Snow Tires: Ratings of Sources
As part of its coverage of tires, ConsumerReports.org rates more than 35 non-studded winter tires, including regular winter tires, performance winter tires and those for light trucks (pickups and SUVs). Each tire is rated for snow traction; braking on icy, dry and wet roads; handling; hydroplaning; ride comfort; noise and rolling resistance, culminating in an overall score. Editors rank the tires from best to worst and recommend their top picks.
While TireRack.com is a retail site, its staff conducts balanced, testing-based reviews of tires, including this comparative test of four studless ice and snow tires. Testing is detailed, and the methodology is thoroughly explained. Driving performance is examined both on a test track and on public roads, and when driving on ice and snow. Four tires are compared in this review; while all have strengths and weaknesses, the Bridgestone Blizzak WS80 and Michelin X-Ice Xi3 emerge as top choices with balanced performance and only limited trade-offs.
Thousands of consumers contribute to these ratings at TireRack.com, which ranks performance winter/snow tires, studless ice & snow tires and studdable winter/snow tires. Each tire is scored in 11 categories (ice traction, deep snow traction, etc.), and the results are presented in easy-to-read charts. Owners report how many miles they've driven each tire and on what type of car. Links lead to written owner reviews for each tire, many that are quite thorough and thoughtful. A separate chart provides the same data and feedback for light-truck and SUV tires.
Performance winter/snow tires are the focus of attention in this round of comparative testing at TireRack.com. Editors find that while performance winter tires deliver better handling on clear roads, traction is lower than with studless ice and snow tires. Regardless, they are a clearly better choice than best all-season tires in winter weather. While a couple of the other tires tested come close, the Michelin Pilot Alpin PA4 comes out on top.
In this blog post, TireRack.com's Sonny Shaw says that while the Bridgestone Blizzak WS80 and Michelin X-Ice Xi3 provide the best performance, they are relatively pricey. Where cost is a concern, he recommends the General AltiMAX Arctic as providing "easily the best bang-for-your-buck winter tire." A link to additional information based on an earlier round of testing is provided.
In a free article, ConsumerReports.org reviews five studded winter tires. The studded Nokian Hakkapeliitta 7 outclasses all winter tires on snow and ice -- including the top studless tire, the Michelin X-Ice Xi3. However, editors don't test the studded tires' dry braking and handling.
This Canadian online auto magazine (formerly CanadianDriver.com) doesn't rank the winter tires it tests, but includes several hands-on reviews of individual tires. An article that lists top-rated winter tires is also available, but that rundown breaks from the norm and is not testing based.
This Canadian nonprofit association is funded by membership fees, with no subsidies from the automobile, oil or insurance industries. The APA picks the top winter tires for passenger cars, minivans and compact SUVs based on ratings from tire experts and retailers. Tires are ranked in categories that range from top-rated to avoid, with special categories that address budget tires and all weather tires. Performance winter tires are rated separately, but that review is older and has become dated.
The Norwegian Automobile Federation tests studded and studless tires for 2015. While it finds that studs don't yield much of an advantage in snow, on ice it's no contest, with the Nokian Hakkapeliitta 8 rated as the best studded tire.
AutoGuide.com does not rate or rank snow tires, but does have a handful of stand-alone reviews based on tests on closed tracks as well as out in the real world. Some reports are based on a season's worth of driving or more, including one that reports impressions after a second season using the Michelin X-Ice Xi3.
This Canadian car-enthusiast site talks to the owner of a Toronto-area tire dealership to get his take on the best winter tires for the coming season. Picks include top performers for passenger cars as well SUVs and light trucks. The best values among snow tires for both types of vehicles are also named.
TireTest.com is a user-review site that collects feedback from car enthusiasts from around the world. Some tires here get only a handful of reviews, others hundreds. Users rate their tires on a number of key factors, including traction and breaking in wet and dry conditions, traction in snow, ride comfort, noise level and more, along with the number of miles that they have driven on those tires.
Sean Phillips, About.com's tires and wheels expert and the operations manager of a New England wheel and tire repair shop offers his take on the 10 best dedicated snow tires for 2013. Most of the recommendations in that list, including the top ones, remain current, but not all get a full review. Other coverage on the site includes a list of top snow tires for SUVs, as well as individual reviews for a host of winter tires, including the Bridgestone Blizzak WS80, which has replaced the popular and well-rated Bridgestone Blizzak WS70.
Peter Cheney tests snow tires with the aid of an engineer and test driver at "the Nokian Tire facility -- known in the business as White Hell." Testing is grueling -- pushing tires past well past what most people would in winter conditions. Though only Nokian tires are tested, the Nokian Hakkapeliitta 8 is called a clear winner.
Snow tires are tested by La Presse, a French language newspaper in Quebec, Canada, and the top five get short write ups here. An accompanying chart lists all the tires evaluated and how they performed on ice, snow and on dry roads.
This article looks at the performance of the Nokian WRG3 all-weather tires driving through a variety of different conditions, including snow, slush and ice. Based on his experiences, Dan Proudfoot says that these tires are good alternatives for those that don't want a set of dedicated snow tires in milder climates, such as Southern Ontario, but not for those in climates where deep snow is likely.
TireBuyer.com is an online tire retailer that lets users post reviews of tires that they own. Some tires get only a handful of reviews, others get hundreds. Users can post their location, the types of roads they drive over, the typical conditions they face and whether or not they would buy these tires again, though not all provide those bits of information.