Leading SUV tyres to consider when you buy
This March we are introducing the inaugural WhatTyre Tyre of the Year Awards – an authoritative ranking of the best tyres out there. This starts with publishing our nominations of the highest-performing tyres across six key categories, namely: summer, winter, all-season, UHP, SUV and electric vehicle-orientated tyres. The length of each list differs in each category because of the range of tyre manufacturers and products in each segment, but every list has been scrutinised just as closely. The long-lists will be followed by our recommended short-lists as well as, of course, category winners. The coverage begins here with our nominations of which tyres to consider when it is time to change the treads on your Sports Utility Vehicle (SUV).
Methodology – how we did it
Before we reveal the identities of the best-performing SUV tyres, here’s how we generated the long-list. Finding the best tyres isn’t as easy as it first sounds because there is a huge number of tyres to choose from. According to the Tyrepedia database WhatTyre is based on, there are over 600 brands on the market and over a quarter of a million different variations of size, speed and load rating. And what’s more, while all tyres are black and round, there are huge performance differences between the top and the bottom of the market. From the beginning, WhatTyre’s goal has been to help drivers “find the best tyres for you”, so when it came to selecting nominations for the awards, WhatTyre’s unique TyreScore comparison algorithm was our first port of call.
As anyone who has used WhatTyre will tell you, the journey begins with your tyre size. Once you have entered this information, the system generates a list of the highest-scoring tyres on the market. This basically turns the tyre performance label that every product is legally obliged to carry into a series of numbers. These are weighted in favour of wet grip and fuel consumption because the ability to stop and how much it costs you to run are more important than pass-by noise to most motorists. From here, the scores are cross-referenced with our unique database of several thousand pan-European magazine tyre test results. Again, these results are turned into digits which are then processed along with label scores in order generate a meta-score, which we refer to as the TyreScore. This approach has the advantage that it boils down all the different data points into a single figure, which gives us a good starting point for our market comparison.
But what sizes did we start with and why? In order to tune our long-list to the SUV tyre segment, we identified the top three SUV tyre sizes in the UK and repeated the WhatTyre comparison process across all three sizes. When the same tyre generated different scores in different sizes, we took the highest scoring value to represent the range. From here, we further specified that tyres had to either: achieve a TyreScore of at least eight or have been tested in a least one of the reputable third-party magazine tyre tests represented in our database. In the event that our system deemed two concurrent product lines from the same manufacturer and brand to be “in the market”, we chose the result from the latest iteration as representative. At the end of the day, we were left with the top 20 tyres in the SUV sector, which are the basis for our awards nominations list.
The top 20 and why they’re there
So, who’s in the top 20 and why? The top 20 is made up of a very wide range of products manufactured by a global assortment of brands at an international array of factories. Here’s a quick look at each.
Beginning in 20th position, Firestone’s Roadhawk deserves credit for achieving the considerably above average score of 7.94, something that marks it out as worthy of entrance into the nominations list. Furthermore, the V-rated 235/60 R18 variation that shows up in our coverage bears a load rating of 103, which is towards the top end of the range in our nominations table and highlights it as a real SUV product as opposed to a crossover-orientated tyre.
Cooper’s Zeon 4XS Sport may not be the newest tyre on the market, but its good label rating and consistent magazine test results do much to recommend it.
Like the Cooper tyre before it, Nokian’s Weatherproof SUV bears an A-grade for wet braking and has been tested at least three times in recent years, resulting in a TyreScore of 8.18.
Hankook’s Kinergy Eco2 K435 achieves the same score as the Nokian Weatherproof, but it is worth pointing out that it goes one better and achieves a B rating on the fuel consumption part of the European Tyre label in 215/60 R17 100H.
In 16th position, the Nokian Line SUV outperforms its Weatherproof SUV stablemate by the narrowest of margins – 0.01 points on our scale – and shares its 8.18 score with both the Hankook Kinergy Eco2 and the Dunlop Sport Maxx RT2 SUV.
Many would have expected the Dunlop Sport Maxx RT2 SUV to have exceeded 15th position in our initial ranking. The reason for this position is that this out-and-out UHP SUV tyre scores an E on the rolling resistance/fuel consumption part of the test on the basis that its manufacturers have prioritised performance, grip and handling. However, with an A for wet-grip and a low noise rating of 69 dB, no-one can speak against this tyre’s nomination. Indeed, when you take into account a wider number of metrics there is every opportunity that such a product could rank higher in the final deliberations.
Falken has cemented its place as a rapidly rising up-and-coming brand with tyres like the Falken Ziex ZE310 Ecorun. It’s no surprise that this product took 14th place in our inaugural nominations when you consider its CA label, low noise level and its entrance in five high-profile magazine tests between 2018 and 2020.
In 13th place, the Apollo Aspire XP’s performance is clearly more than aspirational. The Aspire XP’s overall tyre score might have equalled the Falken entrant’s 8.28 points, but the fact that it achieved BA and six tests between 2019 and 2020 gives it the edge.
The Dunlop SP Quattromaxx may not be the newest SUV tyre out there, but it has been setting standards since its launch. Prior to its debut at the Geneva Motor Show in 2010, the tyre was put through its paces on the Nürburgring Nordschleife where it helped driver Patrick Simon and his 550 HP Porsche Cayenne Turbo achieve one of the fastest lap times ever set by an SUV: 8:33:99.
The 11th placed Vredestein Ultrac Satin demonstrates the increasing quality of SUV tyres available on the market. With B and A on the tyre label for wet grip and with nine tests to its name on our database, there is good reason for its 8.43 score. Indeed, one of the latest tests (AutoBild Allrad 04/2020) described the tyre as “exemplary”.
The Michelin Latitude Sport 3 is another nominated tyre that might be described as market veteran, having been launched towards the start of 2014. However, with a BA label rating and consistent test results and a TyreScore of 8.48, this tyre will forgive newcomers critical of its age for their relative youth and inexperience, as Ronald Reagan once said.
One newcomer that is competing with the best of them is the Maxxis Premitra HP5, which enters our SUV top 20 in ninth position. With a BA label rating and one of the most comprehensive test records we have in our database, this product marks a significant step forward in the Taiwan-based manufacturers’ product development and marks the Premitra HP5 out as one to watch.
In eighth place, Bridgestone’s Dueler H/P Sport ties on points with the Maxxis Premitra, but the tremendous range of tyre test results it has garnered over the years plus the fact that the Dueler H/P Sport was the first 4×4 tyre in Bridgestone’s portfolio to be derived from Formula One technology give it the edge.
Achieving seventh position is an achievement by itself. However, the Michelin CrossClimate SUV’s position as the highest-ranking year-round SUV tyre in our database is even more noteworthy. Its BB label rating combined with very strong showing magazine tyre tests stand behind its ranking – all illustrated in the product’s 8.59 TyreScore.
The Pirelli Scorpion Verde’s AB label rating and a catalogue of magazine test results speak volumes about this SUV tyre’s prestige and performance. According to Pirelli, The Scorpion Verde was “created to take full advantage of Pirelli’s latest materials, structures and tread patterns in order to guarantee savings, respect for the environment, comfort and safety on all road surfaces” – all things that are of particular importance to a 100 per cent on-road out-and-out SUV tyre.
The fifth-placed Continental ContiPremiumContact 6 take things a notch higher with a TyreScore of 8.9. The ContiPremiumContact 6 may be the SUV variant of a wider passenger car tyre range, but its V speed and 107 load rating in the 235/60 R18 fitment testify to its SUV credentials, as do the string of strong test performances in some of the toughest magazine tests in Europe.
Goodyear’s EfficientGrip SUV is the first tyre to break into the 9+ TyreScore range so far in our ranking. Widely praised for it balance of performance characteristics as well as high scores in both wet and dry testing, you can understand why. It is too early to crown a winner, but this tyre should not be discounted as a WhatTyre SUV Tyre of the Year competitor.
However, Goodyear began to introduce the EfficientGrip 2 SUV in January 2021. The manufacturer says the latest version of the tyre offers 25 per cent longer life versus the previous-generation tyre. A full range of sizes is expected by February 2022. By that point, the Goodyear EfficientGrip 2 SUV’s performance will no-doubt also be supported by a full complement of magazine tyre tests. With a predecessor as good as the Goodyear EfficientGrip SUV, the Efficient Grip 2 SUV is likely to be an even stronger contender when it comes to the 2022 awards!
In 2018, the world’s largest tyre and rubber company introduced its Bridgestone Turanza T005. The Turanza T005 occupies third position on our initial nominations list. One of just four products capable of accumulating a total north of 9, according to our TyreScore, the Turanza T005 pairs AA rated performance with a host of glowing magazine test reports. Indeed, Auto Express’s September 2020 tyre test said: “the T005 is the one you want if you cover high mileages, because the Turanza will cut fuel bills…And that hasn’t been achieved by totally compromising wet grip.”
Second place is held by the Michelin Primacy 4, which also scores a double AA on its tyre label, but outperforms the equivalent Bridgestone product by a fair way when it comes to noise performance. This is paired with another range of strong magazine tests from across Europe, which results in a tyre score of 9.55. In other circumstances that would be unbeatable.
As you might imagine, the Michelin Primacy 4 is the successor of the Michelin Primacy 3. The Primacy 3 was already a strong performer, but wasn’t included on the 2021 table due to the introduction of the Michelin Primacy 4. However, if the Primacy 3 was listed in the 2021 table it would’ve secured fifth place with the very strong score of 8.95. For its part, the Michelin Primacy 4 builds on its predecessor’s strong performance, uniformly taking it up a gear. Its only real drawback is that this tyre is the SUV size of a car-orientated range – as its load rating of 96 (710 kilograms) testifies.
Pole position on the WhatTyre SUV Tyre of the Year 2021 grid is held by the Michelin Pilot Sport 4 SUV. Any remaining questions raised about the out-and-out SUV design of the Primacy 4 are answered by the Pilot Sport 4 SUV. As well as its AA rating and recent test validation, the Michelin Pilot Sport 4 SUV also offers a W speed rating (one of the highest, clearing it for speeds up to 168 mph) and a 107 load rating (970kg).
There’s no doubt that these 20 SUV tyres represent the best currently available on the market, but we also understand that finding the best tyres for you includes a range of differing demands. That’s why the terms “pole position” and “grid” make a lot of sense when it comes to our nominations list. Rather than being impossibly definitive, it tells you which products in which order should be the runners and racers – and why. For our take on which are the best five currently on the market; and to find out which tyre will be crowned WhatTyre SUV tyre of the year 2021, look out for the finalist article in the coming days and weeks.
|Michelin Pilot Sport 4 SUV
|Michelin Primacy 4
|Bridgestone Turanza T005
|Goodyear EfficientGrip SUV
|Continental ContiPremiumContact 6
|Pirelli Scorpion Verde
|Michelin CrossClimate SUV
|Bridgestone Dueler H/P Sport
|Maxxis Premitra HP5
|Michelin Latitude Sport 3
|Vredestein Ultrac Satin
|Dunlop SP Quattromaxx
|Apollo Aspire XP
|Falken Ziex ZE310 Ecorun
|Dunlop Sport Maxx RT2 SUV
|Nokian Line SUV
|Hankook Kinergy Eco2 K435
|Nokian Weatherproof SUV
|Cooper Zeon 4XS Sport
About the TyreScore
All TyreScores quoted in the WhatTyre Tyre of the Year Awards 2021 are correct as of our judging period in March 2021, but more data and a new version of the algorithm will inevitably mean changes. When you buy your next tyres, we recommend you make WhatTyre part of your pre-sale research to determine the best tyre for you.