The Best Snow Tires

  • Winter tires are a necessity for some drivers, but not all.
  • We researched dozens of models to narrow down the five best winter tires on the market.
  • We rate each winter tire based on industry testing standards, customer reviews, and affordability.
    Affiliate disclosure: Automoblog and its partners may be compensated when you purchase the products below.

Deciding which tires to buy can be difficult, especially when it comes time to switch out your standard tires for winter tires. In this article, we review the best winter tires on the market based on traction performance, price point, weather-specific technology, and more. We also discuss the basics of winter tires, how much they typically cost, and which drivers should purchase these specialty tires.

If your standard tires are worn out and need to be replaced as well, you can take a look at our all-season buyer’s guide, which names the 10 best tires and brands on the market. To start comparing the best winter tires, visit Tire Rack and Discount Tire.

5 Best Winter Tires
To narrow down the five best winter tires currently available, our review team considered affordability, studdable versus studless tires, and overall performance.

We included data from Tire Rack’s Studless Snow & Ice Winter Tires study to get a better idea of how these tires drive in winter conditions. The study tested how four winter tires performed on different surfaces – expressway, state highway, and county roads – on a 2014 BMW F30 328i sedan.

The top five winter tires for 2021 include:

Michelin X-Ice Xi3 – Shop on Tire Rack and Discount Tire.
Bridgestone Blizzak WS90 – Shop on Tire Rack and Discount Tire.
Dunlop Winter Maxx WM02 – Shop on Tire Rack and Discount Tire.
General AltiMAX Arctic – Shop on Tire Rack and Discount Tire.
Continental Winter Contact TS830 – Shop on Tire Rack and Discount Tire.

  1. Michelin X-Ice Xi3
    The Michelin X-Ice Xi3 is a studless winter tire for all low-temperature road conditions – dry, wet, snow, ice, slush. In Tire Rack’s Winter Tires study, this model performed better in wet cornering tests than the other three tire models and came in a close second-place in dry tests. It also had the second-highest score for snow handling and traction. While it’s an older model, the Michelin X-Ice Xi3 is tried and tested. It comes in a variety of sizes to fit cars, light trucks, and SUVs.

Michelin tires are often costly, and the Michelin X-Ice Xi3 model is no exception. However, this Michelin model comes with a 40,000-mile tread life warranty, which balances out the cost in the long run. Shop the Michelin X-Ice Xi3 on Tire Rack and Discount Tire.

  1. Bridgestone Blizzak WS90
    In Tire Rack’s Winter Tires study, the Bridgestone Blizzak WS80 scored best for braking abilities in dry and wet winter driving conditions. On both surfaces, this Bridgestone model stopped a full three to four feet earlier than the second-place model. Its upgrade, the Bridgestone Blizzak WS90, only improves on this tried-and-true performance.

Bridgestone uses Nano Pro-Tech® to build its tires on a molecular level. According to the tire manufacturer, the Bridgestone Blizzak WS90 features specially designed rubber molecules that bind more easily with silica particles, a key part of gripping wet roads. This innovation, combined with the Blizzak WS90’s tread design and comfortability, makes it one of the best winter tires in the industry. Shop the Bridgestone Blizzak WS90 on Tire Rack and Discount Tire.

  1. Dunlop Winter Maxx WM02
    Another highly-rated winter tire, the Dunlop Winter Maxx WM02 was not tested in Tire Rack’s Winter Tires study. However, its predecessor, the WM01, performed well. Both models sport an asymmetrical tread pattern and provide strong traction in snowy and icy conditions.

Be aware that the model has faced some customer complaints about braking on ice and acceleration in deep snow. The tire performs well while in motion, but starting and stopping can be an issue. Shop the Dunlop Winter Maxx WM02 on Tire Rack and Discount Tire.

  1. General AltiMAX Arctic
    A studdable winter tire, the General AltiMAX Arctic model comes in several sizes. The tire performs well in most winter conditions, providing solid wet and dry traction, snow traction, and overall comfort. This family of General tires uses a directional tread pattern to optimize its performance on both wet and dry roads.

General AltiMAX Arctic models are usually more affordable than Michelin or Bridgestone tires, and many customers report they withstand harsh weather well in winter seasons. Shop the General AltiMAX Arctic on Tire Rack and Discount Tire.

  1. Continental Winter Contact TS830
    A studless winter tire, the Continental WinterContact TS830P maintains flexibility and grip in low temperatures. The broad shoulder blocks improve dry handling, while the tread design grips ice and snow.

Customer reviews say the tires perform well at higher speeds in rain and in dry cold conditions. Continental designed these tires for owners of sports cars and luxury sedans who want to enjoy the ride during the winter. Shop the Continental Winter Contact TS830 on Tire Rack and Discount Tire.

What Is a Winter Tire?
Winter tires, sometimes called snow tires, are designed to grip and safely move through snow, ice, and other harsh winter conditions. They’re formulated with different rubber compounds for maximum flexibility, even in sub-zero temperatures.

Winter tires may sport a three-peak mountain snowflake (3PMSF) symbol. According to Tire Rack, this “indicates the tire meets required performance criteria in snow testing to be considered severe snow service-rated.” However, Tire Rack also notes that 3PMSF testing only covers “a tire’s acceleration traction on medium-packed snow” and does not include the tire’s ability to brake and turn in winter conditions.

Thanks to modern technological innovations, winter tires can transition from wet to dry winter roads with little issue. However, winter tires shouldn’t be used year-round. Typically, winter tires should be put on in late November and taken off around February or March.

Carlos G. Hill

Carlos G. Hill

Carlos joined TireReview in 2019 after seven years of living and working in Dubai. He has been a journalist for over a decade and has worked for a wide range of publications, including Rolling Stone, Time Out, iQ and Loaded. After starting out on the automotive team as deputy editor of Engine Technology International, Electric & Hybrid Vehicle Technology International and Transmissions Technology International, he has been an editor since 2015, and began editing Tire Technology International in 2018. In 2020, he was appointed editor-in-chief of Tire, Professional Motorsport World, Electric & Hybrid Marine Technology International and Crash test Technology International

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