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Best Winter/Snow Tires

CR testing identifies standout tires with the best cold-weather grip

Best Winter Snow Tires - 2019 Toyota Prius

Tire shops, dealerships, and big-box stores are stocked with winter/snow tires, at least for now. If you think you'll need them, it is time to start shopping, while there is plenty of inventory to choose from.

CR has tested dozens of tires specially engineered to provide cold-weather traction, including 17 winter/snow tires for cars and crossover vehicles, five performance winter/snow tires for sporty cars, and 12 specifically designed for pickups and SUVs. All of these tires are designed for seasonal use with special tread features to provide sure-footed grip for ice and snow.

Shoppers can now also choose all-weather models, an emerging subset of all-season performance tires that can match dedicated winter/snow tires for their winter traction. These tires have the mountain and snowflake symbol on the sidewall, indicating they meet snow traction requirements of winter/snow tires. There are some all-terrain truck tires that have some snow capability, but none of them can rival dedicated winter/snow tires.

Who Should Consider Winter/Snow Tires?

Consumers who must drive in snowy conditions or who just want the best grip possible in wintry weather should consider winter/snow tires. They provide optimum grip to stop, go, and take sharp turns on snow or on icy roads.

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These tires are suitable for any vehicle, no matter if it's front-, rear-, or even all-wheel-drive, but always use them in sets of four for the best grip and balanced handling.

All winter/snow tires that we've tested have impressed us with their grip in wintry conditions, but the Achilles’ heel for most of them is that they have less grip on dry and wet roads compared with all-season tires. This is reason enough to take them off come spring.  

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How We Test

Consumer Reports tests more than 50 tire models every year for cars, SUVs, and trucks. A dozen or more tests are conducted by an expert team, mostly at our 327-acre Auto Test Center in Connecticut. We test braking on ice at a local skating rink, and an outside lab assesses tire rolling resistance, which affects a vehicle's fuel economy.

The Overall Score for each of these tires emphasizes snow traction and braking on ice—the main motivations for buying such tires in the first place. These tires typically have a tread compound that stays pliable in the cold and have numerous biting edges for gripping snow and ice. The trade-off is shorter tread life. We don't test winter/snow for tread life and most do not have treadwear warranties since they are intended to be used for just one season a year. 

CR members have full access to the best tires for winter, along with detailed ratings on the tire model pages.

Best Winter/Snow Tires

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