The Best WinterTires

Setting up our winter tire evaluations at the end of last winter wasn’t easy due to the various COVID-19 measures. With a curfew still in effect, we had little time during the day to get to our locations. Furthermore, we had to move some of the testing to the Outaouais region of Quebec north of Ottawa.

Still, we managed to evaluate a number of new products including the Nokian Hakkapeliitta 10 (we were among the first in Canada to get this one), Michelin X-Ice Snow, Bridgestone WS90, Continental VikingContact 7 and Toyo Observe GSi-6.


Since compact SUVs are extremely popular vehicles, we once again used a Nissan Rogue and Honda CR-V. We put the tires to the test in varying road and weather conditions including ice, deep snow and hard-packed snow, as well as wet and dry pavement, oftentimes with plenty of bumps and potholes along the way.

Our criteria were grip, braking performance, ride quality and driving dynamics. A small part of the ratings reflects the testers’ personal appreciation of each tire.

Without further ado, here are the top 10 winter tires for passenger cars and small SUVs for 2021-2022:

  1. Goodyear WinterCommand | Score: 79%

Goodyear is one of the three leading tire manufacturers in the world along with Bridgestone and Michelin. In addition to being a renowned tire provider for NASCAR, Goodyear offers a proven selection of 12 winter tire models for all types of vehicles. It also benefits from the expertise of Dunlop, whose Winter Maxx tire keeps getting positive reviews.

For our latest comparison, we tested the WinterCommand, which is priced between the Ultra Grip Winter (snow tire) and Ultra Grip Ice WRT (ice tire). This model has a tread design similar to ice tires plus special blocks designed to evacuate fresh snow and slush. It also has holes for mounting studs that improve traction on slippery surfaces.

Vehicles that require a V or H speed rating should go with the WinterCommand Ultra, which features a more aggressive, V-shaped tread with tighter-spaced blocks. While not studdable, there are more sizes to choose from. Pricing is about 25 percent higher than for a regular WinterCommand. In both cases, the tires prove to be a better fit for harsh winters than the Ultra Grip Ice WRT, which has often left us wanting more in previous evaluations.

WinterCommand
38 sizes ranging from 15-20 inches
Aspect ratio: 50, 55, 60, 65, 70
Width: 185-245 mm
Speed rating: T
XL (extra load): available
Run flat tire: no
Tread: directional
Studdable: yes
Manufacturing country: United States
WinterCommand Ultra
48 sizes ranging from 15-20 inches
Aspect ratio: 40, 45, 50, 55, 60, 65, 70
Width: 185-275 mm
Speed rating: T, H, V
XL (extra load): available
Run flat tire: no
Tread: directional
Studdable: no
Our Rating (Winter Command)
Braking on ice: Good
Grip in the snow: Good
Performance on dry pavement: Good

  1. Nordman 7 SUV | Score: 80%

Bridgestone has Firestone, Continental has General Tire, while Michelin has BFGoodrich and Uniroyal. Nokian’s budget brand is called Nordman. In fact, the Nordman 7 SUV used to be sold as the Nokian Hakkapeliitta 7. The latter dominated our winter tire rankings in the early part of the past decade… until it was replaced by the Hakkapeliitta 8 in 2015.

The Nordman 7 SUV doesn’t fear icy surfaces and performs even better in the snow. However, it’s louder than the new Hakkapeliitta 10 SUV or Hakkapeliitta R3 SUV on dry pavement—and it only gets worse with studs. Truth be told, the Norman 7 was the loudest tire we evaluated for this top 10. There are 36 different sizes for SUVs and pickups in addition to 35 for passenger cars.

Norman 7 SUV
36 sizes ranging from 15-20 inches
Aspect ratio: 60, 65, 70, 75
Width: 205-285 mm
Speed rating: T
XL (extra load): available
Run flat tire: no
Tread: directional
Studdable: yes
Manufacturing country: Russia
Norman 7
35 sizes ranging from 13-17 inches
Aspect ratio: 45, 50, 55, 60, 65, 70, 80
Width: 155-235 mm
Speed rating: T
XL (extra load): available
Run flat tire: no
Tread: directional
Studdable: yes
Manufacturing country: Russia
Our Rating (SUV)
Braking on ice: Very good
Grip in the snow: Very good
Performance on dry pavement: Average

  1. Pirelli Ice Zero FR | Score: 82%

Pirelli offers a selection of nine winter tire models including the new Scorpion Ice Zero 2 with factory-installed studs. For this comparison, we tested the popular Ice Zero FR (as in FRiction), which is available many different sizes for passenger cars and small SUVs. You can have it with studs (Ice Zero) or for larger or high-performance vehicles that require tires up to 22 inches in size (Ice Zero 2).

The Ice Zero FR stands out with a soft compound that contributes to short braking distances on ice and hard-packed snow. This tire also delivers surefooted handling and a quieter ride than average on wet and dry pavement. When it comes to selection, there are more sizes to choose from this year including new 20-inch tires.

For improved grip in deep snow or on slippery inclines, your best bet is a studded Ice Zero, which by the way costs less than the new Nokian Hakkapeliitta 10 and Michelin X-Ice North 4 equipped with studs.

Ice Zero FR
43 sizes ranging from 14-20 inches
Aspect ratio: 40, 45, 50, 55, 60, 65, 70
Width: 175-255 mm
Speed rating: T, H
XL (extra load): available
Run flat tire: yes
Tread: directional
Studdable: no
Manufacturing country: Russia

Ice Zero (with studs)

42 sizes ranging from 14-19 inches
Aspect ratio: 45, 50, 55, 60, 65, 70
Width: 175-265 mm
Speed rating: T, H
XL (extra load): available
Run flat tire: yes
Tread: directional
Studdable: yes
Our Rating (Ice Zero FR)
Braking on ice: Very good
Grip in the snow: Good
Performance on dry pavement: Very good

  1. Yokohama iceGuard GO75 | Score: 84%

Yokohama’s iceGUARD G075 replaced the old iceGuard iG51v which enjoyed a successful career on many SUVs and pickups. Compared to its predecessor, it boasts tread blocks that are positioned closer together. As a matter of fact, the tread design is inspired by the iceGUARD iG53 for smaller, lighter vehicles.

On dry or wet pavement, the GO75 proves significantly smoother and quieter than the iG51v. Among all the winter tires in this top 10, it’s one of the cheapest along with the Continental VikingContact 7, Goodyear WinterCommand and Pirelli Ice Zero FR—something to think about if you’re going through a rough stretch financially. This Japanese-made tire is a top contender for value.

iceGUARD GO75
47 sizes ranging from 16-20 inches
Aspect ratio: 35, 40, 45, 50, 55, 60, 65, 70, 75
Width: 215-295 mm
Speed rating: S, T
XL (extra load): available
Run flat tire: no
Tread: directional
Studdable: no
Manufacturing country: Japan

iceGUARD iG53
34 sizes ranging from 14-18 inches
Aspect ratio: 40, 45, 50, 55, 60, 65, 70
Width: 175-245 mm
Speed rating: T, H
XL (extra load): available
Run flat tire: no
Tread: directional
Studdable: no
Manufacturing country: Japan

Our Rating (iceGuard GO75)
Braking on ice: Very good
Grip in the snow: Very good
Performance on dry pavement: Good

  1. Bridgestone Blizzak DM V-2 | Score: 85%

The Bridgestone DM-V2 is an older tire that doesn’t benefit from the latest technologies like some of the competitors in this top 10. Still, it remains a safe bet. Unlike the smaller Bridgestone WS90, the DM-V2 is aimed at large SUVs and pickups with high payloads. On snow and ice, it delivers excellent handling and short braking distances comparable to the best tires you can find here. However, traction in deep snow is not as good as Nokian. Pricing is more affordable, mind you.

When it comes to handling and ride quality on dry or wet pavement, the DM-V2 is an average performer. If the required size is available in the WS90 lineup, then go with the latter and save some money in the process. Unless you demand proven durability, of course.

67 sizes ranging from 15-20 inches
Aspect ratio: 40, 45, 50, 55, 60, 65, 70, 75
Width: 215-285 mm
Speed rating: R, S, T
XL (extra load): available
Run flat tire: no
Tread: directional
Studdable: no
Manufacturing country: Japan
Our Rating
Braking on ice: Very good
Grip in the snow: Very good
Performance on dry pavement: Good

  1. Continental VikingContact 7 | Score: 87%

The introduction of the VikingContact 7 two years ago allowed Continental to close the gap with the competition. It’s the best product the German manufacturer has ever offered. The new IceContact XTRM with factory-installed studs could be another option, but availability remains very limited.

Similar to the Pirelli Ice Zero, the VikingContact 7 features wide block spacing and no centre groove. This creates a more unified tread that improves traction in the snow and grip on slippery surfaces. On the other hand, that missing centre groove slightly affects stability at highway speeds. As for noise levels, this Continental is about as quiet as the Michelin X-Ice Snow and Pirelli Ice Zero FR.

With good overall performance, reasonable pricing and a huge number of available sizes (now up to 22 inches), the VikingContact 7 is a smart buy.

88 sizes ranging from 15-22 inches
Aspect ratio: 35, 40, 45, 50, 55, 60, 65, 70
Width: 145-285 mm
Speed rating: T, H
XL (extra load): available
Run flat tire: available
Tread: directional
Studdable: no
Manufacturing country: Slovenia
Our Rating
Braking on ice: Very good
Grip in the snow: Very good
Performance on dry pavement: Very good

  1. (tie) Michelin X-ICE Snow | Score: 89%

Michelin’s decision to replace the aging X-ICE Xi3 with the new X-ICE Snow was a pleasant surprise. This Canadian-built tire retains the X-ICE’s trademark performance on ice, while the more aggressive tread design makes it much better than the X-ICE Xi3 in deep snow or slush. The blocks and grooves are more widely spaced and sculpted in a way that lowers the chances of getting stuck in snow, while the big side blocks are designed to provide increased grip when cornering.

The X-ICE Snow handles commendably on dry or wet pavement, but is not quite as stable at high speeds as the late X-ICE Xi3, which had a wide centre groove. It lives up to Michelin’s reputation for smooth, quiet performance and ranks among the leaders in that department. If you want a studded tire, consider the new X-ICE North 4 pictured below.

X-ICE Snow
116 sizes ranging from 14-22 inches
Aspect ratio: 35, 40, 45, 50, 55, 60, 65, 70
Width: 175-315 mm
Speed rating: T, H
XL (extra load): yes
Run flat tire: no
Tread: directional
Studdable: no
Manufacturing country: Canada
X-ICE North 4 (with studs)
45 sizes ranging from 15-22 inches
Aspect ratio: 40, 45, 50, 55, 60, 65
Width: 185-285 mm
Speed rating: T
XL (extra load): yes
Run flat tire: no
Tread: directional
Studdable: yes
Manufacturing country: Russia
Our Rating (X-ICE Snow)
Braking on ice: Excellent
Grip in the snow: Very good
Performance on dry pavement: Very good

  1. (tie) Toyo Observe GSi-6 | Score: 89%

The GSi-6 replaces the old GSi-5 winter tire and Garit KX performance winter tire. Toyo has developed three different models—GSi-6 (passenger cars and small SUVs), GSi-6 HP (performance vehicles) and GSi-6 LS (large SUVs and pickups)—available in a whopping 121 sizes. All three models have nearly identical tread designs, but the compound and structure are different depending on the application.

During our tests, the GSi-6 delivered some of the best performance on ice, snow and wet or dry pavement. It’s also quieter and smoother than the old GSi-5 and Garit KX. Longevity will not be a problem if you rotate your tires adequately. Toyo also has a solid retail network and reasonable prices.

121 sizes ranging from 14-22 inches
Aspect ratio: 35, 40, 45, 50, 55, 60, 65, 70, 75
Width: 175-315 mm
Speed rating: H, V
XL (extra load): available
Run flat tire: no
Tread: directional
Studdable: no
Manufacturing country: Japan
Our Rating

Braking on ice: Excellent
Grip in the snow: Very good
Performance on dry pavement: Very good

  1. Bridgestone Blizzak WS90 | Score: 91%

The Blizzak lineup has built a solid reputation over the past 30 years. When it debuted in the early 1990s, the Blizzak revolutionized winter tires by offering exceptional grip on ice. While earlier generations wore out quickly due to their excessively soft compound, the WS50, WS60, WS70, WS80 and now the WS90 all managed to increase durability.

Compared to its immediate predecessor, the blocks on the WS90 are slightly more sculpted and more widely spaced for better performance in the snow and quicker water evacuation. The new tread design also improves handling on dry or wet pavement.

Another important thing to consider is that the WS90 is more affordable than Nokian products and available at more retailers. Too bad it does not offer a run-flat option because more and more vehicles now are sold without a spare tire.

53 sizes ranging from 15-20 inches
Aspect ratio: 40, 45, 50, 55, 60, 65, 70
Width: 175-245 mm
Speed rating: T, H
XL (extra load): available
Run flat tire: no
Tread: directional
Studdable: no
Manufacturing country: Japan
Our Rating
Braking on ice: Excellent
Grip in the snow: Very good
Performance on dry pavement: Very good

  1. Nokian Hakkapeliitta R3 SUV | Score: 92%

Photo: Jean-François Guay
Last year’s winner slips into second place behind the new Nokian Hakkapeliitta 10 SUV, which proves more versatile in tough winter conditions. The Hakkapeliitta R3 SUV remains the top-rated tire on ice, mind you, with the shortest braking distances of all the winter tires we evaluated this year. Compared to the Hakkapeliitta 10 SUV, the R3 SUV delivers better handling on dry and wet pavement while resulting in more controlled emergency braking. Oh, and it’s quieter, too.

On the flip side, the R3 SUV is louder than the Michelin, Continental and Pirelli models, plus it doesn’t come with H or V speed ratings. We applaud the fact that nearly the entire lineup consists of XL models with reinforced sidewalls that do a better job on bumps and potholes. Available sizes now go up to 22 inches.

Hakkapeliitta R3 SUV
77 sizes ranging from 16-22 inches
Aspect ratio: 35, 40, 45, 50, 55, 60, 65, 70
Width: 215-315 mm
Speed rating: R, T
XL (extra load): available
Run flat tire: available
Tread: directional
Studdable: no
Manufacturing country: Russia
Hakkapeliitta R3
74 sizes ranging from 14-21 inches
Aspect ratio: 35, 40, 45, 50, 55, 60, 65, 70
Width: 165-285 mm
Speed rating: Q, R, T
XL (extra load): available
Run flat tire: available
Tread: directional
Studdable: no
Manufacturing country: Russia
Our Rating (R3 SUV)
Braking on ice: Excellent
Grip in the snow: Excellent
Performance on dry pavement: Very good

  1. Nokian Hakkapeliitta 10 SUV | Score: 93%

The new Nokian Hakkapeliitta 10 SUV is our No.1-rated winter tire for 2021-2022. This evolution of the Hakkapeliitta 9 SUV (which is still available in select sizes, by the way) features a new compound mix and a tread design not unlike that of the old Hakka 8, with a V-shaped centre block pattern that is not as exaggerated as on the Hakka 9. But make no mistake: everything else on the Hakka 10 has been significantly revised for better performance all around.

Nokian’s latest star is unquestionably the best snow tire on the market, with amazing bite and extremely quick snow evacuation. Meanwhile, performance on ice is improved from the Hakka 9 thanks to a softer compound combined with Double Stud technology. The ride is smoother and less noisy, and handling on dry pavement is taken to another level, too.

The factory-installed studs ensure increased durability, but not every driver will overlook the extra noise. And remember that studded tires are not allowed inside a number of parking garages. Interestingly, the Hakkapeliitta 10 also introduces an environmentally friendly, EV-oriented variant with ultra-low-noise technology called SilentDrive.

Hakkapeliitta 10 SUV
76 sizes ranging from 16-22 inches
Aspect ratio: 35, 40, 45, 50, 55, 60, 65, 70
Width: 215-315 mm
Speed rating: T
XL (extra load): available
Run flat tire: available
Tread: directional
Studdable: yes
Manufacturing country: Russia
Hakkapeliitta 10
44 sizes ranging from 14-20 inches
Aspect ratio: 35, 40, 45, 50, 55, 60, 65
Width: 175-275 mm
Speed rating: T
XL (extra load): available
Run flat tire: available
Tread: directional
Studdable: yes
Manufacturing country: Russia
Hakkapeliitta 10 EV
25 sizes ranging from 18-21 inches
Aspect ratio: 30, 35, 40, 45, 50, 55
Width: 215-295 mm
Speed rating: T
XL (extra load): available
Run flat tire: available
Tread: directional
Studdable: yes
Manufacturing country: Russia
Our Rating (SUV)
Braking on ice: Excellent
Grip in the snow: Excellent
Performance on dry pavement: Very Good

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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