The problem with all-season tires is just that. By trying to come up with rubber compounds and tread designs that work year round, engineers trade off such things as maximum traction on dry pavement, or noise generated by the tread, or the best grip in snow. Moreover, early versions of such tires were mediocre at best.
Forced by fuel economy regulations, automakers have specified as original equipment a type of all-season tire known as fuel-saving to help improve ratings for quite some time. Tires with lower “rolling resistance”—the amount of force that it takes to roll a tire down a road—are more fuel-efficient than others, but trade-offs are made to achieve this.
However, replacement tires are not limited to an automaker’s requirements, and tire companies aggressively market attributes such as all-season grip and tread life with less emphasis on other areas of performance.
If you thought about it at all, a replacement tire choice was a compromise between low rolling resistance and other attributes—such as good dry- and wet-weather grip for stopping and cornering.
Consumer Reports’ latest tests of two all-season, low-rolling resistance tires – the Michelin Energy Saver A/S and the Cooper GFE – show that they not only save gas, but also deliver good stopping and handling capabilities.