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Better Grip and Steering Response with the Best Summer Tires

As the name 'summer tire' implies, these tires are best suited for high performance driving when the weather is good. Important characteristics for a summer tire are overall grip and steering response above all else, with road manners coming in second. That's not to say you have to live with an unbearably loud or harsh-riding tire to get maximum performance - the best summer tires in 2021 manage to blend both high traction levels with refined road manners. Less important are factors such as treadwear and price, while winter traction is not considered at all.

Best Summer Tire of 2021 Reviewed in Detail

best Michelin Pilot PE2 Summer Tire

Michelin Pilot PE2 Summer Tire - Best Summer Tire Overall

The Michelin PE2 is equipped with WRC-inspired LMA compound in the tread along with the exclusive VCP design and BAZ technology that boosts the performance of this tire. Confused yet? Here’s some clarification: the Pilot Exalto PE2 incorporates the expertise that Michelin gained from designing tires for the World Rally Championship (WRC), from which the Life Maximized Adherence (LMA) compound is derived from. This means that the compound provides maximum traction until the very end, and paired with Michelin’s exclusive Variable Contact Patch (VCP) tread pattern, means that you get loads of grip until the cords are showing.

The Pilot Exalto PE2 turns in crisply and remains predictable at the limit, with a smooth breakaway once you exceed the grip limits. The Pilot Exalto PE2 is also built very sturdily, featuring Banded At Zero (BAZ) technology preventing distortion under heavy loads. Needless to say, the amount of technology and engineering that went into the Pilot Exalto PE2 makes this tire an excellent choice for an ultra high performance summer tire.

best Bridgestone RE760  Summer Tires

Bridgestone RE760 Summer Tires - Runner Up

The Bridgestone Potenza RE760 Sport features an asymmetric tread design that borrows from the highly acclaimed Potenza RE-01R on one side of the tread, and solid slick-tire-like ribs on the other. Combined with a high-traction tread compound, the Potenza RE760 Sport offers confidence-inspiring handling characteristics such as sure-footed grip, quick steering response, and excellent feedback.

Thanks to the circumferential grooves, any water in the contact patch area is easily pumped away leading to enhanced traction on wet surfaces. Grip levels are more than enough for daily driving, and the RE760 Sport runs surprisingly quietly and comfortably given its nature as an ultra high performance summer tire.

Toyo Tires EXTENSA HPII All-Season Radial Tire - Honorable Mention

The Toyo Proxes T1R first catches your eye with their tread pattern, which look as good as they perform. The tread is made of a silica-reinforced compound, which allows for massive grip in dry conditions while in wet conditions, the v-shaped grooves effectively disperse water to prevent hydroplaning. This results in a tire that offers overall tremendous amounts of grip in both wet and dry conditions.

The Toyo Proxes T1R are very capable of handling hard corners as well, although they can tend to feel a bit "soft" when pushed especially hard. Tread wear is reasonable for aggressive driving, while the ride is decently smooth and quiet for a performance tire. Although there are tires that will do better for outright handling and performance, the Toyo Proxes T1R offer good wet and dry performance overall while being downright budget-friendly.

BFGoodrich g-Force Summer Tire - Consider

The BFGoodrich g-Force T/A KDW tires combine a flashy tread design with excellent performance for the price. These tires were designed to offer good grip in both wet and dry conditions, and do a commendable job. They’re very sticky for the money, and although they do slip a little in the wet, they are predictable and easy to control. These tires offer good stability and handling under high torque loads, creating a good value tire that’s both rewarding and fun. The BFGoodrich g-Force T/A KDW tires are a bit noisy, with the noise levels and ride quality suffering as the tire ages but this is not outside of the norm for a performance tire.

Kumho Ecsta SPT KU31 High Performance Tire - Best Ultra High Performance Summer Tires

The Kumho Ecsta SPT tire offers good performance for the money, providing good grip for the price, making them a good choice for those who want an affordable street performance tire that can match their spirited driving. The handling characteristics of the Ecsta SPT reveal a tire that does a good job in day to day driving, making up for the relative lack of sharpness in the steering response (compared to the heavy-hitters in this category) with predictability and fast recovery. The good amount of grip in dry conditions is mirrored by decent grip in alternately wet ones, while the ride is overall firm but smooth. The Kumho Ecsta SPT are overall good value tires, but be aware that the tread does wear fairly quickly; as these tires age, they can become very noisy.

best Bridgestone Potenza RE-11 Summer Tire

Bridgestone Potenza RE-11 Summer Tire - Best Extreme Performance Summer Tires

The Bridgestone Potenza RE-11 is the latest and greatest in the series of extreme performance summer tires from Bridgestone. Designed to replace the much-loved RE-01R and address its shortcomings, the RE-11 raises the bar to a completely new level. The RE-11 incorporates recent Formula 1 tire technology called “Stealth Blocks” in order to drive the performance up to unheard-of levels.

The tread design is minimal, with grooves and ribs designed to maintain contact with the road, dry or wet. The grip is simply astounding, and the feedback and response is second-to-none. Given this, the ride comfort and noise levels are surprisingly good, making the Potenza RE-11 an ideal choice for everyday driving.

best Yokohama ADVAN Neova AD08 Tire

Yokohama ADVAN Neova AD08 Tire - Best Extreme Performance Summer Tires

The Yokohama ADVAN Neova AD08 was designed to outperform the “fastest street tire in the world”, according to Yokohama themselves. That superlative was given to the predecessor of the ADVAN Neova AD08, the ADVAN Neova AD07. Though it seems hard to believe, Yokohama has gone ahead and done the impossible, improving on the performance of the fantastic AD07.

The unique tread design houses two circumferential ribs and full-length grooves which are good for respectively boosting steering response and wet traction. The rubber compound of this tire is enriched with micro silica and hyper density carbon which results in a soft, sticky compound that can grip the road like no other, no matter what the conditions are. Of course, this also means increased tread wear and more road noise, though given the performance of the ADVAN Neova AD08, this is forgivable.

best Dunlop Direzza ZII

Dunlop Direzza ZII - Best Extreme Performance Summer Tires

The Dunlop Direzza ZII seeks to provide an improved continuation of the excellent Direzza Sport Z1 Star Spec tire. These tires are designed to meet the needs of drivers to need top performance from a daily drivable tire. The Dunlop Direzza ZII does a good job of this, with its sticky compound and aggressive tread design provide improvements upon the grip and handling of its predecessor; however, wet performance is not this tires strong suit.

Although it does carry the downsides of similarly fast tread wear and high road noise, none of this is out of the ordinary for an extreme performance summer tire. The Direzza ZII is excellent for both dedicated high-performance use and spirited daily driving so if you're looking for a performance tire that prioritizes maximum grip over longevity, this is a good choice.

Hankook Ventus R-S3 Z222 High Performance Tire - Best Extreme Performance Summer Tires

Beginning with 2014 production, Hankook made changes to the tread compound of the Ventus R-S3; tires with the DOT ending in 14 will have the updated compound. These changes were made to improve treadwear and allow the tires to reach their ideal operating temperature faster. The Hankook Ventus R-S3 offers excellent dry performance all-around, with predictable and forgiving handling that inspires confidence and allows these tires to nearly match up to the Michelin Pilot Super Sport in dry conditions.

However, the Ventus R-S3 falls off when it comes to wet performance as these tires aren't good for at-the-limit driving in the wet. Treadwear, through improved, is on par with most extreme performance summer tires and not that great. This being said, the Hankook Ventus R-S3 offers some of the most grip you can get for the money, with excellent overall dry performance.

Kumho Ecsta XS Tire - Best Extreme Performance Summer Tires

The Kumho Ecsta XS offers the ability to pick up an excellent track tire for very little money. These tires are borderline slicks, with amazing levels of grip for the money. In terms of dry performance, the Ecsta XS can rival tires that cost much more thanks to its high levels of traction and good handling characteristics.

However, these tires suffer in terms of daily drivability due to its poor performance in wet conditions. In the wet, it's best to stay off the roads as these tires become unpredictable. Road noise is decent while new, although both the noise levels and ride quality suffer as the tires age. For those seeking the ultimate dry cornering grip at a budget-friendly price, the Kumho Ecsta XS are an excellent choice.

Michelin Pilot Super Sport Summer Tire - Best Max Performance Summer Tires

It's not often that Michelin releases a new tire, especially when its current offerings still manage to blow away the competition despite their relative age. The Pilot Sport PS2 was (and still is) a top choice for drivers looking for the greatest summer road tire around, but the new Pilot Super Sport somehow manages to expose flaws that seemed nonexistent.

Just about every handling trait is improved over the older PS2, with increased turn-in crispness and overall grip. As usual, the Pilot Super Sport remains very usable in everyday situations, with low tread noise and the characteristic smooth ride Michelin tires are known for. Michelin has also made substantial gains in tire durability, thanks to research data compiled from real-world racing applications such as the infamous 24 Hours of Le Mans endurance competition.

Whereas the Pilot Sport PS2 earned a treadwear rating of 220 (not bad for a max-performance summer tire), the Pilot Super Sport boasts an unheard-of (in this category) rating of 300. This makes the Pilot Super Sport one of the longest-lasting tires of its kind, which helps offset the eye-watering, shock-inducing price tag. This is a tire that excels at everything, and therefore easily earns a recommendation as the best summer tire available today.

Continental ExtremeContact DW Tire - Best Max Performance Summer Tires

It isn't often that any tire manages to match the Michelin Pilot Sport PS2 in terms of being a whole package, but the Continental ExtremeContact DW comes very close. This is a tire that combines refined road manners with high-end traction and handling characteristics in both dry and wet weather. Although not quite as crisp as the Pilot Sport PS2, the grip is still there when you need it.

The tread design incorporates indicators in the form of D and W letters molded into the shoulder blocks. When the W wears away, this is the tire's way of alerting the driver it’s no longer suitable for use in wet conditions. A treadwear rating of 340 paired with a smooth and quiet ride makes this tire ideal for everyday driving. Consider as well that this is a much more affordable tire than the Pilot Sport PS2, and this may be a better choice for many drivers looking for a decent summer tire.

Bridgestone Potenza S-04 Pole Position Tire - Best Max Performance Summer Tires

The Bridgestone Potenza S-04 Pole Position offers an excellent blend of wet and dry performance. The Pole Position moniker is given only to Bridgestone's highest-performing rubber; the treadwear is decent for the performance, considering that this is a soft compound tire. The ride quality is smooth but firm, with very little road noise while the tires are relatively new.

Users report superb real-world tread life even on vehicles with aggressive suspension settings. Handling and grip are excellent, and give considerable confidence while driving in both wet and dry conditions. Overall, the Bridgestone Potenza S-04 Pole Position offers excellent traction with only some compromise made for ride quality.

Dunlop SP Sport Maxx Summer Tire - Best Max Performance Summer Tires

The Dunlop SP Sport Maxx GT may not have the instant name recognition that the Michelin Pilot Sport series does, but don't let that color your impressions. This tire comes as factory equipment on high-performance cars like the Audi S4, and is especially well-suited for the type of spirited driving you expect for a tire in this category.

While initial turn-in isn’t as crisp as Michelin's offerings (to be fair, very few are), the SP Sport Maxx GT provides plenty of grip in both dry and wet conditions. This tire also excels at everyday use, with a relatively smooth ride that filters out bumps and keeps tread noise to a minimum. Prices are about average for the category, so expect to shell out a fair bit if you need replacement tires.

Michelin Pilot Sport PS2 Tire - Best Max Performance Summer Tires

Michelin's award-winning Pilot Sport PS2 remains a top pick even after all these years. This was Michelin’s top-of-the-line street tire when introduced back in 2004, and is still capable of competing with the best of the best. The Pilot Sport PS2 is designed with advanced technologies focused on increasing grip and overall performance. As such, this tire is fitted as factory equipment on cars like the BMW M3 and Porsche 911 Turbo.

Some may say the tread design looks bland, but this is a case of pure function over form. The tread is sectioned off into “inside” and “outside” areas, both with unique compounds that endow this tire with almost unreal grip levels and smooth breakaway characteristics at the limit. As far as max-performance summer tires go, the Michelin Pilot Sport PS2 is still a hard act to follow.

Michelin Pilot Sport PS2 Tire - Best Max Performance Summer Tires

Michelin's award-winning Pilot Sport PS2 remains a top pick even after all these years. This was Michelin’s top-of-the-line street tire when introduced back in 2004, and is still capable of competing with the best of the best. The Pilot Sport PS2 is designed with advanced technologies focused on increasing grip and overall performance. As such, this tire is fitted as factory equipment on cars like the BMW M3 and Porsche 911 Turbo.

Some may say the tread design looks bland, but this is a case of pure function over form. The tread is sectioned off into “inside” and “outside” areas, both with unique compounds that endow this tire with almost unreal grip levels and smooth breakaway characteristics at the limit. As far as max-performance summer tires go, the Michelin Pilot Sport PS2 is still a hard act to follow.

best Pirelli PZero RFT

Pirelli PZero RFT - Best Summer Run-Flat Tires

Harkening back to the high-performance P-Zero line from two decades ago, the new PZero picks up where the old model left off as a no-compromise maximum performance summer street tire. Pairing high grip limits in both wet and dry conditions with predictable behavior at the limit, the PZero's performance capabilities are easy to exploit (though not recommended on public roads).

The standard tire rides stiffly enough to begin with, and the RFT technology adds thicker sidewalls which increase ride harshness somewhat. Even so, some may consider this a worthwhile trade-off in exchange for the ability to drive on a flat tire for up to 50 miles at 50 miles per hour. The run-flat capability allows this high-performance tire to offer both outstanding performance characteristics alongside the convenience of being able to drive for a distance with no tire pressure.

best Yokohama ADVAN Sport ZPS

Yokohama ADVAN Sport ZPS - Best Summer Run-Flat Tires

The ADVAN Sport tire may not have a regular spot in the limelight like Yokohama's well-received ADVAN Neova line, but hype aside, this is a truly competent tire. Dry traction levels are high, and wet performance is confidence-inspiring thanks to the four circumferential grooves and multitude of lateral and round grooves which effectively channel water away from the contact patch.

Yokohama's Zero Pressure System (ZPS) works like every other run-flat system on the market with reinforced sidewalls allowing the tire to bear a load even when flat and can be driven at up to 50 mph for 50 miles. This gives plenty of time to find a tire repair station and negates the need for getting out the spare unless a blowout occurs. Although the ADVAN Sport ZPS is expensive as far as tires go, it’s priced far under the Michelin Pilot Sport PS2 ZP and the Pirelli PZero RFT while retaining most of the performance.

best Goodyear Eagle F1 Asymmetric 2 RunOnFlat

Goodyear Eagle F1 Asymmetric 2 RunOnFlat - Best Summer Run-Flat Tires

The Goodyear Eagle F1 Asymmetric 2 RunOnFlat tire does a good job of offering basic performance that is on par with a good run-flat tire. Although the Eagle F1 Asymmetric 2 RunOnFlat doesn’t offer the same levels of performance as the phased-out Eagle F1 GS-D3 did, it nonetheless offers good overall grip in both wet and dry conditions.

Like with most run-flats, the ride quality and road noise are somewhat compromised in the interest of allowing these tires to be driven up to 50 miles per hour for 50 miles in search of a tire repair facility. Treadwear could be higher, but these tires are overall a solid choice for a well-performing summer run-flat tire.

best Continental ContiSportContact 3 SSR

Continental ContiSportContact 3 SSR - Best Summer Run-Flat Tires

These days many European premium cars come equipped with Continental ContiSportContact 3 tires as factory fitment, due to their high traction levels, low noise levels, and predictable behavior. While the ContiSportContact 3 isn’t the best pick with which to chase down a DOT racing compound tire in terms of performance, it’s extremely well-rounded in its capabilities.

SSR in the tires name stands for Self Supporting Run-flat, and as with many other run-flat tires, can be driven at up to 50 miles per hour for 50 miles with zero pressure without risking catastrophic tire failure. The ContiSportContact 3 offers balanced performance, though it’s important to remember it’s a summer performance tire with a modest tread-wear rating and zero snow/ice capability. Be aware that the run-flat option is offered in very limited tire sizes and may be difficult to find.

Buyer's Guide

Drive Better with The Best Summer Tires

Summer tires are meant for high-performance driving in hot and humid weather conditions. But to enjoy all the benefits of summer tires, you need to get the right ones. Here’s a little guide to help you get them:

Summer Tires VS All Season Tires

What sets summer tires apart from all-season ones? Let’s find out.

Summer Tires

Tires that are designed for hot weather conditions come with a softer compound rubber that helps with better grip and balance. These tires are typically better at handling dry as well as wet conditions. These tires perform at their best at temperatures above 7-degree, which makes them a lot less appropriate for colder conditions.

These tires offer great braking and cornering capabilities with impressive responsiveness. This is due to the increased number of tread patterns that allow better grip on all kinds of roads. These treads have more rubber that stays in contact with the road and less grooving. They are best for road-hold griping, better traction, and flexibility.

All Season Tires

All-season tires offer good traction in snow, acceptable performance on dry and wet roads, and are equipped with moderate treads and rubber compounds for longer life than summer tires. All-season tires have deep tread depths that are engineered to take on tons of loads without wearing out.

These tires provide easy handling, comfortable drives, they don’t do exceptionally great in warmer weather conditions though. All-season tires can provide excellent traction in winters. They are perfect for an average car driver.

Types of Summer Tires

There are six types of summer tires that you can choose from.

Highway Rib Summer Tires

Highway rib summer tires are ideal for heavy-duty vehicles like pickups, trucks, sports utility vehicle, or motorhomes. These tires feature rib-type tread patterns on them that enable them to run smoothly.

Max Performance Summer Tires

This kind offers great traction and very reasonable tread wear. You can use them in wet as well as dry conditions but don’t do so great with snow or ice. This is because they are low-profile in design and provide a strong steering response only in dry or wet weather.

Grand Touring Summer Tires

These tires are made to offer wet and dry traction and an impeccably comfortable ride. They are known for high-speed capabilities and great handling in comparison with standard touring tires.

Extreme Performance Summer Tires

This kind is designed for extremely dry grip which can seem a little uncomfortable to many. They are great for wet traction and lesser tread life.

High-Performance Summer Tires

High-performance summer tires are made for nimble handling in dry and wet conditions. These tires offer a comfortable ride. They’re not perfect for ice or snow.

Sport/Street Truck Summer Tires

Street summer tires are low-profile, wide, and have a large diameter for wet and dry conditions. They offer impressive traction and road grip.

Things to Consider When Buying Summer Tires

Here are a few things that you must keep in mind when getting new summer tires.

Size

Picking the right size is important as it ensures that the tire fits perfectly and matches the specifications of your vehicle. Make sure you consult a specialist and read through the manual to determine the perfect size for your kind of vehicle. You can also use online tire size calculation guides for better assistance.

Tread Pattern

Summer tires come with special tread patterns that offer maximum contact between the road and the tire rubber. They have shallow tread depth and lesser grooves. The different types are discussed later in the guide.

Speed


Speed index refers to the maximum speed a tire can perform and sustain itself at. They are denoted on the sidewalls of tires with letters with T, H, Z, or S ratings. These alphabets mean that a tire can speed up t0 190, 210, 240, and 180 respectively. A high-speed rating means better control at high speeds.

Annual Mileage and Driving Style

If you’re somebody that doesn’t drive long kilometers every year, get the summer tire type that ages less quickly. You should also consider the way you drive and where you drive often.

Do you often go off-road? Do you visit sandy areas? How do you prefer your ride and road handling?

Types of Tread Patterns/Designs on Summer Tires

There are three different tread designs and patterns for summer tires:

i. The symmetrical tread pattern has continuous tread blocks to make a wavy design across the face of the tire. This type can wear out evenly and offer a quiet and smooth ride. This is the perfect choice for those who are looking for economical and long-lasting summer tires.

ii. Asymmetrical tread pattern tires have inside and outside marks on the sidewalls for perfect mounting. They perform equally best in wet and dry conditions. They provide better heat dissipation and a very strong cornering grip.

iii. Directional tread patterns are designed for one-direction rolls with lateral grooves that are pointing to the center of the tire and form a V-shape. They help with avoiding hydroplaning and removing water during wet drives.

Conclusion

Summer is the perfect time for drives, road trips, and vacations. This guide will help you track down the best summer tires in 2021 so you can get confidently and comfortably on the road even in the heat.

There are also many kinds of summer tires available that you can pick from according to your preferences and driving needs.

Best Summer Tires FAQs

Some frequently asked questions are listed below:

What temperature is ideal for summer tires?

Summer tires work optimally in temperatures 7-degrees or more.

How long can summer tires last?

Summer tires have a short life in comparison with other types. They can last you approximately 50,000 km. The life of tires also depends on the driving style and roads you drive on.

What sets high-performance summer tires apart?

Summer tires are great at handling both wet and dry roads. They have fewer grooves to reduce vibrations with enhanced road contact and stability.

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