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Michelin dominates our latest winter tire ratings

Goodyear, Nokian, and Pirelli also have traction in our new ultra-high-performance, all-season, and performance winter tire tests

Published: August 19, 2013 10:30 AM

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UHP all-season tire
Michelin Pilot Sport A/S 3

Consumer Reports has just published the latest results of 49 tested models of ultra-high-performance (UHP) summer and all-season tires, and performance winter tires. The big winner? Michelin. But Goodyear, Nokian, Pirelli, and others have traction, too.

As summer winds down, it’s time for our annual new tire ratings, revealing the industry’s best performers. These new ratings replace the previous results on ConsumerReports.org, reflecting most current models you can buy today. (See our complete tire ratings in nine categories.)

All tires were put through our standard regiment of tests, including braking and handling on dry and wet pavement, resistance to hydroplaning, and grip on snow and icy surfaces (for all-season and winter tires). We also measure rolling resistance—a factor in fuel economy. Finally, we do our own vehicle tread life (for summer and all-season models) evaluations since tread wear warranties are rare among UHP tires, and Uniform Quality Treadwear Grades are difficult to compare across brands.

UHP tires come in a ZR-speed rating, suitable for speeds beyond 149 mph. But more relevant to consumers is the higher levels of grip and handling precision that come with these high-speed tires, making them a perfect match for sports cars and sporty sedans. By definition, summer tires provide the ultimate dry and wet grip. All-season tires make some concessions for at least some moderate traction on snow and ice. Summer tires don’t work well in cold weather and have dreadfully poor snow traction. If you need to drive in winter weather, then consider an all-season model— you won’t sacrifice much performance on dry and wet roads, and they can at least get through a mild snow storm. For more severe weather, consider performance winter tires.

Here’s a brief summary of test findings.

UHP summer tires: The Pirelli P Zero and Michelin Pilot Super Sport are tops among 21 tires in the summer category. The P Zero has excellent ratings for dry and wet braking and handling. Top-rated in our last test cycle, the Pilot Super Sport continues to impress with its precise handling on dry and wet surfaces. It offers the best tread life of any summer tire we tested.

UHP all-season tires: The Michelin Pilot Sport A/S 3 stands out among the 21 models of all-season tires for its excellent dry braking and handling—even better than many hard-core summer tires. Some other all-season tires have longer tread life, but the Michelin still achieves a very good rating here. The Goodyear Eagle F1 Asymmetric All Season comes in second with slightly lower dry braking and handling, but it still offers impressive all around grip, commendable handling and long tread life.

Performance winter tires: Looking for reliable winter traction while maintaining reasonably good grip and handling on cleared roads? Check out the Nokian WR G3 and the Michelin Pilot Alpin PA4. If you drive routinely in snow, then the Nokian Hakkapeliitta R2 offers outstanding winter grip, though at the expense of handling and grip on cleared roads.

Read our complete tire buying guide, and see all the tire ratings for these categories, and many more.  

Gene Petersen 

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