Dedicated winter tires will help your truck or SUV get a better grip on snow and ice. Some are designed specifically for light trucks, SUVs, and other heavier vehicles, but most come in a wide selection of sizes and are also suitable for passenger tires.
The top pick for this edition of our snow tires report is the Michelin Latitude X-Ice Xi2 (Est. $110 and up). It's the predecessor to what experts consider to be an excellent all-around snow tire, the Michelin X-Ice Xi3 (Est. $70 and up), which is profiled in our section on the best winter tires. Today, the X-Ice Xi2 is primarily offered as a winter tire for those who drive heavier vehicles, such as vans and light-duty pickups. It's top rated in this category by one expert reviewer. Wheels.ca interviews a Canadian tire dealer who also names that tire as one of the top performers in this class. About.com includes it among the top tires to consider for SUVs and similar vehicles. TireRack.com tests it against three competitors on ice and finds that it offers "a subtle advantage" over the next best tire in that trial, the Bridgestone Blizzak DM-V2 (Est. $130 and up).
If there's a red flag, it's that it comes in fourth out of the six light truck/SUV studless ice & snow tires rated by users there. However, a closer look reveals that most drivers are actually quite pleased. It earns a 4.2-star rating, with 93 percent saying that the tire is the best one in the category.
Some of the impressions shared by experts and users are a little contradictory, but overall the picture that emerges is one of a competent performer in most regards. Its major weakness is traction in deep snow, but dry and light snow traction are top notch. "Steering is precise and responsive and the tires handle extremely well overall, considering that they are still snow tires, says About.com's Sean Phillips.
The low rolling resistance as reported in one review is also a plus when it comes to fuel economy. Ride comfort and noise draw few negative comments, and it rates as very good in both regards in one independent test. The Latitude X-Ice Xi2 is covered by one of the better warranties for snow tires, the same as Michelin Latitude X-Ice Xi3, including a six-year, 40,000 mile treadwear warranty and six years for workmanship or materials, with a free replacement for the first year.
The aforementioned Bridgestone Blizzak DM-V2 is another tire to consider. Designed and sized specifically for light trucks and SUVs, this tire replaces a long-time favorite, the Bridgestone Blizzak DM-V1, which is being phased out. Feedback thus far is limited but favorable. TireRack.com says that the DM-V2 features a new tire compound "that, along with bite particles in the tread, help produce surprisingly high levels of grip on ice and hard-packed snow." As noted above, testers give the Michelin Latitude X-Ice Xi2 a small edge in testing on ice (other testing had not yet been published at the time of this report), though the differences are slight.
You can count PickupTrucks.com as a fan as well. Though the testing there does not include the Michelin, and does include a couple of tires that most certainly are not the best for dealing with snow and ice, Blizzak DM-V2 emerges as a top choice. "The DM-V2s' excellent acceleration and braking characteristics with our empty-bed half-ton on packed snow was reflected in the fact it had the fastest acceleration times and impressive stopping abilities," the editors say, adding that this tire "also does quite well on cold pavement."
User feedback for this relatively new tire is strong, but limited thus far. While the Michelin Latitude X-Ice Xi2 has more than 100 reviews and 132 ratings-only feedback at TireRack.com, The DM-V2 has just over 30 reviews (and just over 35 ratings) at TireRack.com. Be that as it may, that feedback is enough to catapult the DM-V2 into first place there among light truck studless winter tires based on its 4.5 star score.