Review: General Altimax Arctic

There are two main categories of tire review, in my opinion. The first type is one where the reviewer has actually driven on the tire in question and can review it directly. Obviously this is the best way to review a tire, however in the fast-paced world of tires, it's not always possible to drive everything out there just when you need to. The second type of review is one derived from research and listening to other people's opinions about the tire. I feel pretty strongly about always disclosing when my reviews, such as this one, are based solely on research rather than direct experience, not to mention our ethics rules require such disclosure.

General has never quite been a huge household name in tires, except if you ask winter tire geeks like me. On the other hand, General does have a long reputation for making decent, inexpensive tires that do the job they need to do without bells and whistles. The Altimax Arctic is one of the best examples of this, which is the reason it appears on my list of “Top 10 Snow Tires for 2013.”

Altimax is a Standard Touring Winter tire that can be purchased unstudded or with optional studs installed. It's actually one of the last winter tires in the world that is available either way, as most tiremakers have gone to separate designs for studded and unstudded tires. As I said, it's not fancy, but it is a workhorse.



Multi-Angle Sipe System: The sipes on the Altimax are set at various angles on different tread blocks to increase lateral grip.

Center Stability Rib: The central tread block on the Altimax is stiffer than the rest of the tread to increase reactiveness and cornering stability.

Reactive Contour Technology: The tread surface on the Altimax conforms to road contours to keep as flat a footprint as possible in all conditions.

Dual Tread Compound: The Altimax compound is a mix of natural rubber and “silica-enhanced” rubber, allowing the compound to stay flexible in the cold weather.



In keeping with the General philosophy, the Altimax is usually seen by experts and users as good but not great. However, if a good tire at a great price is just what you need, the Altimax is an excellent choice. Customers tend to enjoy the decent snow and ice traction, while knocking dry road handling and a certain tendency to hydroplane in the wet. On the other hand, perhaps a quarter of user reviews find them useless and absolutely hate them.

“Being from Minnesota, I'm constantly driving in terrible conditions. For the last three seasons I've used these tires and I will NEVER go another season without them.”

“Good snow tire. Dry pavement handling is ok but definitely not sporty.”

“I don't think I'd buy them again, I don't like to drive my car anymore since I installed those tires.”

“Great on icy roads. However, I didn`t like the way they performed when taking off from a stop or a light when there was snow on the roads; they seemed to have a tough time getting traction.”

“Good for the price, but I think traction in snow is inferior to the tires I previously had on this same car... So no, I'm not extremely impressed with these Altimax tires, but they are WAY better than the mythical "all season radials" I foolishly drove through so many winters on in the past.”

The Bottom Line:


Many snow tire geeks turn up their noses at the General Altimax's aggressively mediocre performance, but that's ok, as these tires are not made for snow tire geeks – they're made for regular people who need to get through light snow and plowed roads without busting a wallet. When it comes to doing that job, they're workhorses.

General's Altimax Arctic is available studded or unstudded in 59 sizes from 175/70 R13 to 235/45 R17