When purchasing winter / snow tires for your '00-'04 Ford Focus, you have the opportunity to downsize to a 14" package with steel wheels available. For the '05-'10 Ford Focus, downsizing to 15" is best.
NOTE: The SVTs follow a different set of rules, 16" minimum for them.
My pick for the best grip in the worst conditions in 185/65R14 would be the Bridgestone Blizzak WS60 as it's best on ICE and hard-packed snow. For the budget pick, the General AltiMAX Arctic would be a great choice.
In 195/60R15, the Bridgestone Blizzak WS70 works great along with the Continental ExtremeWinterContact. The budget pick here is also the General AltiMAX Arctic.
In 205/55R16, it's the WS60 or the Continental ExtremeWinterContact. Here the budget pick is the Firestone Winterforce.
What is the difference between a Studless Ice and Snow tire and a standard winter tire? Rubber compound. The Continental and the Blizzak have a special rubber compound that helps handle the water created when tires run over ice. When your tire touches ice, it melts a small amount of the ice and forms a water layer between your tire and the ice. Studless Ice and Snow tires quickly soak up that water and allow the tire to contact the ice and get traction. Bridgestone calls it a tubular multicell compound, which looks like Swiss cheese under a microscope. Click away and start your search now!