Top 5 Best Summer Tires 2021:
- Michelin Pilot Super Sport Tire
- Nankang AS-1 Summer Radial Tire
- Pirelli P ZERO High Performance Tire
- BFGoodrich G-Force Sport Comp 2 Radial Tire
- Hankook Ventus V12 Evo 2 Summer Radial Tire
Tires often tend to end up overlooked in the grand hierarchy of vehicle equipment. Sure, we buy new pneumatics when the old ones are worn down and do a regular seasonal replacement, but most of us fail to realize just how vital are these components.
And they are important.
Tires lend your car traction and keep it firmly on the ground no matter how fast you are racing. Best summer tires will allow you to control the vehicle even in the case of engine or brakes failure. But, as you can guess, not all pneumatics are made the same, and buying a subpar product can seriously endanger the safety of you and your family. There’s no too much need to worry, though
In this short roundup, we will take a look at some of the properties that make good pneumatics and take a look at some of the best summer tires you can currently find on the market.
Related: The Best Tire Cleaners
Things To Look For When Buying The Summer Pneumatics
But, first things first. As I already briefly mentioned, in order to make a good purchase, we need to know the properties that make good pneumatics and learn about the different options that can be found on the market.
Different vehicles and driving conditions require different pneumatics. In other words, the tires that fit my vehicle may not necessarily put on the same performance when mounted on your rims. So, let’s take a look at a couple of the most important things you should check before buying your new summer tires.
1. Seasonal Type
As you probably know, the tires can be roughly divided into two groups – summer and winter pneumatics. However, there is yet another group out there – all-season tires. So, the question arises: should you even bother with summer tires when you can buy the set that will keep your vehicle running throughout the entire year?
The short answer is yes.
You see, although they pack a couple of sleek benefits, all-season pneumatics don’t truly excel in any of them. Buying separate sets may cost a bit more, but it is a far safer and reliable solution.
2. Load Capacity
A standard passenger vehicle usually packs about 4.000lbs (1.800 kilograms) of weight. So, your regular summer pneumatic should be able to handle at least a quarter of this weight. But, we are talking about the bare minimum here.
The vehicles are rarely driven unburdened, so you should always take into consideration the weight of the passengers, spare parts, and regular cargo (groceries, baby strollers, etc.). When you take all these factors into account, you can quickly raise the required capacity to 6.600lbs (3.000 kilograms).
Of course, these numbers apply for cars with the weight under 4.000lbs. Heavier vehicles will require a higher load capacity.
3. Tire Code
Putting aside the load capacity that basically works on the principle, the higher, the better, the dimensions and other specs of the pneumatics are prescribed by the manufacturer, and can be found in the vehicle’s manual.
Based on this, you should look for the pneumatics with the appropriate tire code. Let’s break this inscription down. In the tire code P215/65 R15 95H:
- P describes the tire type (P stands for passenger vehicles)
- 215 indicates the tire width from sidewall to sidewall (width is measured in millimeters)
- 65 shows the ratio of the tire’s height to its width (in this case, the height of the tire make 65% of its width)
- R describes the construction (R stands for radial construction)
- 15 indicates the wheel diameter (unlike width, wheel diameter is measured in inches)
- 95 indicates the maximum load the tire can carry when inflated
- H describes the speed rating (H speed rating stands for the tires with the maximum speed capacity of 130mph/210kmh)
4. Fuel Economy
Tires affect the fuel economy in more than one way. But, the feature that has the most significant impact on how much fuel your vehicle will ultimately spend is called the rolling resistance.
You see, when you press the gas pedal, your car invests a certain amount of energy in turning the tires. The ones that feature the lower rolling resistance will require less energy to run.
Keep in mind, though, that this useful feature is usually accomplished by reducing the thread depth, which has an effect on the overall tire wear life. However, this tradeoff can be leveraged to your advantage if your tires are sufficiently affordable.
Tire manufacturers use various tricks to enable the tires to absorb vibrations and produce less noise, which makes them very comfortable for long-distance trips. However, these small tweaks usually affect the overall performance of the vehicles and their fuel economy.
So, it really boils down to your personal preference, if you are usually traveling long distance where your car will be able to run at the optimal speed, softer tires with deeper threads will make your trips all the more pleasant.
However, if you are primarily a city cruiser, you will need something that will allow you better performance and quicker reactions.
6. Tread Patterns
The thread patterns have a significant effect on how your vehicle ultimately behaves on the road. The good news is that most of the patterns you can find on the market can be divided into these three groups:
- Symmetrical – They are designed to be rotated in different ways and have a pretty good lifespan. Ideal for city driving.
- Unidirectional – These patterns are designed to move in a single direction, which makes them ideal for cars that need proper rotation. On the downside, they wear down a lot faster than other types.
- Asymmetrical – Asymmetrical tires feature intricate patterns that provide them with excellent grip, even on dry surfaces. They are, however, a bit expensive, so they can usually be found on sports vehicles.
5 Best Summer Tires In 2021: Detailed Reviews
And now that we’ve learned so many things about summer pneumatics, let’s put this new-found knowledge to good use and rank together some of the most popular summer tires you can currently find on the market.
In the world of premium pneumatics, Michelin always stood the undisputed king. This pneumatic just serves as proof the legacy of the French manufacturer is intact, and the future of the famous Michelin Man still looks bright as ever.
So what are we dealing with here?
Well, as the name suggests, this is one seriously mean and high-performing tire designed primarily for sports vehicles. This can also be easily observed even if you take a quick look at the product’s tire code – 255/35R19 96Y XL.
With the specs like this, it is evident that Michelin wasn’t aiming for broad appeal. But, the car owners that can use these specks and are willing to pay the premium price will genuinely get one rock-solid premium performance.
To put it simply, everything here works like a charm – the tires feature intuitive thread design that provides excellent traction and even better steering performance, their lifespan easily extends to 30.000 miles (the warranty grants at least six years of optimal performance).
The thing I dug the most, however, is the way the tires were handling breaking. I compared the brake distance on the same car with different pneumatics. Michelin outclassed its competitors by a landslide. But, that’s something to be expected from such an experienced design team (the same people are working on 24 Hours of Le Mans pneumatics).
So, to cut a long story short these tires are excellent. But, they are designed for a very small circle or sports car owners.
- Excellent grip on wet surfaces
- Intuitive thread design lends the tires very high maneuverability
- Long lifespan combined with an outstanding warranty
- In spite of exceptional performance, the tires are surprisingly silent
- Michelin mark of quality
- Very, very limited appeal
- The rim protection could be better
Although it’s not nearly as famous Michelin, this Taiwan-based manufacturer is far from unfamiliar in the circles of car lovers of all sorts. The keyword here is all sorts, and that is probably the biggest asset Nankang has working its favor when battling for the attention with some more famous brands.
If Michelin Pilot Super Sport Tire was a product aimed at premium users, AS-1 Summer Radial Tire offers similar quality but aims far wider. And truly, with the tire code 155/60R15 74V this pneumatic makes a truly excellent choice for a very long list of contemporary family vehicles.
So, what makes this specific pneumatic so unique? Well, for a start, the price is more than affordable. Sure, you can find something cheaper, but at your own risk.
Second, the radial design of the tire is pulled off rather well, and it allows all the comfort and durability we came to expect from such a setup – but never at the expense of your ability to maneuver quickly around any kind of unpredictable traffic situation.
Finally, AS-1 features a very sophisticated and well-thought-out asymmetrical design that should be able to handle all sorts of demanding road maneuvers without hiccups. At this price point, that’s pretty awesome.
As for the downsides, this is an all-season pneumatic, and as you can probably guess by now, I’m not the biggest fan. In order to efficiently roam the snow-bound roads, the tires should feature far deeper threads.
- Excellent price-value ratio
- Well-thought-out radial design
- Suitable for contemporary family vehicles
- The thread design is simply great
- Good durability
- I would much rather use winter pneumatics when the snow falls down
- If you push the vehicle to the limit, you can experience occasional sliding
When I told, you Michelin is the undisputed king of high-performing pneumatics, I wasn’t completely honest. Pirelli is more than capable of challenging this title, and in some classes, it even outclasses its biggest French rival. Unfortunately for the Italians, this time, that’s not the case.
But let us start with the positives.
First of all this is one very well-designed pneumatic built for all sorts of terrains and weather conditions. Even if you try driving your car over some rough road and it’s pouring outside, the level of control you will retain will still be impressive.
The second thing I really liked is the thread design. The asymmetrical pattern may not push any boundaries or win any awards, but it will certainly keep your car firmly on the ground even during some sharp turns. And then there is the load capacity of 1929lbs, which are pretty strong numbers. You will be more than able to load your car with cargo.
So, all the building blocks of a great tire are here. Where do the problems lay?
Well, for a start, with the tire code 245/45R20 103Y it’s easy to see these tires are designed primarily for light pickups, SUVs, and other heavier vehicles. But, that’s a matter of choice and not something to be taken against the product.
The real problem here is the lifespan – P ZERO can barely crawl over 20.000 miles mark. I would consider replacement as soon as I pass 15-16.000. Too bad, but this flaw can be addressed in some of the future iterations.
- Cheaper than some of the direct competitors
- Rocks-solid performance on all sorts of terrains
- The tires feature good traction even on wet asphalt
- Effortless steering
- Somewhat limited appeal
- Poor lifespan
We have by now covered the products coming from Michelin and Pirelli – it wouldn’t be possible to complete this roundup without throwing at least one BFGoodrich pneumatic for good measure. Unfortunately, in this case, the famous American manufacturer ended up with the short end of the stick.
That doesn’t mean this sport tire (225/40R18 Y) is bad or something. If it was, we wouldn’t even talk about it. But, it is hard to escape the feeling G-Force Sport Comp 2 lacks the refinement we’ve seen in the rivaling products.
So, what do we have here?
The answer is one very solid radial pneumatic with quite excellent lateral traction. Also, the silica-based COMP-2 compound that was used for manufacturing lends the tire with excellent steering capabilities that don’t take a heavy toll on structural integrity.
Finally, you will be able to roll this bad boy even if the cats and dogs are raining from the sky. But, that’s where the positives end.
Once you take a closer look, you will see (or hear) that the tire is quite noisy and that performance takes significant drops as the tire wears down, which shouldn’t be the case. But, these issues are counterbalanced by an affordable price.
- Good price-value ratio
- Excellent steering capabilities
- Good performance on wet roads
- The construction is quite sturdy
- Noise levels are definitely above the average
- Noticeable performance drops
Hankook Ventus V12 Summer Tire is a living proof that popularity and excellence don’t necessarily need to go hand in hand. That doesn’t mean this tire is terrible – let’s say we can call it above the average. And, believe me, that is more than enough to put on a decent performance and reach a very wide customer base.
That popularity can be primarily contributed to the more than affordable price. But, good things don’t stop there. The handling feels truly premium, traction is very decent, the performance has been optimized for both wet and dry conditions. The comfort level is also definitely above the average.
As for the negatives, sudden steering wears down the tire more than I would like, and the effect of weariness leaves its mark on the performance sooner than later. The threads don’t perform any better. You will see them disappearing before your eyes.
All these things, in combination with directional thread design, leave too many things to be desired. But, once again, that is something to be expected from the products in this price range. If you are satisfied with an affordable, decent tire meant for casual city cruising, this is the pick for you.
- One of the best affordable options on the market
- Decent wet and dry performance
- Good comfort levels
- Above the average handling
- Tires wear down rather quickly
- Noticeable performance drops
Conclusion – The Best 3 Summer Tires the Money Can Buy
Finally, it is time to take a second look at our contenders and proclaim the best summer tires of the roundup.
This time, the task is harder than it seems because all of the pneumatics I’ve covered have something working in their favor and are aimed at a specific audience. However, the fact remains that Michelin Pilot Super Sport Tire simply makes the least missteps along the way.
Still, if you are looking for something with a broader appeal or better suited for an SUV, I would advise you to check out Nankang AS-1 Summer Radial Tire and Pirelli P ZERO High Performance Tire respectively.