The Blizzak winter tire shows no discernable weaknesses.
The Bridgestone Blizzak remains one of the best all-around winter tires money can buy.
Winter hit much of Eastern North America with trauma0inducing blunt force recently. Snow fell non-stop for a full day and more, and temperatures dropped with equal fervor. Shod with a new set of Bridgestone Blizzak WS90 winter tires, our daily plans were not interrupted.
In fact, more than 35cm (14 inches) of snow covered the ground while ambient temperatures dropped to below a teeth-chattering -30 °C (-22 °F). Even so, life must go on. The kids were taken to daycare and school, groceries were bought, and we had to get to work. Road conditions varied, in the same 15-minute period, from deep snow to ultra-slick hard-packed frozen snow, but our Golf wagon barely slowed. Actually, those driving on lesser winter tires were responsible for any delays.
Truly, the Blizzak WS90 is one of the two best winter tires we’ve ever reviewed, the other being the Nokian Hakkapeliitta R3. The WS90 excels in all winter road conditions and without a doubt, our favorite aspect is how responsive the tire is to steering inputs. Within reason and the laws of physics, the Blizzak’s multi-cell technology improves lateral grip. The key is the stiffer tread blocks which magically provide plenty of flexibility to stick to ice and improve handling.
There was a time when Blizzak tires were great on snow and ice, but the compromise was sloppy handling. On wet or dry surfaces, I recall having the impression that the blocks were flexing and rolling under lateral forces – truly an unpleasant feeling. The new WS90 is as stable as could be.
Another upside to the Bridgestone Blizzak WS90’s extra block stiffness is that they will last longer. Older generations of the Blizzak also suffered from rapid wear as a consequence of the softer tread compound. Although I won’t be able to confirm this detail, Bridgestone stipulates that the WS90 should deliver an extra season of wear.
The WS90 sports a symmetric tread pattern that features a larger contact area than the WS80 it replaces. This plays heavily in favour of better on-ice handling which, we can attest, is impressive. Once more within reason, braking performance is reassuring. When snow is plowed, a thin highly polished layer always remains on the frozen ground. This surface becomes slicker every time a car or truck drives over it, making as slippery as ice. Here too, the WS90 demonstrates an incredible ability to limit slippage.
In the past, a good winter also meant a noisy winter tire. As far as the new Blizzak WS90 is concerned, it turns out to be fairly quiet. The inevitable spraying of snow and water into the wheel wells drowns out the nearly inaudible hum from the tires against the road. Even on dry and cold surfaces, they remain pleasantly discreet.
The tested P205/50R17 Blizzak WS90 winter tires, a comparatively common size, retail for about $180 per tire. A more commonplace P215/55R17 sized tire is priced in the vicinity of $165 per tire. In the latter size, depending on where you shop for new tires, the Blizzak WS90 is priced slightly above average.
What is certain is that the Bridgestone Blizzak WS90 is an above-average winter tire. As fitted on the stock 17-inch wheels from my 2018 Volkswagen Sportwagen 4MOTION, I welcome more snow, more periods of thaw, and the next 14 weeks of winter. It is just another season after all.