When Pete came by to visit in September, we had a discussion about tires and he recommended I get some winter tires for my XJ since it's my winter DD. I have always been skeptical of the claims on what winter tires could do but I took his advice and I am very glad I did!
I got a set of Firestone Winterforce 2 UV tires in 225/75R15 for $83/each shipped to my door from Amazon. These are the cheapest name brand winter tire I could find and have been on the XJ since mid October. With shop cost I am in this right around $400 total.
This past week we have had a few snow storms come through so I finally got a chance to try them out and these tires have been phenomenal! I've driven these on ice, through a blizzard, and on the typical packed down snow on city streets. The ice was still slick but easier to stop on, on packed snow they just grip and go. I have been driving them pretty hard on the packed snow to get a feel for what they can do.
In 2wd they have slid in the rear only when I gave it a lot of throttle but are still very easy to control when sliding. With normal winter driving they didn't slide at all. I feel much more in control when drifting corners and such now as they just seem to go the way you point the nose of the Jeep as long as you stay on the throttle and steering still works while sliding because the front tires have good grip. In 4wd, I mash the pedal and they just grip and take off like it's dry pavement. Even around corners i haven't gotten any understeer while actually trying to get it to slide. Taking corners way too fast it just turns uneventfully. Straight line acceleration is normal and doesn't feel like it slips at all with the pedal to the floor. This was all done on the typical snow packed roads with random spots of ice you find on winter roads in small towns and cities.
I AM IN NO WAY saying to go drive like this, this was me just testing out the tires capabilities. It's still very important to drive carefully in winter, but with these tires, you are so much more in control and so much safer on the road. I truly believe now that any winter tire will greatly outperform an all-season. I've never had so much control over a vehicle on slick roads, I kind of felt like I was driving a rally when doing the testing, it was quite fun.
I wanted to say thank you to Pete for the recommendation, I will probably always have a set of winter tires going forward and I would recommend everybody look into getting a set if you live in a climate that gets snow. You will not regret it.