Winter driving can be tricky and often lists of winter driving safety tips include recommending that you install winter tires. It’s a safety recommendation that appears to be gaining traction with motorists. According to the Tire and Rubber Association of Canada, in 1998, just 35 per cent of Canadian drivers used winter tires, whereas today, 66 per cent do.
The reason winter tires are increasingly popular is likely pretty straightforward: winter driving in Canada can be challenging and winter tires can help you meet the challenge. They offer up to 50 per cent more traction than all-seasons, helping to keep you safely on the road during the cold, snowy months. However, choosing the right winter tires for your car can be confusing, but this list—adapted from the Automobile Protection Association (APA)—of some of the best winter tires on the market can help you narrow down your choices.
Best winter tires 2017
When buying winter tires, make sure the tires you choose have the three-peak mountain snowflake symbol. Only these tires meet the industry’s snow traction performance requirements.
Top rated winter tires
- Bridgestone Blizzak WS 80
The Blizzak line, introduced back in the ‘90s, was the first tire to feature a special rubber compound that dramatically improved performance on ice. Optimized for snow and ice, the overall performance and predictability of these tires is considered very good making them a good choice for severe weather conditions.
- Nokian Hakkapelitta R2
These tires are the ice braking champion in European tire tests. Although expensive, these tires are a good alternative for drivers of rear-wheel-drive sporty vehicles who are looking for a balance between severe weather performance and decent pavement handling.
Very good winter tires
- Continental WinterContact SI
With superior grip in cornering and braking, these tires are widely available and are offered in 44 tire sizes ensuring that most passenger cars and SUVs can be fitted with them. With a tread depth of 10/32” the life of the tire may be not as long. Additionally, given the design (the treads are directional), if the tires wear unevenly the options for rotating them may be limited.
- Gislaved Nord*Frost 200
With a generous 12/32″ tread depth when new, the Gislaved Nord*Frost 200 are a good choice for buyers looking for a tire with European-style diamond-shaped factory studs.
- Michelin X-Ice Xi3
Listed as one of Consumer Reports’ preferred tires in testing because of their superior performance on wet and dry roads, and for ride comfort, these tires are optimized for ice and snow. Considered to have best-in-class performance on pavement, these tires are quiet and long wearing.
- Pirelli Ice Zero FR
Offering superior snow traction and good steering control, these tires are widely available and well-priced.
- Toyo Observe GSi5
These tires are optimized for deep snow and ice, and are considered one of the better choices despite the fact that they are not the best performer on cleared or wet roads. These tires, in some instances, can also be noisier than the average winter tire. Well suited for heavier vehicles, these winter tires offer superior durability as a result of their deep tread and long-wearing rubber compound.
Good snow tires
- Dunlop Winter Maxx 2
Overall this tire has a good traction performance on snow and ice, and are long wearing. As for pricing, these tires are competitively priced and are offered in a large range of sizes.
- Goodyear Ultra Grip Ice WRT
The tires handle a wide variety of winter road surfaces competently with good snow and ice traction.
- Hercules Avalanche RG-2
The RG-2 offers good snow traction and decent ice traction. The tires feature predictable handling on cleared roads, and given that it is a budget tire, offers better durability than most at the price point. Good value at the low selling price.
- Vredestein SnowTrac 5
These tires have a limited distribution, so may be hard to come by. The tires are optimized for fast driving on cleared roads, with good ice braking and cornering. The tires are marketed to owners of prestigious European autos.
- Yokohama Ice Guard IG52C
This winter tire offers superior traction on ice and in slush. These tires offer a quiet, smooth ride, and it’s predicted they’ll have an average tread life.
Winter tire round-up
So there you have it. The best winter tires as selected and reviewed by the APA for the 2017-2018 winter season. Be sure to do a new car insurance quote and check the ‘winter tires’ option for the best insurance discounts. Safe travels.
Updated annually with the APA’s latest winter tire picks