In the automotive industry, there are tons of aspects that need to be known. Even us owners, which aren’t too deep in the segment, have some responsibilities, if I may call them that, when it comes to owning and maintaining a car.
Our 4 wheeled friends have plenty of essential aspects, but as I often say, the tires are near the top if not on the top. Changing the tires is a process that shouldn’t be neglected as we rely on them for safety and drivability.
Before we even begin to think about specific models, the first thing we pay attention to is the type of tire we need to get. Unlike the olden days when tire manufacturers produced only one type of tire, today we have a plethora of options, which can be a bit confusing.
There are several misconceptions in this area, and the one that seems to circulate around the internet the most is touring vs. all-season tires. Spoiler alert: this is a comparison that cannot be made, but let me explain why. I’ll dive into each type individually and then see how they compare and why they remain incomparable. Confusing, but it’ll make sense.
What are Touring Tires?
Touring is the type of tires you’d find on most cars. They are designed to deliver a very comfortable and quiet ride, backed by a longer treadwear warranty, making them longer lasting than most other types of tires. Despite the emphasis on refinement and longevity, they have some decent performance but are overall set up for safety, not track usage.
Naturally, as not all tires are created equal, you will have some that may offer a mode dynamic handling or less flex in the sidewall. In these conditions, you will be losing a bit in the comfort department, but regardless of that, the tire will still be a touring one.
If you ever visited Tire Rack, you may have noticed that there are several types of touring tires, including grand touring, standard, passenger, and a few others.
Essentially, all of these are touring tires but are aimed at different categories of tires and offer a slightly different set of features. For example, a grand touring tire is a pinnacle in the industry, offering the most luxurious ride, the longest treadwear warranty, and no compromises on performance.
On the other hand, lower down the range are passenger touring tires which are by no means bad but don’t come packed full of technology and features. As a result, you are looking at a slightly cheaper option, which won’t perform as well as the grand touring tires.
In the SUV and CUV world, there are models usually referred to as highway tires. Even though they aren’t identical to the ones you’d find on a passenger tire, they are a type of touring tires.
The essence of these tires is the same; manufacturers aim to deliver longer treadwear life and a comfortable ride. With that said, the main difference between these and the ones for passenger tires is the available sizes and the loads that these tires are designed to carry. While some passenger tires will have a load rating below 100, the highway ones for larger vehicles, especially light trucks, will be over 100.
What are All-Season Tires?
All-season are tires designed to be driven in multiple weather conditions throughout the year. This means that unlike summer or winter tires designed for a certain part of the year, all-season tires will be usable throughout the year, as long as you live in an area where you have all 4 seasons.
To ensure that a tire can be driven in the summer and winter, manufacturers develop unique rubber compounds that keep the tire soft. For example, a summer tire is designed to be used in warmer temperatures, and the compound hardens when the temperatures drop. All-season tire remedies that problem by utilizing different elements that keep the tire pliable in summer and winter.
Next up is the tread pattern, a crucial feature in an all-season site, especially when driving on snow. Each manufacturer takes a different approach to this, but in almost all cases, the pattern features specially designed edges of the blocks, which provide biting force and deliver traction in those conditions.
Before you run out a set of all-season tires and think you’re settled for the entire year, there are a few things to consider. While all-season tires are usable in snow, don’t expect them to perform marvelously. They are far from a replacement for a winter tire, so you can use them only in mild winters.
As part of the all-season category of tires, there are all-weather ones. Unlike all-season, which come with an M+S rating, the all-weather tires have the 3PMSF rating that all winter tires have.
As a result, you are looking at a slightly better winter performance, but again, not something you’d want to use in the harsher conditions. When compared, the all-weather tires fall somewhere between the regular all-season and winter ones.
Differentiating Between Touring and All-Season Tires
Now that I’ve defined what each type of tire is, you are probably getting an idea of why these two categories cannot be compared. Touring defines a tire based on the specifications and the driving performance it offers, while all-season one determines the weather conditions in which a tire can deliver the performance. Let me explain with a few examples.
Let’s take a look at two Primacy models from Michelin – the Primacy MXM4 and 3. Both of these tires are sold as grand touring ones, meaning that you get a long-lasting and well-refined tire. The difference is that the MXM4 is an all-season touring tire, while the Primacy 3 is a summer one. As you can see, there are tires that can be classified as touring and all-season.
Throughout my reviews, I often praise the Bridgestone Turanza QuietTrack for being one of the quietest touring tires on the market. Bridgestone made it as an all-season tire and aimed to make it as well refined as possible. Another tire the Japanese manufacturer designed to be an all-season one is the Potenza RE980AS.
The difference between these two is the unlike the Turanza QuietTrack, the Potenza RE980AS is designed for maximum performance, so it’s an ultra-high-performance tire or UHP for short. While both tires can be used in the winter, like proper all-season tires, the features are different, meaning that one is designed for a luxurious ride, and the other is ideal for having fun on a twisty road.
Up until this point, I’ve talked mainly about tires for passenger cars and road use. I mentioned that there are highway tires for SUVs and light trucks, so the general rule applies to them as well.
With that said, there is a common misconception that revolves around off-road capable tires. Almost every all-terrain or mud-terrain tire on the market today is an all-season one. Most of them carry the M+S rating, while a few have the 3PMSF badge.
At first glance, it may seem confusing, but once you compare the models, things become clearer. A touring tire can be an all-season one, but an all-season tire doesn’t have to be a touring one.
Touring tires can be summer or all-season, while all-season tires can be UHP, touring, or off-road capable.