August 15, 2008
If you ask people about General tires, many will remember the decades-old ad slogan "sooner or later you'll own Generals" and think of a full-size American sedan cruising around on non-descript whitewall tires. These days, General Tire is working hard to change this perception and give drivers new reasons to own Generals by developing modern tires that match today's wide variety of vehicle and driver needs - from low-profile high performance summer tires to aggressive all-terrain tires for off-road use and everything in between.
General recently introduced the Grabber HTS as the newest member of the Grabber family of SUV and pick-up/light truck tires, focusing on all-season traction and ride quality for drivers who never need to venture off paved roads and highways. To gain a better understanding of how well the new General Grabber HTS fits with today's modern SUVs, the Tire Rack team conducted a Real World Road Ride and Performance Track Drive using our 2006 Porsche Cayenne V6 SUVs, comparing the Grabber HTS with the Bridgestone Dueler H/L Alenza and Pirelli Scorpion STR. Our evaluation used new, full tread depth 255/55R18 tires mounted on 18x8.0 wheels.
Our 6.6-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.
Since these products and the vehicles they are intended for usually travel only on paved roads for everyday driving duties, ride quality is often an important parameter for most drivers. The Grabber HTS led the group in this area, doing a good job minimizing the annoying rhythmic impact of expansion joints and smaller ripples in the road surface. Larger impacts delivered a more noticeable jounce to the driver but at a level comparable to the other tires in the test. The Pirelli Scorpion STR and Bridgestone Dueler H/L Alenza were found to be very similar in ride quality, just behind the Grabber HTS, with a slight advantage to the Pirelli.
The Grabber HTS and Pirelli Scorpion STR did a good job minimizing tread noise, while the Dueler H/L Alenza produced slightly more tread noise at lower speeds. The Dueler H/L Alenza and Grabber HTS did a good job at muffling impact noise while the Scorpion STR produced a subtle but noticeable boom when encountering medium- and large-sized bumps.
Our team found the General Grabber HTS offered the best road handling and driving feel of the group with excellent on-center feel when travelling straight at highway speeds combined with responsive steering when cornering. The Bridgestone Dueler H/L Alenza was also well-liked by our team, displaying a somewhat heavier feel in the steering wheel that felt solid and as if the tire was connected to the road. Close behind was the Pirelli Scorpion STR with handling characteristics that are appropriate for the category but lacking a bit of the precision and stability of the other two tires in the test.
Our 1/3-mile per lap test track course includes 90-degree street corners, lane changes 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.
By the lap times alone, it's virtually impossible to find a difference in dry tire performance among this group, but from behind the wheel our team was able to feel noticeable subjective differences. The General Grabber HTS felt nimble and responsive and was easy to negotiate our course at maximum speed. The Pirelli Scorpion STR displayed responsive steering and excellent front and rear balance that minimized understeer but felt as if it needed more overall traction. The steering response of the Bridgestone Dueler H/L Alenza felt sluggish in comparison to the Grabber HTS and exhibited some gentle understeer when cornering hard.
In wet conditions the differences were more apparent, both from behind the wheel and when comparing overall lap times. Again the Grabber HTS led the pack with excellent overall wet traction, responsive steering and sure-footed braking. While the Scorpion STR displayed noticeably more understeer and engaged ABS much more easily under hard braking than the other two tires, it provided enough overall wet performance to post the 2nd fastest overall average lap times despite being more difficult to drive at the limit. The Dueler H/L Alenza was found to have good subjective cornering traction with gentle understeer when reaching the limit but was not able to match the pace or overall traction level of the other tires.
Bridgestone Dueler H/L Alenza (Crossover/SUV Touring All-Season): The Dueler H/L Alenza with UNI-T and UNI-T AQII is Bridgestone's light truck and SUV Highway All-Season tire that was developed for the drivers of premium, luxury sport utility vehicles. The Dueler H/L Alenza is designed to provide elegance with an edge, as well as year-round traction, even in light snow. Read more.
General Grabber HTS (Highway All-Season): The Grabber HTS is General Tire's Highway All-Season light truck tire developed for the drivers of crossover and sport utility vehicles, as well as pickup trucks and full-size vans. The Grabber HTS was designed to combine style, comfort, durability and performance in a tire that offers pleasant road manners and a long life, as well as year-round traction, including in light snow. Read more.
Pirelli Scorpion STR (Highway All-Season): The Scorpion STR A and Scorpion STR tires are Pirelli's premium Highway All-Season tires that were designed to deliver the Stability, Traction and Ratings (STR) appropriate for today's light trucks by adapting their performance to the needs of crossover vehicles, sport utility vehicles and light duty pickup trucks. The Scorpion STR tires are designed to combine a quiet and comfortable ride along with ease of handling and year-round traction, even in light snow. Read more.
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