Review Credibility: Very Good The Norwegian Automobile Federation participates in the same two-month Arctic tire test as Aftonbladet, but editors come to some very different conclusions. However, they agree completely on the Nokian Hakkapeliitta 7: It earns a first-place finish.
Review: Winter Tire Test 2012, Rune Korsvoll and Jukka Antila, Oct. 11, 2012
5. Auto Motor & Sport
Review Credibility: Very Good This Swedish magazine conducts an 11-tire winter test, and the Nokian Hakkapeliitta 7 does just as well as in other Scandinavian reviews. It's perfect in all ice tests (braking, acceleration, traction and handling) and nearly perfect on snow. Dry-pavement performance suffers somewhat, however.
Review: The Stars of the Winter Road, Nils Svärd, Oct. 4, 2012