Looking for the Best Winter / Snow Tire for 2012-13?

Friday, October 26, 2012 by Marshall Wisler

As the 2012 winter season quickly approaches, many members of our sales team took to the ice rink to compile measured data regarding starting and stopping distances on glare ice. In our tests, we reviewed several winter / snow tires and got a feel for each tire's bite capabilities, lateral handling grip and breakaway limits.

These winter tires feature softer compounds than all-seasons that allow them to stay flexible when temperatures plummet. This flexibility allows the tire to grip even the most slick of surfaces. In addition to this helpful compounding, winter tires are designed with aggressive tread patterns and tread depths for additional biting edges.

During this year's testing, two tires really stuck out as my favorite performers:

Bridgestone Blizzak WS70

This fourth generation of the iconic Blizzak line did many things well during our testing. Utilizing a soft compound with metallic flakes known as micro bite particles, this tire seemed to be the most responsive in terms of starting and stopping distances. Before reaching the fixed braking zone, the Blizzak WS70 reached a higher speed than its competitors and slowed at an impressive rate. While the tire tended to be a bit on the noisy side, its slight tread noise is justifiable given its excellent performance figures. This is a dedicated winter tire that gets down to business.

Developed for the drivers of coupes, sedans, minivans and crossover vehicles, Blizzak WS70 winter / snow tires provide traction on winter's slushy, snow-covered and icy roads. Due to the traction capabilities of these tires, Bridgestone recommends using them only in sets of four to provide the best handling characteristics and tire performance.

Michelin X-Ice Xi3

Replacing the extremely popular X-Ice Xi2, the Michelin X-Ice Xi3 did not disappoint. While at the ice rink, I found the tire to be near equal in terms of performance when compared to the Bridgestone Blizzak WS70. Designed to provide predictable handling in cold, dry, and wet wintry conditions, the tire is an excellent choice for drivers seeking an aggressive dedicated winter tire. Similar to many other Michelin products, these tires are expected to wear quite well and are the only snow tire in the Studless Ice & Snow category to offer a manufacturer's treadlife warranty.

Bridgestone Blizzak WS70
Bridgestone Blizzak WS70
Michelin X-Ice Xi3
Michelin X-Ice Xi3


While many of the tires tested this year would make for a fine winter performer, these two giants continue to get my support. Both brands are extremely reputable, make high quality products and push the envelope of winter performance with each new product launch. 

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