The best snow tires in Ontario, rated

Did you know that there is a law in Ontario that requires private insurance companies to offer a discount on the price of car insurance to drivers who buy snow tires?

Why? Simply speaking, winter tires reduce the number of winter accidents.

And that’s why Ontarians can get a winter tire discount on their car insurance policies.

Germany as a giant laboratory

In 2005, before the Germans were legally required to buy winter tires, there were 12,539 collisions where someone was injured, and in 2008, when the Germans had to buy snow tires, there were only 6,003. A similar trend occurred in Quebec, where winter tires are actually mandatory during a certain time of the year.

Snow tires really do help to prevent accidents, and the Government of Ontario knows it. That’s why it passed legislation to make discounts mandatory for users who use winter tires.

While it’s possible to get by with the best all-season tires for snow, we strongly recommend that you check out the key differences between all-season and winter tires to understand the safety benefits. Snow tires make for a much safer ride, but they are not all created equal.

That’s where this guide comes in.

Best snow tires for passenger cars

1. Nokian Hakkapeliitta R2

Consumer Reports and Car And Driver rate the Nokia Hakkapeliitta R2 as the top winter tire you can buy for passenger cars. This studless tire hails from Norway and is lauded for its remarkable performance on ice and snow, and there is a consensus among professional testers that it is equal or better to all other winter tires on the market.

The Norwegian Automobile Federation does rate its braking distance on wet surfaces as longer than some of its competitors but still rates the Nokia Hakkapeliitta R2 as the 4th best all-around tire you can buy in Norway. That’s good news for Canadians, since our weather patterns are comparable.

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2. Michelin X-Ice XI3

Consumer Search and Car And Driver puts the Michelin X-Ice Xi3 as the second best snow tire out there, noting that the Nokia Hakkapeliitta R2 performs slightly better in navigating sharp corners. But Car and Driver points out that even though the studless Nokia Hakkapeliitta R2 edges out the Michelin X-Ice Xi3 in some performance tests, they are “essentially the same.”

Nokia Hakkapeliitta R2 at $205.92 per tire is more expensive than the Michelin X-Ice Xi3 at $129.97. (Prices checked at SimpleTire.com)

3. Bridgestone Blizzak WS-80

Bridgestone has a reputation for durable tires that hold up in extreme conditions, and it’s no surprise that the Bilzzak WS-80 makes the list for best snow tires. It brings a special zig-zag tread design that captures snow, pushes it out the sides of the tires, and uses what’s left over in the treads to improve grip with the snow on the road.

The Blizzak WS-80 is said to perform particularly well with packed snow, which is normally harder to drive on than light, fluffy snow. It might not be quite as versatile as the Michelin X-Ice XI3 when it comes to the start-and-stop nature of urban driving, but they’re similarly effective for highway winter driving and are much more affordable.

4. Hercules Avalanche R-G2

The Hercules Avalanche winter tires offer particularly good traction on ice in highway winter conditions, and are among the most affordable winter tires on this list. They offer respectable traction in urban driving environments as well, and are a solid choice.

This tire doesn’t specialize as much as the others on this list save for ice grip (which is still important!), but it is perhaps the most cost-effective all-rounder here.

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5. Dunlop Winter Maxx

One of the biggest selling points about the Dunlop Winter Maxx series is that it’s durable. Where other winter tires tend to last between two and three seasons, Winter Maxx tires are intended to last longer—4 seasons or more, in certain cases. Tire durability depends heavily on your commuting distance and your braking behaviour too, but consider these if you’re trying to be price-conscious in the long term.

Those are the best snow tires for passenger cars, and they’re all good choices—they just tend to emphasize different values, such as price, durability, environmental versatility, or ice grip. Think about which style suits your current driving patterns before heading out to the store!

The two best snow tires for trucks and SUVs

1. Michelin Latitude X-Ice X12

Auto123.com, Consumer Reports, and Consumer Search rate the Michelin Latitude X-Ice X12 as the top snow tire for SUVs and light trucks. Why?

This is a competent snow tire that takes on dry and light snow with ease and slightly outperforms its competitors on ice. Some testers have noted that it is less effective in deep snow than in other conditions. Michelin points out that their Michelin Latitude X-Ice X12 lasts 75% longer than its nearest competitor, which means you will have to buy these winter tires less often than you would other choices.

2. Bridgestone Blizzak DM-V2

PMC Tire and Consumer Search rate the Bridgestone Blizzak DM-V2 as a solid second choice in the snow tires for SUVs and light trucks, and it is a winter tire that has been specifically designed for these vehicles. TireRack.com notes the Bridgestone Blizzak DM-V2’s “surprisingly high levels of grip on ice and hard-packed snow.”

It is worth noting that PickupTrucks.com rates this sturdy snow tire as its first pick for light trucks heading out in cold weather.

3. Dunlop Winter Maxx SJ8

Dunlop’s Winter Maxx tires also come in versions for trucks and SUVs. They’re considered one of the more balanced tires between ice and snow, making them as useful on backroads and un-ploughed neighbourhoods as they are on main roads while it’s snowing out.

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4. Yokohama IceGuard iG51v

Yokohama sports one of the most unique tread designs on this list, making it one of the better options for grip on ice and dry (but still cold) conditions. It’s great for rural driving and provides solid support in urban streets, and has above-average durability due to its internal twin steel belts.

5. Continental WinterContact SI

Continentals are ideal for urban driving in the winter, making them a great choice for parents who need to drive in suburbs, condo communities, and downtown areas. It deals with slush quite well and offers solid traction on ice, rounding out the safety of your truck or SUV.

Remember, according to The Insurance Bureau of Canada, you might save up to $80 per car in car insurance should you choose to buy winter tires.

More importantly, you and your young ones will be riding more safely as you head off to the skating rink in your SUV.

Get a 3-minute quote to see what you could save with a winter tire discount!

Seriously, what else can you do in 3 minutes?

Boil half an egg?

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