If your winter roads are consistently 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. However, studded tires have a couple of downsides. They're louder than studless tires, and they can damage pavement, so some states ban or restrict them.
Flawless on ice, but disappointing on bare roads. For years, the Nokian Hakkapeliitta series has been unbeatable on ice in rigorous professional Scandinavian tests. "Ridiculously good," say experts at Aftonbladet, where the Nokian Hakkapeliitta 8 (similar to the Hakkapeliitta 7 in the U.S.) beats all 19 other tires in a month-long test 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. Studded tires really work best for drivers who battle constant snow and ice.
Like all studded tires, they're 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: Last year, they judged the Nokian Hakkapeliitta 7 to be one of the loudest snow tires in the tests (this year's Hakkapeliitta 8 is about as noisy as its peers).
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.
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
Perfect on ice and nearly perfect on snow, the Nokian Hakkapeliitta 8 (similar to the Hakkapeliitta 7 in the U.S.) is "ridiculously good" in this Swedish publication's painstaking 20-tire comparison test. It's loud, with long braking distances on bare pavement, but it's "the best on ice."
Review: 20 Winter Tires -- From Dangerously Horrible to Ridiculously Good, Robert Collin, Autumn 2013
3. Auto Motor & Sport
This Swedish magazine tests nine studded winter tires, and the Nokian Hakkapeliitta 8 (like the Hakkapeliitta 7) does just as well as in most other Scandinavian reviews. It's nearly perfect in all ice and snow tests. It's not as good on wet roads, though, and it's noisy.
Review: The White Hell, Oleg Rastagajev and Erik Söderholm, Autumn 2013
4. Vi Bilagare
Here's another Scandinavian vote for the Nokian Hakkapeliitta 8 (similar to the Hakkapeliitta 7). In this comprehensive test of eight studded tires, other competitors grip wet and slushy roads better -- but none delivers that "feeling of confidence" on snow and ice as the top-scoring Nokian.
Review: Here Come the Environmental Studs, Erik Rönnblom, Autumn 2013
5. Teknikens Varld
Unlike every other expert source we could find, this Swedish publication isn't impressed with the Nokian Hakkapeliitta 8 (similar to the Hakkapeliitta 7). After an exhaustive test on every winter road surface, the Nokian is judged great on ice, but lousy on wet roads.
Review: Winter Tire Test 2013, Linus Pröjtz, Oct. 10, 2013