Top 11 Best Winter Tires for SUV: Recommended & Reviews

SUVs and crossovers continue to take over the automotive world. People love their practicality, roominess, and image, but also their go-anywhere capability. Sure, not every SUV has an all-wheel-drive system, but most of them have. This powertrain is great for safety, especially on slippery surfaces, such as snow, ice, and slush. Wintertime traction is very important to buyers, specifically those with families.

However, there is no SUV or crossover in the world that will work excellently in the winter without the proper set of tires. Even the best all-season tires won’t give you reliable traction on packed snow, ice, or slush. People that live in areas with harsh winters should definitely consider winter tires after December 1 or even sooner in some northern areas.

The best winter tires for SUV will greatly improve the traction of your vehicle, but also the braking performance. That’s something that most people don’t think of when driving with their SUVs. The all-wheel-drive system might be able to provide you with enough traction with all-season tires attached, but braking will still be bad. Oh, and the last time we checked, most accidents happen due to the inability to stop in the winter.

Luckily, almost every tire manufacturer has winter tires in their portfolios. Some premium companies even have several different models; some geared towards passenger cars and others towards SUVs. Most winter tires overlap, though – just be sure that the ones you purchase have the correct dimensions, load rating, and speed rating of your SUV.

The thing is, not every winter tire will provide you with outstanding winter traction. Sure, even the cheapest winter tire will perform better on slippery surfaces than an all-season one, but that’s only one quality of a tire. What about handling and braking on dry and wet surfaces?

Many people think that winter tires are only made for snow and ice, and that’s very far from the truth. They are designed to tackle freezing temperatures as well, regardless of the surface. And, interestingly, some premium all-season tires work better than cheap winter tires on dry and wet roads in cold weather.

Luckily, you are just in the right place to discover the best winter tires for SUVs. In our list of the best tires, we will cover models from reputable manufacturers that work in every driving scenario. Cost and durability will also play a big role here – nobody wants to replace their winter tires every second winter.

After the list, we recommend reading through our buying guide. There, we will explain everything there is to know about winter tires and why they are very important for SUV owners that live in colder places.

Best Winter Tires for Small Crossovers and SUVs

Best Winter Tires for SUV

The Bridgestone Blizzak WS90 is the best winter tire for small crossover and SUV owners right now, especially for those that seek the best snow and ice performance.

On dry and wet roads, the Blizzak WS90 is almost on the level of the best winter tires. Traction is very good, the grip is excellent, while braking is sufficient. There are some better competitors in this regard, for sure, but not by a significant margin.

On snow, slush, and ice, though, the Blizzak WS90 easily beats any other winter tire. Braking distances are very short, and there is a lot of traction for quick acceleration. It is clear that the next-gen Multi-Cell compound with bite particles does its job again – the Blizzak WS80 was already the best snow tires for SUV in its category.

The biggest downside of the Blizzak WS90 is the fact that Bridgestone doesn’t provide any treadwear warranty. We hope they will rectify that soon.

Pros

  • Outstanding traction and braking in the snow
  • Very good handling in dry and wet conditions
  • Works on ice as well

Cons

  • No treadwear warranty

Best Winter Tires for Small Crossovers and SUVs

Best Winter Tires for SUV

The Continental WinterContact SI is the best winter tire for people that want to have fun over snow. The handling abilities of this tire are second to none – grip and traction are outstanding.

Thanks to that, you can freely push this tire in the corners, even when it snows. That said, braking on snow and ice isn’t its forte, which is something that we didn’t really expect given the outstanding handling performance.

On dry and wet surfaces, though, we don’t have any bad to say. Responsiveness is top-notch, there is a lot of traction and grip, while braking is very strong. The WinterContact SI is also very comfortable and quiet for a winter tire.

Pros

  • Excellent handling on snow
  • Usable on ice surfaces
  • Outstanding on dry and wet surfaces

Cons

  • Braking on snow
  • No treadwear warranty

Best Winter Tires for Small Crossovers and SUVs

Best Winter Tires for SUV

Get a $70 Reward Card when you purchase a set of 4 select Michelin tires

Valid through April 6, 2020          Available at Tirerack.com

Get a $70 Prepaid Mastercard by mail when you purchase a set of 4 Michelin Agilis CrossClimate tires
   Valid through March 31, 2020          Available at DiscountTire.com

The Michelin X-Ice Xi3 is a winter tire that doesn’t have any real drawbacks. On snow and ice, it provides the driver with outstanding traction, grip, and braking performance. You won’t be stranded anywhere with a set of these tires.

On top of that, the Michelin works very well on dry and wet surfaces, giving you the confidence to push more in the corners. The 40,000-mile treadwear warranty is another great advantage it has over almost every other winter tire.

Pros

  • Very good snow and ice traction
  • Excellent dry and wet handling
  • Supreme 40,000-mile treadwear warranty

Cons

  • Higher price than other premium tires

Best Winter Tires for Small Crossovers and SUVs

Best Winter Tires for SUV

Get up to $70 Prepaid Visa by mail when you purchase a set of 4 select Cooper tires

Valid through April 20, 2020
Available at
Tirerack.com, DiscountTire.com

Cooper managed to design an excellent winter tire that doesn’t break the bank. The Discoverer True North can be your trusty companion in harsh wintry conditions; there is no doubt about it.

Over snow and ice, the True North is perfectly capable of giving you great traction and strong braking. Dry and wet performance is a bit worse than the premium competition, though.

On the positive side, the Discoverer is very comfortable and quiet for a Cooper winter tires.

Pros

  • Excellent snow and ice performance
  • Comfortable and quiet
  • Low price

Cons

  • Worse performance on dry and wet surfaces

Best Winter Tires for Large SUV

Best Winter Tires for SUV

Get a $70 Reward Card when you purchase a set of 4 select Michelin tires

Valid through April 6, 2020          Available at Tirerack.com

Get a $70 Prepaid Mastercard by mail when you purchase a set of 4 Michelin Agilis CrossClimate tires
   Valid through March 31, 2020          Available at DiscountTire.com

Overall, the Michelin Latitude X-ice Xi2 is the best winter tires for SUV. They offer outstanding performance in any condition without sacrificing treadlife.

The Latitude X-Ice Xi2 offers the best-in-class traction and braking in freezing conditions, regardless of the surface – this tire works on snow, ice, and slush. Drivers of large SUVs will feel completely safe in the winter, regardless of the weather outside.

On dry and wet roads, the X-Ice Xi2 is sufficiently responsive. Traction and grip are also excellent, while the braking distances are very short. Sure, the Latitude is not sporty, but drivers of large SUVs aren’t really concerned about that.

Finally, Michelin offers an outstanding 40,000-miles treadwear warranty on the X-Ice Xi2, which no other competitor matches. If only the price was a tad lower and the Latitude X-ice Xi2 would’ve been perfect.

Pros

  • Best-in-class grip and traction in the winter
  • Outstanding snow traction
  • Excellent 40,000-mile treadwear warranty

Cons

  • Higher price than competitors

Best Winter Tires for Large SUV

Best Winter Tires for SUV

The Bridgestone Blizzak DM-V2 is the closest competitor to the Latitude X-Ice Xi2 in terms of performance and price. That said, we rate it a bit lower because Bridgestone doesn’t offer any treadwear warranty on their winter tires.

The Blizzak brakes strongly and accelerates swiftly over snow or ice, giving the driver a lot of confidence to push forward, even in very harsh conditions. All of this is achieved with the NanoPro Tech Multicell compound that has a water-loving hydrophilic coating that simply destroys the competition when it comes to performance.

The Blizzak is also very capable on dry and wet surfaces. Responsiveness is very good, traction is sufficient, while grip and braking are among the best in the category. Overall, a really accomplished winter tire.

Pros

  • Outstanding snow capability
  • Excellent handling in dry and wet conditions
  • Works on ice as well

Cons

  • No treadwear warranty

Best Winter Tires for Large SUV

Best Winter Tires for SUV

Dunlop is a manufacturer that’s primarily known for its high-performance tires. However, they also produce excellent winter tires. Their SUV-oriented model, the Winter Maxx SJ8, achieves excellent results throughout our testing.

Interestingly, Dunlop made the SJ8 to be comfortable and quiet, which is not something that you often associate with winter tires. Handling on dry and wet surfaces suffers a bit, though, but the tire still remains completely safe.

Over snow and ice, the Winter Maxx SJ8 is among the best in the category, thanks to the Maxx Sharp Edge with Miura-Ori sipe. Slush performance is also very good, among the best in the category.

Pros

  • Excellent snow traction and braking
  • Very good performance on ice and slush
  • Comfortable and quiet

Cons

  • No treadwear warranty
  • Competitors are better on dry and wet surfaces

Best Winter Tires for Large SUV

Best Winter Tires for SUV

Get $100 Prepaid Visa by mail or $100 Visa Virtual Account when you purchase a set of 4 Yokohama Advan Apex tires.

Valid through March 31, 2020
Available at
Tirerack.comDiscountTire.com

The Yokohama iceGUARD iG51v is a popular choice among SUV drivers thanks to the fair price and excellent on snow and ice. The Japanese manufacturer employed several technologies to make this tire work in very harsh wintry conditions.

The high-density reinforced tread compound enhances tread block stability, which gives this tire an even wear through the years. The directional tread design with Variable Angle Center Rib, on the other hand, improves stability on dry pavement. Finally, the Central Zigzag Circumferential Grooves with 3-D-shaped walls help on wet, snowy, and slushy surfaces.

On the road, the iceGUARD iG51v performs worse than its premium competitors on dry and wet surfaces. It’s not bad, but almost every other winter tire on this list is better. That said, the Yokohama iceGUARD iG51v redeems itself on snowy, slush, and ice, where it performs very well.

Pros

  • Outstanding snow traction and braking
  • Excellent slush and ice traction
  • Fair price
  • Durable tread compound

Cons

  • Traction and braking on dry and wet surfaces aren’t that great

Best Winter Tires for High-Performance SUV

Best Winter Tires for SUV

If you own a high-performance SUV and you want a reliable choice for any winter scenario, then you should go for the Nokian Hakkapeliitta R3 SUV. This tire is absolutely the best winter tire for SUV right now, and it’s not even close.

Anywhere you go, the Hakkapeliitta R3 will keep you safe. It has the best traction and braking over snow, ice, and slush, and it’s not even close. Handling on dry and wet surfaces is excellent as well.

With all that said, the Nokian Hakkapeliitta R3 SUV is also expensive, but you really get what you pay for.

Pros

  • Outstanding snow traction and braking
  • Excellent ice and slush performance
  • Great handling on dry and wet roads

Cons

  • Expensive

Best Studded Winter Tires for SUV

Best Winter Tires for SUV

Studded tires are still the best choice for very harsh wintry conditions. If you live in areas with constant snow on the roads, there is no better tire than the Hakkapeliitta 9 SUV.

This tire will give you the best possible traction and braking over snow, ice, and slush. It feels like you’re driving on wet pavement, that’s how good this tire is.

Of course, the Hakkapeliitta 9 SUV doesn’t work very well on dry and wet surfaces, but that’s the case with every studded tire. The only real downside is the higher price, but like with the R3, you get what you pay for.

Pros

  • Amazing snow performance
  • Outstanding ice and slush performance

Cons

  • Expensive

Best Winter Tires for Full-Size SUVs

Best Winter Tires for SUV

Get a $70 Reward Card when you purchase a set of 4 select Michelin tires

Valid through April 6, 2020          Available at Tirerack.com

Get a $70 Prepaid Mastercard by mail when you purchase a set of 4 Michelin Agilis CrossClimate tires
   Valid through March 31, 2020          Available at DiscountTire.com

Drivers of heavy-duty SUVs and trucks have only one truly excellent option for winter driving – the LTX Winter. This tire is designed for the largest of SUVs, and also for drivers that often tow large trailers and haul heavy cargo.

On the road, the LTX Winter provides drivers of heavy-duty SUVs with excellent performance in freezing weather. Handling and braking on dry and wet roads are second to none, and the same can be said for highway stability.

On top of that, snow and ice traction are outstanding, better than any other competitor. The Michelin LTX Winter even comes with a 40,000-mile treadwear warranty, which is unheard in this category.

The LTX Winter is also the most expensive LT-metric winter tire, but we think it’s absolutely worth it.

Pros

  • Excellent performance in freezing conditions
  • Very good snow traction
  • Strong and durable
  • Improves fuel efficiency
  • Excellent 40,000-mile treadwear warranty

Cons

  • Expensive

Best Winter Tires for SUV: Buyer's Guide

1. What are Winter Tires?

Winter tires are designed to work in the winter. They are made from soft and pliable tread compound that doesn’t become hard and brittle at very low temperatures. The hardening of the tread compound is the largest issue other tires have when the temperature drops.

All-season tires, for example, are designed to stay pliable at lower temperatures. However, even the best all-season tires are still harder in the winter than proper winter tires. That translates into a loss of traction, less grip, and longer braking distances. That can be especially felt on snow, ice, or slush, conditions where all-season tires become even harder and less pliable.

Then, winter tires also have aggressive tread patterns that give them better traction when driving over snow, ice, or slush. However, the tread pattern of winter tires is different than off-road tires for example. Off-road tires might have large and deep grooves, but they can easily fill up with snow and you’ll lose traction in no time.

The main difference is the small sipes that are seemingly everywhere on the tread of the winter tire. These sipes can dig through snow and slush, yet remain snow-free. How does that happen? Well, due to their small openings, sipes can’t be filled up with snow. And, in case it happens, the sipes compress the snow and melt it quickly.

The best winter tires for SUV right now are excellent at keeping the snow out of their tread grooves. This aids traction, grip, braking, and overall handling on snow and slush.

2. What’s the Difference Between Snow and Ice Tires?

Like with many other types, winter tires also have differences between them. More precisely, some models are made for driving in harsh wintry conditions, while others are literally designed to tackle polar temperatures.

Tire manufacturers differentiate between the two by calling them snow tires and ice tires. Snow tires are the standard winter tires, made for places with constant snow in the winter. With a set of these tires, drivers in the northern regions of the USA and southern regions of Canada will be served very well.

Best snow tires are excellent for driving over snow and slush in urban areas. They provide the driver with safe and reliable traction and braking, regardless of the surface and temperature. However, while they are better than other tires for driving on ice, they aren’t perfect.

People that live in the northern areas of Canada often encounter snow and ice at the same time. For these people, ice winter tires are the best choice. These tires are specifically designed to tackle extreme wintry conditions like snowstorms and roads covered with snow and ice. However, ice tires aren’t as good for driving on dry and wet surfaces.

The best ice tires are manufactured by Nokian, a Finnish tire manufacturer that specializes in making winter tires. They have a range of winter tires that work in different conditions, including mild winters, harsh winters, and polar winters. Ice tires are designed for the worst conditions.

3. Tire Dimensions Play a Big Role in Snow Traction

Interestingly, tire dimensions also play a big role in the traction and braking performance you get from your winter tires, especially over snow. That’s why many people purchase smaller wheels for their winter tires.

Generally, tires with shallower width of the tread perform better on snow. This happens because narrower tires easily penetrate the snow, which tremendously helps in traction. Wider tires tend to float over the snow and have limited traction.

To fully exploit the characteristics of your winter tires, we recommend purchasing smaller wheels. For example, if you have 18-inch wheels on your car, installing 17-inch wheels will give you better traction. Also, be sure that the winter tires have a smaller footprint, especially if there is a lot of snow in your area.

Furthermore, we recommend purchasing cheap steel wheels. Authorities often use salt to clean roads from snow, which can easily damage your expensive alloy wheels. Purchasing cheap steel wheels will be less expensive in the long run.

4. Studded or Studless Winter Tires?

Studded tires have small metal studs on the tread, which helps tremendously on snow and ice. With these tires, the traction and braking performance in extreme wintry conditions will be outstanding.

However, studded tires don’t work very well on dry and wet surfaces. They have limited traction, grip, and braking performance in these scenarios. On top of that, they are very noisy and uncomfortable.

On some studded tires, you can remove the studs, but that is a cumbersome task. That’s why we only recommend studded tires in places where there is constant snow or ice on the road.

On top of that, most high-quality studless ice tires available today already have excellent snow and ice traction. With chains attached, they can easily compete with studded tires.

5. Should You Put Winter Tires on All Four Wheels?

Many people put winter tires only on the driven wheels, which might seem logical, but it really isn’t. Winter tires aren’t only here to help give you better traction, but also cornering grip and braking.

Let’s say you put winter tires on the front wheels. On snow, the driven wheels will help you easily accelerate. However, once you start turning, the front wheels will have enough grip, but the back wheels won’t. Then, the back end of the vehicle might spin out of control, which is certainly not welcome.

Driving like that can be very dangerous, and the car will be very hard to control. Honestly, it’s probably better to drive with four all-season wheels because the vehicle will start sliding as a whole, which makes it easier for the driver to control the car.

We strongly recommend installing winter tires on all four wheels for maximum safety. Moreover, most SUVs have all-wheel-drive systems, which are best served by winter tires on all four corners.

Final Words

People often overlook the qualities of winter tires and go for cheap models. We understand, you only use them about 3-4 months every year, compared to 8 months for all-season or summer tires. However, cheap winter tires won’t give you reliable traction or braking, especially over snow, ice, or slush. And that’s the biggest reason why you buy winter tires!

Some Chinese models are so bad that you’re better keeping your all-season tires. Furthermore, tires from reputable manufacturers last longer, which means that they might be less expensive in the long run. That’s why we always include tested and proven tires from reputable manufacturers and not some cheap tires from manufacturers that we first heard of the last 3-4 years.

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