June 9, 2006
While today's high performance tires add spark and sizzle, and touring tires blend style and sophistication, the most popular type of tire in the United States (based on how many are sold) is from the Passenger All-Season tire category. Passenger All-Season tires are for the drivers of everyday passenger cars and minivans, as well as some small SUVs and pickup trucks who want dependable tires that provide all-season versatility, including traction in light snow. While a Passenger All-Season tire's steering response and handling capabilities won't match that of high performance or touring tires, Passenger All-Season tires emphasize good wear, a comfortable ride, and predictable handling.
In order to better appreciate our highest rated tires in this popular category, Tire Rack team conducted a Real World Road Ride and Performance Track Drive with the top four tires in the Passenger All-Season category identified by our consumer survey results (as of July, 2006). The tires included the Goodyear Assurance ComforTred and Goodyear Assurance TripleTred, as well as the Michelin Harmony and Michelin HydroEdge.
The other factor of these long wearing tires is they confirm the old adage of "you get what you pay for." While they are all on the top of our consumer survey results, they are also among the most costly of the Passenger All-Season tires as well.
Our evaluation used four identically equipped 2006 BMW 325i sedans, with new, full tread depth 205/55R16 sized tires mounted on 16x7.0" wheels.
Our 5.6-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.
Ride comfort was the first thing our team noticed when driving on all four of the tires in this test. All delivered a smooth ride with the Goodyear ComforTred having a slight advantage over the Michelin Harmony. The Goodyear TripleTred also provided a comfortable ride, but allowed some road imperfections to find their way to the driver. The Michelin HydroEdge ride was found to be the firmest of the group, but was still plenty smooth over all but the worst road surfaces.
Each tire seemed to produce its own unique blend of tread noise, with the Goodyear ComforTred being found to produce the least of the group. The Michelin Harmony was a close second, producing a faint but distinct pitch at speeds above 40 mph. The more aggressive, directional tread patterns of the Goodyear TripleTred and Michelin HydroEdge both generated somewhat more noise, having a noticeable growl across both asphalt and concrete surfaces.
All four tires delivered handling appropriate for the category with some subtle differences felt when we compared them side-by-side. The Michelin HydroEdge and Goodyear TripleTred, found to ride slightly firmer than the other two tires, paid back with better handling, feeling responsive and connected to the road. The comfort-oriented Goodyear ComforTred and Michelin Harmony both displayed somewhat softer handling and slower steering response, creating more separation of the driver from the road.
Our 1/3-mile per lap test track course includes 90-degree street corners, lane changes and simulated expressway ramps. 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. Mid-60 degree ambient temperatures and overcast skies provided near perfect test conditions for us to run these highly thought of tires.
The influence of relatively low profile sizes (55-series aspect ratios), now used on a wide range of imported and domestic passenger cars, helped all four tires to display predictable handling and produce good average lap times, with less than 0.5 second separating the group in dry conditions.
The steering response combined with good dry traction allowed the Michelin HydroEdge to produce the fastest average lap time of this test, with the Goodyear TripleTred nipping at its heels. The Goodyear ComforTred was next, followed by Michelin's Harmony rounding out the group.
The differences between the tires were more noticeable in the wet, however. The Assurance TripleTred had enough wet traction and handling to post the fastest average lap time and highest average cornering g's in this test. In the wet, it was the Michelin HydroEdge nipping at the Assurance TripleTred's heels, with the HydroEdge running average laps just 0.1 of a second slower. The Assurance ComforTred was about half a second back in third with the Michelin Harmony feeling somewhat slippery, lapping our track about one second behind in fourth.
One area of performance we couldn't compare during this test was the tires' winter traction capabilities. Reviewing the subjective survey scores from our consumer survey data (as of July, 2006) owners have rated the Goodyear Assurance TripleTred highest for winter traction, followed by the Goodyear Assurance ComforTred, Michelin Harmony and Michelin HydroEdge, with the biggest differences experienced while driving in deep snow and on ice.
Goodyear Assurance featuring ComforTred Technology (Passenger All-Season): The Goodyear Assurance radial featuring ComforTred Technology is a premium Passenger All-Season tire designed to bestow Goodyear's ultimate ride comfort to the drivers of luxury coupes and sedans. It was developed to combine long wear with year-round traction, including in light snow. Read more.
Goodyear Assurance featuring TripleTred Technology (Passenger All-Season): The Goodyear Assurance radial featuring TripleTred Technology is a premium Passenger All-Season tire designed to take on Mother Nature and give the drivers of family coupes, sedans and minivans peace of mind in any driving condition. It was developed to be versatile by combining long wear with traction in any weather condition, including light snow.
Michelin Harmony (Passenger All-Season): Michelin Harmony tires were developed for the drivers of family cars and minivans who want long wearing All-Season tires. Michelin Harmony tires enhance year-round traction in a wide range of driving conditions including dry and wet roads, and in light snow.
Michelin HydroEdge (Passenger All-Season): The HydroEdge radial is Michelin's premium Passenger All-Season tire designed to meet the needs of the drivers of family coupes, sedans and minivans. It was developed to be a very versatile tire by combining long wear with hydroplaning resistance and year-round traction, even in light snow.
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