If only All-Season tires really were suitable for ALL seasons. To some extent, this is true - most all-season tires should be able to handle some light snow. However, a special purpose tire for winter can drastically improve vehicle handling and safety. These tires are designed to "bite" the snow and ice, allowing your car to grip in situations where all-season tires may cause your car to simply slide on top of the snow.
You may have read on car forums or magazine articles about the well-known Blizzak or Nokian Hakkapeliitta tires. Most major tire manufacturers like Continental and Goodyear also make snow tires that are very well reviewed. Most All-Season tires have a label called "M+S" (Mud and Snow), however, they are not the same as a dedicated snow/ice or winter tire.
For the 2019-2020 winter season, we updated our rankings based on winter tests by ADAC, a German auto club (roughly equivalent to AAA in the U.S.) and Auto Bild, a German automotive magazine. Here are our top snow tire picks based on consumer reviews on various sites like Discount Tire Direct and Tire Buyer. We have combined data from both sites in order to better rank the competitors.
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The Goodyear Ultra Grip Ice WRT also have fantastic reviews. As per the name, Goodyear has created these especially for use in icy conditions - "Ice over winter silica tread compound helps enhance traction on ice and snow." If you don't typically see icy conditions in your climate, read on to the next set of tires below.Read all Goodyear Ultra Grip WRT reviews at Goodyear Tire
Michelin's ice and snow tire is also Consumer Reports top winter tire pick for 2016.
9.1 / 10 light snow traction and 8.6 / 10 for deep snow traction rating (Tire Rack). It also sits on top of Tire Rack's survey of studless snow tires.
For 2019, the Blizzak WS90 succeeds the earlier WS60, WS70 and WS80 winter tires. The WS80 scored in the Top 3 best survey
results in Tire Rack's winter tire category.
9.7 / 10 light snow traction and 9.5 / 10 for deep snow traction rating (Tire Rack).
The Goodyear Ultra Grip was ADAC's top winter tire in 2016 for compact cars.
In 2018, the Ultra Grip 9 received ADAC's top score, but we don't see it readily available in the U.S. We would be happy with any of the Goodyear Ultra Grip editions, though the edition we found with the most U.S. based reviews is the Ultra Grip Winter (link below). 9.1 / 10 light snow traction and 8.8 / 10 for deep snow traction rating (Tire Rack).
The General Altimax Arctic and the Altimax Arctic 12 are excellent budget choices, with tire prices ranging from about $78-$175 as of time of writing. The tread looks exactly the same as a German tire, the Gislaved Nordfrost 3. The previous Altimax Artics had the most number of reviews on our list (over 470), so we have high confidence on this one. 9.5 / 10 light snow traction and 8.7 for deep snow traction rating.Read all General Altimax Arctic 12 reviews at TireBuyer.com Read all General Altimax Arctic 12 reviews at Discount Tire Direct
Firestone's Winterforce tire is well liked by most drivers. It has a 9.4 / 10 rating for light snow traction and 9.2 for deep snow traction rating. For 2018, Firestone released the Winterforce 2 edition. It has great early reviews, and we expect it will continue to be a good snow tire. Sizes come in 14" - 18" wheel sizes. Prices range from $66-134 as of Fall 2018.
Update: For 2019-2020, you may have trouble finding these online. The Cooper Evolution Winter would be a good alternative.Read all Firestone 2 Winterforce reviews at Tire Rack
While Nitto is not exactly a household name in most circles, it turns out that they make a decent snow tire. The NT-SN2 has an excellent 4.6 out of 5 average rating from over 250 drivers.Read all Nitto NT-SN2 Reviews at Tirebuyer
Drive a sports car or sedan in winter?
The Dunlop SP Winter Sport 3D is pricey, but has good snow traction as well as
good dry/wet performance for sportier cars.
9.0 / 10 light snow traction and 8.4 for deep snow traction rating.
The Alpin PA4 is a premium performance winter tire that scores at the top of Tire Rack's performance winter tire survey, ranking highest for "Would you recommend", as well as in comfort and treadwear categories.https://www.discounttiredirect.com/buy-tires/michelin-pilot-alpin-pa4#/read-reviews Read reviews for Michelin Alpin PA4 at Tire Rack Check lowest prices for Michelin Alpin PA4 at TireBuyer
The Latitude X-Ice Xi2 is a highly rated Light Truck/SUV winter tire by Michelin. Several reviewers live in mountainous areas, which is a great stamp of approval. Available in sizes from 16" to 20", with prices ranging from $114-$272 as of Fall 2018.Read all Latitude X-Ice Xi2 reviews at TireBuyer
Firestone's Winterforce 2 UV tire is the Light Truck / SUV version of the highly rated Winterforce. The most upvoted review for the prior Winterforce UV edition is from a driver who lives at 8,000+ ft. elevation!Read all Firestone Winterforce 2 UV reviews at the Tire Rack
For 2017, we added the Continental WinterContact SI. A slightly different model not sold in the U.S., the WinterContact TS 860, was recently rated first place in both ADAC's 2017 and 2018 winter tests, as well as in German magazine Auto Bild's tests. Initial reviews of the WinterContact SI for sale in the U.S. are off to a decent start, though there are minor differences between the two Continental WinterContact models. The tread pattern is based on the same principle, though Continental has many marketing labels applied to the TS 860 (Cool Chili, Liquid Layer Drainage, Snow Curve+) that are not present in the marketing labels for the SI (PolarPlus+). Therefore, we aren't recommending the SI as one of our top tires, but it's worth considering given Continental's experience based in winters of Northern Europe.
Update: For 2019, the Continental Wintercontact TS 860, won first place again in Auto Bild's tests.Read reviews for the Continental WinterContact SI at TireBuyer.com
The Nokian Hakkapeliitta R2 gets a honorable mention here. It came in slightly behind the Michelin X-Ice Xi3 in Consumer Reports' 2015 winter tire test. An interesting tidbit is that the Hercules Avalanche R G2 tire has the same tread pattern - it may be manufactured by Nokian for Hercules.Check prices and reviews for the Hakkapeliitta R2 at Discount Tire Direct