Consumer Reports has nearly completed testing all-season tires—a mammoth year-long task to see how family sedan tires measure up. Although the analysis continues, our engineers have seen tires stand out in different rated factor as they continue their number-crunching quest for the best tire. Below, we share highlights and insights from the H-rated tires in the test program.
These tested all-season tires are fine replacements for many older cars, minivans, and light-duty trucks that normally get S- (112 mph) and T- (118 mph) speed-rated tires. And some new cars come with a base tire package in this speed-rating.
If you recently purchased a new car, it will likely have H- (130 mph) or V- (149 mph) speed-rated all-season tires, which we call performance all-season tires. Such tires were once reserved for sports cars, but today they are commonly found on newer cars of all types. While you might wince at the speed capability, the tires typically provide higher levels of cornering grip and more precise handling than lesser tires. (If you're not sure what your car needs, take a look at your vehicle's tire information placard, typically found on the driver's door jamb or consult the owner's manual.)
Our experience shows performance all-season tires fall into one of two camps: Some all-seasons offer good all-weather grip, a comfortable ride, and long tread life, while others tend to compromise winter traction and tread life for dry and wet grip and handling. Based on our testing, we see this trend continuing. Clear examples of the latter include the Sumitomo HTR A/S P01, GT Radial Champiro VP1, and the Yokohama Avid ENVigor.
If you are looking for the best winter traction available, simply buy winter tires. Most performance tires offer some grip to travel through snow and on icy road surfaces, but they are best left to mild to moderate winter conditions. Making my list of models to avoid from this group if you need any sort of winter traction capability are the Sumitomo HTR A/S P01, GT Radial VP1, and Yokohama Avid ENVigor.
We only tested one performance all-season model marketed as a fuel saver—the Bridgestone Ecopia EP422—and it does indeed have low rolling resistance. However, we also found that the Michelin Primacy MXV4 H and Dunlop SP Sport 7000 A/S also have impressively low rolling resistance.
Braking on dry and wet pavement
Most tires stop well on dry pavement. The Falken Ziex ZE-912, Sumitomo HTR A/S P01, and the GT Radial Champiro VP1 get the nod for impressive dry stopping grip. On wet pavement, the Continental PureContact, Michelin Pilot Exalto A/S H, Dunlop SP Sport 7000 A/S, Sumitomo HTR A/S P01, and Yokohama Avid ENvigor are very impressive.
We provide a handling rating based on a weighted average of dry and wet cornering around our skid pad, subjective on-center steering feel, and emergency handling. Surprisingly, of the 20 H-rated models tested, there are no standouts. Most are capable, though we were unimpressed with the aforementioned Bridgestone Ecopia EP422. It just felt slower responding and gave up earlier in our handling tests than other tires.
We are seeing a trend of more performance all-season tires carrying higher tread wear warranties than in years past. We're commonly seeing 60,000 to 70,000 mile warranties, whereas in the past, a 50,000-mile tread wear warranty was considered high. Still, based on our extended mileage vehicle test, there is a wide disparity in tread-life potential. The best bets here are the Michelin Primacy MXV4 H and Continental PureContact.
Top rated tire?
This competitive group of tires promises to provide consumers with a lot of good choices. As we have seen, several tires are standouts in certain areas. Once we complete our testing and number crunching, you will be able use the overall score in our upcoming tire report to select from our recommended choices, or consider the other models based on your priorities.
As always, these test ratings will be added to our comprehensive online tire ratings soon as our work is completed with the large group. The ratings are scheduled for the November issue.