With snow a rare sight in southern New England this year, Consumer Reports relied on the good folks at Jay Peak Ski Resort in Vermont (way up near the Canadian border) to provide the frosty conditions necessary to test 71 tire models. Plus, we still need to purchase six additional models, enabling us to evaluate 77 models this year. The tire types being evaluated include regular all-season (S- and T-speed rated) tires, performance all-seasons in H- and V-speed ratings, and winter tires.
No surprising trends have emerged thus far, but there have been some revelations at the model level.
As the graph below shows, winter tires are your best bet for getting through snow. All-season tires, specifically the S- and T-speed rated models, provide a compromise, trading off some snow traction for all-weather grip. H- and V-speed rated tires as a whole offer less snow traction than either all-season or winter tires. Keep in mind that these are general trends; there were noticeable differences between models in each of the tire categories.
For instance, we observed one H- and V-speed rated all-season tire model that excelled in our test, rivaling the snow traction performance of many winter tires. In contrast, there were some models that should be avoided if you drive in wintry conditions.
The real takeaway has been reaffirming the importance of consulting our tire ratings before making a purchase to ensure you get the right tire for you driving needs.
But, we cannot make concrete recommendations yet, as testing continues. Next up: Ice braking.
Stay tuned for more insights from our ongoing tire test program.
We test for snow traction by accelerating from 5 to 20 mph on our moderately packed snow course. We then measure the distance required to get to 20 mph; the shorter the distance, the better the grip.