Five High-Quality All-season Tires that Don’t Break the Bank
Rounding up the top affordable entries from the names you know.
For the many folks who may be watching their expenses closer these days, but need a fresh set of tires for upcoming commuting, or are coming off winter tires that have already been extended well past winter weather conditions and may not be safe for when the weather warms up, we’ve gathered up some top rated all-season tires that land at the most affordable end of the price spectrum.
But with one caveat: we wanted to stick to mainstream tire brands that consumers recognize, since much of the latest research and development dollars go to these more established brands first, whereas older generations of tire technology and less costly materials are commonly used elsewhere, to help further reduce prices.
That’s not to say that all tires from non-Tier 1 brands can’t offer any value to consumers, or are dangerous. But we’ve listed and broken down the UTQG ratings of the tires below, which is a mandated U.S. government rating system that standardizes and communicates the tire’s treadwear (the higher than 100 the longer-lasting), its traction in wet weather stopping (from the best AA to a C score), and heat resistance (A to C), and is stamped on the side of the tire.
Similar to fuel efficiency ratings, there’s some debate on how comparable these ratings are between brands, and unfortunately, we didn’t have them all available on a test track for side to side scientific testing under similar conditions. Those caveats aside, here’s a close look at five of the top-rated affordable all-season tires on the Canadian market, and how they compare cost and performance-wise.
One note about tire pricing: for the greatest accuracy, all the following prices are retail prices from a leading Canadian retailer, which we’ve used instead of tire MSRPs, which tend to be roughly 20-30% higher. Actual pricing will vary by tire retailer, as well as common promotions on various tire lines.
Toyo Extensa A/S II
Designed for cars, minivans and all measure of compact crossovers and SUVs, the recently introduced Extensa A/S II takes over from the original Extensa as Toyo’s main passenger car tire. It offers what Toyo calls Silent Wall technology for a quieter ride, plus adds silica in the compound, which helps the tire remain cooler on the highway, and more pliable in colder temperatures.
The new Extensa also has a non-directional tread design that helps with easier tire rotations, as do most of the tires in this class, to even the wear and therefore extend the life on all four tires. It comes in T to V-speed ratings, at a price lower than Toyo’s Versado Noir touring tire.
Notably, there’s a lengthy 120,000 km treadwear warranty for all non-V-rated Extensa II, while the more performance-oriented V tires are warrantied to 105,000 km. Its high UTQG rating of 620AA on most of the line helps support that high treadwear warranty, with straight As down the line for its heat resistance rating. A few sizes go down to a B rating from the most common A scores for traction (eg, all the 14-inch sizes). As usual, the treadwear rating in larger sizes also decreases a bit, down to 580AB.
Bridgestone Turanza QuietTrack
The Bridgestone Turanza QuietTrack is a good example of a tire at the more premium end of economy all-season tires. Its longer treadwear warranty and higher speed rating also come with a heftier price, which is often the way with higher performing tires.
Offering a 130,000 km treadwear warranty, backed up by a notably lofty 800AA UTQG rating, the Turanza QuietTrack in a 205/60R16 size comes only with a V-speed rating, meaning it has been rated safe up to 240 km/h. There’s also a full 90-day refund or exchange offered on all Bridgestones.
Ranging from 15-20-inch sizes, the QuietTrack offers sizes for more premium cars as well, its smallest a 195/65HR15 entry model.
Average price for a 205/60HR16 tire: C$119
Kumho Solus TA31
The Kumho Solus line offers quite a bit of variety, with all-weather Solus HA versions as well as the Solus TA11 all-season as well. The Solus TA31 however is the entry-level tire into the Solus line, with sizes ranging from tiny 13-inch, 175mm-wide tires, up to 235/65R18s.
While the 500 part of its UTQG rating of 500AA reflects its lower overall expected life (and warranty), its A scores for both wet traction and heat dispersal rank closer to pricier entries. These Korean tires come as OEM equipment on quite a few cars (Hyundais especially), and various crossovers as well.
Those looking for a longer warranty may want to look at the TA11 line, which offers a 130,000 km warranty and higher 700AB UTQG rating, though there are lower scores for heat resistance, and a lower T-speed rating (190 km/h tested) in the same size.
Average price for one 205/60HR16 tire: C$125
Continental PureContact LS
Another entry into the higher end of the touring all-season tire market is the Continental PureContact LS, the German tire manufacturer is the priciest of this group here, though it (and many tiremakers) often offer rebates and deals that change constantly, so are not reflected here.
With a 112,000 km warranty and its V-speed rating in our default 205/60R16 size, it certainly looks to be more performance-oriented on the specs front. Its 700AA UTQG rating suggests durability should be fairly lengthy compared to some rivals, and it comes with a 60-day replacement guarantee.
Its premium characteristics can also be seen in its sizing, as they start at 16-inch diameters and go up to 20s, with the vast majority in the 17 to 19-inch range.
Average price for one 205/60VR16 tire: C$161
Firestone Champion Fuel Fighter
Though now a division of Bridgestone, and often regarded as a less expensive sub-brand of the Japanese tire giant, Firestone as a brand was independent up until 1998, with many fans of the American brand remaining. Firestone’s efficiency-focused Fuel Fighter line of low rolling resistance tires falls into this price range, with Firestone claiming better fuel efficiency than its Affinity all-season tires, though not specifying by how much.
Coming in 14 to 18-inch sizes, the Champion Fuel Fighter has a treadwear warranty up to 115,000 km, with a fairly average 600AA UTQG rating. Many LRR tires offer stiffer sidewalls and therefore more heat resistance and generally smoother tread patterns, but often to the detriment of cold weather elasticity and winter performance overall.
Average price for one 205/60HR16 tire: C$128
Do your research
When researching any tire purchase, it’s worth a visit to www.betiresmart.ca, a national Canadian tire education website that has some interesting resources for consumers, done by the Tire and Rubber Association of Canada. Most prominently is a winter tire cost calculator, which is useful because if you’re buying all-season tires in this country, you will need winter tires to maximize you and your family’s (and fellow motorists’) safety at some point. The cost calculator allows you to enter your own parameters (how much you drive, cost of winter tires you’re considering, storage, etc.), and then gives you a figure on how much extra per month it would cost once the lower use of your non-winter tires are factored in as well.
In my own driving case, the result was between $5 and $15 extra per month, depending on what tires were chosen, and whether I bought rims as well and paid to store them (and don’t forget TPMS sensor costs if you don’t want to look at a low tire pressure warning on your dash all winter for most 2008 or newer vehicles). All-season tires are really three-season tires, as suggested by the emergence of new all-weather tires, which have the snowflake symbol to denote a minimum level of winter proficiency.
It’s true that dedicated winter tires designed for snowy or slushy conditions are always the safest recommendation, as even in dry but cold temperatures their increased elasticity helps give them extra grip. All-weather tires are a useful solution for buyers dead set against a second set of tires, but are somewhat of a compromise as well, as their increased winter capabilities often bring shorter life spans, more road noise, or decreased year-round fuel efficiency overall.
All of which leads back to all-season tires. For those consumers, this tool may be a useful one to determine whether future winter tires or one pricier set of all-weather tires may provide the most value of all.
Wheels.ca always recommends the use of winter tires at all corners of your vehicle. Click here for our recommended list of winter tires for 2020.