August 25, 2017
Crossovers are quickly replacing the mid-size sedan as the vehicle of choice for American families. In most instances they're roomy, provide the driver with a commanding view of the road and with the prevalent availability of all-wheel drive they at least give the impression of secure foul-weather performance. But no matter how sophisticated the vehicle's all-wheel drive system may be, it is limited to the traction provided by the tires. Choosing a low-grip tire limits the potential of the AWD system, traction and stability control and anti-lock brakes, and while we know the safest option is to utilize two sets of condition-specific tires, many consumers are unable to seasonally switch between two sets of tires.
Since their inception nearly 40 years ago, all-season tires have been touted as the one-tire solution for mobility in all conditions, but the "M+S" branding on their sidewall only indicates the tire's tread pattern meets specific requirements and makes no promise of any level of performance. To receive three-peak mountain snowflake (3PMSF) branding, however, tires must deliver longitudinal snow traction that meets a certain threshold. The 3PMSF symbol was originally used as a designation for winter tires, but is making its way onto all-season tires with snow performance that meets the test parameters. So while 3PMSF-branded all-season tires can't match the capability of a true winter tire in all adverse weather conditions, drivers can expect at least a minimum standard of grip in the snow from tires bearing this mark, which should help these do-everything vehicles complete their mission.
To see how two new 3PMSF-branded tires perform and if there are any potential tradeoffs for the enhanced snow performance, the Tire Rack team conducted a Real World Road Ride and Performance Track Drive comparing the BFGoodrich Advantage T/A Sport LT and Vredestein Quatrac 5 to a consumer-favorite non-3PMSF-branded tire, the Pirelli Scorpion Verde All Season Plus. Our evaluation used 2016 Porsche Cayennes fitted with new, full tread depth 255/55R18 tires mounted on 18x8 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.
During the road ride portion of our testing, our team was generally very pleased with the behavior of all three tires. The Pirelli Scorpion Verde All Season Plus featured ride and light handling characteristics that struck an ideal balance between sport and comfort, with a composed and controlled response to bumps of all sizes and linear, natural steering effort. The noise comfort of the Pirelli also received high marks, owing to the quiet, white noise emitted from the tread and very little boom or resonance over impacts. The BFGoodrich Advantage T/A Sport LT delivered the softest ride and most relaxed handling feel of the group, which seems appropriate for a touring tire with no real sporting intentions. The BFGoodrich did create the most noticeable tread growl in the test, but it wasn't intrusive, and it was almost as quiet as the Pirelli over impacts. On the road, the Vredestein Quatrac 5 felt almost like a performance tire. The ride was taut and could be a little firm over some impacts, and the steering was urgent and responsive with noticeable weight. Some light tread growl combined with appreciable boom over impacts kept the Vredestein in a close third of three for noise comfort.
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.
While the fastest possible lap times aren't in the mission statement for the tires in this test, the performance capabilities of crossovers and SUVs continues to increase, and their handling has evolved to become more carlike, so the somewhat lethargic steering response of traditional truck tires doesn't fit the nature of these vehicles. Additionally, the drivers of modern crossovers and SUVs may still feel the urge to attack a lonely back road, or they may have to swerve or slam on the brakes to avoid a collision, so it is important to know if their tires are up to the task.
The Pirelli Scorpion Verde All Season Plus earned the highest subjective scores by a noticeable margin, and for good reason. Despite the high center of gravity and heavy curb weight of our Porsche Cayenne test platform, the Pirelli provided a fluid and balanced performance. Precise steering and neutral handling meant the vehicle turned in and rotated as the driver wanted, and a solid, easily modulated brake pedal delivered confident and controlled deceleration. The Vredestein felt capable, but not as natural on the track as the Pirelli, and its objective performance backs up those initial impressions. With braking and skidpad figures that essentially tie the Pirelli for best in the test, the Quatrac 5 has the outright grip, but felt just a little vague and less athletic on the track. Though objectively the BFGoodrich was only a small step behind the other tires, subjectively it was out of its element in dry track testing. With soft and spongy handling, the Advantage T/A Sport LT was easily overdriven and could not be rushed. Fortunately, pushing the tire too hard resulted in safe, controllable understeer, which is certainly preferred if a driver should get into an emergency situation out on the road.
Wet track testing shuffled the order at the top and delivered some interesting results. Objectively, the Vredestein dominated the group in individual metrics. Its 124.3 foot 50-0 mph stopping distance bettered the Pirelli by 28.8 feet and the BFGoodrich by 39 feet, and the .68gs it generated on the skidpad were .06g and .13g better than the Pirelli and BFGoodrich, respectively. Despite this advantage in outright traction, the Pirelli was faster through the slalom and only half a second behind in average lap times. Credit for this goes to the difference in subjective feel between the two tires. Where the Vredestein seemed locked down and sort of lumbered around the course firmly planted to the track, the Pirelli was all about finesse and balance and was very rewarding to drive quickly. A textbook example of being greater than the sum of its parts, the Scorpion Verde All Season Plus was easy to drive and confidence-inspiring, encouraging the driver to push a little harder as it danced through the slalom or around the tighter turns on the course. Comparatively, the Advantage T/A Sport LT had some room for improvement. The AWD drivetrain of the Porsche Cayenne allowed the BFGoodrich to accelerate almost as rapidly as the other two tires, but the middling braking performance and average cornering grip commonly resulted in heavy understeer as many drivers were then unable to slow the vehicle sufficiently before entering the next turn.
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.
Driving in winter conditions, the BFGoodrich Advantage T/A Sport LT paid back its moderate tradeoff in wet traction by delivering the best snow acceleration and braking traction of the test group, along with good cornering capability. Subjectively, the Vredestein Quatrac 5 gave our drivers a little more confidence and was found to be easier to drive and control around the handling track, but it didn't have quite as much ultimate traction to stop our SUV in the measured braking test. Further back was the Pirelli Scorpion Verde All Season Plus, which still delivered reasonable traction levels and predictable handling.
|Snow Stopping Distance||25-0 mph ABS Stop (feet)|
|BFGoodrich Advantage T/A Sport LT||76.4|
|Pirelli Scorpion Verde All Season Plus||88.2|
|Vredestein Quatrac 5||90.9|
On the ice, all three tires provided very similar traction levels to start and stop our test vehicle, with a small advantage for the BFGoodrich tire. While adequate and reasonable for all-season tires, none were able to match the traction of a dedicated winter tire.
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 three stop signs every lap. Our team drove each tire 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|
|BFGoodrich Advantage T/A Sport LT||21.3||704.2||-1.9%|
|Pirelli Scorpion Verde All Season Plus||21.5||697.7||-.9%|
|Vredestein Quatrac 5||21.7||691.2||--|
|*Our evaluation used Race Technology DL1 data loggers to record true distance travelled.|
Fuel economy is typically a very large factor in the purchase of a family vehicle, and tires play a significant part in the overall miles per gallon. We only observed a slight variance in fuel mileage within this group, and the difference would result in an additional 13.0 gallons of premium gasoline used per year. At the current cost of $3.00/gallon, it would amount to an annual difference of $39.00 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.
Similar to the current proliferation of Crossovers and small SUVs in the national car park, we expect 3PMSF-branded touring tires to become the status quo. With their added longitudinal snow traction beyond all-season tires simply bearing the M+S branding, this new wave of touring tires should help these family vehicles live up to their image and accomplish their mission of providing confident year-round mobility.
The Pirelli Scorpion Verde All Season Plus is an excellent complement to any crossover or SUV, and would feel especially at home if that vehicle has some sporting DNA. Its on-road performance is quiet, comfortable and refined, but also feels athletic and eager to tackle some twisty roads. Its capabilities in the wet are strong objectively and even stronger subjectively, building a driver's confidence and proving that confidence is not misplaced. Vredestein's Quatrac 5 is downright impressive in the wet, with performance figures head and shoulders above the other tires here. Though not objectionable, it rides the firmest in the test and also produces the most impact noise. The BFGoodrich Advantage T/A Sport feels soft and relaxed on the road, with a compliant nature that does a nice job soaking up imperfections. While it is a generally quiet tire, it does produce the most tread growl in this test, and its adequate wet performance is a considerable step back from the competition.
BFGoodrich Advantage T/A Sport LT (Crossover/SUV Touring All-Season): The Advantage T/A Sport LT is BFGoodrich's Crossover/SUV Touring All-Season tire for drivers of light trucks, SUVs and crossover vehicles looking for handling and responsiveness to add some fun to the daily commute, combined with confidence in inclement weather. The Advantage T/A Sport LT meets the industry's severe snow service requirements and is branded with the three-peak mountain snowflake symbol (3PMSF). Read more.
Pirelli Scorpion Verde All-Season Plus (Crossover/SUV Touring All-Season): The Scorpion Verde All Season Plus (Verde - Italian for green) is Pirelli's enhanced eco-friendly Crossover/SUV Touring All-Season tire developed for the drivers of crossovers, sport utility vehicles and prestigious pickups. Designed to deliver more miles and miles per gallon than its predecessor, the Scorpion Verde All Season Plus combines longer tread life and reduced rolling resistance while retaining year-round traction in dry, wet and wintertime conditions, even in light snow. Read more.
Vredestein Quatrac 5 (Grand Touring All-Season): The Quatrac 5 is Vredestein's Grand Touring All-Season tire developed for the drivers of coupes, sedans, station wagons and crossover vehicles looking for confident performance in the dry and wet plus premium light snow traction. The Quatrac 5 meets industry severe snow service requirements and is designed to be a one-tire solution for drivers in environments that experience all four seasons, but don't receive sufficient snowfall to require a dedicated winter tire. Read more.
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