Few rides are more breathtaking than California 1 between San Simeon and Monterey. There are few better vintners than those in Napa Valley. And there is no finer experience than spending time at a resort and spa. When you combine those with a tire introduction and ride-n-drive, it makes for one great week.
Bridgestone/Firestone North American Tire (BFNAT) did just that in mid-September for the rollout of its new Bridgestone Dueler H/L Alenza. The comfort and luxury afforded attendees fit BFNAT’s core performance criteria for the new line: passenger tire comfort targeting premium luxury SUVs. Even the line’s name was selected to support its positioning. BFNAT said Alenza combines two Latin words that translate to “toward elegance.”
The Dueler H/L Alenza is a natural extension of BFNAT’s existing Dueler H/L line, explained Phil Pasci, executive director of North America consumer tire brand marketing for BFNAT, and puts Bridgestone in the premium/super premium SUV tire range with Michelin’s Cross Terrain and Goodyear’s Fortera.
Key BFNAT dealers and the tire media had an opportunity to drive luxury SUVs fitted with Dueler H/L Alenzas, both on public roads around Napa Valley and in autocross and wet braking tests at Infineon Raceway.
BMW X5, Mercedes Benz M-Class and Cadillac Escalade SUVs were used for the on-road tests. Acura MDXs and Toyota 4Runners sped through cones laid out at the track, comparing the new Dueler to the Michelin Cross Terrain at both full and 50% skid depths.
Besides Bridgestone’s UNI-T and UNI-T AQII technologies, the Dueler H/L Alenza also features a new technology: Ever-Black sidewall rubber. The new compound is specially formulated, said BFNAT, to retain a “fresh, refined appearance” even after thousands of road miles and harsh conditions. BFNAT said this feature will keep owners from having to use messy paints, cleaners or treatments to keep their tires looking showroom new and help protect the tires from potential damage resulting from those chemicals.
“With the proliferation of SUV models, a growing segment of consumers demand the same luxurious amenities once found only on upscale automobiles. Tires are no exception to this trend,” said Pasci.
The five-rib Dueler H/L Alenza tread reduces road noise and enhances wet traction, said Pasci, and features a wide center rib surrounded by circumferential grooves to aid water evacuation.
Initially, eight T- and H-rated, 16- to 18-inch sizes were issued, selected to cover more than 80% of the luxury SUV segment, said Pasci. This includes two T-rated sizes and one extra load size.
The T-rated version has UTQG ratings of 700 for treadwear, A for traction and B for temperature, while the H-rated version has UTQG ratings of 600 for treadwear, A for traction and A for temperature. Both come with a 65,000-mile limited treadwear warranty.
After all that elegance, it was nice to kick it up a bit. BFNAT obliged with a fleet of Jeeps, fitted with recently introduced Firestone Destination A/Ts, and some hillside trails at Kirkland Valley Ranch. The tires saw a fair mix of loose dirt, rocks and mud along the steep California hills.
The Firestone Destination A/T, according to Pasci, completes the Destination family, which includes M/T and LE models. The all-terrain line comes in 24 P- and LT-metric sizes, including flotation sizes, covering 14- through 17-inch wheel diameters.