What brands make the best tires?

What brands make the best tires?

Consumer Reports rank the top tire maker

Published: March 13, 2015 03:00 PM
These tires await testing at Consumer Reports' Auto Test Center.

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After carefully reviewing our latest test results and considering performance across the model line, the Consumer Reports tire-testing team has come up with this list of the best tire brands.

Of course, before you buy, check our detailed test findings—we currently offer comprehensive all-weather ratings on over 170 models—to make sure you’re buying the best tire for your needs.

As you'll see below, many well-known brand names offer strong product lines. We're currently testing all-season, performance all-season, and winter tires with many new models from several brands. Will a new brand join the top tier? We look forward to finding out.

Gene Petersen

1. Michelin

Michelin Defender

Across the board, Michelin offers nearly a perfect blend of grip, handling, low rolling resistance for good fuel economy, and long tread life. In many instances, tread wear is class-leading, and Michelin has tread wear warranties on all replacement tires, including winter and summer tires. (Most competitors do not.) However, Michelin tires can be pricey and that holds back a lot of potential buyers. It’s too bad because if you factor in the outstanding tread wear, the Michelins might be a bargain compared to other tires with a lower price.

Top models

All-season: Michelin Defender

Performance all-season: Michelin Primacy MXV4. The Michelin Premier AS is a successor and initial testing suggests a worthy one.

Ultra-high performance: Michelin Pilot Sport A/S 3 (all-season), Michelin Pilot Super Sport (summer)

Winter: Michelin X-ice Xi3, Michelin Pilot Alpin PA4 (performance), Michelin Latitude X-Ice Xi2 (truck)

Truck: Michelin Latitude Tour (all-season), Michelin LTX M/S2 (all-season), Michelin LTX A/T 2 (all-terrain)

For more information, check our tire buying guide and Ratings.

2. Continental

Continental ExtremeWinterContact

Nipping at the heels, if not looking back at Michelin at times, Continental consistently offers high-scoring tires. Handling and impressive stopping grip on dry and wet roads are typical of this brand. As a bonus, they are attractively priced.

Top models

All-season: Continental ProContact EcoPlus (discontinued model in limited supply). The new TrueContact is being tested right now.

Performance all-season: Continental PureContact

Ultra-high performance: Continental ExtremeContact DW (summer)

Winter: Continental ExtremeWinterContact (truck). Currently being tested, the new WinterContact SI has outstanding snow traction.

Truck: Continental CrossContact LX20 EcoPlus (all-season)

3. Goodyear

Goodyear Eagle F1 Asymmetric

Not every model is a hit, but in the last two years Goodyear has come on strong with some recommended truck and ultra-high performance tires. All-season car tires are a bit long in the tooth; still the Goodyear Assurance TripleTread All-Season car tire is impressive. If you need an all-season tire with great snow traction, the Goodyear Assurance ComfortTred Touring is it.

Top models

All-season: Goodyear Assurance TripleTread All-Season

Ultra-high performance: Goodyear Eagle F1 Asymmetric All Season, Eagle F1 Asymmetric 2 (summer)

Truck: Goodyear Assurance CS TripleTred All-Season, Goodyear Wrangler All-Terrain Adventure (all-terrain)

4. Pirelli

Pirelli Scorpian Verde

Known for ultra-high performance tires, Pirelli supplies original equipment rubber for many prestigious sports cars. Pirelli also offers some solid models for less exotic vehicles, too. Tread life is not always a strong point, but in recent years there have been updates with a “Plus” added to existing models, some of which we are testing now.          

Top models

All-season: Pirelli P4 Four Seasons. We are testing Pirelli P4 Seasons Plus.

Performance all-season: Pirelli P7 Cinturato A/S is big on dry and wet grip, and handling, though tread life and stopping on ice are just fair. We are anxious to see how the new P7 Cinturato A/S Plus performs in our tests.

Ultra-high performance: Pirelli P Zero Nero All Season, Pirelli P Zero (summer)

Winter: Pirelli Winter 210 Sottozero Serie II

Truck: Pirelli Scorpion Verde All Season Plus

5. Hankook, Cooper, Nokian, Yokohama

Hankook Ventus V12 evo2

This final ranking is a tough spot to call, as there are many fine brands vying for the title. Rather than make a single selection, we consider this a four-way tie. Here's the rundown: 

Hankook has the top-rated Dynapro AT-M in the all-terrain category, and it has a couple impressive ultra-high performance tires: the Hankook Ventus S1 noble 2 (all-season) and Ventus V12 evo2 (summer). The Winter I*cept evo has been around for a number of years and still impresses with its well-balanced grip on cleared and snow-covered roads. Absent are all-season tire models that the company is now updating.

Cooper is strong in truck tires. The Discoverer A/TW is an all-terrain tire with winter tire-like grip, and the Discoverer SRX is a very good four-season tire. The Cooper Discoverer A/T3, once a top-rated all-terrain tire, is a favorite around our neck of the woods and gets high marks in user reviews at ConsumerReports.org. Cooper makes some great car tires with the Zeon RS3-A (all-season) ultra-high performance tire being a recommended model. We are testing a few new all-season Cooper car tires currently.

Nokian expertise is targeted to winter tires, including the Hakkapeliitta R2 and the Hakkapeliitta R2 SUV. The best-kept secret, though, might be the WR G3 and WR G3 SUV—winter tires that you can keep on your car or truck all year long. Nokian can make sporty tires, too; the zLine is an outstanding summer ultra-high performance tire. The downside is Nokian tires are not cheap.

Yokohama tires have characteristically impressed us with their sporty flair in three-season weather. The Advan Sport V105 offers excellent dry and wet grip, responsive handling, and good tread life for a summer tire. For family cars, the Avid Ascend all-season tire offers very good dry and wet grip and impressive tread life.

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