Although not every pickup truck is used for plowing, many truck owners are familiar with winter’s dangers. For them, snow and ice don’t mean work stops—they just mean wearing more layers and driving more carefully. Snow tires (or ‘winter tires’) help with the last part. Even with all-wheel or four-wheel drive, snow tires are a good investment. But not all snow tires are equally good at all things winter-related. Luckily, Consumer Reports has rated which are the best and worst truck snow tires.
Consumer Reports Testing Procedure
CR subjected numerous snow tires to several tests. Braking performance, wet and dry, was evaluated by 60-0 mph stopping distance. Handling was measured by swerving between marked lanes as well as on the CR wet handling circuit.
To rate snow traction, CR measured the distance the test car needed to accelerate from 5-20 mph on packed snow. Ice braking was measured on a skating rink, going from 10-0 mph. Rolling resistance, which impacts fuel economy, was measured on a dynamometer—the lower the result, the more fuel-efficient. Finally, the CR team rated each tire for on-road ride comfort and noise levels.
The Best Truck Snow Tires
Michelin Latitude X-Ice XI 2
At $181 per tire, these Michelin snow tires are the most expensive here. However, they also top Consumer Reports’ scoring. And safety isn’t something that we recommend you skimp on.
CR rates the Michelin Latitude X-Ice XI 2 as “Excellent” (their highest rating) in several categories. This tire is quiet, has excellent traction on snow and ice, and has low rolling resistance. The X-Ice XI 2 was also noted for good handling, although CR notes several other tires offer a more comfortable ride.
Nokian Hakkapeliitta R2 SUV
Based in Finland, Nokian isn’t a particularly well-known brand in the US. However, as Car and Driver reports, the company has a significant claim to fame: inventing the winter/snow tire. As the Hakkapeliitta R2 SUV’s second-place Consumer Reports rating shows, Nokian continues to excel when the weather turns cold.
CR notes the Hakkapeliitta R2 SUV tires for excellent snow traction. Car and Driver put the tire’s passenger car version in first place in one winter tire test for that reason. The Nokian tires also out-performed the Michelins in CR’s dry braking and hydroplaning tests. The Finnish tires are also more comfortable than the X-Ice XI 2’s, although rolling resistance is slightly worse. But, at $166, the Nokian Hakkapeliitta R2 SUV tires are more affordable.
Bridgestone Blizzak DM-V2
Tying with the Nokian tires in Consumer Reports’ testing were the Bridgestone Blizzak DM-V2 tires. Blizzak tires are often the go-tire winter tire for many car and truck enthusiasts, and CR’s rating affirms the choice. And, at $141 per tire, they’re also cheaper than either the Hakkapeliitta R2s or the X-Ice XI 2s.
As both CR and Car and Driver note, the Blizzaks are excellent at gripping snow and ice. The Bridgestone tires actually out-braked the Nokians in CR’s testing. The Blizzak DM-V2s were better at dealing with hydroplaning than the Michelins, something truck owners should consider if they regularly deal with snowmelt. The Blizzaks were also more comfortable than the X-Ice tires. However, handling was only mid-pack, and the Bridgestones were also noisier and had a higher rolling resistance.
The Worst Truck Snow Tires
Hankook I*Pike RW11
Although the Hankook I*Pike RW11 tires are rated low on Consumer Reports’ list, they did shine in several tests.
The Hankook tires were rated “Excellent” for resisting hydroplaning, and “Very Good” for snow traction and ice braking. In addition, the RW11 tires actually out-performed the Michelins in the dry braking test. However, CR dinged the I*Pike tires in ride comfort and noise, citing both as “lagging the average.” And although the RW11s out-handled the Blizzaks, the Hankooks ultimately only rated average in that test. And at $132 per tire, the Hankook I*Pike RW11s also aren’t significantly cheaper compared to the higher-rated Bridgestones.
Firestone Winterforce UV
The Firestone Winterforce UV may tie with the Hankooks for second-worst-rated snow tire in CR testing, but the tire has its plus points. Not least of which is the price. At $110 per tire, the Winterforce is the cheapest truck snow tire tested by CR. Gear Patrol also named it the Best Budget Winter Truck Tire.
And as a tire intended for snow, the Firestone Winterforce UV does deliver. CR rated both snow traction and hydroplaning resistance as “Excellent”. The tire also merited a “Good” dry braking rating. That being said, CR states the Winterforce UV is really only “okay” as a winter/snow tire. The Firestone tire had very poor handling, and only average performance in ice braking, rolling resistance, as well as noise and ride comfort. CR recommends this as a tire best suited for areas that see limited snow-fall and little-to-no ice.
Cooper Discoverer M+S
The Cooper Discoverer M+S has the dubious honor of having Consumer Reports’ worst rating for truck snow tires. Still, the Cooper tire offers some benefits.
CR rated the Discoverer M+S highly for its snow traction and hydroplaning resistance. The tire also handled better than the Firestone Winterforce, although not by much. The Discoverer’s rolling resistance and dry braking were worse than the Firestone. The Cooper tire also tied with the Winterforce in ice braking and on-road noise and ride comfort. At $117 per tire, the Cooper Discoverer M+S is relatively cheap, but the Firestone is both cheaper and rated higher.
Additional Important Snow Tire Info
Even the worst-rated snow tire is better than an all-season tire when the temperature drops. Tire manufacturers make snow/winter tires with different rubber ‘recipes’ that keep the tires soft and grippy in the cold. Truck snow tires also feature deeper grooves and sidewalls to better drain snow and melted ice and keep grip high.
However, as with off-road truck tires, these grooves also mean less rubber comes in contact with the road. This means, as we and Consumer Reports have noted, snow tires’ dry braking performance overall is worse than all-season tires. So, if your area doesn’t see much snow or ice during the winter, a tire that’s lower-ranked but offers better dry braking and handling may be the better choice.