LAST UPDATED: November 4, 2019
Best Winter Tires for SUVs: Stay In Control on Icy Roads
Get the best winter tires for SUVs and stay safe on the road during snowy conditions
The Review Team
How We Decided
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PUBLISHED ON November 4, 2019
Driving on icy terrain is one of the hardest tasks, even for seasoned drivers. When winter comes, roads can get very slippery, and your chances of having an accident increase. Poor visibility, slippery roads, and bad tires are a bad combination. This buying guide includes the best winter tires for SUVs to help you make an informed purchasing decision.
This tire is designed for ice and snow conditions. It has a rugged tread pattern that helps increase grip. Its most unique quality is its remolded and reinforced sidewalls that make it extra strong and resistant to punctures.
- Tire offers up to 25 percent more tread life than conventional tires
- Manufacturer uses an eco-friendly manufacturing process and less harmful materials to create a tire that performs extremely well in snow
- Tire is backed by a two-year workmanship warranty
- Tire has a tendency to produce an irritating noise on normal roads
- Company has an unclear warranty policy, so you may have difficulty returning unwanted tires
Bridgestone ups the ante on these wallet-friendly winter tires with an Advanced Multicellular Compound and Nano Pro-Tech composition for improved performance in cold weather.
- Hydrophilic coating helps to effectively channel water away from your tire’s center
- Enhanced tread and grooves provide an improved grip and better braking for a more responsive ride through snow or slushy conditions
- Limited warranty adds to peace of mind
- As is to be expected with winter tires, road noise will be heightened when driving in normal conditions
Michelin-built snow tires built with a max load capacity of 2,679 pounds, giving you more power and torque through thick snow.
- Built with superior load capacity, designed with FleX-Ice technology, and suitable for snow, ice, and rain
- More expensive than other tire options
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Benefits of Winter Tires for SUVs
- Improved traction. Driving in winter weather can be hard, especially if your tires don’t have sufficient grip. Winter tires can help your car maintain stability and grip so that you’re less likely to slide or spin out while you’re on the road.
- Improved safety. By extension, if your tires offer better traction, assuming that you drive carefully, your road safety will also improve. This means your car will be able to react in time in case you need to brake suddenly or quickly change lanes.
- Improved maneuverability. Even if your car features all-wheel drive (AWD), that isn’t a guarantee that you’ll automatically drive better in poor weather conditions. Regular all-season tires can slide in snow and ice, making AWD an irrelevant feature. Adding snow tires to your SUV can help provide the grip your car needs so that it can be responsive when AWD is activated.
- All-season tire preservation. Nothing wears tires out faster than being exposed to rough conditions. Swapping out your all-season tires for winter versions can help your “regular” tires last longer.
Types of Winter Tires for SUVs
As the name suggests, snow tires are designed to optimize your tire’s performance in snowy and slushy conditions. A snow tire focuses on the improved tread, siping, and rubber composition to create a safer driving experience that channels water away from your tire’s pads to prevent your car from sliding in snow and ice.
These tires feature metal studs in the outer perimeter. They are best suited for drivers in extreme conditions where they will frequently encounter ice through a prolonged winter. While they definitely enhance a tire’s grip, they’re not ideal for the average winter driving experience. When deep snow or ice isn’t present, they can destroy asphalt. Some regions even ban studded tires because of this, which could leave you open to incurring fines.
TreadWright topped the list with our Best Overall selection, the TreadWright CLAW M/T Tire. But more importantly, it’s a brand that focuses on performance tires that are designed to give drivers better grip and control in difficult conditions. Specifically, it crafts premium tires for not just SUVs, but rugged vehicles like Jeeps and utility vehicles. In addition to winter tires, you can also choose from all-terrain tires designed for off-road conditions, like this Dirt Lord A/T Tire.
Firestone is a brand that needs no introduction and is typically at the top of people’s minds when they think about replacing their tires. In addition to being our Honorable Mention selection with the Firestone Winterforce 2 UV Winter Radial Winter Tire and offering a quality product catalog of tires that range from all-weather to snow-specific, this brand is also best known for building quality parts for all of your auto care and commercial vehicle needs, like the Firestone Industrial Products 2582 Ride-Rite Air Spring Kit.
Bridgestone is another brand that is synonymous with quality tires for not just SUVs, but sedans and pickup trucks as well. It’s best known for pairing quality products with an affordable price, which is why its Bridgestone Blizzak WS80 Winter Radial Tire is our Best Value selection. Unlike the other brands on our list, Bridgestone also has the unique distinction of creating products for golfers, like the Bridgestone 2019 e6 Golf Balls, which are a fan favorite among serious players.
Winter Tires for SUVs Pricing
- $80-$300: Within this range, you should be able to find a quality winter tire that features enhanced grip and a rubber compound composition that’s optimized for cold weather plus ice and snow. Note that this is usually the price per tire, but you may find sets of four at the upper end of this range.
- $300 and up: If you’re looking for enhanced tires, such as studded winter tires, plan to shop with a higher budget in mind. Typically the price still reflects just one tire, but you can find four-set deals for traditional snow tires within this range.
Tread & Sipes
This is the most important feature you need to use to gauge whether a set of SUV winter tires is best suited for your SUV. The right tread design will feature specially designed sipes—or grooves and channels—that are built specifically to create a better grip and quickly wick water away to prevent your SUV from sliding.
While all tires are composed of rubber, winter tires also feature additional materials, like silica, that are optimized for use in frigid weather or slippery road conditions to help your tires maintain their shape and improve their grip. It’s obvious that slippery roads can be dangerous for driving, but freezing temperatures can impact your tire’s performance and even cause them to lose pressure.
The type of winter tires for your SUV that you select are going to depend on whether or not they’re designed to fit your vehicle. To select the right tire size, take note of the rim diameter, section width, and aspect ratio. The rim diameter references the distance between the inside edge of the tire to the inside portion of the rim and ranges between 12 to 22 inches. Your section width describes the width of the tire and ranges between 125 to 295 millimeters. The aspect ratio references a percentage of height to width and will impact your ability to corner or turn your SUV. You don’t need to guess at these figures because your SUV’s wheel well will have a sticker with this information clearly listed.
- Typical Winter Conditions: The type of winter tires you select for your SUV are going to be dependent upon the type of winter your region typically experiences. For example, it wouldn’t make sense to purchase studded tires when the worst weather you face will be a bit of slushy snow a few times a month.
- Mountain and Snowflake Designation: If you’re going to upgrade to winter tires, you shouldn’t buy just any tire. Look for those that contain the mountain and snowflake stamp. This means that the tire meets the snow traction requirements of the Rubber Manufacturers of America.
Best Winter Tires for SUVs Reviews & Recommendations 2020
Our Best Overall choice is the TreadWright CLAW M/T Tire. These muddy terrain tires might be rated for the mud but are ideal for slippery conditions you can expect to encounter during the winter. The remolded and reinforced sidewalls enhance the tire’s strength, and they’re also rated to withstand being punctured by debris.
You’ll love the enhanced traction due to the wide, self-cleaning lugs. And with a rating of 40,000 miles, you should be able to use these winter tires for multiple years before they need to be replaced. An added bonus is the two-year company warranty and the emphasis on sustainability that guarantees that 70 percent of every tire comes from recycled materials.
However, some drivers may have a hard time getting these tires to balance properly, even after taking them in for professional adjustments. And in other circumstances, frequent blowouts shortly after switching to these tires are possible. You can also expect to hear a lot of noise from the tires.
Even if you know that you need winter tires, that doesn’t mean that you’re ready to make a huge investment. Bridgestone’s highly-rated Blizzak WS80 Winter Radial Tire is our Best Value choice because it marries quality with a budget-friendly price that’s realistic for anyone to afford. These tires feature a hydrophilic coating so that you cut through slush and slippery roads without compromising on stability or performance.
They’re designed from an Advanced Multicellular Compound with Nano Pro-Tech to ensure that their responsiveness won’t be impacted by the cold. The enhanced tread helps to improve grip on the ice or through snow and slush. You’ll feel more confident when you’re on the road and will be able to brake quicker and see your SUV’s responsiveness improve.
As is to be expected with winter tires, expect to hear more road noise due to the heavy-duty nature of these tires.
Suitable for snow, and in some cases light ice, this tire is robust, rotund, and tough-looking. It’s a hefty tire with a maximum carrying capacity of 2,679 pounds, giving you plenty of load and tow strength as well.
The superior load capacity is a good thing for snow and ice as well—when it comes to driving on snow, the heavier the vehicle, the easier it is to move through it. You can load up your SUV and weigh it down quite a bit, so it tackles snow without an issue. It’s even built with a special FleX-Ice compound designed to keep the tire performing under pressure, even in snow.
However, you will end up spending a bit more if you get a full set of four tires, as they are relatively high in price. Their size also makes them heavy, making for a more difficult time installing them alone.
The Cooper Tire Evolution Winter Studdable Winter Radial Tire is a great snow and winter tire. It’s set at an affordable price, so you can buy a set of four without breaking the bank. It’s a multifunctional tire as well, and is fit for more than just an SUV.
The tire is rated to carry up to 1,521 pounds, which is in the middle when it comes to maximum load weight. The tire is also surprisingly light for a snow tire—coming in at just around 20 pounds, it’s a beefy tire that can handle snow and plenty of weight without buckling under pressure. The tire performs well in the rain.
You may find that the tires can come with a bit of road noise if you travel on the highway. However, snow and winter tires will generally include louder noise at higher speeds due to their design.
This tire can carry a full load weight of 1,521 pounds, which is always great for wading through snow. It is designed with grip and traction in mind to keep you safer on the road.
The radial tire is opted and molded with metal studs to help increase its overall handling. Plus, the tire's directional tread design enhances it in every way possible by evacuating water while on the move.
The tire is thinner than other winter tires, and the tread isn't as thick. Also, there have been complaints the tires may ship without the metal studs. Even if you get the studs in your shipment, others have said the studs will need to be put on by a professional.
Coming in at a total weight capacity of 2,039 pounds, the tire can haul plenty of weight. It also features a tread depth of 7.94 millimeters, so snow doesn't get captured inside to clog up your journey.
However, one of its best inclusions by far is its built-in silica end-locked orange oil compound. That sounds highly technical, but the microscopic material enhances the tire's high-temperature stability and low-temperature flexibility. In layman's terms, the rubber can bend and flex more easily, helping it travel over snow more quickly, efficiently, and safely.
Like other high-end premium winter tires, this one will cost you as well. While it isn't too high of a price, you will spend a lot for a full set, but you can't really put a price on comfort and precision.
One way these tires are superior is in the maximum load capacity, which stands at 1,653 pounds. This tire also differs when it comes to its aspect ratio or the little numbers on the sidewall. These measure 215/65R16, which means they are 5 percent larger than the other Goodyear model on this list. These are also a pound lighter, which may not seem like much, but a pound is quite a bit when you’re hefting something around in the snow.
When it comes to price, these tires are just a bit more expensive than the other Goodyear tires we mentioned. It really comes down to preference and looks since Goodyear is a great brand that makes excellent tires.
The Bridgestone Blizzak Winter SUV tire features a unique tread pattern that helps boost its performance on snow, ice, slush, and sleet. It stops quicker, more safely, and includes bite particles for improved traction on ice.
Built with enhanced technology called Multi-Cell, the rubber is infused with a compound that expels water at an alarming rate. The tire tread also has 15 percent more block edges for increased snow-shearing and better grip and traction. There is virtually no slip or slide with these tires equipped.
With all that being said, the tire is the most expensive option on our list. At nearly double the cost of other tires, it will set you back more than a bit when it comes to buying multiple tires. It also comes with a lower load capacity of around 1,874 pounds.
- Some winter tires for SUVs have metal studs; however, not all states allow metal studs on tires. Before getting winter tires, check whether they are allowed in your state so you don’t break the law.
- To save money, get studless all-season tires to use during all months of the year. As winter approaches, you can install studs for extra traction on wet and icy roads.
- If you can't afford to get winter tires for your SUV, use off-road tires, as they have deep tread blocks. However, off-road tires don’t offer the same grip or flexibility.
Q: What is the difference between studded and studless tires?
Studs improve the traction and handling of a car during the winter. However, some new-generation winter tires feature studless technology and can be used in normal driving conditions as well.
Q: When do I install winter tires on my SUV?
Temperatures below 45-degrees Fahrenheit tend to affect the performance of all-season tires. The right time to switch to winter tires is when temperatures start to dip below 45 degrees.
Q: How often should I check my winter tires?
It’s best to inflate, align, and rotate your tires every six months (or every 6,000-8,000 miles) to minimize the chance of an accident. During winter, check your tires every month.
For its innovative design and high functionality, we recommend the TreadWright CLAW M/T Tire.
The Bridgestone Blizzak WS80 Winter Radial Tire performs well too, if you’re looking for a budget-friendly alternative.