Can high-performance tires improve the way your car drives?
Most automakers install inexpensive low-rolling resistance tires on their new cars. While this decision effectively keeps assembly costs low and increases fuel economy, original equipment (OE) tires may involve ultimate handling, traction, braking, and wear. Fortunately, installing a replacement set of high-performance tires will dramatically improve the way your vehicle drives and increase safety.
Proving that tires – the only part of a vehicle in contact with the road – are the most important performance upgrade you can make to any vehicle, I replaced the worn-out OE tires on my daughter’s car with a set of premium replacement tires.
My daughter drives a 2021 Subaru Crosstrek, a subcompact crossover with a four-cylinder engine and full-time all-wheel drive. It’s an entry-level vehicle designed to be practical and comfortable, so Subaru fits it with Falken ZIEX ZE001 A/S tires from the factory. Although the crossover handled well, the OE tires were uninspiring in the wet, lacked grip in corners, and were noisy. What’s even more disappointing is that it wore out in less than 29,000 miles, which is a very short service life. (The OE Falken “Crossover/SUV Touring All-Season” tire earned a dismal “Acceptable” recommendation rating from online tire retailer reviewers, and a low average of 6.2 in five subjective categories.)
I wanted a replacement tire that was innovative and advanced, and had to have high performance engineering goals. I was aiming to increase performance, improve safety and extend service life, so I needed a really good tire. After dispensing with several tires that were either too expensive or focused on one task (aka summer only), I chose the new Bridgestone Potenza Sport AS.
Although the All-Season Ultra Performance tire isn’t specifically designed for economy boxes like my daughter’s (Bridgestone targets the Alfa Romeo Giulia, BMW In Subaru Crosstrek. It received strong praise (the Potenza Sport AS received an “excellent” recommendation rating from Tire Rack and a high rating of 8.7 in five subjective categories).
Unfortunately, the OE size is 225/55R18 98H M+S, and Bridgestone does not currently offer the Potenza Sport AS in this size. So, I did something that many driving enthusiasts do – I opted for a slightly wider and slightly longer replacement size 235/55R18 104W M+S. It removes the high-clearance Crosstek suspension and fits 18-inch wheels with no problems (however, always consult an expert before changing sizes). Technically, a larger tire will provide larger contact area, larger load capacity, and higher speed rate, which improves safety.
The improvement was immediate with the installation of Bridgestone tires on my daughter’s Subaru. Thanks to upgraded rubber, the ride is smoother and quieter. Dynamically, handling is noticeably improved (although the Crosstrek has a marshmallow-soft suspension, the Potenza Sport AS grips tenaciously and does so without squeaking – two excellent features when navigating tight inclines). The hydroplaning incidents disappeared in the rain.
There’s an extra margin of passive safety too. Potenza Sport AS will stop your Subaru shorter under full ABS to reduce the possibility of accidents. The enhanced grip will allow the car’s semi-autonomous safety systems (such as electronic stability control and automatic emergency braking) to operate more effectively. Those are huge benefits.
As expected, upgrading OE tires comes at a cost. Comparing prices at Tire Rack, Bridgestone gets a 20 percent pricing premium over the Falken tire — about $150 for a set of four tires. But that expense is minimal when the improved performance and added margin of safety are taken into account (cost-conscious consumers will also note that Bridgestone backs its product with a 50,000-mile wear-and-tear limited warranty, which easily exceeds the life of the original tires and makes up the difference).
Most drivers will still replace their original tires with whatever is available at their local tire store – in many cases (when a lower quality product is being sold), reducing the vehicle’s performance. But my advice is to do some research, spend a little more money, and upgrade to a better tire that will enhance the way your car drives and increase safety. Although I’m not ready to describe my daughter’s Subaru Crosstrek as a true “sport” crossover, the new Bridgestone tires have elevated it to “sport” status — a huge improvement over the factory offering.
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(tags for translation)Bridgestone