Text and photos by Chris Van Hoven
With SUVs becoming one of the fastest growing segments in the automotive industry, the demand for high-performance SUV tires continues to rise. Improving on their multiple award-winning EfficientGrip SUV tire line, Goodyear is introducing their EfficientGrip Performance SUV tire to target SUV owners who value low road noise, comfort, and excellent wet performance in their tires.
It’s easy for a tire manufacturer to claim improvements on a new product line, but Goodyear was willing to put it all on the line by allowing us to personally put their EfficientGrip Performance SUV tires through rigorous comparative testing against leading competitors on the Chang International Circuit in Buriram, Thailand. Here’s what we discovered.
On a stretch of smooth asphalt, any car tire will seem quiet;so Goodyear pulled out a decibel meter to properly quantify the test. After numerous passes, the results were consistent: the Goodyear EfficientGrip Performance SUV tire was measured at 2.2 dB lower than the competing brand — quite significant considering +3 dB is a doubling of sound intensity. A chat with Goodyear’s engineer specializing in sound and noise reveals that the technology behind their success lies in what they call QuietTred. The increased number of pitches with optimized distribution, coupled with closed grooves and shoulder design, lowers noise generation, providing a quieter ride. With its improved footprint shape and pressure distribution lessening vibrations as the tire rolls, the tire’s longevity is improved as well.
We then brought EfficientGrip Performance SUV-equipped BMW X1s out on a 10 kilometer drive to evaluate how comfortable a drive would be on concrete city roads. Goodyear has put a lot of effort in ensuring that their new tire passes a strict standard of ride comfort. After all, these tires are aimed at the premium SUV market, whose owners prioritize coziness and low road noise above all else. Thanks to several innovations which increase insulation and enhance rim contact, Goodyear succeeds in this regard. Their FlexContact Technology incorporates a shock absorbing cushion layer compound and a unique hexagonal bead shape reduces tire vibration on road contact, which greatly enhances ride comfort.
Impressive wet performance
Perhaps the most eye-opening tests of them all, the wet braking and cornering exercises revealed some startling results. The braking test was done on the track’s main straight, after being sufficiently drenched by a fire truck’s hose. Identical Mercedes Benz GLAs were each equipped with the EfficientGrip Performance SUV tires and the competitor tires, and were made to come to a complete stop from 80 km/h after passing a certain mark. The Goodyear EfficientGrip Performance SUV tires outperformed its competitor by a staggering 1 meter distance — spelling the difference between a possibly troublesome collision and safely avoiding it. The wet cornering exercise revealed the EfficientGrip Performance SUV’s real strengths. We were made to take an extremely sharp right corner at 60 km/h without lifting off the accelerator, first on the crossover equipped the EfficientGrip Performance SUV tires. As we pushed the car to take the right hander as hard as it could, only a hint of tire squeal revealed any sort of struggle. The car safely made the turn without hitting any pylons, without triggering the traction control.
We were expecting a similar, albeit less engaging response from the competitor tire, but the difference was surprising to say the least. The same maneuver on the same patch of wet road saw all the car’s traction mechanisms kick into overdrive. The tires let out a loud screech in protest as the car barely corrected itself from tremendous levels of understeer. On any other car, especially one without any semblance of traction control, we would’ve gone straight forward into the ditch.
Such a disparity in performance levels have further cemented my beliefs that one should never cheapen out on the tires you put on your car. Getting the best tires you can afford can mean the difference between life and death, often at times when you least expect it.
Goodyear plans to make their EfficientGrip Performance SUV tires available in the Philippines this September, capable of fitting most SUVs with wheel sizes of 17 to 20 inches.
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