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Top 2015-16 Winter Tires

What can we say? Sorry? Not really because we all knew winter was coming. Yes, fall is here and the time to shop for new winter tires is upon us. 

As we’ve done for the last few years, below is a list of winter tire recommendations for your car. Our selections represent the better to best performers in each pricing category. 

As you know, compact and midsize cars are very popular in Canada. This is why I’ve selected the following P205/55R16 size as the yardstick. Keep in mind that these tire picks apply to most cars, as well as minivans and crossover vehicles. For a more specific list of tire suggestions for the latter two vehicles, click here

The following list was compiled with the help of Talon Tire, located in Ville St-Laurent, part of the UniPneu group.

Here are the top 2015-‘16 winter tire suggestions:

Best tire in the $100-$150 range

  • Champiro IcePro (studdable) and WinterPro -- Decent overall winter tire, excellent bang for buck (arguably the best Chinese winter tire) 
  • Goodyear Ultra Grip Winter -- Performs well in deep snow and slush, studdable

Best tire in the $150-$200 range

  • Toyo GSi-5 -- Microbit compound, good durability, deep thread, very good in snow and slush
  • Yokohama Ice Guard IG52 -- Yoko’s version of the Blizzak: Good all-round tire, softer compound, quiet
  • Pirelli Winter Ice Zero FR -- Reasonably priced, compound resists temperature changes (gets more flexible in the cold, firms up when warmer), non-studdable, very quiet, good overall traction with limited squirming (this is a crossover or 4-season tire)
  • Dunlop Winter Maxx -- Good bang for the $$, performs well in deep snow and slush 
  • Continental WinterContact SI -- Replaces ExtremeWinterContact (new tire), expected to be good all-round winter performer for slush, snow and ice

Best tire: $200+ 

  • Nokian Hakkapeliitta R2 -- Aggressive tread pattern, improved snow traction over the previous R (Hakkapeliitta 7 and new 8 are also good selections)
  • Bridgestone LM-32 (performance) -- Aggressive, V high-speed rating, better in deeper snow than Dunlop, however, slightly more expensive
  • Bridgestone Blizzak WS80 -- Quiet, soft compound, great all-round performance
  • Michelin X-Ice Xi3 -- Very good road manners, feels like an all-season, good performer, but with reduced tread depth

Studdable tires
There are a few questions that need to be asked in order to decide whether or not studdabe tires are the best choice for you. Consider the following:

  • The first thing to know is that the metal studs do generate a considerable amount of road noise; 
  • Ice traction and grip increases exponentially on icy roads. No current non-studded winter tire can match studs on this level; 
  • Studs do little on dry and snow-covered roads. Their reason for being is to “stab” the ice, maximizing traction. 

Runflat winter tires 
These tires, required for a number of BMW/MINI/Mercedes owners, start at over $200 a unit. Depending on size and various applications, consider Bridgestone, Dunlop, Michelin, and Nokian Hakkapeliitta.