Originally published December 8, 2014

Review by Paul Williams, photos courtesy Paul Williams, Haney Louka (above) and manufacturers

It’s winter tire time again. For some, it’s an annual event: off with the all-seasons or dedicated summer tires, on with the winter rubber. For others, it’s decision time: either “What tire shall I buy?” or “Do I really need winter tires at all?”

Research indicates considerably better performance from winter tires in winter conditions: better starting, better cornering and perhaps most importantly, better stopping. So yes, we at Autos.ca recommend using winter tires in winter, although the argument can be made that milder places like Vancouver are perhaps special cases and the choice depends more on your driving habits (do you go to Whistler?).

To help with your decision, here are 16 popular tires from the major brands and some consumer comments about each of them. These tires come highly rated by owners according to sources like the US-based tirerack.com and Canadian-based 1010tires.com. Three of them are top-rated by Canada’s Automobile Protection Agency, which publishes a multi-brand survey on its website. And while doing your research, make sure you check the Autos.ca Winter Tire Review section as well.

Some tire models are targeted to specific vehicle types like large SUVs or pickup trucks, but most winter tires have applications across the range of passenger vehicles; you’re just as likely to find a Continental ExtremeWinterContact on a sedan as you are to find it on a crossover or a light truck. Your tire dealer can give you the details.

Finally, the Nokian WRG All Weather Plus is something of an outlier. It’s designed to be used all year long, but unlike all-season tires (the WRG is an “all-weather” tire, right?) this one wears the “severe service” mountain snowflake symbol from the Rubber Association of Canada. It’s a bona fide winter tire that you can even use in Quebec where winter tires are mandatory in the cold season. But, according to Nokian, you can use this tire all year, too. Interesting!

Winter Driving SceneBridgestone Blizzak WS70Bridgestone Blizzak WS80
Winter Driving, Bridgestone Blizzak WS70, Bridgestone Blizzak WS80. Click image to enlarge

Bridgestone Blizzak WS-70

Designed for slushy, snow-covered and icy roads. Flexible rubber compound improves the tire’s grip in cold conditions, while bite particles scratch at packed snow and icy surfaces for traction. For most vehicle types.

Owner Impressions
“Made my hybrid into an unstoppable tank. Everybody is stuck on hills and I drive through them,” says one owner. “Three seasons on this tire,” says another.

8.37/10 from 830 reviews at tirerack.com.

Purchase at Canadian Tire, 1010tires.com, Costco and dealer locations in your area found on bridgestonetire.ca

Bridgestone Blizzak WS-80

This tire uses Bridgestone’s next generation NanoPro-Tech Multicell compound. 20 percent more block edges compared to WS70. For most vehicle types.

Owner Impressions
“I feel very confident driving in snow and ice with these tires.”

Limited reviews for the WS-80, which is new this year, but a top rated tire according to Canada’s Automobile Protection Agency (APA). Second best stopping distance from 20-0 km/h in tirerack.com’s winter tire test comparing four tires.

Purchase at Canadian Tire, 1010tires.com, Costco and dealer locations in your area found on bridgestonetire.ca

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