Motorists continue to choose the space and high visibility seating position offered by SUVs. In fact, they are so popular that many new cars have adopted looks leaning in the direction of SUVs. That inclination has created the CUV (crossover utility vehicles) and impacts the 2023 WhatTyre Tyre of the Year rankings because we have to define what an SUV is for the purposes of this category. Building on the platform formed by the previous two years of WhatTyre Tyre of the Year awards, this year we have tightened up our judging criteria to create a more robust and competitive 2023 award.
We began by filtering our database of around 300,000 tyres based on the three leading SUV tyre sizes according to market research specialists GfK. From here we filtered products according to their Tyrescore – our market-leading bespoke tyre comparison system – requiring all short-listed tyres to score above seven out of 10 or above in both one of the three key sizes and across its range as a whole on average. We then interrogated the results according to the following further criteria: category appropriateness; specialist category tests and require relatively recent third-party magazine tyre test results.
Category appropriateness refers to the tyre’s status as an SUV tyre. Choosing the right tyres does much to ensure that we are all talking about the right thing. But we also include the requirement for a load index of 107, which means the tyres each have the capability of carrying up to just under 975 kilograms. The ability to carry a tonne of weight is something of a necessity when you consider that a BMW X5, for example, has an unladen kerb weight of 2275 kilos.
We also require third-party test evidence of the tyre’s performance relating to sizes in relevant 4×4 or SUV fitments. That way we can be confident that the credit any tyre gets relates to the particular challenges posed in the SUV sector. And, of course, we also require that both the test and the actual product itself are relatively recent.
Together those criteria meant at least three well-known tyres that have performed well in previous editions of our ranking had to be removed. That might be bad news for them, but helps keep our top 12 that bit fresher and means this year we are ranking a more diver range of products.
Michelin takes pole position again, but new product wins
Michelin’s Pilot Sport 4 SUV has won this year’s table. It’s the second year Michelin has won our ranking. However, while last year the Michelin Primacy 4 was our winner. Our tougher criteria meant the more out-and-out SUV-focused Michelin Pilot Sport 4 SUV won out. The Pilot Sport 4 SUV scored the highest score in its key size (235/60 R18) and the range average was also clear of the competition too. The reasons? Double A-rated performance on the tyre label is hard enough to achieve, but when that is combined with the second-lowest noise rating and consistent showings in magazine tyre tests the winner was clear.
In second position, Hankook K125A Ventus Prime 3 SUV was not a million miles behind the lead. The Hankook tyres were unable to keep up with winner in the key size, but was able to hold its own with performance across the range, something that was much closer fight. Again, magazine test results really help to demonstrate the performance of this tyre across a range of performance characteristics.
The Goodyear EfficientGrip 2 SUV completes the podium in this year’s SUV category. Indeed, in the key size alone, this tyre achieved the second-highest tyrescore out there. And it matches the winner in terms of label scores. However, the average tyrescore across the range was just slightly lower than this year’s silver medallist. In other words, the EfficientGrip 2 SUV remains a very competitive tyre offering strong performance across different characteristics as voucher-for by professional third-party tyre tests.
The fourth-placed Bridgestone Turanza T005 continues its strong showing in our ranking, significantly improving its standing compared with last year. In light of the more rigorously SUV-focused nature of this year’s judging, that result is a testament to the tyre’s particular performance on large, sporty vehicles.
The Continental ContiPremiumContact 6 takes fifth this time round, another example of improvement on last year’s ranking.
Falken’s Azenis FK520 comes in in sixth position this time round, offering a combination of wet grip performance along with strong value performance that gave it the edge compared with some more expensive products.
The Nokian Line SUV not only improved on its 2022 position, but also continues to show how the Finland-based brand outperforms its size in relation to the biggest names out there. Seventh position in this category as well as fourth in the all-season and third in the all-season SUV categories should not be overlooked
That the Goodyear Eagle F1 Asymmetric 3 SUV continues to perform in the top tier of tyre performance is testament to the design and construction of this product. Eighth position this year, the Eagle F1 Asymmetric 3 SUV is actually the quietest tyre in the top 12, with a pass-by noise score of just 68 decibels in the 235/60 R18 107 V fitment. Indeed, its label performance and test feedback remain good. However, scores aren’t all at this level across the product range, something that prevented it from advancing further this time round.
The ninth-placed Vredestein Ultrac Satin was the last tyre on the test to achieve a tyrescore north of 8 out of 10 in 235/60 R18 107. That sets it apart from the remaining tyres below it, which weren’t able to do that. At the same time, it is worth point out that the Ultrac Satin did that on a W-rated tyre, something that emphasises its high-performance SUV tyre credentials.
Consistent high-performance credentials combined with SUV load and torque-bearing capabilities mean the Pirelli Scorpion Verde takes 10th place this year. For context, it is worth mentioning that the Scorpion Verde range was just shy of ninth position when the two ranges were compared on average.
The Maxxis Victra Sport 5 is a new entrant in 11th place on the 2023 table. The latest generation of passenger car tyres released by the Taiwanese-based tyre maker mark significant steps forward and its 4×4 offering is no different. Indeed, 235/60 R18 107 Victra Sport 5’s were close to 10th place, although the range couldn’t maintain that proximity on average.
The General Grabber GT Plus rounds off our 2023 table and is the only other tyre in our database of 300,000 different products to be able to meet all the SUV category criteria. With that in mind, 12th place isn’t a consolation prize. And when you consider that General branded tyres are made by Continental, you wouldn’t expect anything less. On that last note, it is also worth noting that Goodyear and Continental are the only tyre manufacturers with two products in the top 12 this year.