July 17, 2009
Back in the '90s, North American roads saw a real surge in the number of pickup trucks and SUVs as both became primary transportation for many drivers. During that era, body-on-frame trucks and SUVs with solid rear axles and simple front suspensions were the standard design. These utilitarian chassis designs served basic transportation needs well enough, but lacked the sophistication to provide the driver with a rewarding experience. The tire played only a modest role in how these vehicles drove, able to overcome the vehicle's somewhat disconnected feeling only so much.
But times change. Recognizing that these vehicles are often the vehicle of choice for many people, and despite their rugged appearance spend most or all of their time driving on paved roads like the passenger cars they've replaced, today's pickup trucks have been fine-tuned to drive more like large cars than the jouncy counterparts of generations past. SUVs have become more sophisticated, too, with unibody chassis designs that are directly evolved from regular passenger cars. These crossover SUV designs often feature quite sophisticated independent suspension designs that help them drive like their passenger car brethren.
Of course, the link that connects the vehicle and driver to the road is the tire, which has also evolved to keep pace with changes in the vehicles they're fitted to. Today's modern pickup trucks and crossover SUVs provide a much more rewarding driving experience, and in doing so place higher demands on the tires they rely on to connect them to the road.
Just as the vehicles have changed, so, too, has the tire offered by BFGoodrich. The new Long Trail T/A Tour replaces the old Radial Long Trail T/A with a clean-sheet design focusing on connecting the driver to the road with all of the drivability that comes with improvements in truck and SUV designs. Responsive steering, stable handling and all-weather traction are priorities in the new design.
To find out how well the Long Trail T/A Tour fits with today's vehicles, the Tire Rack team conducted a Real World Road Ride and Performance Track Drive. We compared it with two other new tires aimed at Crossovers and SUVs, the Dunlop Signature CS and Kumho Road Venture APT KL51. Our evaluation used 2009 Porsche Cayennes fitted with new, full tread depth 235/65R17 tires mounted on 17x7.5" 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.
The BFGoodrich Long Trail T/A Tour felt well-tuned for our Cayenne test vehicles, delivering good ride quality that softened the jarring bump of the rough sections of our test route. The Dunlop Signature CS also did a good job smoothing the expansion joints and patched sections, allowing just a bit more impact to reach the driver. The Kumho Road Venture APT KL51 rounded out the trio, with a modestly firmer ride quality than the other two.
All three tires produced modest tread noise, particularly on asphalt roads. The Signature CS did the best job masking it, generating a broad white noise that was less apparent than the sound from the other tires. The Long Trail T/A Tour was close behind, producing a slightly higher volume of noise as it rolled over various road surfaces. Our team found the Road Venture APT KL51 to be just a small amount louder than the other two tires.
Our team praised the handling of the Long Trail T/A Tour, thanks to its responsive steering and stable feel when cornering. The Road Venture APT KL51 was close behind with modestly slower steering response than the BFGoodrich tire. The Signature CS felt notably more sluggish than the other two tires, and just didn't have the sure-footed cornering feel of the BFGoodrich and Kumho tires.
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.
Our team found the overall vehicle balance with the Road Venture APT KL51 to be quite good when this tire was pressed hard, showing very mild understeer when it reached the limit. The Long Trail T/A Tour was somewhat more responsive than the Kumho tire, but ended in greater understeer that limited its cornering speed. The Signature CS felt noticeably more sluggish when pressed hard, and didn't have quite as much ultimate grip as the others.
In the wet, the Road Venture APT KL51 was the subjective favorite, thanks to its confident feel and good overall grip, especially under braking. The Long Trail T/A Tour was able to match the pace of the Road Venture APT KL51 thanks to its responsive steering. The Signature CS trailed the others, displaying slower steering response and lower overall traction and braking grip.
BFGoodrich Long Trail T/A Tour (Crossover/SUV Touring All-Season): The Long Trail T/A Tour is BFGoodrich's Highway All-Season light truck tire developed for crossover and sport utility vehicle drivers looking for tires that can provide precision on the road in all seasons without sacrificing comfort and wear life. The Long Trail T/A Tour is designed to deliver mile after mile in dry, wet and wintry conditions, even in light snow. Read more.
Dunlop Signature CS (Crossover/SUV Touring All-Season): The Signature CS is Dunlop's Highway All-Season light truck tire developed for the drivers of crossover and sport utility vehicles looking to combine performance style, touring comfort and all-season traction. It is designed to provide predictable handling, quiet comfort and competent traction on dry and wet roads, as well as in light snow. Read more.
Kumho Road Venture APT KL51 (Highway All-Season): The Road Venture APT KL51 is Kumho's Highway All-Season Tire developed for the light trucks and SUV owners who drive North America's streets and highways. The Road Venture APT KL51 is a multipurpose tire designed to provide a comfortable ride, enhance driving stability and reduce road noise, while providing traction in a variety of weather conditions, including in light snow. Read more.
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