Top 10 Best Summer Tires: Recommendations & Reviews

Summer is by far the best period for driving, at least if you’re a car enthusiast. During the hottest days, your car will have the best possible handling, traction, and braking, which translates into a much more enjoyable experience.

Of course, all of this is true only if you have the right set of tires on your vehicle. Obviously, your set of winter tires won’t give you good performance in the summer. Contrarily, the handling will be severely worsened, and the braking distances will be longer.

All-season tires are another solution that works well in the hottest days. However, these tires are still not exceptional. They offer a safe and reliable driving experience in the summer, but they still don’t bite the road very well. In other words, if you’re a spirited driver, chances are a set of all-season tires won’t cut the mustard.

What you really need is a set of summer tires. These tires aren’t as popular as they once were, simply because they are only usable in warmer environments. Nonetheless, experienced drivers still value the performance advantage these tires have over other types.

These include much better responsiveness, handling, traction, and braking, both over dry and wet surfaces. Overall, when the weather is fine, summer tires will drive much better, giving you a more enjoyable driving experience. They will be safer, too.

With that said, not many summer tires are available on the market today, at least in the “passenger” tire category. Many modern drivers opt for all-season tires as a cost-effective solution, especially those that live in areas with harsh conditions in fall and spring.

Fortunately, you are just in the right place to discover the best summer tires for any vehicle you own. In our list of the Top 10 best summer tires, we will give you a selection of products that can be fitted to compact cars, mid-size sedans, crossovers, SUVs, and even sports cars.

Naturally, we recommend checking which tire fits your vehicle. In other words, don’t just assume that the No 1 on our list is the best for you – it might not fit your vehicle at all. To help you, we categorized the list into several categories.

After the list, you can also find our summer tires buying guide. There you can learn about the advantages and disadvantages of these tires, but also about the different tire types in terms of size and speed ratings. Let’s dig in!

The main difference is in the tread compound. All-season tires are made from a tread compound that’s designed to work in warm and cold weather, but also to be durable. More precisely, the rubber material that touches the ground is soft and pliable, even in freezing weather.

However, the rubber still doesn’t stick to the ground very well. If all-season tires were designed to stick to the ground well, they would’ve lasted only 1-2 years if you used them throughout the seasons. The stickier the rubber, the more quickly it wears down.

Summer tires, on the other hand, are made from a compound that is only designed to work in hot conditions. The rubber that touches the ground on summer tires is stickier, yet the whole tire is harder. Thanks to that, summer tires stick to the road much better, and they are much more responsive.

More precisely, when you turn the steering wheel, your vehicle will react faster with a set of summer tires than with all-season tires. Also, the braking distances will be much shorter, and you will be able to achieve much higher speeds in the corners.

With that said, summer tires don’t last nearly as long as all-season tires. The sticky tread compound wears much faster, which is why most manufacturers don’t offer any treadwear warranty. Contrarily, all-season tires come with up to 90,000-mile treadwear warranties.

Moreover, summer tires have a slightly worse ride quality than all-season tires, primarily due to the stiffer rubber. Noise levels might be a tad higher, but the difference is pretty small here.

Interestingly, summer tires perform much better in wet conditions as well. That’s mainly thanks to the sticky tread compound, which maintains traction and grip, even when the tarmac is wet. The difference is smaller in very wet conditions, but even then, summer tires perform much better.

The biggest downside of having summer tires is that you can’t use them throughout the winter. Summer tires can be used down to 40 °F (5 °C) without damaging the tire. If you go below that, summer tires can be damaged by warping or cracking on the surface of the tread compound.

To sum things up, you should really need the extra performance these tires offer to truly appreciate them. Or live in areas with warm days throughout the year, like Florida, for example. Either way, you will get much better drivability, but you will also pay more for tires in the long run.

Now let’s see the differences between tires based on the type of vehicle you put them on.

Top 10 Best Summer Tires You Can Buy in 2020

Best Grand-Touring Summer Tires

Best Summer Tires

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Valid through August 31, 2020
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The Continental PremiumContact 6 is a tire that combines driving comfort with elevated performance. On the road, we found it to be very responsive for a grand-touring tire, but even better, one with excellent performance on dry roads.

The PremiumContact 6 provides the driver with very short braking distances, both on dry and wet tarmac. The experience feels completely secure – the driver feels a lot from the road. Moreover, the Continental performs very well at the limit and has excellent hydroplaning resistance.

Now, if we’re nitpicking, the wet handling could be a bit better, specifically when compared to other summer tires. The PremiumContact 6 is still much better than all-season tires in this regard, mind you. Also, we would’ve liked it if Continental provided a treadwear warranty on this tire.

On the positive side, the ride quality is plush, there is not much noise on the highway, and the tire even has low-rolling resistance for improved fuel consumption.

Pros

  • Very short braking distances on dry and wet pavement
  • Excellent hydroplaning resistance
  • Best-in-class traction and grip
  • Very low-rolling-resistance improves fuel economy

Cons

  • Wet handling could be better
  • No treadwear warranty

Best Grand-Touring Summer Tires

Best Summer Tires

On the street, the Turanza ER33 feels like an immediate upgrade when compared to all-season tires. Responsiveness is outstanding, and the driver will feel in control all of the time.

Furthermore, the Turanza ER33 has one of the best handling results in the category. It is predictable at the limit, yet it offers very high levels of grip and traction. We were impressed by the wet results as well – the traction and braking in these conditions are outstanding.

On top of that, the Turanza ER33 has a plush ride quality that few of its competitors can match. When it comes to noise, we found it to be very quiet, but other drivers complain about more tire roar after 15,000 to 20,000 miles.

Also, Bridgestone doesn’t provide any treadwear warranty, and owners don’t seem impressed with the treadlife.

Pros

  • Excellent dry handling for the category
  • Responsive and predictable at the limit
  • Plush ride quality
  • Very good wet traction and braking

Cons

  • Short treadlife
  • Noisy after 20,000-miles

Best Grand-Touring Summer Tires

Best Summer Tires

Get up to $100 Prepaid Mastercard by mail or up to $200 when you use your Goodyear Credit Card when you purchase a select set of 4 Goodyear tires
Valid through September 30, 2020
Available at
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Goodyear’s grand-touring summer tire is one of the oldest on this list, yet it still provides excellent performance across the range.

On the street, the Goodyear Excellence offers reliable and safe handling – casual drivers will be completely satisfied. In wet conditions, the tire again shows a lot of promise, providing the driver with very high levels of grip and traction, and very good hydroplaning resistance.

Moreover, the ride quality is soft and composed, while tire noise is very limited. That said, just like the Turanza ER33, owners report higher levels of noise as the tire wears down. Also, we weren’t impressed with the responsiveness, which is pretty low for a summer tire.

Pros

  • Good value
  • Safe and reliable handling
  • Very good wet performance
  • Plush ride quality and quiet ride

Cons

  • Not overly responsive to the driver’s input

Best Grand-Touring Summer Tires

Best Summer Tires

Get up to $150 when you bundle purchases of at least 2 new MICHELIN® or BFGoodrich® passenger or light truck tires
Valid through July 6, 2020
Available at
Tirerack.com

Michelin’s entry into the grand-touring summer category is one of the most expensive on the market. That said, it is also the only grand-touring summer tire that comes with a treadwear warranty.

Michelin provides a 6-year and 35,000-mile treadwear warranty on the tire, which is impressive. Owners of the tire are also impressed by the treadlife. This means that despite the higher price, you will be paying less in the long run.

When it comes to performance, though, the Primacy 3 slightly trails behind the competition from Bridgestone and Continental in our wet test. Braking is very strong, but the handling isn’t as good as we would’ve liked.

On the positive side, the Primacy 3 offers a supple and quiet ride, just like most Michelin tires out there.

Pros

  • The only summer tire with a treadwear warranty
  • Safe and reliable handling on dry roads
  • Excellent wet braking
  • Comfortable and quiet

Cons

  • Expensive
  • Wet handling could be better

Best Ultra-High-Performance Summer Tires

Best Summer Tires

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Valid through August 5, 2020
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The Firehawk Indy 500 is one of the most popular ultra-high-performance tires, and there are two reasons for that – the budget-friendly price and excellent performance across the range.

Now, sure, its premium rivals offer better handling and braking overall, but for casual enthusiast drivers, the Firehawk Indy 500 always delivers.

The handling is very responsive, grip and traction are outstanding, and the driver feels in control at the limit. These qualities apply both to dry and wet surfaces, mind you.
That said, the Firehawk Indy 500 has a firm ride, especially over broken surfaces.

Pros

  • Responsive handling
  • Excellent grip and traction over dry and wet surfaces
  • Low price for an ultra-high-performance tire

Cons

  • Premium rivals are slightly better in all categories
  • Firm ride

Best Ultra-High-Performance Summer Tires

Best Summer Tires

Get a $75 Prepaid Mastercard by mail-in rebate when you purchase set of 4 select Kumho tires
Valid through July 31, 2020
Available at
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Kumho’s Ecsta PS31 is a very popular ultra-high-performance summer option for drivers on a budget. When it comes to price, this is one of the cheapest performance tires worthy of consideration.

On the street, the Ecsta PS31 feels very responsive and easy to drive hard. Grip and traction levels are very high, while braking is very strong. The tire performs excellently on wet surfaces as well, especially when compared to similarly-priced rivals.

Comfort levels are okay for an ultra-high-performance tire, but it’s the accelerated treadwear that we’re afraid of. Some owners of the tire report higher than usual treadwear if the tire is driven hard. Still, keep in mind that the PS31 is much cheaper than its competitors.

Pros

  • Excellent responsiveness
  • Outstanding grip and traction in dry and wet conditions
  • Budget price

Cons

  • Accelerated treadwear

Best Ultra-High-Performance Summer Tires

Best Summer Tires

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Valid through July 6, 2020
Available at
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The g-Force Sport COMP-2 is one of the oldest budget-friendly ultra-high-performance summer tires. Compared to modern alternatives, it is noisy on the street, and it doesn’t provide the highest levels of grip and traction.

Still, the differences aren’t very large, and you can only feel them on the track. For street driving, the COMP-2 provides the driver with taught and responsive handling. The feedback is also excellent – you will feel in control all of the time.

Moreover, the g-Force Sport COMP-2 offers excellent ride quality for the category, and it is very predictable and safe in wet conditions.

Pros

  • Taught and responsive handling
  • Communicates with the driver very well
  • Very good ride quality
  • Easy to drive in the wet

Cons

  • Noisy, even for class standards
  • Grip levels are slightly lower than the best in the category

Best Max-Performance Summer Tires

Best Summer Tires

Get up to $150 when you bundle purchases of at least 2 new MICHELIN® or BFGoodrich® passenger or light truck tires
Valid through July 6, 2020
Available at
Tirerack.com

Michelin’s max-performance summer tire is arguably the best on the market right now. There is a reason why most sports cars and supercars come with these tires from the factory.

In terms of handling, the Pilot Sport 4S is the best tire we’ve driven so far. The tire is super responsive, yet it feels very natural in the way it communicates with the driver.

The traction and grip levels are also out of this world, braking is outstanding, while high-speed stability is impressive. 

Michelin even provides a 30,000-mile treadwear warranty on the tire, something no other competitors do.

That said, the Pilot Sport 4S is also very expensive and only really available to drivers with deep pockets.

Pros

  • Outstanding handling ability
  • Exceptional grip and traction
  • Excellent high-speed stability
  • Very good wet traction and braking
  • Excellent 30,000-mile treadwear warranty

Cons

  • Pricey

Best Max-Performance Summer Tires

Best Summer Tires

The Potenza RE050 is cheaper than the Pilot Sport 4S and offers similar performance. However, Bridgestone doesn’t provide any warranty on the tire.

On the street, the Potenza RE050 is a joy to drive. Behind the wheel, the tire feels very responsive and natural in the way it communicates with the driver.

In terms of grip and traction, it directly competes with the Pilot Sport 4S, giving the driver a lot of confidence to push forward. This applies both on dry and wet surfaces.

With that said, the Potenza RE050 is also noisy, especially over rough surfaces.

Pros

  • Outstanding responsiveness
  • Excellent handling and braking
  • High levels of traction
  • Outstanding wet performance

Cons

  • Noisy and harsh over rough surfaces

Best Street/Sport Summer Tires

Best Summer Tires

The Azenis FK510 for SUVs is the best proposition for owners of SUVs and trucks. In terms of price, it undercuts the main rivals, yet it offers outstanding performance across the range.

On the street, apart from the slightly unresponsive feeling on-center, the Azenis FK510 feels super drivable and fun. It also provides the driver with very high levels of grip and traction and outstanding highway stability. Wet handling is also excellent, among the best in the category.

Impressively, the tire is very quiet on the highway for class standards. That said, the ride quality is choppier than we would’ve liked, but still completely manageable.

Pros

  • Amazing SUV and truck handling
  • Outstanding choice for powerful SUVs and trucks
  • Excellent wet handling
  • Very quiet on the highway

Cons

  • Slightly worse ride quality
  • Not the most responsive tire on-center

Best Summer Tires: Buyer's Guide

1. Touring and Grand-Touring Summer Tires are the Best Choice for Standard Passenger Cars

As their name suggests, touring and grand-touring tires are designed for drivers that cover a lot of miles annually. Between both, grand-touring tires are most often offered with a summer tread compound, simply because they are fitted to more powerful vehicles. Here, we will mostly talk about grand-touring tires.

The biggest advantage of grand-touring tires is the comfort levels they offer. With a set of grand-touring tires on, your vehicle will have a plush ride quality over any surface. Moreover, these tires aren’t very loud on the highway – you will only hear a distant hum. So, if you value comfort and quietness, or travel long distances, grand-touring tires will give you the best experience.

And it’s not only about comfort. Grand-touring tires last longer than high-performance tires, especially when it comes to treadlife. On average, grand-touring tires last from 10,000 to 20,000 miles more than high-performance tires. They are also much cheaper, which will translate into larger savings down the line.

With that said, when it comes to performance, grand-touring tires are generally worse than high-performance tires. Sure, given the fact that they are equipped with a summer tread compound, you will still be able to experience advanced handling, strong braking, and excellent traction.

Summer grand-touring tires work excellently on dry and wet pavement – you certainly won’t be disappointed if you are a casual driver. Nonetheless, if you own a more powerful vehicle or a sports car, you might want to upgrade to high-performance tires.

2. High-Performance Summer Tires are the Best Choice for Sports Cars

High-performance tires and their derivatives offer by far the best grip, traction, and braking. That’s why they are often fitted to sports sedans, sports coupes, and supercars.

With a set of high-performance summer tires on, your car will feel much more responsive. Moreover, the levels of grip will be much higher; the car will accelerate quicker and brake much stronger. In other words, you can drive faster without worrying about losing grip and traction.

Now, even between high-performance tires, there is a difference in grip and traction. Standard high-performance tires are the worst in that regard, albeit still excellent. These tires are mostly geared towards drivers of smaller sports cars, such as Ford Fiesta ST.

Ultra-high-performance tires are a step above in terms of performance. They offer much more responsive and grippy handling and stronger braking. These tires come in larger sizes, which makes them an excellent choice for drivers of sports sedans and sports coupes.

Max-performance tires are the best in terms of handling. They offer by fast the most responsive feel behind the wheel, the best grip in the corners, and the strongest braking. These tires are mostly fitted to the most powerful versions of certain sports sedans and sports coupes, and also supercars. Max-performance tires are also the best choice for track days.

With that said, high-performance summer tires and their derivatives aren’t very durable. Even the best of them have a treadlife of 20,000 to 30,000 miles, which is much lower than other tire types. Furthermore, high-performance summer tires are also more expensive on average than grand-touring summer tires.

3. Street/Sport Summer Tires are the Best Choice for Sports SUVs and Trucks

Street/Sport summer tires are similar to high-performance summer tires in many ways. The only big difference is that Street/Sport tires are available in larger sizes to fit SUVs and trucks. So, if you own a sporty truck or SUV and want better handling, these tires are the best choice. Beware, though, that Street/Sport summer tires also don’t last very long, and you will need to replace them often. 

Final Words 

As you can see, we mostly included high-quality tires from reputable and well-known manufacturers. The reasoning behind this is very simple – expensive tires are almost always better than some budget-oriented alternatives. 

With that said, companies like Toyo, Yokohama, and Cooper still offer high-quality tires at lower prices. It’s very cheap tires that we don’t recommend. These products not only lag behind the best in terms of performance – they are almost unsafe to drive on the road.

That’s why, for a completely reliable and safe driving experience, we always recommend choosing tires from reputable and well-known manufacturers. These tires also last longer and might be cheaper in the long run!

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