Despite the advancements in all-season and all-weather tread compounds in the last decade, winter tires are still the kings for driving on snow and ice. And it’s not even close – even the cheapest winter tire will perform better than a premium all-season tire in harsh wintry conditions.
The WS90 is Bridgestone’s latest winter tire from the coveted Blizzak family, which has always been at the forefront of innovation and almost always beat its competitors in comparative tests. The latest model succeeds the WS80, which was already a very capable winter tire and among the best in the business.
However, Bridgestone didn’t want to rest on its laurels and employed several new hi-tech features, aiming to create the safest tire on snow and ice-covered roads. So, did it succeed? Read on to find out in our in-detail Bridgestone Blizzak WS90 review, where we’ll cover snow and ice traction, but also dry, wet, and slush traction, and comfort. Let’s dig in!
- What are the Specifications and Maintenance Indicators?
- Features and Performance of the Bridgestone Blizzak WS90
- Comfort and Noise
- Final Words
- List of the Bridgestone Tire Reviews
What are the Specifications and Maintenance Indicators?
The Bridgestone Blizzak WS90 is a studless winter tire designed for extreme conditions, like deep snow, ice, and slush. It comes in many sizes, ranging from 15-inch to 19-inch wheel diameter. Hence, it covers a large portion of the cars on road today, including compact vehicles, mid-size sedans, premium sedans, coupes, minivans, and crossovers.
The tire employs the industry-standard tread wear indicators (TWIs) to help the owner monitor the tread depth. These are small rubber bars that sit recessed into the tire’s circumferential grooves, which become more visible as the tread wears down.
When the tread depth reaches 6/32-inch, the TWIs will be completely flush with the top of the tread. At that point, you should immediately purchase new winter tires, since the traction levels will be too low for driving on snow and ice. Besides, it’s not legal to drive with lower tread depth in some places.
Bridgestone worked on improving the treadlife of the Blizzak WS90 compared to the WS80, but we still don’t have enough data for a conclusion. The Japanese brand doesn’t offer any treadwear warranty, which is not uncommon for a winter tire, but its closest competitor, Michelin, does that.
Features and Performance of the Bridgestone Blizzak WS90
The Blizzak WS90 is among the most advanced winter tires on the market, with a hi-tech rubber compound and a carefully-designed tread pattern. Bridgestone’s aim with incorporating these technologies was to create the best possible winter tire, but did it succeed? To answer that question, I’ll through each feature and then tell you experiences from real-world tests to see how they work.
1. Handling and Steering Feel
We usually don’t include the “handling and steering feel” category in our winter tire tests, since it’s not very important for a winter tire. Still, the Blizzak WS90 surprised me very positively and hence I included it here.
That’s because Bridgestone incorporated a directional tread pattern with increased block stiffness, which helps improve the steering response and linearity.
Overall, this is one of the best winter tires when it comes to handling. Behind the steering wheel, the tire feels reasonably quick to respond, better than almost every competitor. More importantly, though, the steering is linear and doesn’t surprise the driver in any way. The tire also has a very good on-center feel.
As a result, the driving experience is more satisfying than with most other winter tires, although certainly not on the level of a performance summer or all-season tire.
2. Dry Grip and Traction
Winter tires usually sacrifice dry traction and grip for snow and ice traction. Fortunately, that’s not the case with the Blizzak WS90. Thanks to the advanced silica-enhanced tread compound and the greater contact area when compared to the WS80, the tire performs exceptionally well on dry roads.
For starters, the acceleration traction is better than almost any other winter tire I’ve tested. Hence, you will experience less tire squeal when you hit the gas when compared to other winter tires. Furthermore, the braking distances are the shortest in the category and overall impressive for a winter tire. And if that wasn’t enough, the Blizzak WS90 also handles well in the corners.
All of these things are very important, although many customers only ask about winter ad ice traction when purchasing winter tires. Namely, winter tires spend most of the time on dry roads. Sure, they also spend a lot of the time on wet, slushy, and snowy surfaces, but dry still takes the highest percentage. Hence, WS90’s dry pavement results are even more impressive.
3. Wet Grip and Traction
Bridgestone went to great lengths to improve the wet grip and traction compared to the WS80. Notably, it employed full-depth grooves and sipes and also interlocking sipes, both part of the EdgePerformance Technology Package. Besides, the WS90 has 15% more block edges, helping to further improve traction on wet surfaces.
The result, just like in the dry handling, is impressive. The Blizzak WS90 is a very capable tire in the wet, with outstanding hydroplaning resistance, even when it pours rain. You really need to be going extremely fast to lose traction in puddles of water, meaning you’ll be completely safe from a sudden loss of traction.
But it gets even better. The tire is also capable of providing excellent acceleration traction on wet roads and among the shortest braking distances in the category. Wet handling is another strong point of the tire. It has a very good grip in the corners, but it also feels natural and safely understeers at the limit.
Overall, the Blizzak WS90 might just be the best winter tire for driving on wet roads, but also for slush since the same points apply there. The question of the day, though, is how does it perform on snow and icy surfaces? Read on to find out!
4. Snow and Ice Traction
When it comes to snow and ice performance, Bridgestone brought the big guns in the Blizzak WS90. Namely, the WS90 features the Multi-Cell tread compound, which is by far the most advanced of any winter tire. It packs small bite particles that remove the thin layer of water between the ice and the tread, dramatically improving traction.
The result is quite impressive. The WS90 is an outstandingly capable tire on ice, braking and accelerating like it’s nothing. In that regard, it’s better than any other studless winter tire on the market, and it’s not even close. It also steers well and keeps your vehicle surefooted, of course, if you drive carefully. We are still talking about ice here. Now, obviously, a studded winter tire will do even better on ice, but that’s not a fair comparison anyway.
The Blizzak WS90 continues to impress on snow. The longitudinal traction is among the best in the studless winter tire category, meaning acceleration is effortless, and the stopping distances are very short. The tire also handles very well on snow-covered roads, feeling sure-footed and safe.
Overall, I must say that Bridgestone again designed the safest snow and ice tire. With a set of Blizzak WS90’s on your vehicle, you’ll have the best blend of acceleration, braking, and cornering on snowy and icy roads.
5. Can You Use it in Warmer Environments?
The Blizzak WS90 is perhaps the best winter tire on dry surfaces, but it still suffers at higher temperatures. The rubber compound becomes too soft when the temperature goes high, making it less responsive and grippy.
Moreover, there will be excessive tire wear when the temperature goes over 59°F (15°C), meaning you’ll need to replace the tire earlier. Hence, I recommend using this tire only during the winter, and then replace it with an all-season or a summer tire.
Comfort and Noise
The Bridgestone Blizzak WS90 seems like a very well-accomplished tire with almost no disadvantages. Well, that is until we start talking about comfort. The Blizzak WS90 is not bad in that regard, but it’s nowhere near close the class-leading tires.
For starters, there is noticeable tread growl, especially on rough patches. The noise is accompanied by excessive vibration coming from the surface, making the ride a bit unsettled. What’s interesting, though, is that the tire performs quite well when you hit a larger pothole.
Overall, the Blizzak WS90 is far from the quietest and smoothest winter tires out there. However, it’s not bad to the point of being undrivable – you can still live with it perfectly.
You can see more Bridgestone Blizzak WS90 review here: Video created by Vincent Mills
If you don’t mind a slightly noisier and busier ride, the Blizzak WS90 is by far the most accomplished winter tire on the market. The tire is outstanding on snow and ice, especially when it comes to braking, but it’s also among the best winter tires on dry, wet, and slush surfaces. After reading our Bridgestone Blizzak WS90 review, you should definitely take a closer look at it when purchasing a new set of winter tires.