: Pirelli Sottozero 240 Winter Tire Review

01-02-10, 02:41 PM
I live on the Maine coast near Portland and have owned and driven more than two dozen vehicles through 45 winters, which average 62 inches of snow each year. I’ve owned 4WD, AWD, FWD and RWD vehicles, including a Chevy Suburban, Corvettes, Honda Accords, Chevy Prizms, Oldsmobile Diesel, Buick Grand Nationals, Subaru Impreza and many Detroit-built RWD sedans.

I purchased the Pirelli 240 Sottozero snow tires in OEM sizes from the Tire Rack and mounted them on the stock polished wheels. I had the dealer remount the wheels in accordance with the “wheel clicking” TSB as a preventative measure.

First, these tires are excellent in cold and dry or cold and wet conditions. They are surprising agile, provide quick steering response and excellent traction with little more road noise than the stock Michelin PS2 tires. The Michelins progressively lose grip under 55 degrees and under 30 degrees the difference between the PS2 and the Sottozero is night and day – grease vs. glue.

Second, in snowy conditions, the Sottozero’s are nominally adequate. They will get you around in a few inches of snow, but not without frequent wheel spin and a somewhat rudderless rear end. Unfortunately, this is the normal situation with RWD vehicles, which in my experience simply do not perform nearly as well as FWD and AWD vehicles in snow. Steeper hills are a challenge and require judicious use of momentum and carefully modulated wheel spin. In snow, the V paradoxically works best in Competition Mode – great for polishing your drifting skills on empty back roads. You’ve gotta love it :-))

When snow is heavy and wet and temperatures are just a couple of degrees below freezing, the V can be a handful. These are difficult conditions for most vehicles, including 4WD, because a thin, wet and icy layer forms under the accumulated snow on the surface of the roadway. I was barely able to move in three inches of snow on a perfectly flat driveway in these conditions. In colder, snowy conditions the CTS-V has fared considerably better.

The Tire Rack makes a persuasive case for smaller and narrower tires for winter applications. In my experience they are quite correct in their recommendation. However, the CTS-V owner’s manual cautions to use only OEM tire sizes and there have been reports of Stabilitrak problems with non-standard sizes. The very wide rear snow tires on the V are a drawback in snow, but a great advantage on bare pavement. For me the advantages outweigh the drawbacks.

On a scale of one to ten points, I would award the CTS-V with Sottozeros a 4 for travel in snow. Good enough to get around in light to moderate snow, but not good enough to risk a drive in a serious snow storm. By way of comparison, the best vehicle I have ever driven in snow was a 1997 Chevy Suburban with 4WD (full locking transmission and limited slip rear diff) and deeply lugged all-season/off road tires -- give that barge a ten in my book. The Subaru Impreza with all-season tires was nearly as good, but the car is too low to plow through two foot drifts and windrows.

Overall I am pleased with the Sottozero 240 winter tires. Yes, they trade-off some traction in snow for superior handling and better grip in cold (wet or dry) conditions. Doubtless a pure ice/snow tire like the Blizzak WS-60, for example, would offer superior traction in snow, but sacrifice handling and grip in cold dry/wet conditions and have a lower speed rating. Such are the compromises with winter tires.

Finally, even if you don’t live in a particularly snowy region, but experience winter temperatures in the thirties and forties and have had some unexpected wheel spin episodes with the stock Michelins, you may want to consider these tires. They are disagreeably expensive, but there are no other options in OEM sizes at this time.

01-02-10, 03:15 PM
Nice write up. I agree whole heartedly.

01-02-10, 05:18 PM
Very well written review. I agree with your impressions, mine are similar.

I actually have been pleased with them to this point. I was out in 3-4 inches of snow and they performed remarkably better than I expected. I drive a 4x4 truck when anything greater is anticipated in the forecast.

01-02-10, 07:32 PM
Second that. Well written.

I would say more than nominal in snowy conditions. Seen way too many cars stuck in non snowplowed parking spaces and streets. No problems here thankfully. We have had 3 good snows so far. Got a shovel and 4-40lb bags of salt sitting in my trunk. Last set I used were Blizzak LM 25's, not on the V.

01-02-10, 07:50 PM
dissappointing to hear they arent as good in the snow as i was hoping. i guess i will find out. better then not driving it at all i guess in the winter :(

01-02-10, 08:54 PM
Great review, I agree in general. I would rate the snow capabilities higher though. I would call my tires a 6 out of 10 in snow rather than the 4 you mentioned. Other than that, you wrote what I think; but am not smart enough to express.

I also think it is worth mentioning that as a daily driver in New Jersey, I have found that the Sottozeros are still necessary in just plain "cold" weather. My Michelins were worthless below 35 degrees. With the Pirellis, I again have a performance car capable of highway entrance ramps and merging acceleration. The Michelins (in the cold only) were like a barking dog with no teeth. With the Sottozeros, the car is able to be enjoyed and driven hard in the winter months too.

01-03-10, 05:37 AM
Great write up , I was also looking at the pirelli's as well but decided to pack in the V for the winter and use the beater car .After reading your review , I'm glad I did and spared myself the expense .

01-03-10, 11:33 AM
I'll have to confess that I was a little grumpy about my slick driveway experience when I awarded a rather stingy four, so I'll happily concede a five and meet you half way! Good winter motoring -- unfortunately there is much more to come :-))

01-03-10, 12:54 PM
I agree with the OP other than with the "4" rating.


I finally took my car out today. It has already snowed about six inches in my neighborhood today and it's still snowing....I took the car out with 3-4 inches on the ground, prior to the snow plows. My neighborhood has some steep hills nearby and I tested out there as well.

The braking power on snow is excellent, better than my previous car with AWD and all-seasons. On one occasion, on a slight downhill, the ABS activated as I came to a stop, but for a short time (maybe a second or two).

In a straight line, and with the tranny in D (e.g. starting in 2nd gear), as long as I didn't mash the accelerator, I did fine and didn't slip.

I had only one big problem. One entrance to my neighborhood requires an ascent off a steep hill. Going up the hill was no problem, but turning into my subdivision, going further uphill, I spun the tires until I let way off the throttle. Again, this is with 3-4 inches on the ground.

If I got 10-12 inches as we occasionally do, I'd have to wait for the snow plows (I'd have had to do that with my last daily driver too) or use the wife's Pilot with its higher ground clearance.

11-22-12, 12:37 PM
First real snow experience here in Calgary on these in the Vagon. So far, I'm impressed. They are a damn sight better than the Michelin Alpins on my 5-series...although the AWD helps the BMW get off the line better, the Pirellis have better stopping power.

They are excellent in the cold dry, as well.

Any traction issues I'm having are generally a result of too much throttle, although the computers take care of you quite well in that regard.

11-22-12, 01:43 PM
Exactly. Thanks for bringing this thread back.

I've got mine on the V sedan now; this will be the fourth season on the current set. The fronts are both shot with shoulder wear and are NOISY now. Not a tire problem, was an alignment issue. Rears I might be able to get another season out of but will likely replace anyway.

I'm about to order a new set of 255s all around to go with the new wagon at arrival. I figure that narrower rear tires and an extra 100 pounds over the rear in the wagon will improve the snow performance. We'll see.

11-22-12, 02:17 PM
that's great news on the wear. I probably have another season or two out of this set (was on the car when I bought it). I think the 255 all around is a good idea. I will consider these or the LM-60 next go around...but I've been more impressed with them in the last couple of days than the OP appears to have been.

11-22-12, 03:53 PM
I'm starting the 3rd winter on my stock size Sottozeros on OEM rims. Like others have posted, I would also rate these tires higher for use in moderate snow (4"-5") than the OP and would concur with most other observations. I actually find it difficult to throw the car into a spin in snow if all the nannies are left on and you keep a light foot on both the brake and throttle. If I find that I've entered a turn or curve too fast the nannies kick in and prevent the car from going sideways My V is a manual and a 2nd gear start will sometimes help - especially on ice. The tires seem to have good bite in the snow. I'll buy them again when these wear out. Still tons of tread left!

Best regards,


11-23-12, 09:37 AM
+1 on the review overall after 3 winters with a V on these tires. Having had the Sottozero 240's on both a sedan and now a wagon, the wagon is noticeably better in the snow. A little more weight on the wheels helps it hook up. Still no snowmobile, but serviceable to the point of being fun.

11-23-12, 11:36 AM
+1 on the review overall after 3 winters with a V on these tires. Having had the Sottozero 240's on both a sedan and now a wagon, the wagon is noticeably better in the snow. A little more weight on the wheels helps it hook up. Still no snowmobile, but serviceable to the point of being fun.

Exactly the feedback I'm looking for since I'm changing out to a wagon. Thanks!