Sun Dec 8, 2019 6:42 AM

Consumer Reports Tested 102 Tires

Nov 12, 2019 1:46 PM

The engineers at Consumer Reports (CR) outdid themselves in the December issue. They tested 102 tires in seven categories, including all-season truck. And six different tire brands topped their respective segments.

Here is an abbreviated look at the tires CR ranked best-of-class, with bonus coverage from me.

1. Performance Winter/Snow. The Vredestein Wintrac Pro finished with 78 points, six ahead of the runner-up Michelin Pilot Alpin PA4. The Wintrac Pro received top marks in three of the nine test categories: hydroplaning resistance, snow traction and ice braking. It received the second highest marks (based on five degrees from better to worst) in dry braking, handling and ride. The Pilot Alpin PA4 was top ranked in hydroplaning resistance and ice braking. Both were the only tires in the category recommended by CR, with the Wintrac Pro priced $10 less than the Alpin PA4.

Bonus coverage. Balancing performance attributes with winter/snow features isn't easy. For example, both the Nexen Winguard Sport 2 (71 points) and Hankook Winter I*cept Evo2 (70 points) also scored the highest in three test categories. The Vredestein and Michelin tires only scored poorly in a category irrelevant to a tire balancing dry and wet traction with winter weather -- rolling resistance.

2. Ultra-High Performance All-Season. The Goodyear Eagle Exhilarate was first with 68 points, followed by the Michelin Pilot Sport A/S 3+, General G-Max AS-05, BFGoodrich g-Force Comp-2 A/S and Vredestein Quatrac Pro, all with 66 points. The Eagle (handling, hydroplaning resistance) and Pilot Sport (dry braking, hydroplaning resistance) were at the top of the scale in two testing categories each. CR recommended the Michelin, General (by far the lowest-priced of the top 13 tires) and Vredestein tires.

Bonus coverage. Of the 21 lines tested in this segment, only one tire received top marks in three categories. The Bridgestone Potenza RE980AS (63 points) received comparatively excellent marks in dry braking, handling and hydroplaning resistance. It was also the highest priced tire of the bunch.

3. Ultra-High Performance Summer. The Michelin Pilot Sport 4s finished with 76 points, two ahead of the Continental ExtremeContact Sport and General G-Max RS. All three were recommended by CR.

Bonus coverage. The best ride of all 23 tires tested in this segment was turned in by the Dunlop Sport Maxx RT2 (71 points). Also, from a value standpoint, the General tire was once again the least expensive by a wide margin.

4. All-Season. The General brand broke through with its T-rated Altimax RT43. It not only scored 70 points to the Michelin Defender T+H's 67, but also didn't have a bad rating in any test category. CR recommended them both.

Bonus coverage. The Michelin Defender and the Continental TrueContact Tour (66 points, tied for third with the Falken Sincera SN201 A/S, T-rated Falken Sincera SN250 A/S, and T-rated Nexen Aria AH7) were hurt by poor ratings in the noise and snow traction categories, respectively. The T-rated Yokohama Avid Ascend had the highest tread-life warranty: 100,000 miles.

5. Performance All-Season. Guess which brand was No. 1? The Michelin CrossClimate+ was first with 75 points, followed by the Continental PureContact LS (71 points) and V-rated General Altimax RT43 (66 points). CR recommended the Michelin and Continental tire lines.

Bonus coverage. The Michelin tire received second-best ratings in all nine testing categories -- arguably the best all-around rating of any tire in any segment -- and was W-rated to boot. The other 10 entrants were all V-rated.

6. Winter/Snow. The 10 tires in this segment were bunched closer than any other, with only seven points separating the first-place tires (Cooper Discoverer True North and Hankook Winter I*cept iZ2, 70 points each) and the last place tire. CR recommended the Cooper, Hankook, Continental WinterContact SI (69 points), Michelin X-Ice XI3 (68 points) and Nokian Hakkapeliitta R3 (68 points).

Bonus coverage. Every tire in this segment had top marks in at least two categories. The Hankook Winter I*cept iZ2 (I'm not typing that out again) were highest in four; so was the Nexen Winguard Ice Plus (66 points). Also, every tire received worst marks in the wet braking category except one: The Falken HS449 Eurowinter (64 points) was ranked average, two rating degrees better than its competitors.

7. All-Season Truck. Tied for first with 74 points each were the Continental CrossContact LX20 EcoPlus and the Michelin Premier LTX. There was a three-way tie for third with 72 points among the Firestone Destination LE2, Pirelli Scorpion Verde All-Season Plus and Michelin Defender LTX M/S. CR recommended all five of these tires.

Bonus coverage. The Continental CrossContact LX20 EcoPlus and Michelin Premier LTX tested about the same in each category, with Continental a little higher in snow traction and Michelin a little higher in ice braking. The T-rated Continental product is backed by a 65,000-mile limited tread wear warranty; the H-rated Michelin tire was supported by a 40,000-mile warranty. CR defined all-season truck tires as "designed to handle the service demands of SUVs and light-duty pickups."

In summary, based on overall ratings and recommendations, Michelin North America Inc. was the big winner (a Michelin tire was recommended by CR in all seven segments -- two of them in the All-Season Truck category!) in CR's December issue, followed closely by Continental Tire the Americas LLC and Apollo Vredestein BV.

Bob Ulrich Editor