June 9, 2012
What's in a name? Mr. Shakespeare would say it doesn't really matter. But most marketing execs will tell you that a product's name can make or break even the best invention. New tire designs are often marketed with this same strategy, where the product's name is intended to convey something about its attributes. And with names like Ascend, Assurance or Defender, many of today's newest Passenger and Standard Touring All-Season tires have been given strong names in hopes of striking a chord with consumers.
All that marketing strategy may sound good in theory, but how do these tires drive out in the real world? To find out, the Tire Rack team conducted a Real World Road Ride and Performance Track Drive on a group of four Passenger and Touring All-Season tires with strong product names - the Continental ProContact with EcoPlus Technology, Goodyear Assurance TripleTred All-Season, Michelin Defender and Yokohama AVID Ascend. Our evaluation used 2012 BMW F30 328i sedans fitted with new, full tread depth 215/60R16 tires mounted on 16x7.5" 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.
Out on the road all four tires delivered good overall ride comfort. On our test cars the Michelin Defender held a small advantage over the Continental ProContact with EcoPlus Technology. Both tires felt taut and controlled without any undue harshness. The Yokohama AVID Ascend and Goodyear Assurance TripleTred All-Season also rode well, but displayed a little more jounce and jiggle immediately after larger impacts.
The Defender did the best job minimizing tread pattern growl and impact noise. The ProContact with EcoPlus Technology also did a good job at limiting both, with only a small amount of tread noise. The AVID Ascend was right behind with minimal tread pattern sound and only a modest amount of ping or ringing sound when encountering sharp impacts. The Assurance TripleTred All-Season rounded out the group with a moderate amount of tread pattern growl. We anticipate this tire's aggressive tread pattern will pay dividends when we conduct winter weather testing in the coming months.
The Defender also felt very responsive, with a reassuring and direct feel in the steering wheel. Our team also liked the crisp initial steering response of the Assurance TripleTred All-Season. The AVID Ascend and ProContact with EcoPlus Technology followed with smooth steering response and predictable handling.
Our 1/3-mile per lap test track course includes 90-degree street corners, a 5-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.
During the abrupt maneuvers on our track in dry conditions the Michelin Defender and Goodyear Assurance TripleTred All-Season both displayed quick, crisp steering response. The Defender felt a little more nimble while the Assurance TripleTred All-Season showed it has a fair amount of ultimate grip. The Continental ProContact with EcoPlus Technology was just a little slower to respond to driver inputs, but always felt composed and reassuring. Close behind was the Yokohama AVID Ascend with just a little less overall responsiveness and traction than the others.
Things were more clearly separated in wet conditions, where the ProContact with EcoPlus Technology's combination of composed handling and good overall traction helped it lap our course in the shortest time. The small overall traction advantage but slightly less precise handling of the Assurance TripleTred All-Season put it very close behind the ProContact with EcoPlus Technology. Somewhat back from these two was the Defender, which felt a little slippery when it reached its traction limit. Trailing the others by a fair margin was the AVID Ascend, which struggled to find traction.
Due to a technical issue we are not able to publish fuel consumption results for this test.
Winter weather is often unpredictable, and road conditions can change so fast that it's hard to know what waits for you around the next corner. For consistency, our snow testing is done at a dedicated winter test facility in Northern Sweden, and ice testing is done at a local hockey rink to simulate the glare ice often found at intersections and in other high traffic areas. We measure each tire's ability to accelerate and brake in both conditions, as well as gather subjective ratings of how each tire feels from the driver's seat while driving through several inches of groomed snow on a handling course.
Snow Handling Subjective Impressions: As we've found in previous tests the snow traction and handling control of the Continental ProContact with EcoPlus Technology is very good and noticeably better than the other three tires in the group. The Yokohama AVID Ascend leads the other three with good overall snow traction, followed closely by the Michelin Defender and then the Goodyear Assurance TripleTred All-Season.
Continental ProContact with EcoPlus Technology (Standard Touring All-Season): The ProContact with EcoPlus Technology is Continental's Standard Touring All-Season tire developed for coupes, sedans, minivans and crossover vehicles. It is designed to enhance driving pleasure, save fuel and maintain wet braking grip while providing long wear and all-season traction, even in light snow. Read more.
Goodyear Assurance TripleTred All-Season (Passenger All-Season): The Assurance TripleTred All-Season is Goodyear's premium Passenger All-Season tire developed for the drivers of coupes, sedans and minivans looking for confident, all-season traction. It is designed with three unique tread zones to provide year-round drivability and all-season traction, even in light snow. Read more.
Michelin Defender (Standard Touring All-Season): The Michelin Defender Standard Touring All-Season tire has arrived to serve the drivers of family cars, minivans and small crossover vehicles looking for tires that will provide a confident driving experience that helps protect those they care about most. In addition to enhancing vehicle fuel economy by meeting Michelin Green-X low rolling resistance objectives, Defender tires are designed to deliver extra long wear, comfortable driving characteristics and all-season traction in dry, wet and wintry conditions, even in light snow. Read more.
Yokohama AVID Ascend (Standard Touring All-Season): The AVID Ascend featuring T-speed rated sizes is Yokohama's first mass-produced Standard Touring All-Season tire line in the United States using Yokohama's Orange Oil technology and branded with their BluEarth eco-friendly identification. Developed for the drivers of coupes, sedans, minivans and crossover vehicles, the AVID Ascend is designed to blend long treadwear, low rolling resistance and all-season traction, even in light snow. Read more.
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