Our '03 Vibe (Base, FWD, 1.8L) popped a tire on a rather severe frost heave on a state highway this weekend. Because the current P205/55R16 Goodyear Eagle RS-A's have 30,000 miles or so on them and are fairly worn (I was only planning on getting one more summer out of them), I'm in the market for a full set of four new tires.
The car serves as my wife's daily driver as well as our combined vehicle for weekend trips. We usually put about 6,000-8,000 miles on it per year at a ratio of approximately 30/70 city/hwy. We live in SW Michigan and are therefore accustomed to receiving decent amounts of snowfall. Our subdivision is usually plowed out a day or so after the main county roads, and our driveway is about 100' long, up a moderate hill. Our normal commute to town involves driving a mile or so stretch of road that is lined by expansive fields and is notorious for being drifted shut after a snow and some strong wind.
At this point I'm not willing to shell out the money required for another set of wheels and winter tires, so we're in the market for an all-season P205/55R16 tire with a focus on dry/wet braking, hydroplaning, snow traction, ride comfort, and tread life. We purchased the Vibe in part for its fuel economy and drive quite conservatively, so tire "performance" as measured in regard to high speed cornering or hard acceleration is of little concern. I'm a big believer in Consumer Reports, which is actually what led us to purchase the Vibe in the first place. After cross-referencing the 2015 Consumer Reports Buying Guide with the tests, surveys, and reviews found at Tire Rack and our budget of approximately $500, I've narrowed the field to the below tires:
Continental ProContact EcoPlus, A/S
, shipped price - $?
Consumer Reports ranks this the #2 overall tire in the All-Season "T" speed rated category, second only to the Michelin Defender (our budget precludes the Michelin series). It is rated "very good" across the board, even for snow traction, while wet braking is rated "excellent". However, it appears that this tire is being / has been discontinued by Contitech, as Tire Rack no longer carries it in P205/55R16 and Wal-Mart lists it as "out of stock". Tire Rack survey responses
for the ProContact EcoPlus in the P195/60R16 size
(on close-out) indicate somewhat sub-par owner happiness, winter performance, and tread life. Some of the reviews specifically mention great winter performance, others reference unduly fast tread wear. Who to believe, Consumer Reports or the short tread life warnings from some Tire Rack customers? Is this tire still available in the P205/55R16 size anywhere? Would running this tire in a P195/60R16 size negatively impact ride comfort at highway speeds?
Continental PureContact EcoPlus, A/S
, shipped price - $441.92
Consumer Reports ranks this the #2 overall tire in the Performance All-Season "H" speed rated category. However, hydroplaning and snow traction capabilities are listed as only "good" compared to "very good" for the ProContact. This tire seems to be readily available and has stellar Tire Rack reviews, placing #3 overall in the category
. Owners of cross-over type vehicles report excellent snow traction. Consumer Reports ranks the ProContact above the PureContact, but Tire Rack appears to put the PureContact first. Who's right?
Pirelli P7 Cinturato Plus, A/S
, shipped price - $501.32
Consumer Reports ranks this the #4 tire in the Performance All-Season "H" speed rated category. It has "Very Good" hydroplaning and snow traction capabilities which compares favorably to the Contitech PureContact, but the tread life is rated only "Fair", two steps removed from the "Very Good" of the PureContact. However, Tire Rack consumer survey results
rank the P7 Cinturato Plus as the #1 overall tire in the category, topping the Michelin Premier (#2) and the Continental PureContact (#3). Who to believe, Consumer Reports or the Tire Rack consumer survey results?
General AltiMAX RT43, A/S
, shipped price - $373.32
The General AltiMAX RT43 wasn't tested by Consumer Reports, but Tire Rack lists this as the #4 tire within its category
, trailing the Pirelli Cinturato P7, Michelin Premier, and ContiTech PureContact by a hair. This would appear to be a cheaper option than the Cinturato P7 or the PureContact without sacrificing much in the way of performance, leading to better overall value. Can anybody vouch for the performance of these tires?
Pirelli P4, A/S
, shipped price - $372
Consumer Reports ranks this the #4 tire in the All-Season "T" speed rated category. It has only "Good" snow traction and rolling resistance, but it has "Excellent" tread life. Tire Rack doesn't carry them but I was able to find them on Amazon. Anybody have experience with these?
A direct comparison of the three models above that are stocked by Tire Rack can be found here