September 20, 2013
"Good" handling can mean a lot of things to different people, but one common thread held by most is a feeling of control. A tire that handles well lets drivers feel like they are in control of their vehicle, rather than simply being along for the ride. More responsive steering and stable handling along with good overall dry and wet traction are characteristics that set High Performance All-Season tires apart from touring and regular passenger all-season tires. You may drive a sporty car and want to maintain the responsive handling it came with from the factory, or you just enjoy an engaging driving experience in whatever vehicle you drive. Either way, High Performance All-Season tires may be the right fit for you.
With two new tires recently debuting in the High Performance All-Season category we felt it was time for a comparison test. Kumho has rolled out their Ecsta PA31, designed to provide high performance handling in both dry and wet conditions, along with reasonable treadwear and some all-season capability for coping with wintery weather. Goodyear also recently launched the Eagle Sport All-Season in a wide range of sizes, with nearly half carrying a V-speed rating that fit nicely into the High Performance All-Season category. For comparison we tested them with two others from the category, the Sumitomo HTR A/S P01 and Yokohama AVID ENVigor. Our evaluation used 2012 BMW F30 328i sedans fitted with new, full tread depth 215/60R16 tires mounted on 16x7.5 wheels.
Our 6.0-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 Goodyear Eagle Sport All-Season handled well with the quickest steering response of the group. This tire also had a tight, connected feel in the steering wheel when driving straight ahead, which added a sense of stability and precision. Right behind was the Kumho Ecsta PA31, which also felt stable and controlled during everyday driving. The Yokohama AVID ENVigor handles well, but doesn't have the responsiveness or tight on-center feel of the Goodyear and Kumho tires. Rounding out the group was the Sumitomo HTR A/S P01. This tire also handles well enough, but doesn't feel as precise as the others.
When it comes to coping with the bumps and potholes found out on the road the AVID ENVigor did the best job softening the hits and absorbing the sharp edges of the variety of imperfections we drove over. In the relatively quiet cabin of our test car this tire does produce some drumming or booming sounds when hitting larger bumps that can give the impression that the ride is firmer than it really is. The ride comfort of the Ecsta PA31 is just a little firmer than the AVID ENVigor, while producing less impact noise. The HTR A/S P01 provides a reasonable ride and moderate impact noise, while the Eagle Sport All-Season felt somewhat less refined than the others, and rode firmer while also generating more impact noise.
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.
In dry conditions all four tires delivered a similar overall blend of traction and stable handling. When driving at the limit, the Sumitomo HTR A/S P01 felt the most composed and stable, with good traction and capable braking. The Goodyear Eagle Sport All-Season felt responsive and showed good cornering traction. The Kumho Ecsta PA31 felt predictable and reasonably composed during quick maneuvers. The AVID ENVigor didn't have the handling precision or overall traction of the others, but was still able to lap our test course with the second quickest average lap time.
In the wet there was a greater difference among the four tires in our test. The Ecsta PA31 led the group with good grip and stable handling. The AVID ENVigor followed, hanging on with good cornering traction, but without the handling precision or responsiveness of the Ecsta PA31. The HTR A/S P01 felt balanced with no surprises, but lacked the ultimate traction of the best in the test. The Eagle Sport All-Season trailed the others, struggling somewhat to find traction when driven at the limit in the wet.
Winter weather is often unpredictable, and snow-covered roads change with every passing vehicle as they churn snow into slush or pack it down to polished ice. A constantly changing test surface makes side-by-side comparisons difficult, so we use a dedicated winter testing facility in Northern Sweden with acres of groomed snow that provides the consistency we need to get reliable acceleration and braking comparisons. This facility also has a prepared snow handling course where we evaluate the stability and control of each tire during abrupt maneuvers. To simulate the icy conditions found at intersections or the black ice experienced out on the highway, we use ice at a local hockey rink and measure acceleration and braking traction.
The Goodyear Eagle Sport All-Season provided good snow traction along with predictable handling. The Kumho Ecsta PA31 also offered good snow traction that trailed the Goodyear tire by a modest amount, but its handling wasn't quite as predictable. The Yokohama Avid ENVigor was weak in the snow, offering significantly less traction than the Goodyear and Kumho tires. Trailing the other three was the Sumitomo HTR A/S P01, which struggled to find traction in the snow, and its stopping distance in the snow from 20mph took 55' longer than the best tire in the group.
Our Real World Road Ride features a relatively flat 6.0-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.
@ 15,000 Miles
|% vs. Most Efficient|
|Goodyear Eagle Sport All Season (V-Speed Rated)||32.3||464.4||--|
|Kumho Ecsta PA31||31.2||480.8||-3.5%|
|Sumitomo HTR A/S P01 (H- or V-Speed Rated)||30.4||493.4||-6.3%|
|Yokohama AVID ENVigor (H- or V-Speed Rated)||32.1||467.3||-0.6%|
|*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 an appreciable difference in observed vehicle fuel economy across the group. Based on our results the 1.9 mile per gallon difference between our lowest and highest observed fuel economy would result in an annual difference of 29 gallons of premium gasoline. At the current cost of $4.00/gallon, it would amount to an annual difference of $116 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.
Tires are the only part of your vehicle that touch the road, and are tasked with converting your inputs and the vehicle's capability into action. That makes High Performance All-Season tires a great choice for drivers who want good handling and a feeling of control no matter what they drive.
The Kumho Ecsta PA31 is a good example of a modern design in the High Performance All-Season category, providing a nice blend of road manners, along with good handling. Its somewhat aggressive-looking tread pattern helps aid snow traction, too. The Yokohama AVID ENVigor continues to demonstrate it has adequate handling for the category and a relatively smooth ride along with good wet traction, but is fairly weak in snowy conditions. The Sumitomo HTR A/S P01 drives well enough and when pressed hard in dry conditions delivers very good handling, but falls a little short when it comes to wet traction and trails the others by a wider margin when driving in the snow. The Goodyear Eagle Sport All-Season offers appropriate levels of road handling, ride comfort and noise levels along with good snow traction, but doesn't have the wet traction to come close to the best.
Goodyear Eagle Sport All Season (V-Speed Rated) (High Performance All-Season): Goodyear's Eagle Sport All-Season tire line includes V-speed rated High Performance All-Season radials developed for the drivers of sports cars, coupes, sedans and performance-oriented light trucks looking to combine sporty handling with all-season traction. Eagle Sport All-Season tires are designed to offer drivers all-season versatility in dry and wet conditions with year-round traction, even in light snow.
Kumho Ecsta PA31 (High Performance All-Season): The Ecsta PA31 (Performance All-Season) is Kumho's High Performance All-Season tire developed for drivers of mid-level sports cars, sporty coupes and high-performance sedans looking to combine everyday street performance with treadwear. Designed to provide high performance handling in wet and dry conditions, the Ecsta PA31 delivers Kumho's unparalleled combination of ride comfort, low noise and all-season traction, even in light snow. Read more.
Sumitomo HTR A/S P01 (H- or V-Speed Rated) (High Performance All-Season): The Sumitomo HTR A/S P01 (High Tech Radial, All-Season, Premium 1st Generation) tire line includes H- and V-speed rated High Performance All-Season radials developed to meet the year-round driving needs of sports car, coupe and sedan drivers by blending dry and wet road performance with all-season wintertime traction. The HTR A/S P01 radials use Sumitomo's high-tech materials and manufacturing methods to blend high performance with year-round traction, even in light snow.
Yokohama AVID ENVigor (H- or V-Speed Rated) (High Performance All-Season): The Yokohama AVID ENVigor tire line includes H- and V-speed rated High Performance All-Season radials developed to meet the year-round driving needs of sports car, coupe, sedan and crossover drivers. AVID ENVigor tires are designed to combine performance, comfort and treadlife along with year-round traction, even on light snow-covered roads. Read more.
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