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Best All-Season Tires for 2015

 All-season tire selection guide for cars, minivans, SUVs and light trucks
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Here are our top picks for the best all-season tires of 2015

When the time comes to replace the original tires on your car, minivan, SUV or light truck, there is an abundance of choice. Most Canadians choose to have a set of all-season tires and dedicated winter tires. Summer tires and all-weather tires are another option. To help simplify the selection process, this guide will explain the difference between the various types of tires while focusing on the best all-season tires available in Canada.

Most new passenger vehicles come equipped with all-season tires because they work well in most weather conditions. Although with the exception of when the ambient temperature drops below 7C, the rubber hardens and loses its ability to grip the contact surface. Winter tires are made of rubber compounds that remain flexible in cold temperatures to enable better traction on snow, ice and slush. All-weather tires are a jack-of-all-trades and do an adequate job in most weather conditions but do not perform as well in extreme winter and summer temperatures. Summer tires offer better handling capabilities for performance vehicles however their soft rubber compound has a shorter tread life and less comfortable ride than all-season tires.

Each type of tire has its strengths and weaknesses and it is important to choose the type of tire that best suites your driving conditions, priorities and budget. While all-weather tires allow you to get by with just one set of tires, most Canadians recognize the benefits that dedicated winter and all-season or summer tires have.

RELATED: Is driving on winter tires in summer all that bad?

All-season tires are the most common type of tire. I was recently in the market for new all-season tires for my Acura CSX so I talked to tire expert Billy Lau, owner of Tires 23, to see what he recommends. These are Billy’s top choices.

Best all-season tire recommendations for passenger cars/mini vans:

Best overall performer (money-is-no-object)

Michelin Premier A/S “The Premier A/S is Michelin’s new flagship grand touring all-season tire that delivers exceptional wet grip when new and when worn” commented Lau. “This total performance tire uses innovative technology to provide incredible handling, steering control, stopping power, fuel efficiency and all-season safety, even in light snow.”

Michelin Previer AS3 all-season tires

Going with Billy’s recommendation, I purchased a set of Michelin Premier A/S tires, which replaced the original Michelin Pilot HX MXM4 tires on my Acura CSX. I haven’t had much driving time on them yet, but I can already say that I really like the way they feel and handle.

Best value for the budget conscious

General Altimax RT43 is a great bang-for-the-buck grand touring all-season tire that delivers excellent ride comfort, handling and tread life at a retail price far lower than comparable premium brand tires. The RT43’s construction reduces tread distortion as the tire rolls, resulting in less surface abrasion and promoting even tread wear and extended tread life with a 120,000 km limited tread wear warranty.

General Altimax RT43 all-season tires

Best for handling, acceleration and stopping performance

Michelin Pilot Sport A/S 3 is Michelin’s best ultra-high performance all-season tire with the highest level of performance and grip in all driving conditions. Variable thickness sipes provide more biting edges in low-grip conditions to improve wet and snow traction. They lock together in dry conditions to assure crisp handling and long tread life.

Michelin Pilot Sport AS 3 all-season tires

 RELATED: How do you know when you’ve damaged your tires?

Best for ride comfort/road noise

Pirelli Cinturato P7 All Season PLUS is designed to provide high performance, safety and durability with less environmental impact. Specialized tread pattern, construction design and compound selection contribute to a significant reduction in road noise resulting in a quiet, comfortable ride. An optimized profile helps lower rolling resistance and weight, resulting in long tread life and reduced fuel consumption.

Pirelli Cinturato P7 all-season tires PLUS

Best for tread wear longevity/ fuel efficiency

Michelin Defender is Michelin’s best standard passenger car/minivan tire with a 145,000 km tread wear limited warranty for confident driving, exceptional safety, longevity and a quiet, comfortable ride. IntelliSipe Technology maximizes the number of sipes, along with interlocking action, combine to deliver long wear-life by providing exceptional tread block rigidity.

Michelin Defender all-season tires

Best all-season tire recommendations for SUVs/light trucks:

 Best overall performer (money-is-no-object)

Michelin LTX M/S2 is a very popular all-season tire for light trucks and SUVs because of its exceptional combination of performance features. Special rubber compounds and better lateral water evacuation make this the best tire in its class for stopping performance. MaxTouch construction maximizes the tire’s contact with the road and evenly distributes the forces of acceleration, braking and cornering. The LTX M/S2 is constructed with steel belts to provide incredible durability and strength to handle heavy loads.

Michelin LTX-MS2 all-season tires

Best value for the budget conscious

Firestone Destination LE2 is an excellent value tire for light trucks and SUVs delivering all-season performance plus a quiet and comfortable ride. The continuous closed shoulder blocks provide dry performance and long wear life while the circumferential grooves, zigzag sipes and sweeping slots enhance performance on wet surfaces.

Firestone Destination LE2 all-season tires

Best for handling, acceleration and stopping performance

Continental ExtremeContact DWS features improved grip and braking in both wet and dry conditions with its unique asymmetrical tread design. The DWS has an advanced tread compound for improved traction in all-weather conditions including snow plus significantly improved mileage and rolling resistance for better fuel economy. The DWS is available in a variety of sizes to fit small SUVs and crossover vehicles.

Continental ExtreContact all-season tires

Best for ride comfort/road noise

Pirelli Scorpion Verde All Season PLUS utilizes the latest technology and innovation to deliver high performance and exceptional handling in all weather conditions. It provides a quiet, comfortable ride with long tread life. It also achieves a significant reduction in rolling resistance, resulting in improved fuel efficiency.

Pirelli Scorpion Verde all-season tires PLUS

Best for tread wear longevity/fuel efficiency

Bridgestone Dueler HL Alenz PLUS is designed with an optimized casing and footprint to assure a quiet, comfortable ride year-round. This tire boasts excellent fuel efficiency and an 80,000 mile tread wear warranty. Tread is composed of 5% recycled rubber resulting in reduced CO2 emissions. Its sidewall resists fading and the attractive tread pattern complements the aesthetics of luxury vehicles.

Bridgestone Dueler HL Alenz PLUS all-season tires

Two more options for the budget conscious:

For another perspective, I asked my long time mechanic (and tire guru) Leo Nucci, for his top all-season tire picks. Leo also recommends the same best overall performers (listed above) for passenger cars/vans and SUV/light trucks. For the budget conscious, Leo recommends Uniroyal Tiger Paw Touring (passenger cars/vans) and Cooper Discoverer H/T plus (SUVs/light trucks).

Driver feedback:

In researching all-season tires, I found that test results and consumer feedback on TireRack.com, CanadianTire.ca and ConsumerReports.org support the above models as top picks, taking into consideration various performance characteristics. Bare in mind that user feedback is subjective as everyone has difference priorities and experiences based on their driving style and conditions. All new tires start out very good at the beginning of their life, but it is important to consider how their characteristics will change as the tire wears out.

As a general principle, it is best practice to select the highest quality tire that your budget will allow and follow your vehicle’s original manufacturer fitment for size, load and speed rating. When your tires are worn to the wear indicator, don’t put off purchasing new replacement tires because worn tires exhibit reduced performance and safety. After all, tires are what keep our vehicles safely planted on the road.

TIRE COMPARISON: Continental TrueContact vs. Bridgestone Ecopia

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