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Touring tires: balancing consumer, OE demands

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Touring tires: balancing consumer, OE demands

Americans love to take a drive. Because the tires consumers travel on are important to the quality of the ride, there has been an increasing demand for what has become known as the touring tire.

The touring tire segment features tires that provide maximum ride comfort with excellent handling characteristics. It also is a segment that has evolved into a very specialized type of tire category.

Performance touring tires mirror the current high- and ultra-high performance (UHP) summer lines available. Touring tires are similar to UHP tires in both size applications and performance ratings. These tire lines add ride comfort and mileage life to these size applications.

Touring tires combine a performance tire’s low-profile handling with a premium tire’s softer ride. They also have all-season capabilities. This combination has led to touring tires being referred to as performance touring tires.

The OE vehicle market continues to generate an increase in H- and V-speed-rated fitments. As a result, the replacement touring tire segment is seeing parallel growth in the H- and V-speed-rated segments.

A focus on price also has an effect on this segment. With today’s high tire prices, many consumers look more at price than speed ratings when buying touring tires. Retailers, in turn, are going to sell what they currently have in stock, without worrying about the right speed rating for a specific vehicle. So a focus on price also changes the touring segment.

As the consumer concept of a “comfort” tire continues to evolve, manufacturers rise to meet the demand. Consumers in this segment demand more from their tires and want comfort, handling and all-season capability.

What’s new in touring tires?

What are the tires that manufacturers are developing to meet consumer demands? Manufacturers are challenged not only by consumers, but also OE demands and technological advances. Last month we covered tires from manufacturers ranging from Bridgestone Americas Tire Operations LLC through the Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. This month we outline touring tires from tiremakers ranging from GITI Tire (USA) Ltd. to Yokohama Tire Corp.

GT Radial Champiro 228

The GT Radial Champiro 228 from GITI Tire (USA) Ltd. is a performance touring tire with a Nanotek silica compound that contributes to reduced rolling resistance and strong grip in wet and dry conditions. Produced with non-aromatic oils, a greener manufacturing process, the tire has four wide circumferential grooves to aid in efficient water evacuation and good wet performance. Extended shoulder grooves contribute to excellent cornering, the company says. Backed by an 80,000-mile limited tread wear warranty, the GT Radial Champiro 228 is available in 15 sizes (50 to 65 series) for 16- and 17-inch wheels. It is offered in H- and V-speed ratings for a wide range of performance touring vehicles.

[PAGEBREAK]Hankook Optimo H46

Hankook Tire America Corp.’s latest touring tire is the Optimo H426 luxury performance all-season tire. The Optimo H426 has 20% better rolling resistance performance than its predecessor.

Hankook Tire says it specifically targets lowering the rolling resistance of its passenger, light truck and commercial tires during the design process.

The company designs tires with Kontrol Technology, a philosophy as well as a set of proprietary innovations. The “K” denotes “kinetic” and reflects the idea that the interaction of the tire with the road while in motion lies at the heart of driving control and performance.

The result of Kontrol Technology is tires that provide a range of driving benefits across four areas that customers identify as key when choosing quality tires: performance, safety, comfort and a tire’s impact on the environment.

Hercules Ultra Tour LE

The Ultra Tour LE from Hercules Tire & Rubber Co. features a silica-enhanced tread compound designed to maximize traction in all seasons without tread life reduction. Stability is provided by modified lay nylon technology that promotes even tread wear, resulting in lasting ride quality and long life. Deep grooves and heavy siping channel away rain and slush.

The tire’s innovative bead construction and sidewall configuration improve responsiveness and enhance lane change and cornering ability. Available in 16 15- through 18-inch sizes, the Ultra Tour LE is backed by a 60,000-mile (V-rated sizes) and 65,000-mile (H-rated sizes) limited mileage warranty. The V-rated sizes have a Uniform Tire Quality Grading (UTQG) rating of 500 A A; the H-rated sizes have a UTQG rating of 540 A A.

Kumho Ecsta LX Platinum

Kumho Tire U.S.A. Inc.’s latest touring tire is the Ecsta LX Platinum, a UHP touring tire with all-season performance for year-round driving. Kumho says it provides a quiet ride and luxurious ride comfort.

The Ecsta LX Platinum features a sophisticated sidewall design for curb appeal. It comes with a 25% road hazard warranty and a three-year free replacement warranty. There is a 60,000-mile limited tread wear warranty.

The Ecsta LX Platinum comes in 37 sizes, from 14 to 19 inches, with one run-flat size, in V and W speed ratings.

Michelin Primacy MXM4

The Michelin Primacy MXM4 from Michelin North America Inc. is an all-season touring tire that offers luxury vehicle owners enhanced performance. Michelin says it offers increased safety by stopping up to 19 feet shorter than a leading competitor.

The Primacy MXM4 has good longevity and has a 55,000-mile warranty for H/V-speed-rated sizes; the W-rated sizes have a 45,000 mile warranty. The tire features Michelin’s Helio Compound made with natural sunflower oil, used for the first time in an all-season tire, notes the company.

The Helio Compound delivers increased traction at low temperatures for braking and handling in wet conditions and better overall performance in the snow.

The Primacy MXM4 comes in 28 sizes ranging from 205/55R16 to 245/45R19, H- and V-rated.

National Ovation Plus HR, TR and VR

The National Ovation Plus range from Del-Nat Tire Corp. features a solid center rib that provides a confident on-center feel when traveling today’s highways, notes the company. Offset grooves and tread blocks in the shoulder provide a quiet, comfortable ride quality.

Features of the National Ovation Plus include geometric siping of the tread for good water dispersion. This enhances wet-stopping while also offering confident performance in all-weather driving conditions. A roadside tire assistance program is available. The National Ovation Plus TR is available in 22 T-speed-rated sizes ranging from 175/70R13 to 225/60R17. The HR is available in eight H-speed-rated sizes ranging from 195/65R15 to 225/55R16, and the National Ovation Plus VR comes in five V-speed-rated sizes ranging from 205/60R16 to 225/50R17.

[PAGEBREAK]Nexen CP672

Nexen Tire America Inc.’s CP672 is designed with a computer-simulated tread design. It maintains uniform road contact pressure that provides good traction performance on wet and dry surfaces. Optimal carcass profiling enhances high-speed driving stability by maintaining balance.

The CP672 features a straight semi dual rib for improved steering responsiveness. Its four straight wide grooves offer maximized wet traction, anti-hydroplaning, improved steering responsiveness and stability at high speeds. Lateral grooves provide a comfortable ride by reducing vibration.

Maximum shoulder block stiffness provides strong handling and improved steering responsiveness. It is designed to have low-noise for high comfort, with an optimized five-pitch layout design to minimize pattern noise.

The CP672 is available in 59 sizes ranging from 14- to 18-inch.

Pirelli P6 Four Seasons Plus

The P6 Four Seasons Plus from Pirelli Tire North America is a high-performance all-season tire that features an asymmetric tread design. Engineers optimized the design to provide superior comfort in dry or wet weather and light snow conditions, says Pirelli.

The P6 also features two central longitudinal grooves that provide maximum water expulsion and safety control through traction in wet weather. The full central rib provides steering precision and ensures stability and improved handling.

The tire provides optimal tread wear uniformity and an enhanced all-season tread compound for increased tread life — and more time between tire replacements. The P6 Four Seasons Plus is available in original equipment and replacement sizes to fit most passenger applications. The P6 has a 45,000-mile limited tread wear warranty.

The P6 Four Seasons Plus is available in the 15- to 19-inch size range, in sizes from P185/60R15 to P225/40R19.

Toyo Versado LXII

The Versado LXII from Toyo Tire U.S.A. Corp. is an eco-friendly touring tire for high-end luxury sedans and coupes. The all-season tire features a new silica compound that offers both improvements in fuel economy and tread life. An asymmetric, non-directional tread pattern enables cross rotation to reduce irregular wear.

Road noise is reduced with Toyo’ Silent Wall technology. A higher sipe density on the inside tread provides more biting edges for traction in the snow. Multi-wave sipes help decrease tread block movement under driving and braking conditions for improved tread contact on both wet and dry surfaces.

Available sizes include 15-, 16-, 17- and 18-inch rim diameters. The Versado LXII comes in widths ranging from 195 to 275mm. Speed ratings are H, V and W.

AVID Touring-S

Yokohama Tire Corp.’s AVID Touring-S is built to deliver strong ride quality and stability, while being a value to the touring tire buyer. It offers optimal wet/dry performance for a wide range of cars, SUVs and minivans, including Ford Focus, Mitsubishi Lancer, Nissan Altima, Honda CRV, Chevy Uplander, Dodge Caravan and Toyota Sienna.

Highlights of the AVID Touring-S include a twin stability rib for better handling and reduced noise, and luxury sidewall construction that utilizes a hard rubber insert to help absorb bumps and vibrations.

In addition, tapered rain channels accelerate water into the outer grooves for optimal wet traction. Cross traction sipes improve handling in adverse conditions, and a tri-plex compound increases tread life and traction on slick surfaces.

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