Extreme Winter Tire Test Compare Studless Ice Tires In All Conditions

2022 will soon be replaced by 2023. For those in northern latitudes, it means that your daily commute will soon be snowy and slippery. And that means it’s time to start thinking about the best tires to keep you on the road rather than stuck in the ditch next door.

For that, we turn to our friend Jonathan Benson at Tire Reviews to see seven winter tires designed for extreme snow/ice conditions. Also, this is an unbuttoned winter tire as studs are not allowed in many locations. As always, the testing was meticulous with evaluations in snow, ice, wet roads and dry conditions. Handling and braking performance is considered, and to provide a slightly more contextual result, top-notch snow-studded tires and moderate winter tires are thrown in for good measure.

Tires used in testing include the Continental VikingContact 7, Cooper Weathermaster S100, Federal Himalaya ICEO, Michelin X-Ice Snow, Nokian Hakkapeliitta R5, Pirelli Ice Zero FR, and Yokohama Iceguard IG53. The reference tires are the Nokian Hakkapeliitta 10 with studs, and the Continental WinterContact TS870, a studless winter tire not specifically designed for ice.

The general conclusion from these tests is that all brands handle snow and ice well, but some definitely do a better job than others. On rough ice, Federal was the slowest while Continental gave the fastest time. However, Benson noted that the Continental is more prone to sudden loss of grip, leading him to prefer Michelin for grip and overall confidence. Oddly enough, on rough ice (yes, Benson tested many icy surface) stud tires perform similar to studless tires. On finer ice, however, nothing compares to studded tires.

In the snow, all tires perform very similarly. The top four tires have yields within one percent of each other, but the Nokian is the fastest of the bunch. Yokohama tires produce the slowest results, but we are talking about a difference of about three seconds from worst to first. And as we have seen in previous tests, the snow tires are much better than the all-season tires.

The video walks us step-by-step through a comprehensive test procedure, which even includes wet performance in cold temperatures to simulate a winter day just above freezing. There are too many details to list here, but Benson highlighted the Nokian, Continental and Michelin brands as top picks. Watch the video and tire-reviews.com for a thorough overview of all categories and results.

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