Studdable winter tires aren’t as frequent as they were in the past, simply because the regular winter tires have become so good on snow and ice. Nevertheless, there is still a market for them, especially in places with extremely harsh wintry conditions. Studs still provide better traction on snow, and that won’t change soon.
But do you need a studdable winter tire? We tested one of the most affordable studdable tires on the market, the Sumitomo Ice Edge, to answer that question. Down below, you’ll learn everything there is to know about this affordable Japanese product, especially how it performs in harsh wintry conditions. So, without further ado, let’s dig in.
- What are the features of the Sumitomo Ice Edge?
- What are the maintenance indicators?
- How does it behave on a dry tarmac?
- How is it over wet and slippery roads?
- With that being said, how is it on snowy roads?
- Is it suitable for off-road driving?
- Is it comfortable and refined?
- Should I buy the Sumitomo Ice Edge?
What are the features of the Sumitomo Ice Edge?
According to Sumitomo, the Ice Edge is a studdable tire for passenger cars and SUVs, designed to give you “the edge on snow, ice, and slush-covered roads.”
To achieve that, Sumitomo used its most advanced winter tread compound, delivering an “outstanding combination of cold-weather grip and superior stability, handling performance, and smooth ride comfort.”
Furthermore, the tire features Sumitomo’s 3D sipe technology, which gives the needed biting edges for driving on snow, slush, and ice. Of course, you can always add studs to increase traction even more.
What are the maintenance indicators?
The Sumitomo Ice Edge features the industry-standard tread wear indicators (TWIs), which help you monitor the tread depth of the tires. These are narrow rubber bars sitting into the grooves of the tire, protruding 5/32 inches from the bottom.
As your tires wear down, the TWIs become more visible. On winter tires, the minimum tread depth is 5/32 inch, at which point you’ll need to replace the tires or risk severely limited winter traction. Suitably, the TWIs will be completely flush with the surface to show you when the tread reaches that point.
When it comes to treadlife, the Ice Edge can’t compete with the class best. Expect around 20,000-miles or about two winters. Anything more than that and the tires will lose the snow traction.
How does it behave on a dry tarmac?
The Sumitomo Ice Edge certainly won’t impress you with the way it drives on dry roads. Truth be told, most winter tires don’t impress on dry roads. That’s because the soft rubber bends significantly and can’t keep reliable grip and traction. It’s physics.
Nonetheless, even with those things in mind, the Ice Edge can’t compete with the class best. Not even close. That’s especially true if you compare it to non-studdable tires, which provide an overall much better driving experience.
So, where does the Sumitomo Ice Edge falter? For starters, it’s far from the most responsive tire. You need to get used to how this tire drivers, no question about it. But even then, you won’t get the best possible grip. Longitudinal traction is good, but cornering grip leaves a lot to be desired. Furthermore, the braking distances are a tad longer than we’d want. Not bad or unsafe, sure, but long-ish.
Now, you have to keep in mind that the Sumitomo Ice Edge is a budget tire. Therefore, you can’t expect it to perform excellently everywhere – those things are reserved for premium brands. And, it’s not like you won’t be safe – we’re always splitting hairs on our website, meaning the differences aren’t that big.
How is it over wet and slippery roads?
Thanks to the deep grooves and many sipes across the tread blocks, the Sumitomo Ice Edge has no problem channeling out water. As a result, the hydroplaning resistance is excellent, meaning your vehicle will not lose control when you enter big puddles of water at higher speeds. This also helps on slush-covered roads.
However, there is more to wet traction than just hydroplaning resistance. The quality of the rubber plays a big role as well, specifically how it sticks on the road. See, even when the tire channels all water, there is still a damp surface beneath it. A tire with higher-quality tread rubber will then stick better. That’s especially true on damp surfaces.
So, how does the Sumitomo Ice Edge handle those conditions? It’s good. Not exceptional like some premium tires, but still very good. Considering the price, I’d say it’s among the best in its price range. Braking is good, there is enough grip in the corners, and longitudinal traction is admirable.
With that being said, how is it on snowy roads?
Well, it’s a winter tire, so you should at least expect it to offer safe and reliable traction. And, indeed, it does, especially when compared to all-season tires. There is really no doubt there – if you want to replace your all-season tires during the winter and save cash, the Sumitomo Ice Edge is an excellent choice.
Does that mean it can compare to premium winter tires? Of course not. Compare it to something like the Bridgestone Blizzak WS90 and Michelin X-Ice Snow, and there will be a difference. Fortunately, though, the difference won’t be very large.
More importantly, for regular driving, you probably won’t notice the discrepancy anyway. Few feet longer stopping distances, a tad more nervous handling, and slightly less longitudinal traction – that’s it. So, yes, the Sumitomo Ice Edge will serve you well throughout the winter – no question about it, just not as good as premium tires. At that price, though, you shouldn’t expect it to.
But let’s start with how the tire really handles. On packed and unpacked snow, you will feel completely in control. The Sumitomo Ice Edge quickly accelerates forward without slipping much. It also stops reasonably well, giving you much more confidence in the snow. In terms of handling, it performs safely and without any surprises to the driver. Again, you will be able to control your vehicle without any issue.
That said, every parameter can be greatly improved by installing studs on the Sumitomo Ice Edge. With those, the snow traction, handling, and braking improve dramatically. The only issue is that some states won’t allow you to use them, although most areas with harsh wintry conditions do. Just be sure that you remove them as soon as the snow melts – you shouldn’t use them on the pavement.
But what about ice? Well, that’s where things become interesting. See, without the studs attached, the Sumitomo Ice Edge is only an average ice tire, especially when you compare it to competitors from Bridgestone, Michelin, and Continental. However, with the studs attached, it performs outstandingly well. Thanks to the bite the studs provide, you’ll be able to accelerate, steer, and stop without an issue.
Is it suitable for off-road driving?
The more aggressive tread compound with multiple sipes might suggest that the Sumitomo Ice Edge offers good off-road traction. And, while it might, we won’t recommend you do that. Winter tires are made from softer and more pliable rubber, which can be damaged much more easily. Any sharp stone your winter tires encounter will take a toll on the tread rubber, which significantly shortens the treadlife. If you want to keep your Sumitomo Ice Edge’s in good shape, avoid going off-road, except if it’s snow, of course.
Is it comfortable and refined?
Thanks to the soft rubber on the Sumitomo Ice Edge, the ride quality is actually very comfortable. Sure, there will be a thump here and there, but generally, you won’t have any issues with it. The tire is comfortable both on smooth and broken surfaces – there is really nothing else to report here.
However, things change when we talk about noise. The aggressive tread pattern with openings for studs produces significant tread noise, even at lower speeds. Now, sure, most winter tires are noisy, but the Ice Edge is more so. You will especially feel this on the highway, where the tread noise becomes overly intrusive.
You can see more Sumitomo Ice Edge review here: Videos created by Scott Levin
Should I buy the Sumitomo Ice Edge?
It depends on what you want and need. The Sumitomo Ice Edge is not the best winter tire out there, nor the best studdable tire. It simply falters in too many performance categories to compete with the premium competition.
But should you care about that? I reckon not. If you’re prepared to sacrifice some things, the Sumitomo Ice Edge will serve you quite well in the winter. Besides, it’s much cheaper than the “perfect” premium competitors, so at least you get a discount for the sacrifices you make.
Crucially, the Sumitomo Ice Edge is an excellent tire for the conditions it is designed to be. It performs excellently on snow, packed or unpacked. With the studs attached, it becomes even better, and it also champions ice-covered surfaces. For that price, I can’t think of a better tire for harsh wintry conditions, which is high praise indeed.