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Consumer Reports: Which brand beat Michelin?

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Which tire brand fared the best in the latest Consumer Reports (CR) tire tests? If you said Michelin, always a perennial high finisher in CR testing, you would be correct.

But there were plenty of other tire brands with high marks, including the top brand in the all-terrain light truck tire group, the Hankook Dynapro AT-M.

This year, CR tested three types of SUV and light truck tires, size P265/70R17: all-season, all-terrain and winter. For the first time, the magazine included Chinese tire brands; however, Geostar, Sunny and Pegasus finished at the bottom of the all-season SUV and light truck tire category. (For more information on the results of CR's Chinese tire testing, click here).

All-season

The top two all-season tires were the Michelin Latitude Tour and Michelin LTX M/S2, each with a score of 74. The Latitude Tour, the less expensive of the two, received "excellent" marks for dry braking, noise dampening and tread life, while the LTX M/S2 had excellent anti-hydroplaning performance characteristics and tread life. Both received "good" marks or higher in every category.

Third was the Goodyear Assurance CS TripleTred All-Season, which also had three "excellents" in the following categories: dry braking, noise dampening and tread life. It was even less expensive than the Latitude Tour.

The only other tire to receive at least a "good" in every test category was the Pirelli Scorpion Verde All Season Plus, which finished fourth with 68 points. (The Continental CrossContact LX20 EcoPlus also had a score of 68, but was rated "fair" in the ice braking test.) Although Pirelli was rated six points lower than the Latitude Tour, it had the same number of "excellents," "very goods" and "goods," and was priced lower. The two "goods" were in snow traction and ice braking.

Those five tires, plus the sixth-place Cooper Discoverer SRX (also with 68 points) were "recommended buys" by CR.

All-terrain

The Hankook Dynapro AT-M tied with the Goodyear Wrangler All-Terrain Adventure and Michelin LTX A/T 2 with 66 points, but was priced $21 lower than the Wrangler and $32 lower than the LTX. It had excellents in the dry braking and tread-life tests and nothing less than a "good" in any of the other eight tests.

"Solid winter grip with excellent tread life distinguish the Hankook Dynapro AT-M," according to CR.

All three tires were recommended buys by CR, as were the next two tires in the rankings: the new Cooper Discoverer A/TW and the Falken WildPeak A/T01. The Falken WildPeak "is the bargain hunter's choice -- as long as you don't normally drive in icy conditions," said CR.

Winter

Michelin topped the winter category with the Latitude X-Ice Xi2 despite a "fair" result in wet braking. It was the only tire with "excellents" in three categories: snow traction, ice braking and low rolling resistance.

"It's the only winter tire we tested that comes with a 40,000-mile tread wear warranty, and it exceeded that by more than twofold in our tread-life test," said CR. (Tread-life testing was not part of CR's winter tire scoring process.)

In second and third -- the only other tires recommended by CR in this segment -- were the Continental ExtremeWinterContact (the least expensive of the three) and the Nokian Hakkapeliitta R2 SUV (the only brand of the 11 tires tested with all "good" or better marks).

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