I am often asked this loaded question: "What is the best tire?" My answer is always the same: There are a lot of great tires out there, and I don't use the term "great" loosely.

However, ranking them depends, at the very least, on the category and the performance characteristics being tested. Cost and the number of sizes are important factors, too.

Even then, the results are subject to some subjectivity. What was the tire size? On what vehicle were the tires being tested?

Take the ultra-high performance all-season tire category, for example.

A tire manufacturer's best performing summer tire used to be considered its flagship line. But technological advancements have resulted in the UHP all-season category being the tire that almost does it all. If not for the cost, this would be a broad-line category.

So, what is the best UHP all-season tire out there?

If you check out The Tire Rack website, the Continental ExtremeContact DWS is ranked No. 1 by tire buyers, based on more than 44 million miles driven. That is what the customers say.

The website does test the tire against others in the category, with varying results -- usually very close -- depending on the characteristics being tested, although the DWS is always tops in snow traction.

Consumer Reports tested UHP all-season tires in November 2013. The clear winner was the Michelin Pilot Sport A/S 3, followed by the Goodyear Eagle F1 Asymmetric All-Season. Tied for third was the DWS, the Hankook Ventus S1 Noble 2 and the BFGoodrich g-Force Super Sport A/S.

Based on the results, it looks to me like the main reason the DWS finished far back of the first two tires was its -- wait for it -- poor snow traction. In addition, it's tread life was only rated "fair."

CR said all the other top-ranked tires had "good" snow traction. Only two of the 21 tires tested performed "very good" in the snow: the Nitto Motivo and the Falken Azenis PT722 A/S (tied for 14th in the rankings).

That surprises me, given that dealers have told me snow traction is a main selling point of the DWS!

As you can see, there is no truly objective testing, whether it's by the tire manufacturers themselves or an "independent third party."

Earlier this week, on March 9, Continental Tire the Americas LLC introduced its latest UHP all-season tire, the ExtremeContact DWS06. 

Beginning in May, it will replace the DWS. According to Continental, the tire is significantly better than the DWS in tread life -- it backs the tire with a 50,000-mile limited tread wear warranty and a three-year roadside assistance program. It also is comparatively much better in wet traction, and superior to the DWS in dry and snow traction. How Continental defines "comfort" also was improved.

The rolling resistance of the DWS06 remained the same as the DWS, but a Continental representative at the launch told me low rolling resistance was not as much of a focus as the other performance characteristics.

When the DWS06 becomes available in May, at a cost less than the Michelin Pilot Sport A/S 3 and Bridgestone Potenza RE970AS Pole Position, will it be the best ultra-high performance all-season tire ever? I don't think anyone can answer that.

But I feel comfortable calling it a "great" tire.

Author

Bob Ulrich
Bob Ulrich

Editor, Retired

Editor Bob Ulrich has earned a reputation as an industry expert thanks to his insightful, in-depth articles and blogs on the tire industry. Before joining Modern Tire Dealer in 1985, Bob earned a B.A. in English literature from Ohio Northern University. Also, he graduated from the University of Akron School of Law with a J.D.

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Editor Bob Ulrich has earned a reputation as an industry expert thanks to his insightful, in-depth articles and blogs on the tire industry. Before joining Modern Tire Dealer in 1985, Bob earned a B.A. in English literature from Ohio Northern University. Also, he graduated from the University of Akron School of Law with a J.D.

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