What Tire Performance Category Do I Need?

Wednesday, February 1, 2012 by Hunter Leffel
What is the difference between the tires in different performance categories? Grouping tires into categories helps identify products that are designed with similar characteristics. This allows us to perform our independent tire tests and provide feedback in our survey results that is more of an apples-to-apples comparison.

It's important to note that if you drive in the snow, an all-seaon tire is not a dedicated winter / snow tire. Summer tires will offer higher levels of wet and dry traction, but trade ride comfort and tread life to get there.

Take a look at a brief overview of some of the different performance categories:
  • Extreme Performance Summer - Tires in this category are for the driver looking for serious performance. They deliver the highest levels of dry road grip and handling while trading some comfort, noise and hydroplaning resistance to get it. These will also have the shortest tread life expectancy.
  • Max Performance Summer - Provides an unsurpassed combination of wet and dry traction for the spirited daily driver.
  • Ultra High Performance Summer - The tires in this category make mild trade-offs that limit grip compared to Max Performance Summer options. Drivers will see a gain in ride characteristics and longevity as these options have higher performance abilities.
  • High Performance All-Season - The category is designed with a preference towards performance characteristics. Branded with the M+S symbol, these low profile tires increase a vehicle's ride comfort while compromising wet and dry traction compared to higher performance categories.
  • Grand Touring All-Season - Options in this category provide a mix of performance and ride characteristics. While they lean towards the touring (ride) side of things, they deliver plenty of grip for normal daily driving. You also find the higher speed ratings that many of today's sedans require.
  • Standard Touring All-Season - Tread life increases with traction being traded to receive it. Lower speed ratings and taller sidewalls are also the norm.
  • Passenger All-Season - Tread life, tread life and more tread life. You can find tires rated for 80,000+ miles in this category. While tires in this category provide adequate traction, they do focus more on ride comfort and longevity. They also offer all-season versatility, including light snow traction.
  • Street/Sport Truck (All-Season or Summer) - Primarily targeted at the more spirited SUV and truck driver, these tires will enhance handling and responsiveness at some expense of tread life. They don't offer tread design features for off-roading. The summer versions push more towards performance, while the all-seasons will give some light snow capability.
  • Crossover/SUV Touring All-Season - Targeting primarily the luxury SUV and truck segment, these tires provide a stylish appearance and comfort for on-road traction.
  • Highway All-Season - This is the mainstream SUV and light truck category. Drivers can expect long tread life with all-season capability. They can even handle some mild off-road situations including gravel and dirt roads.
  • On-/Off-Road All-Terrain - These tires typically have as much capability off the road as they do on the road. They feature more aggressive looking tread patterns for that tough truck look. On-/Off-Road All-Terrain tires provide better winter traction without sacrificing noise levels and comfort when compared to a strictly off-road focused radial.
  • Off-Road Maximum Traction - Off-road and aggressive looks are the name of the game here as the tires in this performance category are designed to give the best traction in mud, sand, loose soil and the toughest trails.
View all performance categories to see which options provide the best tires for your driving needs.

Comments on What Tire Performance Category Do I Need?

Saturday, February 2, 2013 by Jeff:
Will a Goodyear Eagle pick up more road sand then a touring all-season tire?
Monday, February 4, 2013 by Hunter:
Hi Jeff,
I would expect a bit more with a performance tire since they are stickier tires.

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