Published October 08, 2013
| Consumer Reports
While leaves are falling in many parts of the country, snow has already buried portions of the Midwest, reminding that now is the time to be researching and buying winter tires. History shows if you wait until winter hits, it may be too late to find the right tires.
Whether prepping for a winter storm like Atlas, or milder weather, having a good-performing winter tire can make all the difference when temperatures drop. For a quick recommendation, consider our recently tested Nokian WR G3. This tire shined in our tests with its very good snow traction and braking on ice. It distanced itself from most other winter tire models for its well rounded grip on dry and wet roads and secure handling. We also tested the WR G3 on our extended 12,000-mile vehicle tread life test where it achieved a very good rating compared to ultra-high-performance all-season tires. This performance also confirmed its very respectable 55,000-mile tread wear warranty. (See our complete winter tire and performance winter tire ratings.)
Taken a step further, the versatile WR G3 would have even achieved a respectable mid-pack overall score among UHP all-season models. Not a bad compromise for any tire…and even more eyebrow-raising considering that it’s a winter tire. (In a concession for cold-weather grip, winter tires traditionally last fewer miles than all-season tires.)
Available in 14-19 inch sizes in H- and V-speed ratings, the WR G3 is a good choice for many cars for year-round use. Consider it as well as a performance winter tire for sporty cars that normally take UHP summer and all-season tires—especially in areas where snowy roads get cleared quickly.
Keep in mind that winter tires are generally pricey, but they are well worth the piece of mind for the foul-weather traction they provide. The downside is they typically don’t stop on dry and wet roads or handle as well as conventional tires. Plus, they tend to wear quickly. Add the fuss of removing them and storing them for the next winter season, plus the expense of having two set of tires and maybe duplicate wheels, and an annual tire swap routine becomes a real hassle. It is no wonder that most consumers gravitate to all-season tires that are a jack-of-all-trades but master of none. (Read our tire buying guide.)
In Europe there are no all-season tires. Consumers use summer and winter tires, but Nokian crafted the all-weather tire segment some years ago with the WR line. Winter tires carry the mountain and snowflake symbol and should deliver relatively good performance in severe winter driving. Also expect them to have the dry and wet grip and tread life of an all-season tire on cleared roads. In fact, Nokian also lists the government’s uniform tire quality grades (UTQG aka Traction/Temperature/Treadwear) ratings for its third-generation model, the WR G3. These ratings are not required on traditional winter tires. It is worth noting that the A/A/500 ratings on the size we tested are comparable to performance all-season tires models.
This Nokian is a winter tire that can be used year-round, but the best bet remains to purchase the right tire for your needs—including seasonal changes.
Check out our latest tire ratings and buying advice.
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