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Testing Crossover/SUV Touring All-Season Tires: Can Some of the Newest Help Yours Drive More Like a Car?



August 2, 2013

Tires tested:

Bridgestone Dueler H/P Sport AS (Crossover/SUV Touring All-Season 255/55R18 109V)
  • What We Liked: Precise handling and very good traction, especially in the wet
  • What We'd Improve: A small improvement in ride comfort
  • Conclusion: A great choice for anyone wanting their Crossover/SUV to handle like a sports car in dry and wet conditions

Continental CrossContact LX Sport (Crossover/SUV Touring All-Season 255/55R18 N0 109V)

  • What We Liked: A great blend of road manners and handling
  • What We'd Improve: A modest increase in wet traction
  • Conclusion: A well-balanced tire that is a great fit for sporty crossovers and SUVs

Pirelli Scorpion Verde All Season (Crossover/SUV Touring All-Season 255/55R18 109V)

  • What We Liked: Great road manners
  • What We'd Improve: A major increase in wet traction
  • Conclusion: A nice driving tire for drivers who don't emphasize wet traction

Vehicles used:

2012 Porsche Cayenne V6

Today's crossovers and SUVs continue to evolve further and further away from the original concept of simply combining the utility of a light truck with the enclosed, cargo carrying convenience of a hatchback. In order to meet the desires of American drivers, many vehicle manufacturers have prioritized on-road sportiness versus all-around utility. To keep pace with this evolution, there are a number of Crossover/SUV Touring All-Season tires tuned to blend handling capability, ride quality and year-round traction for these popular vehicles.

Bridgestone has recently added a number of replacement sizes to the Dueler H/P Sport AS tire line, also used as Original Equipment on several popular crossovers. In keeping with the evolving objectives for the category, this tire strives to perform in all seasons by enhancing the driving experience with great handling on dry and wet roads while delivering a quiet and comfortable ride.

To see how well it hits the mark we conducted a Real World Road Ride and Performance Track drive, comparing it with two other tires in the Crossover/SUV Touring All-Season category. The first is the Pirelli Scorpion Verde All Season, which has done well in past testing and is highly rated in our consumer survey results. For a point of reference we also drove on the Continental CrossContact LX Sport, one of several tires in the size that has earned Porsche's N-Spec Original Equipment designation for the Cayenne. It is also available in a number of non-O.E. sizes targeted at the replacement market. Our evaluation used 2012 Porsche Cayenne V6s fitted with new, full tread depth 255/55R18 tires mounted on 18x8.0 wheels. Our road and track drive will be followed up with ice and snow testing in the coming months to evaluate how they perform in winter weather.

What We Learned on the Road

Our 4.1-mile loop of expressway, state highway and county roads provides a great variety of road conditions that include city and highway speeds, smooth and coarse concrete, as well as new and patched asphalt. This route allows our team to experience noise comfort, ride quality and everyday handling, just as you would during your drive to school or work.

Top honors for overall ride quality went to the Continental CrossContact LX Sport, which felt very supple as it enveloped small- and medium-sized impacts, and remained well controlled when it encountered bigger road irregularities. The Pirelli Scorpion Verde All Season was also very good in its own right, absorbing impacts with minimal kickback into the vehicle. Rounding out the group was the Bridgestone Dueler H/P Sport AS, which let somewhat more of the road's texture and imperfections to make their way to the driver, but was by no means harsh or jarring.

The overall noise level of the Cross Contact LX Sport was also the best of the group, as this tire produced minimal tread noise and relatively low levels of boom from impacts. The Scorpion Verde All Season and Dueler H/P Sport AS were close behind, generating only slightly more overall noise from their treads as they rolled and when hitting patched potholes, etc.

Among the group, the Dueler H/P Sport AS had the best overall handling with direct steering response and a reassuring and connected feel in the steering wheel as the vehicle moved in direct proportion to driver inputs. The Scorpion Verde All Season also handled well with predictable steering response. Not too far behind was the CrossContact LX Sport, which also responded well to driver inputs, but without the urgency of the Dueler H/P Sport AS or Scorpion Verde All Season tires.

What We Learned on the Test Track

Our 1/3-mile per lap test track course includes 90-degree street corners, a five-cone slalom and simulated expressway ramps. Run in both dry and wet conditions, the test track allows our team to experience the traction, responsiveness, handling and drivability normally only encountered during abrupt emergency avoidance maneuvers or competition events.

Porsche on the dry track

On the track in dry conditions the Bridgestone Dueler H/P Sport AS brought its quick steering response found on the road, and also felt the most predictable and stable during the abrupt maneuvers of our course. The Continental CrossContact LX Sport wasn't quite as responsive, but used its high overall traction level to remain sure-footed when asked to drive at the limit. The Pirelli Scorpion Verde All Season followed closely behind the other two, feeling stable and relatively easy to control.

In wet conditions the rank order was the same, but the differences between the tires was more apparent. The Dueler H/P Sport AS again led the group by a noticeable margin, displaying its characteristic direct steering response and very good overall traction. The CrossContact LX Sport followed with reasonable grip and predictable handling. Trailing by a wide margin was the Scorpion Verde All Season, which felt very slippery. Compared with the Bridgestone and Continental tires the Scorpion Verde All Season struggled to accelerate, brake and corner without sliding, making it rather unpredictable and challenging to control at the limit.

Porsche on the wet track

The Scorpion Verde All Season's weak performance in the wet comes as somewhat of a surprise, as this tire led wet traction results the last time we tested it. It also came as a surprise to Pirelli, who is investigating what may have caused the loss of wet traction. We noted a change in the plant where these tires were produced versus the ones we tested a year ago and wonder what influence this change may have brought to the equation. We'll update our report with any findings.

Driving in Winter Conditions

We will conduct subjective and objective tests in the snow and on the ice in the coming winter season. Stay tuned for the results once testing has been completed.

Fuel Consumption Results

Our Real World Road Ride features a relatively flat 4.1-mile loop of 65 mph expressway, 55 mph state highway and 40 mph county roads along with two stop signs and one traffic light every lap. Our team drove each tire approximately 400 miles over the course of several days. Since we wanted to compare fuel consumption results that typical drivers would experience, our drivers were instructed to maintain the flow of traffic by running at the posted speed limits and sustain the vehicle's speed using cruise control whenever possible. They did not use hypermiling techniques to influence vehicle fuel economy.

Tire Line Test
MPG*
Gallons/Year
@ 15,000 Miles
% vs. Most Efficient
Bridgestone Dueler H/P Sport AS 22.9 655.0 -3.1%
Continental CrossContact LX Sport 23.6 635.6 --
Pirelli Scorpion Verde All Season 22.5 666.7 -4.9%
* Our evaluation used Linear Logic ScanGauge II automotive computers to record fuel consumption and Race Technology DL1 data loggers to record true distance travelled.

While none of the tires in this test were designed with low rolling resistance as a high priority, we did find a difference in observed vehicle fuel economy across the group. Based on our results, the 1.1 mile per gallon difference between our lowest and highest observed fuel economy would result in an annual difference of just over 31 gallons of premium gasoline. At the current cost of $4.00/gallon, it would amount to an annual difference of just over $124 for drivers driving 15,000 miles per year.

It's important to note our test's fuel consumption measurements follow consistent procedures designed to minimize variables that could influence the results, however they do not represent an exhaustive long-range fuel consumption study. While our procedures require the test vehicles in each convoy to run under the same prevailing conditions, the week-to-week differences in ambient temperatures, barometric pressures and wind speeds that we experience over a season of testing can influence vehicle fuel consumption and prevent the absolute mpg values of this test from being compared directly against those of others.

Larger differences in consumption between tires may indicate a difference that might be experienced on the road, while smaller differences should be considered equivalent. As they say, your mileage may vary.

Summary

SUVs and crossovers need the right tires to help them live up to the expectations of drivers who want their vehicle to drive more like a car than a light truck (pickup). The Bridgestone Dueler H/P Sport AS delivers sporty handling along with very good dry and wet traction. The Continental CrossContact LX Sport also fits the bill, with a great blend of road manners and good handling. It's no wonder Porsche chose this tire as one of the Original Equipment fitments on the Cayenne. The Pirelli Scorpion Verde All Season rides and drives well out on the road, but in this test didn't come close to providing the wet traction of the other two tires in our test.

Product Details

Bridgestone Dueler H/P Sport AS (Crossover/SUV Touring All-Season): The Dueler H/P Sport AS is one of Bridgestone's Crossover/SUV Touring All-Season tires developed for the drivers of luxury and performance crossovers, sport utility vehicles and light-duty pickup trucks looking for all-season capability, even in light snow. Designed to provide performance that is in tune with today's popular light-duty light trucks, the Dueler H/P Sport AS blends traction, handling and braking with ride comfort and wear. Read more.

Continental CrossContact LX Sport (Crossover/SUV Touring All-Season): The CrossContact LX Sport is Continental's Crossover/SUV Touring All-Season tire developed to help crossover utility vehicles perform on the highway. The CrossContact LX Sport was designed to combine ride and noise comfort with year-round traction, even in light snow. Read more.

Pirelli Scorpion Verde All Season (Crossover/SUV Touring All-Season): The Scorpion Verde (Italian for green) All Season is Pirelli's eco-friendly Crossover/SUV Touring All-Season tire developed for the drivers of crossovers, sport utility vehicles and prestigious pickups. The Ecoimpact icons on the sidewall of the Scorpion Verde All Season highlight its environmental compatibility where it reduces rolling resistance and tire weight, compared to Pirelli's previous CUV/SUV tire lines, to increase fuel economy and lower the vehicle's CO2 emissions. The Scorpion Verde All Season is designed to combine dry and wet road handling, comfort and year-round capabilities, including all-season traction in light snow. Read more.




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