Two things. One is that all winter/snow/whatever you want to call them tires are optimized for a given set of conditions. All are better than all season tires in snow, but some behave better than others when there is not snow cover. So the Hankook IPikes I have come to like are considered to be less skiddy than some other snow tires when the pavement is bare. This is a useful trait in a climate with treated roads and winter temperatures that often resolve at or just above freezing. For people who are climbing thru snow cover all the time like a couple of hours north of here, like dirt roads, they may sacrifice some security on bare road to get tires that can be better at getting them up the snow covered country driveway from hell.
The Blizzaks (also Nokiasn) tend to be tires to which people who have to do snow a lot of the time can be extraordinarily loyal. I just found a comparison of Hankook IPikes versus the Blizzaks from someone who tried them side by side - the conclusion was that they are both fine tires that use different technologies to achieve the same purpose.
The second is that winter tires are like the others - there are crap tires, middle of the road tires and really expensive ones. Overall they perform better as the price tag goes up.
Both of these tires, and everything else in the winter group, is not going to last as long if you drive it in summer temperatures. Some argue that none of these tires are as good as three season tires in rain. I stay out of that one because I swap out the tires anyway. The one kind of tire that I have won’t use again, because they have such poor grip on a wet road, is studded tires. I had a skid one spring with them that would not have happened with a regular tire. It it is horribly icy I just don’t drive.
Personally, I have gotten up and down driveways from hell in a variety of cars and tires. Including a number of cars that most people would have said were no-gos even with good snow tires on them. In the end it is still the driver having a sense of how to work with the snow. You won’t win if you set up a battle to overcome it - the white stuff will take the prize every time. But you can have a pretty sane conversation if you have good tires on the car.
Closed out and caught up to your post. I would agree with the magazine. The tires on the newe Rav4 I just got are Bridgestone true all-weather tires, one of the newer breed. And as above, they are doing noticeably better than the three season jobs. I have had them in enough winter to be able to tell. They are also an unusually dense weave, maybe this is common for these tires…
But if I were still in the position I was in a few winters ago, where the car’s ability to manage snow could make a crucial difference in getting someone to a local hospital, even in this relatively urban area I would probably have gotten a set of Hankook iPikes by now. There is just something about that soft grippy feeling…