Motor1 Reviews Team Take:

  • The best winter tire in 2024 is the Michelin X-Ice Snow. The X-Ice Snow handled better on ice and wet roads than any other winter tire we tested, making it a great choice to tackle inclement weather.
  • We found the Nokian Hakkapeliitta R5 is one of the most comfortable and best-handling winter tires on dry roads, and the Continental VikingContact 7 has some of the best water evacuation in the industry if you want winter tires designed for performance on both wet and dry roads.
  • Most winter tires will run between $70 to approximately $130 per tire, although your vehicle and driving environment will dictate which tires are your best option.   
Best Winter Tire
Michelin X-Ice Snow

We’re certain this is one of the best winter tires that money can buy.

Best Tires For Ice
Nokian Hakkapeliitta R5

A winter tire that outperforms any other studless tire on icy roads.

Best Winter Tires For Dry Roads
Continental VikingContact 7

A winter tire that can do more than just provide traction in the snow and ice.

Best Snow Tire
Pirelli Ice Zero FR

A winter tire that’s especially adept at gripping various types of snow.

Best Budget Winter Tires
Yokohama iceGUARD iG53

An affordable winter tire that ensures you won’t get stranded in the snow.

If you live in a region that regularly receives moderate to heavy snowfall each year, a high-quality winter tire can be the difference between an uneventful trip to the grocery store and calling a tow truck to drag you out of a snow bank.

You’ve likely heard auto enthusiasts refer to getting “new shoes” on their vehicles. The tires you choose determine the terrain you can safely tackle – and the same goes for the shoes on your feet. You wouldn’t go to the beach in combat boots or hike in flip-flops, and that same principle applies to your car for winter driving.

So, if you’re trying to tackle the snow, what is the best winter tire?

 


 

Winter Tire Reviews

A vehicle's tires are caked with snow.

For this review, our independent tester thoroughly tested and evaluated each winter tire based on the tire’s snow handling, ice handling, wet handling, dry handling, and overall comfort. The scores in each category are then compiled into a rating that ranges from 1.0 to 10.0 and is used to rank the best-rated winter tires.

After testing several options ranging in price, we decided Michelin offers the Best Winter Tire because its X-Ice Snow has nearly unmatchable traction in snow and ice, as well as phenomenal traction in other varying weather conditions.

Each winter tire’s ratings, including their scores in each review category, are highlighted below.

What Are The Best Winter Tires?

Based on these criteria, the best winter tires are the Michelin X-Ice Snow, Nokian Hakkapeliitta R5, Continental VikingContact 7, Pirelli Ice Zero FR, and the Yokohama iceGUARD iG53.

Brand/ModelApproximate Cost
(per tire)
Overall
(Out of 10.0 Stars)
Award
Michelin
X-Ice Snow
$1409.8Best Winter Tire
Nokian
Hakkapeliitta R5
$1159.7Best Tires for Ice
Continental
VikingContact 7
$1109.6Best Winter Tires
for Dry Roads
Pirelli
Ice Zero FR
$1309.5Best Snow Tire
Yokohama
iceGUARD iG53
$908.8Best Budget Winter Tires

*Because cost data fluctuates, the prices in the table above are approximate values that our team regularly updates.

Winter Tire Ratings: Our Testing Process

The winter tires in this article went through two rounds of reviews. We started by searching retailers like Tire Rack and Discount Tire for top products, looking at factors such as tread patterns, siping, customer ratings, and prices.

Our independent tire tester, Jonathan Benson of TyreReviews.com, ordered tires from all the top brands on the market. He is internationally renowned for performing some of the most involved and thorough testing in the industry.

Benson tested each winter tire’s wet and dry handling on a Volkswagen Golf MK8 at Nokian’s Spain Test Center. Snow and ice handling were tested using the same vehicle at Nokian’s “White Hell” Ivalo Testing Center in Finland.

Learn more about how we tested winter tires here.

1. Michelin X-Ice Snow: Best Winter Tire

  • Cost: Starts around $140
  • 3PMSF: Yes
  • Rolling resistance: 7.25 kilograms per ton

Michelin X-Ice Snow Review

The Michelin X-Ice Snow is developed for drivers of coupes, sedans, minivans, and crossovers alike to provide the confidence you’re looking for when driving during the winter months. Utilizing inclusion technology, the tread compound of the X-Ice Snow generates microroughness to optimize traction on ice and snow. Additionally, a high silica content ensures your tires maintain flexibility in harsh winter climates.

Two types of full-depth sipes are featured on this tire: notched sipes and variable-thickness sipes. Notched sipes add multiple biting edges to your tire for traction while variable-thickness sipes help to maintain an efficient contact patch whether driving through slush or hard-packed snow.

Michelin X-Ice Snow Warranty Guide

  • Treadwear: 6 years/40,000 miles (when worn to 2/32-inch depth) half mileage for rear if different size than front (must be used during winter months only 9/1 to 4/30)
  • Uniformity: 1 year/first 2/32 in. of wear
  • Workmanship/materials: 6 years/free replacement first year, 2/32 in. or 25 percent of wear, then prorated until 2/32 in. of remaining depth
  • Manufacturer’s road hazard: N/A

You can see how the Michelin X-Ice Snow performed in each category below: 

Review CategoryScore (Out of 10.0)
Snow Handling9.5
Ice Handling10.0
Wet Handling10.0
Dry Handling10.0
Comfort9.5
Overall Rating9.8
Michelin X-Ice Snow: Pros And Cons

Below are the pros and cons of the Michelin X-Ice Snow:

Pros Well-rounded grip in snow Best-in-class grip on ice Feels incredibly safe on wet roads
Cons Prone to understeer on wet roads

Michelin X-Ice Snow: Our Experience

In terms of snow handling, the Michelin X-Ice Snow performed phenomenally. It was so good, in fact, that our independent tire tester Jonathan Benson mentioned it was almost his joint favorite tire on the snow. He notes that this tire felt similar overall to the Nokian, but offered slightly less grip, and sliding out was more abrupt and sudden.

In terms of ice handling, the X-Ice Snow offered phenomenal grip and traction, especially laterally. In fact, our tester noted that this winter tire might have the best front-end handling of any tire he’s reviewed on ice.

In terms of wet handling, Michelin’s winter tire performed very well. While understeer was frequently present, Benson noted a very secure and safe balance. Grip was also not an issue in the wet, and the X-Ice Snow had fewer issues aquaplaning comparable to Continental’s winter tire. However, it performed similarly to the Continental on dry roads just with slightly more understeer.

2. Nokian Hakkapeliitta R5: Best Tires For Ice

  • Cost: Starts around $115
  • 3PMSF: Yes
  • Rolling resistance: 7.34 kg/T

Nokian Hakkapeliitta R5 Review

Building upon the esteemed Hakkapeliitta line of tires, the Nokian Hakkapeliitta R5 is a studless winter tire designed for drivers of passenger cars. Additionally, these non-studded tires are recommended for hybrid and electric vehicles due to their rugged construction. Combining innovative winter traction with eco-friendliness, the R5 offers a quiet ride and uncompromising grip.

The nearly fully rubber compound promotes flexibility in cold weather while a Silent Touch tread design minimizes road noise and optimizes ride smoothness. A new double block grip provides snow traction and handling that’s backed by microscopic crystals that act as built-in studs on your tire.

You can see how the Nokian Hakkapeliitta R5 performed in each category below:

Review CategoryScore (Out of 10.0)
Snow Handling9.5
Ice Handling9.5
Wet Handling9.5
Dry Handling10.0
Comfort10.0
Overall Rating9.7
Nokian Hakkapeliitta R5: Pros And Cons

Below are the pros and cons of the Nokian Hakkapeliitta R5:

Pros Very consistent handling in snow Incredible ice braking Best-in-class handling on dry roads
Cons More prone to hydroplane on wet roads than other winter tires

Nokian Hakkapeliitta R5: Our Experience

In our experience, although steering felt a little light and without a lot of feedback, the Nokian Hakkapeliitta R5 offered exceptional traction, braking, and stability in the snow. The car felt extremely balanced on snow, according to Benson. Cornering felt good and the rear wheels felt super stable. The tires worked well in tandem with the car’s anti-lock braking system and electronic stability program.

On ice, our independent tire tester describes the Hakkapeliitta R5 as “very friendly” with grip in all directions. He felt this tire allowed him to truly test the limits of his test vehicle while rolling around a frozen lake.

On wet roads, the Nokian offered slightly less grip than some of the higher-rated winter tires we tested. This is due to the fact we experienced more aquaplaning with this tire than others, as well as the fact Benson felt less confident braking laterally with the R5. On dry roads, Benson found these to be his favorite winter tires. However, the front left tire was too hot for a third lap.

3. Continental VikingContact 7: Best Winter Tires For Dry Roads

  • Cost: Starts around $110
  • 3PMSF: Yes
  • Rolling resistance: 7.56 kg/T

Continental VikingContact 7 Review

The Continental VikingContact 7 is made from a special Nordic compound that utilizes every available technology to promote traction in not only the winter months but on dry roads as well. Said compound is molded into a clever pattern and intuitive network of siping designed to evacuate water – whether frozen, wet, or somewhere in between – and prevent hydroplaning.

Continental VikingContact 7 Warranty Guide

  • Treadwear: N/A
  • Uniformity: 1 year/first 2/32 in. of wear
  • Workmanship/materials: 6 years/free replacement first year or 2/32 in. of wear, then prorated until 2/32 in. of remaining depth
  • Manufacturer’s road hazard: 1 year/first 2/32 in. of wear

You can see how the Continental VikingContact 7 performed in each category below:

Review CategoryScore (Out of 10.0)
Snow Handling9.5
Ice Handling9.5
Wet Handling9.5
Dry Handling10.0
Comfort9.5
Overall Rating9.6
Continental VikingContact 7: Pros And Cons

Below are the pros and cons of the Continental VikingContact 7:

Pros Fantastic snow traction and braking Handles very well on dry roads One of the best-handling winter tires on wet roads
Cons Grip may peak, then drop off on ice

Continental VikingContact 7: Our Experience

In terms of traction and braking in snowy conditions, the Continental VikingContact 7 felt really good. The front end felt great when turning in, but the rear wasn’t as solid as the Nokian. Steering felt a little “vague” according to Benson, and he noted that steering felt a little sluggish. Additionally, the rear moved around a little bit – but this ultimately benefited the tire’s lap times.

In general, the VikingContact 7 offered great grip on the ice. Grip felt a little peaky, but it was less friendly and not as smooth as the Nokian Hakkapeliitta R5.

Benson absolutely adores this winter tire on wet roads, noting it was far better in this test category than any other winter tire we’ve tested so far – hence our team naming this tire set as the Best Winter Tires for Dry Roads. Compared to other winter tires, the Viking Contact 7 had a more positive front end, better balance, better grip, and less oversteer. Though Benson notes that when this tire did oversteer, it was simply lovely. 

It should be noted that this tire did hydroplane from time to time, but we subjectively felt the Viking Contact 7 outperformed its competitors on dry roads. This winter tire offered very neutral balance, instilled confidence in our independent tire tester, and was good on lane changes.

4. Pirelli Ice Zero FR: Best Snow Tire

  • Cost: Starts around $130
  • 3PMSF: Yes
  • Rolling resistance: 8.38 kg/T

Pirelli Ice Zero FR Review

Designed for the most extreme winter driving conditions, the Pirelli Ice Zero FR utilizes a special winter compound and features an arrow-shaped directional pattern. This directional tread pattern boasts its highest sipe density on the center of the tire to optimize longitudinal traction – essentially optimizing braking and accelerating in snow and ice.

Pirelli Ice Zero FR Warranty Guide

  • Treadwear: N/A
  • Uniformity: 1 year/first 2/32 in. of wear
  • Workmanship/materials: 6 years/free replacement first year or 2/32 in. of wear, then prorated until 2/32 in. of remaining depth
  • Manufacturer’s road hazard: N/A

You can see how the Pirelli Ice Zero FR performed in each category below:

Review CategoryScore (Out of 10.0)
Snow Handling10.0
Ice Handling9.0
Wet Handling9.0
Dry Handling10.0
Comfort9.5
Overall Rating9.5
Pirelli Ice Zero FR: Pros And Cons

Below are the pros and cons of the Pirelli Ice Zero FR:

Pros Best-in-class snow handling Good levels of grip on ice Feels well-balanced on wet roads
Cons Prone to hydroplaning on wet roads

 

Pirelli Ice Zero FR: Our Experience

In our experience, the Pirelli Ice Zero FR was incredibly adept at handling snow-covered roads. Ultimately our independent tire tester considered this his joint favorite tire in terms of snow handling, potentially even beating out the Nokian due to the level of grip it provided. This was another tire where its backend wandered a little bit, but again in this case it ultimately helped the tire’s lap times.

In ice, the Ice Zero FR offered lower-quality braking performance than some of the other winter tires in this review. It offered good levels of grip, but our tester felt he had to be careful on the throttle as well as when turning or braking.

On wet roads, Benson noted a great experience in his first lap around Nokian’s Spain Test Grounds with good grip. However, he had a mixed experience on the remaining wet laps. Benson says he felt this tire began to lose a lot of time on the fast and long left-hand turn within the Spain Test Grounds, where only tire grip has an effect on performance. On dry roads, he says the Ice Zero FR performed very well.

5. Yokohama iceGUARD iG53: Best Budget Winter Tires

  • Cost: Starts around $90
  • 3PMSF: Yes
  • Rolling resistance: 7.5 kg/T

Yokohama iceGUARD iG53 Review

The Yokohama iceGUARD iG53 is developed for those who want to maximize their traction without breaking the bank. For fuel efficiency, a low rolling resistance means you aren’t spending unnecessary money on gas. Yokohama’s advanced winter tire technology allows the iceGUARD iG53 to provide fantastic ride quality.

Yokohama iceGUARD iG53 Warranty Guide

  • Treadwear: N/A
  • Uniformity: First 2/32 in. of wear
  • Workmanship/materials: 5 years/free replacement first year or 2/32 in. of wear, then prorated to 2/32 in. of remaining depth
  • Manufacturer’s road hazard: N/A

You can see how the Yokohama iceGUARD iG53 performed in each category below:

Review CategoryScore (Out of 10.0)
Snow Handling8.0
Ice Handling9.0
Wet Handling7.5
Dry Handling9.5
Comfort10.0
Overall Rating8.8
Yokohama iceGUARD iG53: Pros And Cons

Below are the pros and cons of the Yokohama iceGUARD iG53:

Pros Very good handling on ice Impressive performance on dry roads Feels well-balanced on snow
Cons General lack of grip in snow

Yokohama iceGUARD iG53: Our Experience

In terms of snow handling, the Yokohama iceGuard iG53, unfortunately, struggled with grip everywhere. While this tire was quite well balanced on the snow, it was just generally slow. It also should be noted that this tire had notably softer steering than other winter tires in this specific test.

In terms of ice traction, the Yokohama iceGUARD iG53 had little to no issue. It didn’t match the high performance of the Nokian or Continental in this testing category, but you certainly won’t be sliding around like you would with a set of all-season tires.

On wet roads, Benson remarks that he felt that he had to be “very careful” while cornering as mid-corner, the rear would start sliding out and you’d have to fight the tires and the car all the way around said corner. On dry roads, Benson says he struggled with braking and turning at high speeds – but this is to be expected to an extent from a winter tire. The tire was a little wobbly on lane changes, but overall we’re very impressed with this tire’s dry handling.

 


 

Winter Tires Buying Guide

Compare Winter Tires

There are many reliable winter tires out there that may be the perfect match for your driving needs. Cost, 3PMSF rating, and rolling resistance are all great ways to compare tires before buying:

Brand/Model3PMSFRolling
Resistance
Michelin
X-Ice Snow
Yes7.25 kg/T
Nokian
Hakkapeliitta R5
Yes7.34 kg/T
Continental
VikingContact 7
Yes7.56 kg/T
Pirelli
Ice Zero FR
Yes8.38 kg/T
Yokohama
iceGUARD iG53
Yes7.5 kg/T

There are a ton of winter tires available online, and it can be difficult to determine which snow tire is right for you. With this in mind, we aim to answer a few common questions about winter tires and refer you to our expert’s advice.

Are Winter Tires Worth It?

We asked our tire expert, Jonathan Benson of TyreReviews.com, what level of annual snowfall or ice warrants the need for a set of winter tires. Here’s what he had to say: 

“I live in Salt Lake City. It’s a very snowy region. But the roads are plowed very, very well – very effectively. And I live in the city. If I’m going up the canyons, I can work around the weather. So maybe an all-season set of tires for my driving is fine. Whereas for someone who lives slightly out of the city – who doesn’t get plowed as much – someone that lives up a canyon that sees a lot more snow because they’re at higher altitudes, then, a winter tire is almost essential. [To] answer your original question, there’s no hard and fast rule.”

When To Put On Winter Tires

We asked Benson if there’s a specific number of inches of snow on the ground where your all-season tires become ineffective, and unfortunately, it’s not that simple.

“I wish I had the answer. There [are] also different types of snow. Because you could have an inch of hard-pack, compacted snow that’s quite icy where an all-season tire would be fairly ineffective. Or you could have four inches of slushy snow where the weight of the vehicle gets through to the surface below and offers grip. Generally, if there’s any standing snow, the majority of all-season tires are a lot less effective than a dedicated winter tire.”

Tires For Winter: What You Need To Know

Regardless of which tire manufacturer or brand you purchase your tires from, there are a few things you should keep in mind. It’s important to understand a tire’s Uniform Tire Quality Grading (UTQG) and how to read a tire’s sidewall. Lastly, knowing how to maintain your tires is of utmost importance.

UTQG Standards

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is the governing body that enforces federal safety standards for all tires sold in the United States. The NHTSA created the UTQG standards to allow customers to make more informed purchasing decisions. Specific categories of UTQG ratings include:

  • Treadwear: This compares a tire’s tread against that of a control tire’s tread. A score of 100 indicates that the tested tire’s treads last as long as the control tire’s, 200 indicates that the tire lasts twice as long, and so on.
  • Traction: Graded on a scale of AA, A, B, and C, this rating is based on a tire’s braking g-force.
  • Temperature: Graded on a scale of A, B, or C, this tests a tire’s ability to withstand running at high speeds.

How To Read A Tire’s Sidewall

The many markings and numbers on a tire’s sidewall can make it difficult to find information by simply looking at a tire. Below is an explanation of the types of information you can find from your tire’s sidewall:

  • Tire size: Otherwise known as the width of the tire, this is the first set of numbers on the sidewall. Tire size is expressed in millimeters.
  • Type of tire: You can tell which type of tire you have by the letters included before the size of the tire. A tire without letters or with a “P” before the tire size is a passenger tire with a standard load (a four-ply rating).
  • Weight capacity: Tires with the letters “XL” after the tire size have a higher weight capacity than a standard load, but not higher than an “LT” tire. Tires with “LT” or “ST” before the tire size have a higher weight capacity, as “LT” stands for light truck and “ST” stands for special trailer.
  • Aspect ratio: The second set of numbers on a tire’s sidewall indicates the aspect ratio. This is expressed in a percentage, which is ultimately calculated by dividing the tire’s height measured from the rim to the tread by the tire’s width.
  • Type of construction: The type of construction is indicated directly after the aspect ratio on a tire’s sidewall. “R” stands for radial, which is the most common type of tire, “B” stands for bias, and “D” stands for diagonal. Plies run perpendicular to the tread in radial tires, while in bias and diagonal tires, plies overlap diagonally.
  • Rim diameter: Following the type of construction is where the diameter of the rim is typically indicated. Rim diameter is expressed in inches.

Taking Care Of Your Winter Tires

Regardless of your tire’s brand or price, if you don’t take care of your tires then you’ll end up spending a lot more than you need to. Below are three simple steps you can take to get the best out of your tires:

  1. Wheel alignment: Wheels that are improperly aligned will cause your tires to wear unevenly. A proper wheel alignment can drastically improve the lifespan of your car’s tires.
  2. Tire rotation: Regularly rotating your tires, either by the recommendation made by your vehicle manufacturer or every 5,000.0 miles, will reduce the likelihood of uneven treadwear.
  3. Balance: Outside of unevenly worn tires, wheels that aren’t properly balanced can cause vibrations that make it unsafe to drive. Checking your wheels’ balance can ensure your tire lasts for its full life cycle.

 


 

Best-Rated Winter Tires: Bottom Line

In this article, along with sharing helpful purchasing tips for those interested in purchasing winter tires, we reviewed the top five winter tires in 2024:

  1. Best Winter Tire: Michelin X-Ice Snow
  2. Best Tires for Ice: Nokian Hakkapeliitta R5
  3. Best Winter Tires for Dry Roads: Continental VikingContact 7
  4. Best Snow Tire: Pirelli Ice Zero FR
  5. Best Budget Winter Tires: Yokohama iceGUARD iG53

 


 

Tires For Winter: FAQ

Below are some common frequently asked questions about tires for winter conditions:

 


 

Full Winter Tire Testing Methodology

Because our testing expertise is centered around aftermarket car products and accessories, we decided to leave tire testing in the hands of a true tire expert. That’s why we reached out to Jonathan Benson who has more than 15 years of experience. His insight and hands-on testing combined with our extensive knowledge of aftermarket car products have been a perfect match.

Our tire testing, as always, consisted of a number of timed laps averaged out. Throughout testing, Benson utilizes control tires to benchmark the track’s surface evolution and ultimately calculate each winter tire’s rating in every single individual testing category. He took note of the tire’s snow handling, ice handling, wet handling, dry handling, and overall comfort.

Each tire was given a rating out of 10.0 based on these criteria.

Snow Handling

Snow handling is one of the most important factors to consider if you’re looking for a high-quality winter tire. Benson went about testing each winter tire’s snow handling by averaging out the times of three laps around one of Nokian’s “White Hell” Ivalo Testing Center tracks. Standardized conditions are ensured by carefully preparing the track and grading the snow at the start of testing.

Ice Handling

By nature, ice handling is a difficult test to do right. For each three-lap run, Benson raced across a frozen lake, putting each winter tire’s ice handling to the test. As the lake was fully frozen, the level of ice our independent tire tester was dealing with was immense.

Wet Handling

On the road, the wet grip of a tire will likely determine your fate in an emergency. Hence the placing of wet handling near the top of our list of winter tire tests. This test involved three timed laps around one of Nokian’s Spain Test Center tracks in seriously wet conditions.

Dry Handling

Regardless of where you live, winter tires are mainly going to be used on the road. This test involved three timed laps around one of Nokian’s Spain Test Center tracks in bone-dry conditions to simulate average road conditions.

Comfort

The “comfort” of each winter tire is a subjective mixture of the tire’s overall comfort on the road as well as its general road noise level. This was tested throughout all other categories of testing and notes were taken throughout.

How We Score Products

Every air freshener we test is given a score between 1.0 and 5.0 stars in each category. Here’s what those star ratings mean in concrete terms:

  • 10.0 Stars: A 10.0-star rating indicates that this tire is pushing the boundaries of what we know is possible for a specific type of tire. These tires offer more grip across various surface types and in different weather conditions than any other tire on the market.
  • 9.0 Stars: A 9.0-star rating means that a tire significantly outperforms the industry standard for any given testing category, most notably grip and traction.
  • 8.0 Stars: An 8.0-star rating shows that a tire performs above average when compared to other tires within the context of our testing. These tires perform as expected across all categories while standing out in certain categories.
  • 7.0 Stars: A 7.0-star rating indicates that a tire is right at the average in any given testing category. These tires meet expectations but do not stand out.
  • 6.0 Stars: A 6.0-star rating indicates that a tire is slightly below the average expected performance for this kind of tire. These ratings indicate a serious lack of quality in any given category.
  • 5.0 or Below Stars: These ratings are usually not seen in our team’s review articles. A rating this low means a tire is so far from proficient that we do not recommend it at all.

Why Trust Motor1.com

Each year, we test over 350 auto products on vehicles and in our testing lab. Our team of product testers thoroughly researches top products, unboxes and puts our hands on each component, and tests the items on real vehicles before making recommendations to readers.

We publish hundreds of product and service reviews to bring car enthusiasts detailed guides on automotive tools, detailing kits, car seats, pet products, and much more. For more information on our testing methodology and how we evaluate every product, check out our methodology page here.

*Data accurate at time of publication. Products subject to availability.