All-season tires are broken down into several categories, depending on their blend of performance and traction: standard, grand touring, high performance and ultra-high performance. Basic all-season tires traditionally carry S- and T-speed ratings, which can be appropriate for sedans and minivans. However, looking for a tire with a higher speed rating might be advisable for even those types of vehicles; experts note a growing trend for even passenger tires to have at least an H-speed rating. These tend to be better tires in general, with more advanced tread designs and compounds, helping even standard vehicles to maximize ride performance.
To narrow down which all-season tire is best for you, consider each type's strengths and weaknesses. For the most comfortable ride, many grand-touring all-season tires provide a good balance between tread life and a smooth, quiet ride. High-performance all-season tires have higher speed ratings and excellent traction for rainy roads, with technology that is intended to improve hydroplaning resistance.
Based upon expert testing and user feedback, our top recommendation for this update is the Pirelli Cinturato P7 All-Season Plus (Est. $100 and up per tire). It earns very high scores from one professional consumer testing organization. It's also praised for its great performance under a variety of conditions by editors at TireRack.com and is the top pick in owner surveys at that site.
While other grand touring all-season tires may score a tick higher in various categories, the Pirelli Cinturato is an exceptionally well-balanced choice, with smooth, responsive handling, a comfortable ride, low noise, and great to good performance in all but the harshest winter conditions -- conditions in which a good snow tire may be a safer, more appropriate choice. Still, after testing the Cinturato against three other, comparable grand touring all-season tires, TireRack.com editors concluded that the Cinturato is, "One of the best-riding." Pirelli also offers a very long, 70,000-mile warranty.
Another tire at the top of several expert reviews and owner surveys is the Continental PureContact (Est. $100 and up per tire). The PureContact earns equally high scores in professional testing as the Pirelli, and at TireRack.com is close to the top in the grand touring all-season category survey -- finishing fourth out of 42. It excels in most categories, but its scores in winter conditions fall below those of the Pirelli Cinturato. Still, the PureContact earns above average ratings in most categories and may be a better value than the Cinturato in milder climates.
Falling in at number two in that same survey, and also well-reviewed elsewhere, the Michelin Premier A/S (Est. $125 and up per tire) is a worthy choice if you're standing at the tire shop and the other two are out of stock. When compared to three other grand touring all-season tires on TireRack.com's test track, the Michelin Premier was found to have "a very good blend of comfort and traction." It falls somewhat behind the Pirelli and the PureContact in dry traction, however.
For about $60 per tire (for the smallest size), experts say the Kumho Ecsta PA31 (Est. $60 and up per tire) is an excellent value. In testing, it exhibits a balance of good handling and traction, yet handles like a high performance tire in both wet and dry conditions. The Kumho gets high scores for its capability to handle some wintry weather as well. And, unlike many budget-priced tires, the Ecsta PA31 doesn't compromise on treadwear. Owners say it's long-lasting and durable, with a six-year, 50,000-mile tread warranty that is longer than others in its price class.
Slightly less expensive than the Kumho, and scoring higher in some indicators, the Sumitomo HTR A/S P02 (Est. $60 and up per tire) doesn't quite make our top spot due to a lack of expert testing -- and far fewer consumer reviews than the Kumho. Still, at TireRack.com, it's the highest-rated choice based upon consumer survey results, edging out the Kumho Ecsta and the much pricier Michelin Pilot Sport A/S. Owners rate the Sumitomo particularly high for cornering stability and dry traction. While the input of just about 60 survey respondents and reviewers isn't exactly a ringing consensus, the Sumitomo may be worth a look if you're on the tightest of budgets and don't drive in challenging weather conditions, or simply don't drive a lot. These tires do include an impressive (for the price of the tire) five-year, 65,000 mile warranty.
Run-flat tires are built with very stiff sidewalls, enough so that if the tire loses pressure, the sidewalls will support the weight of the car -- for up to 50 miles in most cases -- long enough to get to a service center, or at least a safe place to pull over and wait for assistance.
Although it's a newer line, the Bridgestone DriveGuard (Est. $130 and up per tire) run-flat tires are getting a lot of positive buzz. Unlike most run-flat tires, which tend to be extremely limited in size and availability, Bridgestone continues to expand the DriveGuard line, adding seven new sizes just in 2016, to cover cars that might not normally have run-flats available to them as original equipment -- most notably traditional family cars like minivans and crossovers. This can give individuals or families who don't want to be stuck in an unfamiliar area an added feeling of security on the road. Bridgestone DriveGuard tires also tend to be highly affordable compared to traditional run-flat prices -- sometimes a fraction of the cost.
Beyond that, in testing the DriveGuard tires exhibit a smooth, quiet ride and handle well under a variety of conditions -- including light winter conditions. Editors at TireRack.com, testing the DriveGuard run-flats at a Bridgestone-sponsored product launch, say that, "Even when installed on a high center of gravity vehicle, driving with zero pressure was drama-free." They did note a bit of a rumble from the driver's side and a slight pull to the left at lower speeds.
In another test conducted by a well-respected consumer testing organization, the Bridgestone DriveGuard is the top-rated run-flat tire in the performance all-season category. It earns average or better scores in dry and wet braking, handling, hydroplaning, snow traction, ride comfort, noise and rolling resistance; below average scores for ice braking (run-flat tires tend to perform less effectively in wintry weather conditions than comparable all-season tires). In that same test, tread life is estimated to be 50,000 miles. The DriveGuard tires come with a five-year, 50,000 warranty.