Consumer Reports: Best Tires for Summer

Tires are one of the most important safety items on your vehicle. No other single item helps your car or SUV stop, turn, and go more than tires. It’s not just in adverse conditions that tires can help in either. Dry weather performance is just as important, even more so during the hot summer months. If at all possible, it is best to have both a set of winter and summer tires. Now, Consumer Reports is here to help with thier list of the best tires for summer.

Pirelli P Zero PZ4

A close up of Pirelli's PZero tire
Pirelli P Zero PZ4 | Pirelli

Pirelli’s P Zero is a byword for tire performance. There’s a reason the manufacturer also supplies tires to the globally-renowned Formula 1 race series and its subsidiaries like Formula 2 and Formula 3. Summer tires often come with some associated road noise due to their tread pattern, but that’s not the case with the P Zero PZ4, according to Consumer Reports. However, like many summer tires, the PZ4 is prone to a fair bit of rolling resistance and poor lifespan. The former phenomenon can negatively impact fuel economy, so buyer be warned.

Stiff ride is also an issue with this set of rubber, but that problem can be remedied at least in part by increasing the aspect ratio of the tire. In other words, a higher aspect ratio tire puts more rubber between your wheels and a nasty pothole. Happily, that’s where the negatives end for the PZ4. According to Consumer Reports, the tire offers fantastic grip rain or shine, as well as strong stopping distance in both categories, as well as a competitive price point of around $150 a tire.

Continental ExtremeContact Sport

A Continental tire on a BMW
The Continental Extreme Contact | BMW

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Continental’s ExtremeContact Sport solves some of the issues that ail the Pirelli P Zero. The Conti tire has a longer lifespan, about 40,000 miles compared to the P Zero’s 30,000. Like the P Zero, the Continental ExtremeContact also boasts some quieter characteristics, making it a great pick for daily drivers and weekend toys alike.

However, there are some weak points here as compared to the other two choices on Consumer Reports’ list. The rolling resistance of the ExtremeContact is one of its larger weak spots. Thankfully the Conti rubber makes up for its lack of fuel-friendliness with strong performances elsewhere, just like the Pirelli. Dry braking is rated as “excellent” by Consumer Reports, and at least on par with the Pirelli in this category. Just like the P Zero, the Continental falls slightly behind in wet braking, but it’s nothing that should deter you from buying this particular tire. The Continentals are marginally more expensive than the Pirelli, coming in around $160 a tire.

Consumer Reports pick: Michelin Pilot Sport 4S

A close up of Michelin's Pilot Sport 4S
The Michelin Pilot Sport 4S | Michelin

Should you frequent your local Cars and Coffee, the final contender on Consumer Reports’ list should be a familiar name to you. Odds are you’ve seen this tire on every Porsche and Corvette at your local track day too. The Michelin Pilot Sport 4S is the enthusiasts’ choice in this comparison. Noise is lower than both the Continental and the Pirelli, and tread life is identical to the Conti, at around 40,000 miles. Dry grip is better than every tire on this list, and so is wet weather performance. If you’re in need of a summer tire, this is the one. However, this tire is also the most expensive of the bunch, coming in at almost $200 a tire. No matter your choice, it’s important to have the best grip possible in all conditions, and all of these options succeed in that category.