by Reed Berry
Needless to say, one of the most important safety features on your vehicle is the set of tires on which you ride.
Weather conditions and road surfaces can vary greatly, and the tires you select for your vehicle have the task of getting you safely to your destination. Think about it – your tires are the only items on your car that operate continuously as you drive. You probably don’t listen to the radio at all times, nor do you use your heater or air conditioner daily. But your tires keep on turning, mile after mile, day after day.
The best way to show respect to the tires that transport you safely is to maintain them properly, and the only way to make sure you are riding on rubber that will stand up to life’s daily driving challenges is to shop intelligently and purchase a quality set of tires. Finding a “special” on tires isn’t going to feel so special when you’re waiting on the side of the freeway for roadside assistance when you have a blowout or experience tread separation from a set of bargain tires.
As a safety expert and automotive journalist, I realize the importance of technologically advanced automotive equipment. Bridgestone has a history of quality dating back to its inception in 1931 as a Japanese tire company and is usually in the forefront when it comes to creative new tire design and technology. As a result, many new vehicles come equipped with Bridgestone tires.
While the average driver is probably more familiar with the Bridgestone tires that can be seen on millions of vehicles motoring along our streets and highways, for decades Bridgestone has also produced tires for some of the fastest racing cars in the world. From 2007 – 2010, Bridgestone was the sole tire supplier to the FIA Formula One World Championship.
Impressive credentials indeed, but I don’t really need racing tires on my daily driver. I want tires that not only provide excellent handling and a smooth ride but also operate efficiently enough to maximize my mileage. I’m currently road testing a set of Ecopia EP422 Plus tires provided by Bridgestone and mounted on my vehicle by the helpful team at Sunland Tire in La Verne, California.
Bridgestone claims that Ecopia tires have been engineered to make vehicles more fuel-efficient due to low rolling resistance. Maintaining your tires properly (rotating them on a regular basis and keeping them properly inflated) will make any tires operate more efficiently, thereby reducing fuel consumption to some degree, but Ecopia tires are specially designed to return more energy back to the tire instead of generating heat and compromising fuel efficiency.
Certain to please the eco-conscious driver, Ecopia tires are made using recycled ground rubber, contributing to at least 5% of the tread compound. They have been designed to channel water away from the tire through circumferential grooves, improving resistance to hydroplaning and increasing traction on rainy days. Ok, so I can’t say that we get a lot of rainy weather here in sunny Southern California, but I have a comfort level knowing that my tires can handle those rare occasions when the skies do open up.
This isn’t my first, but actually my second set of Ecopia tires. I had an earlier set and, while the overall quality was quite apparent, I was a little less than pleased with their performance. They felt a bit “balloonish” and seemed a little unstable at times. That is not to say I lost contact with the road, but they just didn’t give me the same feeling of confidence I’ve experienced in the past with Bridgestone products. I have not had any such issues with the EP422 Plus. Bridgestone seems to have taken a good foundation and built something even better.
Driving around town gives me a pretty decent idea of how these tires perform, but a new set of tires sounds like the perfect reason for a thorough road test to (and an excuse to visit) “Sin City” – Las Vegas! A Vegas run really is a great way to test a set of tires because of the variety of road conditions I’ll encounter in some of the cities and small towns along the way. From Yermo, California, gateway to Calico Ghost Town, to the old-timey mining town of Goodsprings and scenic Red Rock Canyon, both in Nevada, the drive is a feast for the eyes and a serious test of tire performance.
Making my way along Interstate 15 from the Inland Empire, the ride is smooth as silk and the handling is exceptional. According to Bridgestone, both the compound and pattern of the tread result in a stiffer tire for responsive handling. Thus far, the Ecopia EP422 Plus seems to provide exactly what I look for in a quality tire – a good ride and solid performance while, at the same time, giving me a good feel of the road.
Exiting the freeway and continuing my drive on rural canyon roads, I am equally impressed. The tires respond well to changes in steering. Cornering is sharp and confident, as is my ability to bring the vehicle to a sudden stop without difficulty. In addition, in driving conditions such as these in which tires can sometimes be a bit noisy, these tires are surprisingly quiet. Yet another check in the plus column for Ecopia.
While I haven’t encountered any inclement weather thus far, there was a bit of rain prior to my Vegas run and the tires handled just as well with the same degree of road confidence and absolutely no loss of traction. Ecopia’s exceptional handling on both wet and dry road surfaces seems to make it, in my opinion, a very good all-season touring tire. This is important not only when looking at a tire’s performance, but when considering safety, as well, since a good set of tires will allow you to maintain proper control of the vehicle in emergency situations.
As for reliability, the tires are new so it remains to be seen. But, having ridden on Bridgestone tires on a number of vehicles over the years, I can tell you from personal experience that they make a reliable, trouble-free product that stands up well to one’s daily driving needs. Ecopia EP422 Plus tires come with a 70,000 mile treadwear limited warranty.
Overall, I am highly impressed. Ecopia EP422 Plus tires combine the best of both worlds, providing solid, confident performance and a smooth comfortable ride. But don’t forget the “plus” – a technologically advanced tire that results in improved fuel economy thanks to lower rolling resistance.