Sumitomo and Kumho have much in common. Both specialize in making high-quality tires for passenger cars, SUVs, light trucks, and commercial vehicles. They have a strong presence in the North American market, even though both brands operate out of Asia.
Another thing they have in common is that they are both famous for their high-performance tires. For instance, while Sumitomo is known for the HTR ZIII and HTR A/S PO2 models. Kumho is globally renowned for its Ecsta PS71 and Ecsta 4X high-performance tires.
Given that they have so much in common, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that Sumitomo and Kumho tires compete directly for a place on your vehicle. As such, for any driver who’s in the market for brand-new tires, it makes sense to consider these brands’ models.
That is why we have come up with this guide. In the following paragraphs, we’ll take a look at these tire manufacturers’ respective histories, lineups, and more. We’ll also compare their tires based on their performance, availability, price, and treadwear warranty.
Sumitomo Tires History
Sumitomo Tires was founded in 1909 in Japan. The company’s first assembly line included bicycle and motorcycle tires, which should surprise no one. Michelin Tire & Rubber Company took the same route before it became the global tire behemoth that it is today.
After producing tires for two-wheelers throughout its first decade of existence, Sumitomo expanded into the production of car tires. This was in the 1920s. However, it took the Japanese tire manufacturer another decade to start exporting its products around the world.
Fast forward to 1970, and the company introduced its first lineup of radial tires. These models quickly gained traction due to their excellent fuel efficiency and improved handling. Their even tread wear and decent road manners also helped woo automobile drivers.
However, it wasn’t until the late 1990s that Sumitomo started producing tires for specialized applications, such as high-performance and off-road vehicles. Currently, Sumitomo is ranked among the world’s top tire manufacturers, with operations in over 170 countries.
Sumitomo Tire Families
Six families complete Sumitomo’s tire lineup. These include HTR, HTR Enhance, Touring, Tour Plus, and Ice Edge. Let’s discuss them one by one.
All-season, all-season performance, and maximum-performance summer tires populate Sumitomo’s HTR family. These models are designed to deliver enhanced wet braking distances, superior grip and handling, and above-average high-speed stability at competitive prices.
As you might guess, every HTR tire is built differently. For instance, while the HTR Z5 (a maximum-performance summer tire) is designed to rule the track/street. The HTR 900 (an all-season tire) is designed to keep things quiet and comfortable on the highway.
Sumitomo Tour Plus
Sumitomo Tour Plus tires strike the perfect balance between road manners and handling.
Take the example of the Sumitomo Tour Plus LS, arguably the family’s most famous member. This model supplements its amazing traction on dry and wet roads with admirable performance in light snow. A 50,000-90,000-mile treadwear warranty (depending on tire size) further sweetens the deal.
Two types of tires complete Sumitomo’s Encounter family.
The first is all-terrain tires developed for drivers of pickup trucks, SUVs, and crossovers. These models offer the go-anywhere capability at a considerable price. Moreover, thanks to their high load capacities, you can use these models for towing and hauling heavy stuff.
Then comes the highway terrain or HT tires. Featuring the same tread compound as the one used in their all-terrain siblings, these models are much quieter on dry pavements.
Sumitomo Ice Edge
As the name implies, the Sumitomo Ice Edge family comprises dedicated winter tires. These models can safely carry you from point A to point B on snow-laden roads, with some of them also letting you insert studs in their tread area for enhanced extreme weather performance.
In case you’re looking for suggestions, the Sumitomo Ice Edge is our favorite model from this family. A studdable tire with the Three Peak Mountain Snowflake (3PMSF) symbol, this model offers very good comfort levels in very bad weather conditions.
Looking for a set of high-quality touring tires? Have a budget that you cannot exceed? If so, the Sumitomo Touring tires may be worth a shot.
Sure, these models’ road manners aren’t as great as those you get from ‘rival’ tires produced at Michelin, Bridgestone, and Continental factories. But for the price they are available, the Sumitomo Touring tires deliver excellent performance.
Kumho Tires History
Kumho Tires is the younger of the two brands. The multinational tire company was founded in South Korea in 1960, half a century after Sumitomo had opened its eyes in neighboring Japan. That means that Kumho had a lot of catching to do to make up for the five decades.
Which is precisely what it did. After changing its name in 1966, the company became one of Asia’s first tire brands to be awarded the US Department of Transportation (DOT) mark. This was a major milestone as Kumho could now sell its products in the North American market.
Another DOT certification in 1988 further cemented the company’s reputation as one of the most trustworthy tire brands on the scene. The research and development of run-flat tires in the following decades further silenced critics who doubted this tire manufacturer.
At the time of writing, Kumho Tires operates under the umbrella of Chinese tire manufacturer Doublestar, which took over its business operations in 2018. It supplies its products to over 180 countries and is renowned for making high-quality, durable tires at affordable prices.
Kumho Tires Families
At the time of writing, six families complete Kumho’s tire lineup. These include the Kumho ECSTA, SOLUS, WINTERCRAFT, I’ZEN, CRUGEN and ROAD VENTURE.
The Kumho ECSTA tire family is pretty diverse. In addition to encompassing all-season and all-season touring tires, it houses performance and high-performance models too.
The ECSTA PA51 and ECSTA AST are both high-performance tires. Both offer excellent high-speed stability and plenty of traction and grip regardless of weather conditions. Yet, if you want refined road manners, the ECSTA 4XII KU22 (an all-season tire) might prove to be a better pick.
Want reliable all-season tires on a budget? Then you may want to consider checking out the different tires in Kumho’s SOLUS family.
However, if you don’t have much time to compare various models, pick the SOLUS TA71. Despite costing $100 less than premium all-season tires, this tire delivers the kind of road manners and fuel economy that would never let your fellow passengers correctly guess its true price.
Kumho’s WINTERCRAFT tires are designed to offer excellent performance in harsh weather conditions. They have a unique tread design that enables them to increase traction in snowy and icy conditions. Plus, a specialized rubber compound that helps them retain grip in sub-zero temperatures.
Another thing that is unique about WINTERCRAFT tires is that they come with metal studs embedded in the tread. These studs help them to provide enhanced traction on icy roads. Lastly, a wide shoulder (vis-à-vis A/S tires) helps them offer improved traction on snow-laden roads.
There are four members in Kumho’s I*ZEN family.
All of them are designed to keep you and your vehicle safe in harsh wintry conditions. However, not all of them are designed for the same type of vehicles. While some members of this family are developed for passenger cars, others work wonders for SUVs and light trucks.
In case you’re wondering, there is one key difference between I*ZEN tires and the above WINTERCRAFT models. Which is that not every I*ZEN tire is studdable.
Kumho’s CRUGEN family is what has helped put it on the map.
Or, if you want us to be more precise, two members of this family are largely responsible for making Kumho tires a household name across the world. The first of this is the CRUGEN HT 51, a highway-terrain tire backed to last up to 70,000 miles.
Then there is the CRUGEN HP71, one of the market’s favorite budget all-season tire. This tire is so good at what it does that the likes of Nissan and Hyundai have picked it as the OE model for many of their SUVs.
Kumho ROAD VENTURE
Different types of off-road tires populate Kumho’s ROAD VENTURE lineup.
While some of them are all-terrain tires that you can safely drive on the highway with minimal risk of quick wear and low road noise. The Road Venture AT 51 is one such tire. This model offers balanced on- and off-road performance, though it will struggle in deep mud.
Which is something you cannot say about this family’s dedicated mud-terrain tires, which are developed to tackle extreme road conditions. However, while the AT 51 is relatively noise-free at low speeds on the highway, the MT tires won’t take long to start growling on dry roads.
Sumitomo Vs Kumho Tires: Differences
Here are the major differences between Sumitomo and Kumho tires:
Kumho tires offer better handling and grip on dry and wet roads.
This makes them especially popular among drivers who appreciate a sporty, responsive ride. Which is why Kumho tires are a common sight on track days. Muscle car drivers know that Kumho’s high-performance tires have what is needed to give them an edge.
That is not to say that Sumitomo tires offer poor handling. It’s just that these models are generally not responsive as Kumho tires, though they are much quieter.
In terms of availability, there’s a tie between Kumho and Sumitomo tires.
Both tire brands offer a range of tires for cars, SUVs, light trucks, and commercial vehicles. They also have a decent variety of models for different seasons (all-season, summer, and winter), as well as models for off-roading. As such, there isn’t much here to distinguish the two.
Price and Warranty
Sumitomo tires tend to be slightly more expensive than Kumho tires.
To make up for the price difference, these models come with relatively longer treadwear warranties. As noted in our Sumitomo tires review, it isn’t uncommon for this brand’s tires to be backed to last up to 90,000 miles, an excellent number no matter how you slice it.
In contrast, no Kumho tire on the market is backed to last more than 75,000 miles.
Advantages of Sumitomo
- Longer treadwear warranties
- Wide variety of tires for different vehicles
- Relative longer tread lives and quieter driving experience
Advantages of Kumho
- Better handling and grip on dry and wet roads
- More responsive than rival models from Sumitomo
- Generally more affordable than Sumitomo tires
Sumitomo Vs Kumho Tires: Which Brand to Choose?
Sumitomo Tires may be a better bet if you want radials that won’t require replacement anytime soon. These models generally come with bigger treadwear warranties. Plus, they offer a much quieter driving experience on paved roads in both dry and wet conditions.
Kumho Tires deserve your attention if it’s high-performance capabilities you’re after. True, they aren’t the most responsive tires on the market. But when compared with their counterparts from Sumitomo, Kumho tires will offer a more rewarding steering experience.