What every best Snow Tires has:
- Strong grip on snow and ice.
- A comfortable ride.
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.
It's another close call, but the top SUV snow tire pick continues to be the Michelin Latitude X-Ice Xi2 (Est. $115 and up). It's the predecessor to what experts consider to be an excellent all-around snow tire, the Michelin X-Ice Xi3 (Est. $75 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 ConsumerReports.org. 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. $120 and up).
If there's a red flag, it's that it comes in fourth out of the seven 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 roughly a 4.5 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 ThoughtCo.com's Sean Phillips.
The low rolling resistance as reported by ConsumerReports.org is also a plus when it comes to fuel economy. Ride comfort and noise draw few negative comments from owners, and it does well in those regards (especially in its relative quietness) in expert reviews. 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. Keep in mind, however, that the Automobile Protection Association's (APA) editors note that the conditions that come attached to Michelin's snow tire treadwear warranty may make it difficult to collect on; see the section on the best passenger car snow tires for more information on that.
If you are looking for an alternative to the Michelins, the aforementioned Bridgestone Blizzak DM-V2 is nearly as good. Designed and sized specifically for light trucks and SUVs, this tire replaces a long-time favorite, the Bridgestone Blizzak DM-V1 (Est. $140 and up), which is being phased out (just a couple of sizes remain at retail when we last checked). Feedback is accumulating and is thus far mostly 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."
Test results are strong, though in some ways better, and in other ways worse, than the Michelin. As noted above, TireRack.com includes the pair in the same comparative test (along with a third tire that does not fare as well). Where the Michelin Latitude X-Ice Xi2 enjoys that small edge in testing on ice that we noted above, on snow the two tires performed similarly, except that the Bridgestone "had moderately better characteristics during cornering and while controlling at the limit." When conditions were dry, with no snow or ice in evidence, the edge shifts back to the Michelin, which "displayed the most refined manners, feeling the most like a typical all-season tire, with stable on-center feel and direct steering response combined with the lowest tread noise level of the group."
Other experts weigh in as well. The Bridgestone finishes with a lower score than the Michelin, but still does well enough to earn Recommended status from ConsumerReports.org. At PickupTrucks.com, the Bridgestone 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." However, the caveat to that review is that it did not include the Michelin, but did include a couple of tires that most certainly are not the best for dealing with snow and ice.
User feedback for this tire is strong thus far, albeit based on fewer reviews than the Michelin. While the Michelin Latitude X-Ice Xi2 has more than 145 ratings and reviews at TireRack.com, representing over 1.1 million driving miles, the DM-V2 has just over 85 reviews and 35 ratings, representing fewer than 400,000 miles of driving. Be that as it may, that's enough to give meaning to its current first place standing among all SUV and light truck snow tires with that site's users.