A major misconception by consumers is that All-Season tires are suitable for ALL seasons. To some extent, this is true - most all-season tires should be 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 2017-2018 winter season, we have updated our rankings based on winter tests by ADAC, a German auto club (roughly equivalent to AAA in the U.S.). Here are our top snow tire picks based on consumer reviews on various sites like Tire Rack and Tire Buyer. We have combined data from both sites in order to better rank the competitors.
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The Blizzak WS80 succeeds the earlier WS60 and WS70 winter tires. It currently has the 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.
9.1 / 10 light snow traction and 8.8 / 10 for deep snow traction rating (Tire Rack).
The Goodyear Ultra Grip Ice WRTP 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."Read all Goodyear Ultra Grip WRTP reviews at TireBuyer.com
Based on excellent reviews in 2016-2017, the Cooper Weather-Master S/T2 has been added to the top of the budget winter tire list! We would compare these to the Firestone Winterforce, below, which are similarly priced and have a higher number of reviews.Read all Weather-Master S/T 2 Reviews at TireBuyer.com
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.Read all Firestone Winterforce reviews at TireBuyer
The General Altimax Arctic is an excellent budget choice, with tire prices ranging from about $57-$122 as of time of writing. The tread looks exactly the same as a German tire, the Gislaved Nordfrost 3. These have the most number of reviews on our list, 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 reviews at TireBuyer.com
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
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 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.Read all Latitude X-Ice Xi2 reviews at TireBuyer
Firestone's Winterforce UV tire is the Light Truck / SUV version of the highly rated Winterfoce. The most upvoted review is from a driver who lives at 8,000+ ft. elevation!Read all Firestone Winterforce UV reviews at TireBuyer
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).
For 2017, we're adding 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 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.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