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Consumer Reports gives Goodyear, Michelin top rankings

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In the November 2005 issue of Consumer Reports, the Goodyear Assurance TripleTred was rated best overall in tests of 18 different all-season tire models. In a separate series of tests, the Michelin X-Ice was rated best among 12 models of winter tires on the market.

The Michelin X Radial and Hankook Mileage Plus II H725 placed second and third, respectively, in the magazine's all-season tire rankings. The Viking Snow Tech was second in the winter tire tests, while the Goodyear Ultra Grip Ice came in third.

Consumer Reports (CR) says it has seen "substantive improvement in the performance of all-season tires" since it last rated them in 2001. For example, the Kelly Navigator Platinum TE was CR's second-overall choice in 2001. In this year’s testing against other models with newer designs, the Navigator Platinum TE dropped to ninth place overall.

(CR rated the Michelin X-One best overall in 2001; that model has since been discontinued.)

All-season tires are standard on the majority of new cars and light trucks; they accounted for 83% of the replacement market in 2004, according to CR. (According to Modern Tire Dealer's 2005 Facts Issue, all-season tires made up 93% of the replacement market in 2004).

Consumer Reports' overall tire scores emphasize safety-related tests, including braking, handling and resistance to hydroplaning.

According to the winter tire test results, the Michelin and Goodyear tires "have excellent snow grip," while the Viking "is best suited for all-weather use and more moderate winter conditions."

CR selected a common size, P205/65R15, for its tests of both all-season and winter tires. CR believes that its ratings can be used as a yardstick for 14-inch through 17-inch sizes of the same model tires.

Eighteen models of all-season tires, from upper mid-level to premium lines with "S" or "T" speed ratings, were selected. Tread wear warranties for those tires run from 65,000 to 100,000 miles. Prices ranged from $48 to $114 for the common P205/65R15 size.

Here are some "Consumer Reports Quick Picks" for all-season tires. Prices shown are retail paid by CR for the P205/65R15 tires tested:

Best under all weather conditions: Michelin X Radial, $111; Michelin HydroEdge, $100.

"The Michelin X Radial is a very good all-around performer, but is only available from shopping clubs. The Michelin HydroEdge performs capably but is noisier, with mediocre hydroplaning resistance."

If icy roads aren't a factor: Goodyear Assurance TripleTred, $80; Hankook Mileage Plus II H725, $50; Yokohama Avid TRZ, $70.

"These tires do well in everything except braking on ice. The Goodyear's ride is very quiet."

If long tread life is important: Yokohama Avid TRZ, $70; Michelin HydroEdge, $100; Dayton Grenadier PLE, $48; Bridgestone Turanza LS-T, $78.

Here are some "Consumer Reports Quick Picks" for winter tires.

Best for severe winter performance: Michelin X-Ice, $84; Goodyear Ultra Grip Ice, $75; Bridgestone Blizzak WS-50, $86; Mastercraft Glacier Grip II, $54.

"The Michelin X-Ice is the top choice for harsh winters. The Goodyear and Mastercraft also provide excellent snow traction, though not as good braking on ice. The Bridgestone is also very capable on both snow and ice."

For moderate winter conditions: Viking Snow Tech, $43.

"The Viking, distributed in the U.S. by Continental, is worth considering where winters are moderate or roads are cleared promptly. It handles and brakes very well on dry and wet pavement, and it rides comfortably and quietly."

For the first time in decades, the magazine also evaluated all 18 models of all-season tires for tread wear. The results show that the Uniform Tire Quality tread wear grades found on a tire's sidewall and the manufacturer's tire warranty don't always paint an accurate picture of what consumers can expect.

CR's tests showed that tread wear ratings on some tires overstate their tread wear potential, while other ratings underestimate that potential.

"Consumers should be wary that tread wear information is supplied by manufacturers and may be different than real-world tread wear," says the magazine. (Consumer Reports' tread wear tests were not factored into overall tire scores; although tread wear is important, CR believes that it shouldn't outweigh braking, handling and other critical safety factors and should be used as a tie-breaker when comparing tires with similar overall performance.)

Full tests and ratings of the all-season and winter tires appear in the November issue of Consumer Reports, which goes on sale October 4. The complete report is available in both the November issue and to subscribers at www.ConsumerReports.org.

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