Bridgestone Americas invited dealers and members of the media to a product launch so big it was only fitting to have taken place in the largest state in the lower 48.
The event was held at the Texas Motor Speedway in Dallas, Texas in mid-May to give participants a chance to test drive four new tires being released by the Bridgestone and Firestone brands this year to the U.S. and Canadian markets.
The new products included two touring tires and two all-terrain tires: Bridgestone’s Turanza QuietTrack, which is the company’s newest addition to its Turanza touring tire portfolio; Firestone’s WeatherGrip, the company’s first all-weather touring tire; and Firestone’s Destination A/T2 and Destination X/T, which are both designed to replace Firestone’s now-15-year-old Destination A/T all-terrain tire, released in 2004.
Bridgestone Director of Consumer Product Strategy for the U.S. and Canada Robert Saul said nearly all products in the Firestone family of tires have been upgraded over the past three years, and Bridgestone is on track to have 100% of its consumer tire portfolio across both the Bridgestone and Firestone brands either upgraded or replaced by next year.
“We’re talking a lot of different products – 30-40 different product lines that have all received recent attention from engineering and technology,” Saul said. “We’ve got a very fresh portfolio, so it’s a great time to be a Bridgestone retailer.”
Tires were tested on five custom courses designed by Bridgestone to help drivers compare the specs and feel of the new products against other Bridgestone tires as well as the company’s competition in situations ranging from wet braking and off-roading to everyday driving.
The Firestone WeatherGrip touring tire – which is Three-Peak Mountain Snowflake certified and designed to provide control in wet and snowy conditions – was just released in May after the company’s leadership recognized a gap in the Firestone portfolio, said Marcus Crews, tire education specialist for Bridgestone Americas.
“Customers asked the question ‘why can’t I get that winter performance and keep that tire on year-round without having to put winter tires on?’” Crews said. Some of this demand came from customers living under Québec’s winter tire law, which requires all taxis and motor vehicles registered in Québec to be equipped with winter tires bearing the Three-Peak Mountain Snowflake symbol from Dec. 15 to March 15.
Saul explained the Firestone WeatherGrip is the company’s answer to their customers’ needs.
“It’s got Three-Peak Mountain Snowflake certified winter performance, which by and large is going to be better than an all-season tire in the snow, but it’s not a dedicated winter tire because it’s got to be a four-season product,” Saul said. “In other words, you’re going to put this on your vehicle and leave it on year-round. Most people who buy winter tires switch back and forth each season because they need winter tire traction in ice, slush and snow all winter long.”
The Firestone WeatherGrip is being released with two technology packages:
- HydroGrip Package: The Firestone WeatherGrip was engineered to include full-depth grooves and open shoulder slots to help provide enhanced water evacuation, as well as a rounded footprint that helps reduce the risk of hydroplaning.
- TractionTech Package: The tire’s 3-D interlocking sipes create more edges for enhanced snow and wet performance, as well as a full-depth tread design, help to maintain the WeatherGrip’s lifespan over its 65,000-mile limited warranty.
The Firestone WeatherGrip is available in 33 sizes to fit more than 60% of the sedans and CUVs on the road today, Bridgestone says. Top fitments include the Honda Accord, Toyota Camry, Nissan Altima and Honda Civic.
Bridgestone’s Turanza QuietTrack, released this past March, was introduced as the newest tire in the company’s current Turanza line, and will serve as a replacement to the Serenity Plus. The QuietTrack was designed to help the driver maintain control in wet and snowy conditions, Bridgestone’s Product Planner Daniel Kelly said, and is engineered with four technology packages available from Bridgestone:
- QuietTrack Technology: As indicated by its name, the next-generation Turanza tire features QuietTrack technology. Kelly explained the tire is precisely tuned to prevent high-frequency noise using specially-designed in-groove ridges and has non-chamfered slots on its shoulder ribs to help prevent pattern noise. The tire also creates a three-pitch noise sequence when driven to break up noise frequency, similar to how a pair of noise-canceling headphones work.
- ComfortCruise Technology: The Turanza QuietTrack leverages a rounded contact patch and a tire casing shape designed using proprietary software to help reduce road vibration and create minimal in-cabin noise.
- HydroTrack Technology: Utilizing full-depth tread grooves, open shoulder slots and a rounded footprint, Bridgestone’s HydroTrack technology helps to enhance water evacuation and reduce the risk of hydroplaning.
- EdgePerformance Technology: The tire’s full-depth tread design is engineered to help the Turanza QuietTrack tire maintain performance across its full 80,000-mile limited warranty life span.
As the next generation of the Turanza line, Kelly said the QuietTrack has a 20% improvement in wet traction versus the Serenity Plus, as well as 44% more snow traction.
Erik Seidel, president of consumer replacement tire sales in the U.S. and Canada for Bridgestone Americas, said this tire was designed by engineers keeping in mind that consumer insights indicate wet, winter and wear performance are the top considerations for drivers purchasing a new set of tires.
“The Turanza QuietTrack tire exceeds expectations in each of these important attributes, while also providing a comfortable, quiet ride,” Seidel said.
The QuietTrack is available in 37 sizes, covering more than 86% of cars on the road today, Bridgestone says. Top fitments include the Cadillac CT6, Mercedes E-class, Acura TLX, BMW 7-Series and Lexus ES.
Destination A/T2 and X/T
The Firestone Destination A/T2 and Destination X/T tires combined will replace the current Destination A/T tire, and both new tires will be available in August. Like the WeatherGrip, both of these tires are also Three-Peak Mountain Snowflake certified.
The A/T2 tire is designed for p-metric tire sizes while the X/T is designed for light truck applications.
The A/T2 features a new tread compound designed to give the tire exceptional traction in gravel and dirt, with full-depth tread grooves providing all-weather performance in wet and snow conditions. It will be backed by a 55,000-mile limited warranty.
“The A/T2 is really about a balanced approach,” said Bridgestone Tire Education Specialist Jason Blackwell. “At the end of the day, this is an all-terrain tire with that good off-road handling, but at the same time, we understand a lot of these customers are those ‘work hard, play hard’ [types], where Monday through Friday you usually live on the road, and maybe by the weekend you take it off-road. This tire is really designed to offer that balanced approach so you can take it on-road and off-road.”
While the X/T was designed using many of the same technologies as the A/T2, Blackwell said the target customer for the Destination X/T is the all-terrain enthusiast.
“It gives you that typical, more aggressive all-terrain look and feel, while at the same time, we’ve been able to maintain that good off-road [performance] without sacrificing that good on-road [performance],” Blackwell said.
The X/T is backed by a 50,000-mile limited warranty.
Will Robbins, product manager of consumer replacement for the U.S. and Canada, said the company partnered with Overland Experts, a company based out of North Carolina that trains military drivers for off-roading scenarios, during the development of both the Destination A/T2 and the Destination X/T.
“We gave them prototypes and said, ‘tell us how we can improve these designs,’” Robbins said. “We’re really happy with where both of these products landed.”
The A/T2 is available in 29 sizes, covering 79% of Jeeps, SUVs and trucks, Bridgestone says. Top fitments include the Ford F150, Chevy Silverado, Dodge Ram 1500 and Ford Explorer.
The X/T is available in 25 sizes, covering more than 98% of light trucks and SUVs, according to Bridgestone. Top fitments include the Chevy Silverado, Ford F250, Ford F350 and GMC Sierra.
A fifth new tire, Bridgestone’s Blizzak WS90 – which in addition to the Firestone WeatherGrip was also released in May – was also briefly discussed by Saul, although the product itself was not on display or available to be tested (Tire Review did have an opportunity to test this tire with Bridgestone in January during an event at the Bridgestone Winter Driving School in Steamboat Springs, Colorado). Saul said the Blizzak WS90 has been designed with 15% more block edges than the WS80 tire to help stop shorter on ice; has a new tread compound with a larger contact area; 30% more block stiffness in its tread pattern to help improve responsiveness and wear life; and is made from a patented multi-cell technology that enhances road grip.
“The engineers continue to work their magic on these tires. Every time I think we can’t get any more ice and snow grip out of a Blizzak, ‘lo and behold here comes a new one with increased ice and snow grip,” Saul said.
The Blizzak WS90 is available in 51 sizes and covers 86% of passenger sedans and minivans on the road today, Bridgestone says.
All of these tires come with Bridgestone’s 90-day guarantee, which allows consumers to return or exchange the tires during that period.