Winter Tire Shootout: Which Tire Is Best On America’s Steepest County Road

We take on a steep, icy 18 percent grade

When the snow falls and ice ensnares the roads, you need grip.

In areas with harsh temperatures, deep snow and thick ice, winter tires are essential. While all-season tires provide decent year-round use, the tougher tread and unique siping found in more purposeful winter tires can mean the difference between safely traversing the icy landscape, or finding yourself in a ditch. To that end, we’ve gathered a set of winter tires to test on what’s said to be the steepest county road in America. We head to Lickskillet Road, just outside Boulder, Colorado, to see which winter tire is best.

TFLcar winter tire shootout

In attempting to stage this comparison, we contacted no less than ten tire companies, and asked them to submit their best winter tires. In the end, only three responded, so this tire test is a three-way shootout. Unfortunately, we could not feature Bridgestone Blizzaks, one of the most popular winter tires, as Bridgestone did not respond to our requests. Of course, other winter tires outside our comparison may also be a good choice for your car. This, however, is strictly a comparison between these three tires: Continental WinterContact SIs, Dunlop WinterMaxx SJ8s and Cooper Discoverer True Norths.

Each tire’s claim to fame

Each tire brings their own intended purpose and technology to the table. Continental, for instance, has Silane technology, a compound added to the tires to help them adhere on snow and ice. Cooper claims their winter tire is ideal for commuting, with exceptional wet traction and superior grip on ice and snow. Dunlop (owned by Goodyear) says their tread pattern helps improve grip on snowy surfaces.

For this test, we have two identical Subaru Outbacks, in that they’re both from the same generation and have nearly the same weight, as well as the same powertrain. We’re also using the all-season Bridgestone Duelers on our long-term Outback as a control. We conduct acceleration and braking tests on Lickskillet Road — with a whopping 18 percent grade — to see which performs the best. Find out how our tests go in the video above! Come back to for more news, views and real-world, steep county road tire reviews.

Huge thanks to Continental TireCooper Tire and Goodyear (Dunlop) Tire for taking part in this winter tire shootout!