Kumho Tires Review
Can affordable tires ever be as good as expensive tires? Or do they inevitably skimp on tire quality, safety and ride silence?
Most tire shops, as well as some automobile enthusiasts, like to say that the more expensive tire, the smoother the ride. And while this is true in many cases, price does not always equate quality – and Kumho tires are the proof. In this article, we’ll review the Kumho tires and outline all their important aspects, as well as how they perform against their competition. Finally, we’ll talk about your needs and preferences as a driver and consumer and whether or not these tires are the right fit for you.
Established in 1960, Kumho Tire is a South Korean company that manufactures affordable tires for passenger cars, SUVs and light trucks. Interestingly, the company is a subsidiary of the Kumho Asiana Group, which owns Asiana Airlines, South Korea’s second largest airline.
The company offers an impressive range of good-quality touring, grand touring, and high-performance tires. Although they’re all pocket-friendly, the Kumho tires don’t compromise when it comes to safety and road comfort. Mind you, these tires are not the cheapest tires on the market, but they’re far from expensive. And considering what they claim they offer – advanced technology and durability – they’re definitely on the affordable side.
But when it comes to budget-friendly tires, the main question is: are you even saving money with cheap tires? Because if they’re not durable and have a very short tread life and produce quite a lot of noise on the road, then you’re literally throwing your money away. The Kumho tires promise excellent performance, quiet and comfortable ride and long tread life, but how do they roll in practice? Let’s take a look at their real value and performance.
If there is one area where the Kumho tires stand out, it’s their value – around 30 to 40% cheaper than competitive models, these tires are a real bargain. Compared to Michelin, Bridgestone and Continental, the Kumho tires are actually cheap – but do they have at least somewhat similar performance and durability as the top tier tiers?
Actually, the Kumho tires often have very similar designs as some of the top end models, including Michelin and Bridgestone, which allows them to have a similar performance and tread life. The company combines advanced technology with affordability to bring about what we would call a new ‘generation’ of tires: excellent quality tires for little money. But if they make tires of similar quality and performance, how is it possible they’re so much cheaper?
Here’s the thing – the Kumho never really offers original, cutting-edge tires, they just build upon what we know is already working. Meaning, they take existing designs and patterns that have been shown to offer superior safety, comfort and tread life and they just re-engineer their production process to cut the expenses. The result is a good-quality, durable tire that is much cheaper than those of competitors.
The Khumo tires have a very good tread wear, although not the best out there. Depending on the particular tire, you can expect anywhere from 40,000 to 85,000 mile tread warranty (for example, the Kumho Solus KR21 has 85,000 mile tread warranty, while the Kumho Ecta 4XII has 40,000 mile tread warranty). Considering the price of all Kumho tires, this is a pretty good deal.
It’s also good to know that unlike a lot of top end manufactures who overestimate their tread warranty, the Kumho is good at estimating their tire wear. They do this by taking into account typical city driving. So there are a few things to consider regarding this: ‘typical city driving’ means that if you mostly do highway miles, or you drive pretty responsibly and don’t brake aggressively often, it’s entirely possible to get more miles on the Kumho tires than their estimated mileage. On the other hand, if you drive your car on unreliable roads, or you slam the brakes often, it’s possible you’ll get a bit less than the warranted mileage, although, even in these cases, it’s likely you’ll get 10 to maximum 20% less than the estimated mileage.
All in all, we rate the Kumho tire’s durability as very good.
Performance and Packages
So the durability is great, but what about the performance? Generally speaking, all Kumho tires perform really well when it comes to safety, comfort and noise. We mentioned earlier that although the company doesn’t really make ground-breaking tires, they always use already proven to work designs and patterns build upon them. All their tires have a good tread design that allows them to:
- Ensure a safe ride with excellent stopping power
- Provide a smooth, quiet ride even on bumpy roads
- Keep the traction and firm grip throughout the tire’s entire lifetime.
Of course, how well your tire will perform depends on which model you buy. Generally speaking, regular, city-driving tires tend to last longer and perform better than those designed for sports cars, however, this entirely depends on the tire at hand as well as your driving habits.
Let’s look at the Kumho’s tire line by usage so we can see which models perform better in different weather conditions.
All Season Kumho Tire Review
Kumho has two different all season tires: the Solus and the Ecsta. Both of these tires have solid performances when it comes to dry and wet roads, as well as really high and quite low temperatures.
- The Solus
These tires are probably the most popular Kumho tires. There are 7 models (KH16, KH25, TA11, TA31, and TA71) and all of them have some pros and cons, but generally speaking, all of them are pretty solid tires when it comes to overall performance.
The Solus tires have a tread designed in a grid-like pattern and four deep grooves that extend the length of the tire. This design ensures a great performance in wet conditions, as the pattern and grooves allow the water to be efficiently evacuated from the tire. They stop quickly even on really wet, slick roads.
As for their dry performance, it’s solid as well, if not better. They’re easy to drive as they’re highly responsive to cornering and steering, and equally important, to braking. They have a softened outer tread block that allows the tire to keep a firm grip even on bumpy roads. Thanks to this, driving is comfortable and quiet.
When it comes to winter performance, the Solus don’t disappoint. They are stable and steady on light snow and ice and are easy to control even in very cold temperatures. This is thanks to the previously mentioned design, the softened outer tread block, which allows the tire to keep traction on snowy roads. Of course, considering these are all season tires, they’re not suited for extreme winter conditions – they’re simply not designed to withstand extreme temperatures and conditions.
- The Ecsta
These tires are quite similar to the Solus, but they’re better suited for dry conditions, especially summer seasons. There are various models available, passenger and touring tires included, but all Ecsta tires do seem to fare much better in dry conditions than in wintery and super-wet conditions.
When it comes to high temperatures and dry roads, the Ecsta tires receive higher than average ratings. They’re very stable, easy to control and are highly responsive to braking. Their stability comes as no surprise, as their internal structure features twin steel belts that are strengthened by spirally wrapped nylon, as well as a polyester cord ply casing that’s strengthened by a hard sidewall filler. This makes the Ecsta tires steady at high speeds and while cornering.
These tires perform well in wet conditions, however, they’re not that great on snowy, icy roads. Of course, this is not that much of a problem anyway, as it’s always better to use winter tires during extreme winter months. Saying that, the Ecsta tires handle some light snow and a little bit of ice well.
Winter Kumho Tire Review
When it comes to safe, efficient and affordable winter tires, the Kumho tires take the crown. There are three different winter tires available, but the Kumho Wintercraft and I’Zen are the most popular ones.
- Wintercraft tires
The Wintercraft tire is one of the best winter tires overall, as it offers excellent control, stopping power and comfort at an affordable price. This tire is good in light and packed-on snow, ice and slush – it basically cuts right through the snow with no issues whatsoever.
There’s also a studded model that allows the tire to grip the road in multiple places. The tire itself has a directional tread design, which works wonderfully in combination with studs. Speaking of the directional tread, this feature is super-important when it comes to icy roads, as it ensures the tire is highly responsive to cornering, braking and general handling on slick asphalt.
- I’Zen tires
Although the Wintercraft tires are excellent in snowy conditions, they can be a bit of an overkill for people who don’t live in areas with extreme winters (meaning lots of packed-on snow, very icy roads, etc.). This is where the I’Zen tires come in – they too have great winter performance, but are not overbearing, so to speak. With a dual tread design and directional treads in the center, the I’Zen tires brake quickly and efficiently and start easily. The outer part of the tread is grippy, ensuring excellent handling even at higher speeds on snowy roads.
Don’t be fooled by the low price of the I’Zen tires – they may be one of the cheapest tires on the market, but they’re excellent overall winter tires.
Kuhmo Truck Tires
If you thought that the Kuhmo makes only regular car tires, you’ll be pleased to know that the company has one tire that’s specially designed for light trucks and SUVs. Granted, this is only one tire, but it’s a good one.
Called Kuhmo Road Venturer, this tire has three models – the AT51, MT51 and MT KL71. All of these have great reviews, and it’s no surprise considering they’re all season tires that are designed to address some of the common problems that drivers of light trucks encounter.
Kuhmo’s truck tires have a special casing that reduces the load on the sidewall and allows it to be more flexible than most other truck tires. This translates to a smoother and more comfortable ride, that’s also very stable in various weather conditions. All tires have an interesting tread pattern – a combination of both all season and winter tread. This means that these truck tires perform really well in pretty much all conditions, including dry and warm, wet and cold and even snow.
Of course, as most all season tires, Kumho’s truck tires do fare better in spring, summer and fall than they do in winter. However, light snow and some ice are really not an issue for Kumho’s tires, but packed-on snow and slick, super-icy roads are.
Are Kumho Tires Right For Me?
Kumho offers a wide range of options, all at affordable prices. Whether you need some all season tires, cheap winter tires or even truck tires for your SUV, the Kumho has got you covered. All of the Kumho tires perform really well in pretty much all conditions, although of course, some are designed to be better in certain seasons than others.
However, these tires are not for everyone. As you know, price does not always equate quality, but if we’re talking about tires that are half the price of top tier tires, it’s normal to expect a few tradeoffs. For instance, although comfortable and mostly quiet, some Kumho models can be quite noisy. Another minus is their tread life – many drivers complain about the tires having a shorter mileage than their warranty claims, although this depends on various factors (how the driver drives, where and how often, as well as how well they maintain their tires). Finally, there is the rotting time problem – many Kumho tires’ sidewalls degrade quickly if they’re not used regularly. This means that if you plan to use the tires once a month or so, it’s likely they’ll degrade before you reach the mileage of the tire. However, if you plan to drive your vehicle regularly, this is something you don’t have to worry about.