Bridgestone Blizzak WS90 Review: Exceptional Winter Tire for Passenger Cars

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  • Exceptional acceleration and braking on snow
  • Excellent handling on snow-covered roads
  • Outstanding traction, handling, and braking on ice
  • Very good handling on dry roads
  • Best-in-class braking on dry pavement
  • Outstanding handling and traction in rainy conditions
  • Best-in-class braking on wet pavement
  • Long treadlife for a winter tire
  • Slightly firm over bumps and uneven roads
  • Bridgestone doesn’t provide any treadwear warranty

The “Blizzak” brand is almost as popular as Bridgestone nowadays, especially in places with harsh wintry conditions. That should tell you a lot about how good these tires are. The Japanese tiremaker seems to do a great job with all of its products, but that’s especially true with winter tires.

The latest winter tire to come from Bridgestone is the Blizzak WS90. With advanced materials and technologies, the new model directly competes with other premium products, specifically the Michelin X-ice Xi3 and Continental VikingContact 7.

Bridgestone offers the Blizzak WS90 is the most popular tire sizes for small cars, compact hatchback, mid-size sedans, minivans, compact crossovers, and even some large crossovers. Sizes range from 14-inch wheel diameter to 19-inch wheel diameter, which is undoubtedly impressive.

But why would you need the WS90 if you already have all-season tires installed? Well, for starters, all-season tires are only designed for light snow. Deeper snow poses a big issue for all-season tires, and ice is a no-go. A proper set of winter tires, such as this Blizzak, will provide you with much safer handling, better acceleration, and stronger braking.

The best premium winter tires also work on dry and wet surfaces, so I am expecting the Blizzak WS90 to score highly there as well. Ultimately, it would be good if your next winter tire is comfortable – nobody wants a distasteful driving experience.

Fortunately, you landed just at the right place to find out everything there is to know about Bridgestone’s new winter tire. In my detailed Blizzak WS90 review, I’ll talk about how this tire performs in harsh wintry conditions on all surfaces, how comfortable it is, and how long it will last.

Before we do that, though, let’s see what features Bridgestone implemented to make the WS90 stand out from the competition.

According to Bridgestone, the Blizzak WS90 is a tire designed to keep your vehicle in control through the harshest conditions. Moreover, they state than in the company’s in-house testing, the WS90 is a “leader in control on ice.”

To make all of those things happen, Bridgestone utilized its high-tech Multi-Cell compound with bite particles. Thanks to the hydrophilic coating, the compound removes the thin layer of water that develops between the tread and icy surfaces, increasing traction. Meanwhile, the microscopic bite particles help even further.

Bridgestone molded the advanced compound into a symmetric tread design. The pattern features increased block stiffness for more responsive steering and increase tread life. Meanwhile, as part of the EdgePerformance Technology Package, there is a greater contact area and 15% more block edges. This package increases traction on snow and ice.

Besides, thanks to the Silica enhancements, the tire stays soft and pliable, even in freezing winter conditions. That quality helps with traction on snow and ice. Ultimately, the tread pattern is full of small zig-zag sipes, which increase the biting edges even further.

Bridgestone Blizzak WS90 Review

What are the maintenance indicators?

Bridgestone utilized the regular TWI’s (tread wear indicators) on the Blizzak WS90. These are narrow rubber bars that are positioned inside the circumferential grooves of the tire. As the rubber wears down, the rubber bars become more visible.

When the tread depth reaches 5/32-inch, the bars will be completely flush with the surface. At that point, you should replace your winter tires immediately. That’s because they won’t perform up to scratch, especially on snow and ice.

Bridgestone installed another set of indicators, though. These “winter wear bars” show when the MultiCell compound wears down completely, and the WS90 has only the regular winter compound left.

Fortunately, the Blizzak WS90 has an excellent treadlife. According to the manufacturer, it should get an extra winter of use when compared to the Blizzak WS80. Also, owners of these tires seem to be very satisfied with how long they last.

However, Bridgestone doesn’t provide any treadwear warranty on its winter tires. Most manufacturers don’t, but Michelin does. Given the fact that Bridgestone’s and Michelin’s tires are priced similarly, I would’ve liked to see a treadwear warranty on the WS90. Perhaps we’ll need to wait for the next generation.

How does it behave on a dry tarmac?

Steering is very responsive for a winter tire. However, it is also not very linear and doesn’t provide a lot of feedback. Not that most winter tires do that, but I think it’s good to point out.

More importantly, the Blizzak WS90 provides excellent traction and grip on dry surfaces. Sure, your vehicle will have even more grip on all-season or summer tires, but the Bridgestone is outstanding for a winter tire. But amateur drivers will probably never notice the difference.

Also, the Blizzak WS90 doesn’t squirm in the corners as other winter tires do. Meanwhile, it provides the driver with a usable grip for fast cornering and excellent high-speed stability. And, when it comes to braking, the WS90 provides the shortest distances of any winter tire out there.

Overall, an excellent winter tire for dry conditions, if not the best right now.

How is it over wet and slippery roads?

The Blizzak WS90 continues to impress when it starts raining. While some premium winter tires might be neck-and-neck with it in wintry conditions, the Bridgestone clearly wins on wet roads.

In terms of handling, the tire feels very secure. It reacts to the driver’s input very fast, without oversteer or understeer. The hydroplaning resistance is also the best in the category.

What impresses the most, though, is the braking performance, which sets new standards for the category. The stopping distances are over five feet shorter than the next best winter tire, mightily impressive stuff.

Overall, the Blizzak WS90 sets new rainy-weather standards in the category.

With that being said, how is it on snowy roads?

Like the WS80 before it, the Blizzak WS90 is simply an outstanding performer in the winter. There is no weather condition that poses an issue for Bridgestone’s new winter tire – it’s that good.

Let’s first start with snow, because you will meet it frequently in the winter. In terms of acceleration, the Blizzak WS90 posts the best results in the category. In other words, you won’t get stuck in the snow ever again.

Moreover, the Blizzak WS90 provides outstandingly short braking distances. Not class-leading, but still among the best in the category.

In terms of handling, though, you’d be hard-pressed to find a better tire. It responds to the driver’s input very fast, without being overly sensitive. Meanwhile, your vehicle will feel completely surefooted, without any hint of oversteer or understeer. It feels almost like driving on wet pavement, not snow.

But what about ice? Well, again, like most Blizzak tires, the WS90 impresses on the most slippery surface. It accelerates without an issue and provides very short braking distances. It also handles very well, thanks to that grippy compound full of biting edges. The only way to improve ice performance further is to purchase studdable winter tires.

Bridgestone Blizzak WS90 Review

Is it suitable for off-road driving?

The aggressive tread pattern with deep grooves certainly suggests that the Blizzak WS90 will be a good option for off-roading. And, yes, it does provide better traction in mud than a set of all-season or summer tires.

However, the soft and pliable tread compound is also more susceptible to damage. Stones from hardpacked surfaces, such as gravel and dirt, can easily damage the rubber. For that reason, I don’t exactly recommend using the Blizzak WS90 for off-road driving. You can do that in a pinch, but not for prolonged periods.

Is it comfortable and refined?

The ride quality is a bit firm. Not overly stiff like on high-performance tires, but still firmer than on other winter tires. Depending on your car, you might never notice it, or you might be irked by it. I wish it could be more composed over uneven surfaces, but I guess you can’t have everything in a tire.

In terms of noise, though, the Blizzak WS90 fares much better. There is still a noticeable noise on all surfaces, but overall, I was pleased with the performance. Other winter tires are much louder, both when rolling and hitting bumps.

You can see more Bridgestone Blizzak WS90 Review here: Video created by Vincent Mills

Should I buy the Bridgestone Blizzak WS90?

When it comes to snow and ice traction, most premium winter tires perform admirably. However, there is no other tire in this category that combines winter traction with outstanding dry and wet performance. At the moment of writing, the Blizzak WS90 is the most impressive winter tire overall. Apart from the slightly firm ride, it does everything else excellently.

Of course, that means that Bridgestone’s newest studless winter tire is highly recommended for any driver that experiences harsh wintry conditions. It might be expensive for some, but the Blizzak WS90 justifies the price with some outstanding performance. You should absolutely purchase a set for the next winter.

2 thoughts on “Bridgestone Blizzak WS90 Review: Exceptional Winter Tire for Passenger Cars”

    1. Editor

      Dear John,

      Well, they are very closely matched! I’d say they’re equal in most categories, it’s just that the X-Ice Snow comes with a treadwear warranty, and the Blizzak WS90 does not. But both of them are on the top, no doubt about it!

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