I know, I know...it's still summer and some of you may have just started working on your tan. But truth be told, 75% of us will have to deal with wintery weather sooner or later. At one point last winter, we had 48 states with snow on the ground — and with that comes the "which winter / snow tire to put on your car" decision.
Bridgestone introduced a new Blizzak this year — the Blizzak WS70. As you may know, the Blizzak line of tires has been one of the most popular, if not the most popular, with Tire Rack customers. And judging by Bridgestone's track record of replacing Blizzak models with better and better tires each time, we expect the WS70 to deliver comparable, if not better, performance to its predecessor, the Blizzak WS60.
We had the opportunity to road test the Blizzak WS70 alongside the Continental ExtremeWinterContact, the Michelin X-Ice Xi2 and the Dunlop Graspic DS-3. No snow on the ground yet, which may seem strange to some, but it does gives us an opportunity to see how each tire will behave in dry conditions and how it will go over bumps or other imperfections on the road. These tests also help us define the level of tread noise, handling and steering response a tire has.
As it is the case with most winter tires, you do trade off some responsiveness for traction in the snow, and in comparison to all-season tires, winter tires do seem a little more "sluggish." Of the four tires we tested, I felt the best-handling tire was the Bridgestone WS70 followed by the Continental ExtremeWinterContact. The Michelin Xi2 was the quietest of the bunch, although all of these tires like to "sing," especially on concrete surfaces. I also found the Bridgestones to be the most comfortable of the four tires, absorbing the impacts on the road more effectively than its counterparts.
Pending any further testing under winter conditions, I think Bridgestone has a winner here. Judging by what I found during this test, the WS70 will not disappoint those drivers already accustomed to the Blizzak's performance or those drivers who have never used winter tires and are looking for the best traction tire for wintry weather.
Our official results are here.