Ultra High Performance all-season tires have become increasingly popular for drivers and it's easy to see why - they do most things better than their counterparts. Car owners get better handling, cornering, braking and even more protection (a reduced chance of blowouts) with Ultra High Performance all-season tires.
An increase in popularity also means an increased number of options for all types of car owners. Nearly all of the major tire manufacturers produce at least one line of Ultra High Performance all-season tires and in most cases they have quite a few different options. For consumers, it can be a difficult task comparing all those tires.
All car owners looking at Ultra High Performance all-season tires are going to want the top 'performers' of the bunch, but they are also going to want some value. Four tires that fit the bill, going above and beyond the competition in performance while still keeping the price down are the Pirelli P Zero Nero All-Season, Sumitomo HTR A/S PO1, Michelin Pilot Sport A/S Plus and Continental Extreme Contact DWS.
According to Consumer Reports those four Ultra High Performance all-season tires are ahead of the competition based on comparisons in eleven different categories - dry braking, dry handling, wet braking, hydroplaning, snow traction, ice braking, ride, noise, rolling resistance and tread life. They all have at least a good rating in all the categories, unless noted otherwise.
A closer look at these tires and it's easy to see why they get top marks....
Pirelli P Zero Nero All-Season - Pirelli's Ultra High Performance All-Season tire features a tread design with a silica-enhanced tread compound. The compound gives drivers enhanced traction, even in extreme temperatures during winter and summer months.
The tread has an asymmetric tread design with outside shoulder blocks that gives it a more rigid footprint so whether you are putting your foot on the gas pedal or the brake, the tire's grip remains the same. It has twin steel belts in its internal structure so the tire is strong and durable as well. Consumer Reports ranks its wet handling as excellent (top rating) and very good in dry braking and handling, hydroplaning, noise and wet braking.
Sumitomo HTR A/S P01 - Sumitomo's Ultra High Performance option gets the HTR (High Tech Radial) designation because it takes advantage of the company's high-tech materials and manufacturing techniques. It's a W-speed rated tire with an all-season silica tread compound that features a five-rib directional pattern. That means this tire meets the need of vehicles that have extremely high top speed capabilities. The HTR A/S P01 has four wide circumferential and multiple lateral grooves for improved wet traction and sipes that helps it perform well in snow as well.
Consumer Reports gave the Sumitomo an excellent rating in the noise category, and very good in six others (dry braking, dry handling, hydroplaning, wet braking, wet handling and ride).
Michelin Pilot Sport A/S Plus - Michelin's Ultra High Performance tire to crack the top five is the Pilot Sport A/S Plus. It features Michelin's "C3M" tire manufacturing process, so it has three different tread compounds molded side-by-side. The compound in the shoulders is used to improve dry handling, the compound in between the shoulders and center rib is to improve wet and snow traction and the center rib compound improves wet traction further.
The tread features a directional design and high angle directional tread blocks for precision handling. The tire also features Michelin's exclusive "Filament At Zero" (FAZ) technology, basically a reinforcement for the entire internal structure of the tire. The FAZ tech is what helps it gets an excellent rating in the tread life category from Consumer Reports, it also got very good ratings in dry braking, dry handling, wet braking, wet handling and hydroplaning.
Continental Extreme Contact DWS - This radial has an advanced silica-based all-season tread with an asymmetrical design. The center of the tread has independent blocks divided by crisscross grooves to give it bite on wet roads and in light snow. The stable shoulder blocks and continuous rib on the outboard side give it enhanced stability and responsiveness.
The DWS initials stand for dry, wet and snow, not just because the tire gets solid performance in all three of those conditions, but because the letters are molded into the tire's rib and act as performance indicators. When all three letters are visible the tire's tread depth is good to go in all three conditions. If a letter is worn out, than the tire's tread depth has worn away and isn't good enough for that condition, for instance if the 'W' is worn out, than the tread depth isn't good enough for wet roads. A helpful tool for car owner's to keep track of their tire's tread life.
The Continental tire gets Consumer Report's top marks for wet braking and very good marks in dry braking, dry handling, wet handling and hydroplaning. The only category it suffers in compared to the other four is its tread life, which only gets a fair rating.