Performance Winter / Snow Tires: The Best of Both Worlds

Monday, December 17, 2012 by Marshall Wisler

Tires found in the Studless Ice & Snow performance category are best designed to work under the harshest of conditions. Their super soft compounds and aggressive tread patterns do an excellent job of evacuating large volumes of snow and slush and adhering to glare ice. They're often low speed rated and place all of their focus on that one important task of providing the highest amount of traction possible. Two popular options in this class are the Bridgestone Blizzak WS70 and Michelin X-Ice Xi3. Both tires have received praise from our customers, too:

"My home is at 7,000 feet elevation in a subdivision with steep, narrow, curved roads. Winter tires are essential for my family since snow removal is inconsistent and a normal overnight snowfall is about 12". Blizzaks always get me through deep snow with control and confidence. The WS70 is significantly improved for both snow, ice and dry traction." Tire Rack Consumer Review, 2006 Subaru Outback Wagon 2.5 XT Limited (Bridgestone Blizzak WS70)

"Just drove through a major snow storm and the vehicle handled like the storm wasn't happening. Awesome!" -- Tire Rack Consumer Review, 2013 Ford Focus 5-Door (Michelin X-Ice Xi3)

While all this may sound appealing, Studless Ice & Snow tires aren't for everyone. While some drivers prefer a basic approach to winter / snow tires, others prefer to preserve some of the handling traits their vehicles came with from the factory. In general, Performance Winter / Snow tires are not as aggressive as Studless Ice & Snow tires. They do an excellent job of blending a dedicated snow compound with a high speed rating that preserves dry road handling and turn-in response. Such tires may also feature a tread pattern that is more tied together to provide a reduction in tread noise. An example of this can be seen in the photo above of the new Michelin Pilot Alpin PA4.

If you are looking to run a dedicated winter tire without making many handling sacrifices, take a look at the growing number of tires in this popular class. Performance Winter / Snow tires are low profile, H- or V-speed rated tires designed to suit winter driving on European highways. They are available in many of the low profile sizes used as Original Equipment on sporty imported and domestic cars. Shop by vehicle to see if a Performance Winter / Snow tire is right for your application.

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