Snow Tires: Ratings of Sources
As part of its coverage of tires, ConsumerReports.org rates more around 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 among similar tires, and recommend their top picks.
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 Michel Poirier-Defoy and Jean-François Guay, along with a panel of "expert tire retailers". Tires are ranked in categories that range from top-rated to avoid, with special categories that address budget tires and all weather tires. The Bridgestone Blizzak WS 80 and Nokian Hakkapelitta R2 share top-rated honors. While information on performance winter tires has been provided in previous years, those are not currently rated.
Car and Driver goes 186 miles above the Arctic Circle in Finland to test six top brands of studless snow and ice tires. The tires are tested on snow and ice, test scores are published, and discussion gives a clear picture regarding where tires excel, and what weak spots are discovered. The Nokian Hakkapeliitta R2 impresses across the board, in every category save for price. The Michelin X-Ice XI3 loses just a few performance points, but when price is factored in, K.C. Colwell says that "In terms of objective results, the first- and second-place tires are essentially the same."
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. 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. Separately, TireRack.com has a two-tire face off that compares the WS80 with the Continental WinterContact SI. The tires are said to provide "very good, and virtually identical, acceleration and braking traction performance on the glare ice of our test rink," but promised further testing has yet to be published.
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.
PickupTruck.com, with the aid of Woody Rogers and T.J. Campbell of TireRack.com, tests five truck tires mounted on a pair of identical 2016 Ford F-150 4x4s to ascertain their effectiveness on snow. Tested tires included the factory stock tires, a popular all-terrain tire, and three tires specifically designed for winter use. Testing is well explained, and the Bridgestone Blizzak DM-V2 emerges as the clear top choice for winter driving.
This test looks at the ice performance of three popular tires. All three tires perform better than typical all-season tires, but the "Michelin Latitude X-Ice Xi2 showed a "subtle advantage over the nearly identical performance of the Blizzak DM-V2." More complete testing is promised, but had not yet been published at the time of our visit.
In addition to the user ratings and test results, TireRack.com maintains a blog where you can find posts on topics such as the right winter tire for particular car models, the differences between types of winter tires, budget tires to consider, which winter tires are tops with its customers, and more. The downside? It's not the most user friendly resource as there's no apparent way to narrow down topics that you are most interested in, and some of the posts, though still relevant, are quite old.
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.
The Norwegian Automobile Federation tests studded and studless tires for 2016. While it finds that studs don't yield much of an advantage in snow, on ice it's no contest and studded tires win out. For this year's test, two Continental tires that are not currently available in the U.S. are declared the winners among studded and studless tires, but the Nokian Hakkapeliitta 8 shares top billing among studded tires, while the Nokian Hakkapeliitta R2 finishes a close second among studless choices.
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.
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.
Tirestest.com is an owner 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. The site uses a weighted system -- counting things like traction in snow more heavily than other factors, such as fuel consumption -- to convert those scores into an overall rating.
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. 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 Nokian Hakkapeliitta R, Michelin Pilot Alpin PA4, and more.
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. 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. Most tires only receive a handful of reviews.