August 17, 2012
Which tire matches how, what and where you drive?
Your car came from the factory with Grand Touring All-Season tires. You want to maintain their blend of a smooth and quiet ride along with good handling and traction. You may have been satisfied with the way they worked on your car, but wonder if there is something else that is a better match to how, what and where you drive.
Most Original Equipment tires are designed around a set of parameters outlined by the vehicle engineers who designed the car and specify all of the components that go into it. They have their own priority list for rolling efficiency, ride, handling, braking, and a host of other characteristics that end up shaping how the tire feels from behind the steering wheel. These days, nearly every Original Equipment tire is highly tuned to meet the vehicle engineer's requirements, and usually no two are the same. One thing nearly all Original Equipment tires share, however, is a blend of characteristics that are best aimed at what the car company thinks is the "average" owner of the vehicle, but often don't match up to the specific wants of any one individual driver.
Non-Original Equipment replacement tire designs, on the other hand, don't have to live with the parameters established by the vehicle engineer. The tire companies are free to tune the tire as they see fit, in an effort to better align with the characteristics drivers are asking for. Several new, non-Original Equipment Grand Touring All-Season tires have recently debuted, providing alternatives to simply choosing more Original Equipment tires. The Bridgestone Turanza Serenity Plus is tuned to deliver longer treadwear, enhanced snow traction and improved fuel economy than its predecessor. Continental's new PureContact with EcoPlus Technology is designed to provide a balance of luxury and performance with a blend of long treadwear, a smooth and comfortable ride and excellent wet braking. The Yokohama AVID Ascend is the first touring tire to use an orange oil-infused tread compound for extended treadlife, all-season traction and superb fuel efficiency.
To find out how these three new tires drive, the Tire Rack team conducted a Real World Road Ride and Performance Track Drive comparing them to the Michelin Primacy MXV4. This tire has performed well in our past testing and is a top-ranked Grand Touring All-Season tire in our online consumer survey ratings. 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.
One of the major priorities for Grand Touring All-Season tires is ride quality, and this group as a whole delivers on the promise. The Michelin Primacy MXV4 displayed a small advantage over most surfaces, gliding over the smaller ripples and bumps and softening even the largest hits from the worst pavement. Very close behind was the Bridgestone Turanza Plus, which also delivered a refined and smooth ride, feeling only a little more firm than the Michelin when driving over really rough pavement. The Continental PureContact with EcoPlus Technology also felt quite comfortable when driving over small to medium-sized bumps, but let a little more of the road's imperfections find their way to the driver when it encountered larger impacts. The ride of the Yokohama AVID Ascend was appropriate for the category, but just a little firmer than the others over all varieties of road surfaces.
Tread pattern noise for all four tires was minimal, regardless of the speed or whether the road surface was asphalt or concrete. The Michelin and Bridgestone tires again lead the group. When encountering larger impacts the Turanza Serenity Plus and AVID Ascend tires both produced some minor boom or "thud" sounds. All four tires provided competent and stable handling during road driving with the Michelin and Bridgestone tires feeling a little more responsive than the other two.
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.
All four tires delivered similar dry handling performance. The Primacy MXV4 and Turanza Serenity Plus tires both provided the most stable handling with good overall traction and a predictable feel during the abrupt maneuvers of our course. The PureContact displayed somewhat faster initial steering response, but could then transition to gentle oversteer during rapid side-to-side manouvers. The AVID Ascend felt nearly as responsive as the PureContact, but with a little less overall grip.
With water on the track, the PureContact showed a strong advantage in traction, feeling predictable and inspiring some confidence. The Turanza Serenity Plus also displayed good overall traction and rear end stability, even in rapid transitions. The Primacy MXV4 felt well-balanced and composed, but didn't have quite the ultimate traction to match the Continental or Bridgestone tires. Rounding out the group was the AVID Ascend which had noticeably less overall wet traction than the others, feeling slippery and somewhat skittish.
Our Real World Road Ride features a relatively flat 6.6-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 approximately 500 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.
@ 15,000 Miles
|% vs. Most Efficient|
|Bridgestone Turanza Serenity Plus||32.2||465.8||-1.6%|
|Michelin Primacy MXV4||31.9||470.2||-2.5%|
|Yokohama AVID Ascend||32.3||464.4||-1.2%|
|*Our evaluation used Linear Logic ScanGauge II automotive computers to record fuel consumption, and Race Technology DL1 data loggers to record true distance travelled.|
We found minimal difference in the observed fuel consumption across the four tires in this test. Based on our results, the 0.8 mile per gallon difference between our lowest and highest observed fuel economy would result in an annual difference of just over 11 gallons of premium gasoline. At the current cost of $4.00/gallon, it would amount to an annual difference of about $46 for drivers traveling 15,000 miles a 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.
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: Just like in the dry and wet, the Continental PureContact with EcoPlus Technology delivered very good snow and ice traction. Contrary to its wet traction, the Yokohama AVID Ascend also did quite well in the snow. Very close behind was the Michelin Primacy MXV4 which also performed well, but struggled a little when accelerating with the traction control switched on. The Bridgestone Turanza Serenity Plus rounded out the group with adequate but not great snow traction.
Our test shows once again that tires truly do have personalities. Having a wide variety of choices allows you to find the one that best matches how, what and where you drive. The Bridgestone Turanza Serenity Plus proves to be a well-rounded option, providing a good blend of road manners along with dry and wet traction, but doesn't excel in winter weather. The Michelin Primacy MXV4 continues to be one of the most refined during everyday driving and also provides good traction. The Continental PureContact with EcoPlus Technology also drives very well, and delivers impressive wet and snow traction. The Yokohama AVID Ascend rounds out the group performing well in the snow, but doesn't quite have the refinement on the road or wet traction to match the others.
Bridgestone Turanza Serenity Plus (Grand Touring All-Season): The Turanza Serenity Plus is Bridgestone's Grand Touring All-Season tire developed for drivers of mid-level and premium luxury coupes, sedans, minivans and crossover vehicles. Compared to its predecessor, the tire offers longer wear, greater snow traction and lower rolling resistance, which contributes to better vehicle fuel economy. Designed to provide Bridgestone's ultimate in luxury, elegance and comfort, Turanza Serenity Plus tires blend long wear with dry, wet and wintertime traction, even in light snow. Read more.
Continental PureContact with EcoPlus Technology (Grand Touring All-Season): The PureContact with EcoPlus Technology is Continental's Grand Touring All-Season tire developed for the drivers of luxury performance sedans, sporty coupes and crossover vehicles. PureContact tires are designed to balance long wear, a comfortable ride and low rolling resistance with wet grip and all-season traction, even in light snow. Read more.
Michelin Primacy MXV4 (Grand Touring All-Season): Primacy MXV4 tires are Michelin's Grand Touring All-Season tires developed to meet the needs of coupes and sedans, as well as family minivans and crossover utility vehicles. Michelin Primacy MXV4 tires are designed to offer a quiet, comfortable ride, long tread life, responsive handling and all-season traction, including in light snow. Read more.
Yokohama AVID Ascend (H- or V-Speed Rated) (Grand Touring All-Season): The AVID Ascend featuring H- or V-speed rated sizes is Yokohama's first mass-produced Grand 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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