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Best New 4-Season Tires For For Winter - Read Before You Buy

A new generation of tires means that you don’t have to swap to winter rubber anymore. Here is why these tires are game changers for those who live in snowy areas.

As winter approaches, many vehicle owners will be considering upgrading their all-season, a.k.a. “Three-season” tires to winter snow-rated tires. This is a time-consuming endeavor, and it means owning two sets of tires for one car. The great news is that this is no longer necessary for most drivers who want a high level of winter capability.

Multiple brands such as Michelin, Falken, Goodyear and others now offer tires that achieve a high level of winter performance but that do not come with the downsides of winter tires, such as added noise, sloppy handling, and lowered fuel economy.

Chart of winter tire performance

One measure of winter performance is the three-peak mountain snowflake (3PMS) stamp shown on the side of a tire. This is an industry-standard for snow-related acceleration. Traditionally, all-season tires did not earn this stamp. Today’s 4-season tires do earn it.

Image of three peak mountain snowflake symbol on Falken Wildpeak A/T Trail tire by John Goreham

Another measure is simply driver reviews. Owners of vehicles with winter tires report their experiences with the tires on multiple platforms, such as online tire retailer websites. 4-season tires have proven to many owners that they offer the level of snow performance needed by nearly all vehicle owners, but don't come with the traditional compromises of a dedicated winter tire.

Finally, online retailers like Tire Rack test tires using scientific measurements on closed courses. Experienced tire testers also offer subjective feedback, and the retailers report their conclusions in chart form so that different tire models can be cross-shopped. In testing, 4-season tires often earn winter driving performance scores well above all-season tires, and are nearly on par with dedicated winter tire models.

For drivers who will be commuting in snow, or simply want the safety and security of a tire with great winter performance, these new 4-season tire models are a great choice. No longer is it necessary to manage and swap two sets of rubber. In our own experience doing tire testing, we have found that swapping tires twice per year is hard on the tire beads of the tires and limits their life. There are only so many swaps possible. Also, we have experienced frozen lug nuts on all of our tire-testing vehicles, making swapping even more difficult for those with two sets of rims.

The new 4-season models don’t come in just one flavor but many. 4-season touring tires cater to those who primarily want touring tires for on-road highway and secondary street usage. There are also models that offer trail capability and off-pavement capability as well. This range of 4-season choices allows crossover owners to choose the tire that suits their particular needs best.

Our chart above shows the results of Tire Rack’s testing. As you can see, all three tires earn a winter score in the “Excellent” range. You can read our own real-world test conclusions of the Falken Wildpeak A/T Trail and Michelin CrossClimate2 tires at these links:
Michelin CrossClimate2
Falken Wildpeak A/T Trail

Image of CrossClimate2 tire courtesy of Michelin. Image of three peak mountain snowflake symbol on Falken Wildpeak A/T Trail tire by John Goreham.

John Goreham is a long-time New England Motor Press Association member and recovering engineer. John's interest in EVs goes back to 1990 when he designed the thermal control system for an EV battery as part of an academic team. After earning his mechanical engineering degree, John completed a marketing program at Northeastern University and worked with automotive component manufacturers, in the semiconductor industry, and in biotech. In addition to Torque News, John's work has appeared in print in dozens of American news outlets and he provides reviews to many vehicle shopping sites. You can follow John on TikTok @ToknCars, on Twitter, and view his credentials at Linkedin

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jg (not verified)    October 13, 2022 - 12:13PM

I wouldn't call them "new", but I put Goodyear Assurance WeatherReady's on my 2018 Outback 3.6 right off the showroom floor (for frequent mountain trips) and couldn't be happier. Great traction in sun, heavy rain, and snow without the noise of many previous high-traction tires I've had on various vehicles. I will just never buy anything from a Goodyear Service Center ever again. Always used Discount Tire until these particular tires because of a special deal, but Goodyear at least cut a $600 corporate check to reimburse me for all the repairs needed for my wheels after they mounted the new tires.