Ever made a bad choice on tires? They were too expensive, or did not last very long, or were just plain noisy? Thankfully, there is this handy list to summarize the best tires currently available. Enthusiast drivers demand the most from their tires, so here is a summary of their findings.

Sport

There are many arguments about what makes a great sports car tire. When it’s time to replace the tires on very powerful sports cars like the Nissan GT-R and Corvette ZR1, owners buy the Nitto NT555R. This is a competition drag radial, but has enough tread and wear life to receive Department of Transportation street approval. In other words, this is as close to a race compound tire as you can legally use on the streets. It has a huge amount of grip when the streets are dry, without the noise and super short life of a race tire. Plus it just plain looks cool. Runner up: Michelin Pilot Super Sport.

bridgestone ecopiaEconomy/Eco

Back in the days before expensive gas, economy tires were all about a cheap price, and if you were lucky, maybe a quiet ride. The last ten years have seen a lot of tech improvements in tires, with better compounds and treads able to deliver less road friction, and thus better gas mileage. Toyota Prius and Honda Insight owners love the Bridgestone Ecopia, as it offers a real fuel savings compared to regular tires. A recent Tire Rack test showed a gas savings of $70 a year. Basically, they pay for themselves. Runner up: Goodyear Assurance Fuel Max.

Off-Road

If you have a truck, SUV, or Jeep, and take it off-road, regular street tires won’t cut it. Mud and dirt driving require special mud-terrain tires, but while they are great for off-road, they are loud and have a short life on the street. Enter the all-terrain tire, a compromise that can tackle off-road work, but are civil enough for the streets. The undisputed leader among Wrangler and Hummer owners is the Goodyear DuraTrac. The DT is great on or off-road, eats up mud, snow, ice, and small feral animals. It doesn’t care. It’s the honey badger of off-road tires. Runner up: Cooper Discoverer AT.

Everyday Driving

Not everyone has a GT500, and not every tire needs to be extreme performance. Family sedans are short on fun, but they sell in huge numbers due to practicality. The same could be said for the Michelin Defender. It’s not sexy, but it has an unusually long tread life, it’s very quiet even on rough pavement, and incorporates some low resistance techniques for good gas mileage. All this and it still has good handling and braking characteristics, and can even tackle light snow. Runner up: Bridgestone Turanza.

3 Responses to The Best Rubber for the Cash

  1. I wish I had a garage, because then I would get differnt tires to suit all of my driving styles. I live in a place that gets heavy snow, but snow tires weigh down my car in the summer so I usually go with all seasons. I know I’d get better gas mileage and performance if I could switch, though.

  2. One of the hard things about having a performance based vehicle is finding tires. I have a retired race car (drift, specifically), and it’s getting hard to find anything but racing slicks for my rims. They look great though, I don’t want to take them off.

  3. I know that on my Honda civic, it’s excellent gas mileage is all about the tires. It pays in a big way to make sure they’re balanced properly, because that’s the difference between almost 30 and 40 mpg.

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