Comparing two tire models is pretty simple – test both, see the results, and declare a winner. When comparing tire manufacturers, things are different. To decide if one manufacturer is better, you need to look at multiple aspects.
People usually compare two brands from the same category. It makes things easier, but there are situations where we want to see how companies from different tiers stack up against each other.
On the one hand, the mid-range options are more affordable, and most times, you don’t get the same performance levels as the premium ones. On the other, premium tires cost more, so it’s important to distinguish when it’s worth it. In addition, many mid-range manufacturers have made excellent tires and catch up with the premium ones.
You’ve probably guessed by now that today’s comparison will be between a mid-range and a premium manufacturer. On the “cheaper” side, we have Yokohama and on the “expensive” one is Pirelli. Both make some excellent tires, but which manufacturer is better overall?
What's In This Guide?
Unlike some of the popular names in the tire industry, Yokohama cannot brag about being among the oldest. The company was founded in Tokyo, Japan, in 1917, near the end of the war. It was a joint venture between BFGoodrich and Yokohama Electric Cable Manufacturer to produce tires. Before this, both companies existed, making their own products, with the first already making tires and the second dealing with cables.
In the era when Yokohama was founded, cars were already a thing, and combined with the other rubber products, it didn’t take long for the company to grow. During its years, the manufacturer introduced many innovations that helped it prove itself on the market and expand in other countries and continents.
Yokohama is known for many innovations in Japan, mostly. The company made the first corded and the first snow tires in the country. During the second world war, the manufacturer focused on making tires for Japanese fighter jets.
With that many innovations, it’s natural for a company to produce excellent products. On top of that, Yokohama didn’t hold back from entering many racing series. Unlike some of its rivals, we have seen this manufacturer in various series like Formula 3, rally, off-roading, and many more.
Yokohama’s success throughout the years is one of the many reasons we consider it an excellent choice today.
Yokohama’s tire families
As far as the number of families is concerned, Yokohama doesn’t have many of those. With that said, each one covers multiple aspects and offers plenty of models with unique properties.
Yokohama knows about performance, and we start with the ADVAN family of tires. You’ll be looking at these options if you want the best possible grip and traction. The features are derived from the company’s racing experience.
For the passenger car segment, there are loads of options to choose from. The Neova, Sport and Fleva group of tires offer a few models, all of which are summer tires. The Sport A/S+ and A82A are in the all-season segment. The ADVAN family doesn’t cover the light truck and SUV segment well, so your only option here is the S.T., a summer model.
The more sensible tires are what most people would be interested in. For this option we have the AVID tires. This family covers the touring section with plenty of models. With these tires, Yokohama doesn’t emphasize maximum performance. Instead, you’re getting refinement and good performance for daily driving scenarios.
All tires in this family are all-season ones and differ based on their features. Yokohama has several models under the Ascend badge, the TOURING-S, regular GT, and many others designated under the S lineup. The company isn’t a fan of fancy naming schemes, which sometimes can get confusing. There is also a performance model, the ENVigor ZPS. The tires you’ll find under this family are all designed for passenger cars.
There are situations where an all-season tire won’t be enough for winter driving, which is where the iceGUARD family comes into play. With this family, Yokohama covers a broader segment and applications, so it’s not as limited as the previous two.
In this family, Yokohama offers multiple regular iceGUARD models like the iG52c or iG53 for passenger cars. For the larger vehicles, there are the G075 or iG51v. These are studless tires, so the performance on ice will be a bit limited, despite having “ice” in the name. There are multiple studdable models under the Stud group, which are rarer but can be fitted with studs for improved performance on ice.
Yokohama wants to cover the eco-friendly side of the market with this family. These are tires designed with “green” materials to help with the ecological impact on the planet. On top of that, they are also designed for improved fuel efficiency, so they will help you save a few bucks and emit less CO2.
For the most part, the BluEarth family covers the passenger segment. The S34 and S34TZ are all-season tires that most people would want. Yokohama also has winter tires – the Winter models for passenger cars and Winter SUV models for larger vehicles.
Moving away from the passenger car segment, we have a family of tires covering the SUV and light truck part of the market. Yokohama’s Geolandar family comes in multiple flavors, offering models for multiple conditions and driving styles.
Models like the X-CV, CV G058, or H/T G056B are part of the all-season touring lineup from the Geolandar family. In the all-terrain segment, we have tires like the A/T G015 or the X-AT for a bit of mixed on and off-road performance. For the best off-roading experience, Yokohama has the M/T G003 and the X-MT.
Another family that is designed for larger vehicles is the Parada. The options are limited because there is only one model.
In this group, Yokohama has the Spec-X, a tire designed to blend performance and refinement. It is a bit towards the performance side, and as an all-season tire, you are looking at solid performance throughout the year.
From Japan, we move to Italy, where we find one of the world’s oldest tire manufacturers. In 1872 in Milan, a brand called Pirelli was born, putting it at the forefront of the tire industry. The company focused on other products since cars weren’t a thing. They included bands, insulators, scuba diving equipment, and, at a certain point, began producing bicycle tires.
Good manufacturers improve their products and the same can be said of Pirelli. The company used extensive research and development to make its models as best as possible. The company’s innovations put it at the top of the premium segment.
Pirelli introduced many improvements and technologies over the years. Among the most notable ones is the Pirelli Noise Canceling System, which helped it make quieter tires. We also have the Pirelli Run Flat and Pirelli Seas Inside, which helped it make its tires safer.
We often see good tire manufacturers getting into racing. This is an excellent way to develop new tires and technologies, which can later be implemented in the road-going versions. If you’re a Formula 1 fan, you’ll know that the company was there in the beginning, competing against several other manufacturers at the time. The trend continued, and Pirelli has been a part of the sport for the last 11 years as the sole supplier.
With F1 aside, as a manufacturer, Pirelli is involved in plenty of other racing series. Among the most popular ones are SVRA, SRO, Trans Am, and more.
Having a rich history and being among the first in the industry helped Pirelli grow into the company we know and love today.
Pirelli’s tire families
Some people would expect a lot of families from a premium manufacturer, but that’s not the case here. Pirelli may not have many families, but it covers most segments well.
From the performance side of things, we have the P Zero family. These tires are the ones Pirelli offers as performance-oriented options. With these tires, you get maximum grip and traction levels combined with the most dynamic handling. As a result, you will sacrifice a bit in the refinement department.
Like with Yokohama, there are groups of tires as part of the P Zero family. Things are a bit mixed here. Pirelli has the regular P Zero models, as well as Nero, Rosso, and Corsa, which are the summer models. The confusing part is that there are Nero models in the all-season category alongside the All-Season group. For the winter performance, there is the Winter group of tires.
If the previous family covers the performance segment, the Cinturato covers the touring one. Calling some of these models touring is unfair due to how they perform. They’re not on the same level as the P Zero, but they offer a more refined driving experience without a massive sacrifice in other aspects.
This is another family where things are a bit mixed. Pirelli has the P7 tires that cover the summer and all-season segments. Another group that covers the all-season part is the All-Season models. Like before, winter performance comes from the Winter group of tires. Another similarity with the previous family is that Cinturato are tires for passenger cars only.
Many manufacturers have a dedicated family that covers the larger vehicles segment, and Pirelli is no different. The Scorpion models come in sizes for SUVs and light trucks and cover most driving conditions, so things are flexible.
Here you have Verde models offering performance summer models and touring all-season ones. For all-season performance, Pielli has the Zero All-Season or Zero Asimetrico tires. If you fancy a bit of off-roading, the ATR and All-Terrain Plus offer a mixed performance between off-road and paved roads. In the mud-terrain segment, the Scorpio family has the MTR.
In the previous families, I’ve mentioned several winter models, but despite that, there’s a dedicated family for that. These are categorized as performance winter tires, meaning you don’t have the option to fit studs.
Pirelli offers the regular Sottozero, as well as the 3, Serie II, and Serie 3 in multiple variants. All of these are for passenger cars, but some models and variants come with sizes for SUVs and light trucks.
It may seem similar to the previous family, but the Ice Zero tires are designed for a different kind of winter driving. They are still performance-oriented but offer a more refined driving experience and an option to improve performance on ice.
There are two models here, the regular Ice Zero and the FR. Both can be fitted on a plethora of vehicles ranging from passenger cars to light trucks. The major difference is that the regular model is studded, while the FR is studless.
We don’t talk about vans too much here, but Pirelli has a family for those vehicles, so I’ll mention it. The Carrier family of tires is aimed more towards commercial use, but if the size match, you can fit it to a “regular” vehicle. Pirelli offers these tires as touring options, providing long life, refinement, and decent performance
Things are pretty simple here. There is a regular model, Winter, and All-Season, and you probably have figured out which is which. The regular one is the summer option, and you know what the other two are designed for.
Differences between Yokohama and Pirelli
Pirelli makes one of the best tires on the market, and Yokohama’s models are pretty good. With this in mind, it’s interesting to see how close both manufacturers are.
I often say that mid-range tires are getting closer to premium ones in recent history. As a result, we’re looking at models that can compete with the premium ones and, in some situations, outperform them.
The BluEarth RV-02 and Cinturato P7 are both excellent summer touring options. Comparing these models as overall packages shows that Pirelli’s model is a bit better. In dry and wet conditions, it delivers more grip and traction and remains stable in heavy rain. The differences aren’t massive, so it’s not fair to criticize the Yokohama model for being a poor performer.
In the winter segment, things are slightly different when we compare the iceGUARD iG50+ and Ice Zero FR. On wet roads, the Pirelli model slightly outperforms the Yokohama one, which isn’t the case in dry conditions. Here, the Japanese model manages just to beat the Italian one, and it’s a similar story on icy roads. For snow, Pirelli comes on top again.
What about an all-terrain comparison? In the Geolandar A/T G015 vs. Scorpion AT/R, we have another situation with mixed results. On paved roads, the Pirelli model manages to deliver slightly better results, but on gravel, the roles are changed in terms of braking. The traction victory goes again to Pirelli. Sand is where this model struggles the most, so it falls behind Yokohama.
We can say that one is better than the other in terms of performance, but it isn’t easy to pick one. Both manufacturers have good-performing tires, and depending on the conditions, one is better than the other. As an overall package, Pirelli has a slight advantage, but it’s not massive.
If you go back to the section where I outlined the families, you’ll notice that both manufacturers have the same amount. Having this in mind, you think they are equal, but that’s not the case.
For performance driving, Pirelli has a bit more options available than Yokohama. Spanning across multiple families, there are more models that cover this kind of driving, so you’re getting more flexibility. I’m not criticizing Yokohama for not having enough models, but Pirelli has more.
Both manufacturers switch places with touring tires. Pirelli has a good number of models, but Yokohama has more. Despite having only one family of tires that covers this segment, it offers better flexibility.
In the SUV and large truck segment, things are getting much closer, and I feel like I can decide who is better. Both manufacturers have plenty of models for these vehicles, so you won’t struggle with flexibility. If I had to pick, maybe Yokohama is better because it has one or two more models in the touring department.
As far as available options are concerned, both manufacturers are very good. In some situations, Pirelli has more, while in others, Yokohama is better. The main thing is that whichever you go for, you won’t feel like you don’t have enough to choose from.
Looking at the prices, you can probably guess that Pirelli won’t be the most affordable option. The main question is how large the difference will be.
Yokohama takes the lead in the grand touring all-season segment with the AVID Ascend GT. A 16-inch model is around $15 cheaper than the Cinturato P7 All Season Plus II. The difference can be larger if you find the Yokohama model at a discount.
If you fancy a more performance-oriented tire and you’re looking at the P Zero All Season Plus and the ADVAN Sport A/S+, you’ll have a similar difference. Taking two 17-inch tires from both models shows a price difference of around $20.
A slight reorder in places can be seen in the mud-terrain segment. The Geolandar M/T G003 is around $30 more expensive than the Scorpion M/T for a 16-inch tire. Going for similarly sized all-terrain tires puts both manufacturers in roughly the same price range. The Scorpion ATR and Geolandar A/T G015 are very close, with the Yokohama model being a few dollars cheaper.
When it comes to warranty, most people would want to have as much coverage as possible in case of a defective model. Premium manufacturers offer longer ones, so we should expect to see Pirelli ahead of Yokohama.
Looking at the Scorpion ATR and Geolandar A/T G015 confirms the opposite. Pirelli’s model comes with a 50,000-mile treadwear warranty, while the Yokohama one has a 60,000-mile one. As for the LT models, the Scorpion model doesn’t offer a warranty, while the Geolandar one has 50,000 miles.
Things return to “normal” in the grand touring segment. I noted that the AVID Ascend is cheaper, and with that, you get a slightly shorter treadwear warranty. Yokohama offers the tire with a 65,000-mile warranty, while Pirelli’s Cinturato P7 All Season Plus II has 5,000 miles more.
Even though there are some cases where Yokohama has a slightly longer treadwear warranty, for the most part, Pirelli comes up slightly ahead.
Advantages of Yokohama
- Prices are a bit lower
- A bit more touring options to choose form
- Almost premium-like performance
Advantages of Pirelli
- More models in the performance department
- Slightly longer treadwear warranty
- It beats Yokohama’s models in some performance tests
Which brand to choose?
Like with most comparisons, it comes down to your preference and budget. Both manufacturers have their strengths and weaknesses, so it’s difficult to say that one is better than the other.
Yokohama’s price and performance ratio is excellent. You are saving a few dollars, but you’re not sacrificing too much in terms of performance. This is something that many people will appreciate, especially if they’re not after the best money can buy. You will lose out in some aspects like warranty, so if you can live with that, then Yokohama shouldn’t disappoint.
On the premium side of things, Pirelli is a manufacturer that doesn’t make compromises. You are paying a higher price for a certain model, in most cases at least, so you are getting more. This probably won’t make a difference for the average driver, but if you’re an enthusiast, this could be a better choice. The same can be said if you own a more powerful car with a slightly aggressive driving style.
Even though, generally speaking, Pirelli is a better brand, you shouldn’t avoid Yokohama entirely. If price isn’t a problem, then go with Pirelli. On the other hand, if your budget is limited, Yokohama is a good option and won’t disappoint.