We believe in winter tires. For us, these chunky-tread shoes with cold-weather compounds are vital when a deep freeze hits or snow starts flying. We asked TJ Campbell, tire product information specialist at Tire Rack, for his take on the best winter tires you can buy.
1. Bridgestone Blizzak WS80 | Set of 4: $332-$816
“If ultimate winter grip is your No. 1 priority,” says Campbell, “then the Blizzak WS80 is the tire I recommend.” Its compound wicks water from the road and from the top of ice and packed snow, and bite particles embedded in its rubber improve grip. This archetypal winter tire should impress anyone in the Snowbelt.
2. Michelin X-Ice Xi3 | Set of 4: $336-$968
The X-Ice Xi3 might be for you, Campbell says, “if you want the best winter traction possible without sacrificing steering and handling in turn.” The rubber compound for the tire tread remains firm in warmer temperatures but is flexible below freezing, meaning you get control and stability in dry conditions and confident grip in snow and slush.
3. General Altimax Arctic | Set of 4: $204-$688
High-density tread siping increases snow traction, and a directional tread pattern with a center rib improves water evacuation while preserving straight-line stability. “The Altimax Arctic is one of the best bang-for-the-buck winter tire options around,” says Campbell. The tires can be fitted with optional metal studs, but be sure to check that local laws allow studding. (Studless version shown.)
4. Continental WinterContact SI | Set of 4: $336-$1,000
The WinterContact SI (Snow & Ice) has a tread pattern with a bunch of zigzagging sipes that maximize the number of biting edges per square inch of rubber. In deep snow, ridges at the base of the grooves provide additional braking traction. Campbell says, “The new WinterContact SI is sure to rank among the best when winter weather is at its worst.”
5. Pirelli Winter Sottozero 3 | Set of 4: $436-$2,724
“The Winter Sottozero 3 will help you enjoy your performance car on cold, clear roads and still be able to go in the snow when the white stuff flies,” says Campbell. Performance-focused winter tires such as this Pirelli help maintain handling and steering precision on dry roads but also deliver good grip in snow and slush and on ice.
6. Bridgestone Blizzak DM-V2 | Set of 4: $500-$1,100
The successor to the DM-V1, which has led the crossover/SUV/light-truck category of winter tires, has an improved tread design with more biting edges that help chew through deep snow. The compound wicks away moisture and gets great grip on glare ice. “Even in an SUV with all-wheel drive, you’ll enjoy big improvements in stopping, turning, and accelerating with these,” Campbell says.