2017 - 2018 Passenger Car and Minivan Tire Reviews

APA teamed up with Quebec's consumer authority on winter tires, Michel Poirier-Defoy and his associate Jean-François Guay, and our panel of expert tire retailers to bring you reviews that combine instrumented testing with real-world experience. Tires in this section are suitable for front-wheel-drive, and four-wheel-drive passenger cars and minivans. Owners of rear-wheel-drive and four-wheel-drive performance and luxury cars may prefer performance winter tires. Prices indicated are average for metropolitan market retailers in Montreal and Toronto, and include installation and balancing. Prices are a bit higher in Western Canada and the Maritimes. For average driving, with a mix of urban roads and highways, tires in the first three or even four ratings groups will likely be more than satisfactory.

Testing was conducted in 2015 and 2016, with reviews, pricing and  rebate information updated for  this winter. Prices apply to the 205/55R16 size, which is suitable for compact cars like the Honda Civic, Hyundai Elantra and Toyota Corolla, and include installation and balancing. Tires are listed in alphabetical order within each ratings group. The APA has compiled a list of tiremaker rebates applicable with the purchase of a set of four tires; most of these promotions expire in mid-December 2017. 

A small percentage of mostly rural drivers may be looking for studded tires. We have indicated models that are offered with factory European-style shaped studs. These are supposed to run more quietely and grip more effectively than conventional studs installed by the retailer.

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A : Top Rated
Bridgestone
Blizzak WS80
Price: $190

Bridgestone introduced the Blizzak line in the 1990s, the first tire to feature a special rubber compound that dramatically improved performance on ice. The WS 80 is the sixth generation of the Blizzak concept. Directional tire, optimized for snow and ice; compared to the WS 70 which this tire superseded, the tread is a bit shallower and less aggressive, and provides improved braking on ice and better dry road performance. The WS 80 offers better traction in slush than the Michelin X-Ice. Soft riding. Very good overall performance and predictability; a very good choice for severe weather conditions. Bridgestone reduced prices in Canada, and they are now slightly lower than Michelin. Mail-in rebate when you buy four tires.

Nokian
Hakkapelitta R2
Price: $210

This tire superseded the old Hakka R, Nokian's version of a non-studdable ice tire like the Blizzak WS 80. The ice braking champion in European tire tests. Confident braking. Despite its low R speed rating, it is a good alternative for drivers of rear-wheel-drive sporty vehicles looking for a good balance of severe weather performance and acceptable handling on pavement. A factory road hazard warranty is included, limited to the first 40% of tire wear. Some sizes are available as runflat tires. Expensive, with a limited distribution network.

(The Hakkappelitta 9 will likely be more popular in Eastern Canada. A Nordic snow tire for deep snow and poor winter road conditions, coupled with good ice traction. Tire rotation is a important to ensure even wear. Expensive, about 25 percent higher than Toyo or Bridgestone, but it comes standard with a road hazard warranty limited to the first  40% of tire wear. Predicted to be long wearing. Available with sophisticated factory-installed studs. Negatives are a high price, limited distribution network.)

 
 
B : Very Good
Continental
Winter Contact Si
Price: $190

This tire replaced the ExtremeWinterContact and offers superior grip in cornering and braking. It runs a bit more quietly than the ExtremeWinterContact. The tread design is directional, which limits tire rotation options if they are wearing unevenly. The tread design of the new tire sticks more on ice and bites more in snow. Tire life will be lower, as the tread depth is down to just 10/32" when new. Offered in 44 tire sizes to fit most passenger cars and SUVs. Widely available. $65 Prepaid Mastercard gift card when you buy four tires.

Gislaved
Nord*Frost 200
Price: $173

Replaced the Nord*Frost 100, with a tread pattern resembling the old Continental ExtremeWinterContact. A good choice for buyers looking for a tire available with European-style diamond-shaped factory studs. Generous 12/32" tread depth when new.

Michelin
X-Ice Xi3
Prix: 205 $

Among Consumer Reports’ preferred tires in testing because of its superior performance on wet and dry roads, and ride comfort. Optimized for ice and snow, this tire was among the favorites with tire dealers surveyed. Some consumers using this tire reported that traction in slush was unimpressive, and that the shallow, conservative tread limits its traction in deep snow. Best-in-class performance on pavement. Quiet. Long wearing. Tricky mileage warranty requires the tires to be virtual banana peels before you can collect. $70 Mail-in rebate when you buy four tires.

Pirelli
Ice Zero FR
Price: $169

The Pirelli Ice Zero FR (friction) provided superior snow traction and good steering control. Symmetric tread design with features in treadblocks that improve ice traction; this is the best general purpose passenger vehicle winter tire from Pirelli. The Ice Zero Studded is a different tire, available with factory studs. Widely available and well-priced. Made in Russia. Pirelli was acquired by a Chinese conglomerate. $50 Mail-in rebate when you buy four tires.

Toyo
Observe GSi 5
Price: $185

Tire optimized for deep snow and ice. One of the better choices even though it is not a distinguished performer on cleared or wet roads and can be noisier than average in some applications. APA's recommended tire retailers have a lot of experience with this tire and received good feedback. Superior treadwear due to the deep tread and long-wearing rubber compound. Well-suited for heavy vehicles. Superior rating from Consumer Reports on ice and snow, but ranked low overall because it performed poorly in their tests on wet and dry pavement. $70 Mail-in rebate when you buy four tires.

 
 
C : Good
Dunlop
Winter Maxx
Price: $173

The old Winter Maxx has been superseded by the similar Winter Maxx 2.  Asymmetric tread design, this tire is manufactured by tire giant Sumitomo of Japan. The tread compound is not as sponge-like as the most advanced winter tires. Good performance on snow and ice. Long wearing. Offered in a large range of sizes. Canadian distribution is handled by Goodyear, which ensures good availability. Competitive price for a tire still made in Japan that features excellent manufacturing quality. Mail-in rebate on a set of four.

Goodyear
Ultra Grip Ice WRT
Price: $199

Competent handling on a wide variety of winter road surfaces. Directional tread with open blocks with good snow and ice traction. Fairly hard riding, a characteristic that is more noticeable with small vehicles. Predicted tire durability is good. Widely distributed. $80 mail-in rebate with a purchase of four tires.

Hercules
Avalanche RG2
Price: $149

Hercules is an independent tire brand that contracts out its research and development. Tires are sourced from manufacturers located in China, the United States and Europe, and compete mainly at the lower end of the market. The Avalanche R-G2 was a pleasant surprise; it's manufactured in Russia under license from a top tier European tiremaker. The unidirectional tread provides good snow traction. The superior rubber compound for an independent label tire provides decent ice traction, though it's not quite as good as the brand-name original. Predictable handling on cleared roads. Predicted tire life is better than the average budget tire. Good value at the low selling price.

Vredestein
SnowTrac 5
Price: N/A

Tire developed in conjunction with Giugiaro, the Italian design house better known for its work on automobiles. The SnowTrac 5 is a Euro-style winter tire, optimised for fast running on cleared roads, with good ice braking and cornering. Vredestein was originally a Dutch company but is now part of Apollo Tire, the Indian conglomerate. The SnowTrac 5 is still made in Holland. Very limited distribution; marketed to owners of European prestige automobiles.

Yokohama
iceGUARD IG52C
Price: $180

Yokohama offers two related winter tires, the IG52C (car) and IG51V (SUV). Now in its fourth year, this directional winter tire offers superior traction on ice and in slush. It handles more precisely on pavement than the Bridgestone WS 80, partly due to solid, circumferential grooves in the tread. Quiet, smooth riding. Average treadlife predicted. $70 Mail-in rebate when you buy four tires.

 
 
D : Acceptable
Goodyear
Ultra Grip Winter
Price: $147

The main advantage is the very low price, just above the private label Chinese make imports for a brand name tire. Aggressive tread for good snow traction. Mediocre on ice. Noisy. Will accept studs.

Hankook
Winter i*Pike RS
Price: $153

This tire has been on the market for a few years. Good snow traction, unexceptional in other conditions. Prices are similar to higher-rated tires. $60 Mail-in rebate when you buy four tires.

Goodyear
Nordic
Price: $150

The Goodyear Nordic has been distributed exclusively through Canadian Tire network; it is similar to a Kelly tire. The hard compound rubber tread is long wearing, but performance on ice is unimpressive. Overall grip is not high, and the tire can be unpredictable when it starts to slide at the limit of adhesion. "Tested for life in Canada" according to the ad copy, but not ideal for winter.

Toyo
Observe G3 ICE
Price: $169

Lower-priced entry from Toyo, in its third season. Similar rubber compound to the Toyota GSi. Acceleration and braking were undistinguished, cornering was very predictable. Available with factory-installed studs. Widely available. $50 Mail-in rebate with the purchase of four tires.

 
 
E : Budget Tires

A possible solution if you’re turning in your leased vehicle during its last winter, particularly if it is equipped with large original-equipment tires, where the savings can be substantial. Note that some lessors require a tire of like kind and quality as at delivery (except for tire wear, which can be “normal”), so check beforehand to ensure the tire will pass inspection when you turn the vehicle in.

GT Radial
Champiro Icepro
Price: $123

The GT Radial brand belongs to GiTi Tire of Indonesia. They're the 10th-ranked tiremaker in the world, and recently opened a plant in the United States. Made in China, the IcePro is a copy of the General Altimax Arctic tread design. Predictable tire, easy to control on snow and ice. Mediocre handling on cleared roads and noisy. The hard rubber compound is long wearing. Very well priced, especially in larger tire sizes. Very large range of tire sizes. Will accept studs. Among the private label tires in this ratings group, the Champiro IcePro is the best value. Large distribution network. $40 mail-in rebate with a purchase of four tires.

Cooper
WeatherMaster ST-2
Price: $156

This tire is made in an old-style clamshell mould. Good traction in deep snow but performance on other surfaces lags. Reasonably durable. Pricing is high for the older technology and quality of tire. Studdable. 

MaxTrek
Trek M7
Price: $110

Mediocre and noisy. Available in a large range of sizes.  Inexpensive. Made in China by Zhaoqing Junhong Tire

Sailun
Ice Blazer WST1
Price: $99

The tire looks contemporary, but performance is mediocre. Can accept studs installed by the retailer. Identical to the Winter Claw Sport SXI. Limited availability in 2017-2018.

Uniroyal
Tiger Paw Ice and Snow 2
Price: $159

Superseded by the Tiger Paw Ice & Snow III. Michelin’s lowest-priced brand, this was among the cheapest winter tires from a major tire maker, but prices increased this year. Cornering and braking on snow and ice were undistiguished. In Canada, this tire is featured at General Motors dealers and usually well-priced when sold as part of a winter package. Made in China. $40 Mail-in rebate with the purchase of four tires.

 
 
F : Below Average
WestLake
SW606
Price: $119

Adequate performance on uncleared roads. Poor on ice. Noisy, fairly rapid wear. Will accept studs installed by the retailer. Made in China by Hangzhou Zhongce.

 
 
G : Avoid
Weathermate
HW501
Price: N/A

Weathermate is a private label import from SuTong China Tire sold through Walmart. The tire design looks promising, but performance was awful in testing. Walmart also carries the Weathermaxx line, as well as some recognisable brand-name tires.

 
 
H : All Weather Tires

Tires in this section carry the mountain and snowflake logo, which means that when new they are able to pass the traction test applicable to a dedicated snow tire. The tread is relatively aggressive compared to an all-season tire, to favour performance on uncleared roads. The rubber compound is harder and more heat resistant than a winter tire, to permit good year-round performance.

Nokian
WRG3
Price: $205

Ranked Very Good, this tire replaced the old WRG2. It is the best of the "All-Weather" year-round tires. A possible solution for the last two years of your lease, if your original snow and summer tires have all worn out. APA members who use this tire are very pleased with its winter and summer performance. Performance on snow is superior to many dedicated winter tires; the four-season rubber compound is likely a compromise on ice. Good handling on cleared roads, comparable to the best winter tires. A good choice for an all-wheel-drive vehicle if you're not prepared to bother with the spring and autumn changeover. Expensive, but it stands out among the All-Weather tires tested. A factory road hazard warranty is included, limited to the first 40% of treadwear. Popular on the Canadian West Coast as a tire for year-round use.

Hankook
Optimo 4S
Price: $160

Ranked Acceptable, this tire is distributed primarily by Canadian Tire and suitable for the West Coast or for vehicles that spend an extended part of the winter south of the border. Traction in snow is fair when new. Insufficient data to predict tire life. The market  now offers  better alternatives.

 

 

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Additional rebates for APA Members


Get APA Pricing in Toronto.

APA Members in the Montreal area are eligible for a 5% pre-tax discount or a $30 after-tax rebate on any set of four tires purchased and installed at Talon Tire in Ville Saint-Laurent.

List of tiremaker rebates applicable with the purchase of a set of four tires