(This guide is authored by a regular contributor to the specialized Tire News (Pneu Mag) magazine, which he co-founded over 10 years ago)
The winter tire trade has evolved pretty quickly in recent years. Manufacturers increasingly focus on producing friction tires as opposed to studded tires. Recent winter models have treads designed to provide the best grip possible on road surfaces, by evacuating the thin layer of water that often covers icy roads. This allows them to establish a “dryer” contact with the road surface.
And as most motorists drive on snow-cleared roads, which are often icier than they are snowy, it’s easy to see why tire makers find it makes more sense to offer consumers designed to perform on ice than in deep snow (though of course, the market certainly offers specific tires designed for deeper snow).
Tire manufacturers’ product ranges are thus heavy on winter tires (we no longer really use the terms “snow tires” or “snow grips”) made for riding on cold, hard pavement or on hard-packed snow, and for all types of cars, from small subcompacts to luxury sedans. But with the explosion in popularity of sport utility vehicles (SUVs), crossovers and pickup trucks, each more luxurious than the next, tire makers’ products have gradually been adapted to these segments.
As a general rule, the products featured in our guide to the best winter tires for cars are also available in sizes to fit most SUVs, crossovers and pickups. There are, however, certain applications specific to heavier SUVs and, especially, pickups. In the latter category, in fact, it’s important for vehicle owners to a) properly identify the vehicle’s category and b) identify their needs.
In Quebec, to cite that province as an example, bigger pickups and vans designated as Class 2 (Ford F-250, E-250, T-250, Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra 2500, Chevrolet Express and GMC Savana 2500, and Ram 2500 and Promaster 2500) must be equipped with winter tires on all four wheels during the cold season. And, they must also have LT (Light Truck) type tires, as opposed to P (Passenger) tires able to be used with lighter pickups and vans. Make sure to check the regulations in place in your province of residence!
A word about studded tires. Although most provinces in Canada generally allow their use from mid-October to the end of April, they are not allowed on roads in southern Ontario. An exception is made for out-of-province motorists who are simply passing through the region.
Here then are the winter tires we most recommend for SUVs, crossovers and pickups for winter 2018-2019. Most have been subjected to testing in wintertime on manufacturers’ fleet vehicles.
Michelin Latitude X-Ice
One of the most popular winter tires for larger, heavier SUVs and pickups is the venerable Michelin Latitude x-Ice, which is available in a number of sizes. Though it doesn’t ride particularly quietly, it gets fewer negative comments over its performance in deep snow that the same company’s X-Ice Xi3 for cars. Maybe it’s because most SUVs and pickups have all-wheel-drive systems. In any event, they’re highly appreciated by owners of pickups and utility vehicles.