Bridgestone Alenza AS Ultra Review

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The Bridgestone Alenza AS Ultra is a sophisticated Crossover/SUV Touring All-Season tire, which comes with a remarkable 13% improvement in wet condition acceleration, a significant 14% enhancement in dry road braking, and a decent 10% advancement in braking performance in snowy conditions compared to its predecessor. But is it enough to outperform its direct competitors? Well, you’d find that out shortly.

Ford Edge
Gravel testing with Alenza AS Ultra on Ford Edge.

Key Takeaway

So the Bridgestone Alenza AS Ultra is doing great in terms of:

  • Wet handling, particularly due to its effective water evacuation design and numerous sipes.
  • Hydroplaning resistance, thanks to its wide interconnected circumferential grooves.
  • Noise comfort, achieved through its tread design and composition.

However, it needs improvements in:

  • Braking efficacy in all dry, wet, and winter conditions, as its heavier weight impacts its stopping power.
  • Overall dry performance, where the tire isn’t able to provide ample lateral grip with directional traction.
  • Impact comfort, with its relatively stiffer rubber.

Construction Features

Bridgestone Alenza AS Ultra comes with a symmetric tread pattern, which is pretty common with SUV tires.

Bridgestone Alenza AS Ultra
Bridgestone Alenza AS Ultra shoulder blocks have ridges in between, aiding the tire’s overall comfort quality.

It comes with a 5 rib design, where you get a very wide central most rib, (this basically aid the tire in braking).

Here all lugs have an angle to them, and so they make slanted voids in between, connecting the circumferential grooves together.

(About these groove, they have a pattern of their own, basically made to dampen down the road noise).

Moreover, all blocks have wave-like siping, and a longitudinal slit running right down in the middle, splitting up the blocks (though it’s not all the way, down to the tire’s base I mean).

The adjacent (to the middle) ribs have similar features, except that they re more voided up, and have in-groove notches.

And outer shoulder blocks are fairly straight forward too, they make curved lateral voids, and have linear sipes running both horizontally and vertically.

Internally, the tire comes with 2 ply polyester, 2 steel belts, with single nylon cap ply on top.

Compare AS Ultra with:

Sizes Info

The Bridgestone Alenza AS Ultra comes in 16 to 21 inches rims, with total of 49 sizes having following specs.

  • Speed ratings: H, V and W.
  • Load ratings: SL, XL.
  • Weight range: 24 to 42 lbs.
  • Tread depth: 10/32″ (or 8mm) on all.
  • UTQG: 680 A A.
  • Treadwear warranty: 80k miles.

For Your Info: With a wide range of sizes, it’s a popular choice for a variety of vehicles, including the Lexus RX, BMW X7, Volvo XC90, Audi Q5, and Tesla Model X.

Dry Performance

Dry performance encompasses responsive steering, efficient cornering, and effective braking. Let’s take a closer look at them all.

Directional Grip

This term refers to the tire’s ability to maintain friction with the road during straight-line movement, and is primarily assessed by the tire’s stopping power.

And yes, it also relies largely on the tire’s central area (as it bears most of the vehicle’s weight during straight-line travel).

Now having said that, the Bridgestone AS needs to improve here a little bit, (as it takes relatively longer to stop, compared to it’s direct rivals).

And this is because of two things. One the tire is pretty voided up, and although the voids (for the most part), act as in-groove notches (providing biting edges), they also hamper the rubber to road contact, affecting grip.

And two, the tire’s structural weight is on the heavier side. I mean, while most tires in its category remain under 35 pounds for their largest size, the Alenza Ultra reaches up to 42 pounds.

Now, this is a lot, especially when you consider its average tread depth of 10/32″, and a use of a single ply nylon cap ply, (which typically suggests a lighter tire).

This heavier weight (due to the tire’s denser rubber composition), basically creates more mass momentum for the tire, meaning, it takes more energy, and time to top.

Overall Handling

Handling is judged by the tire’s steering feel, and lateral grip.

And here, the Alenza AS Ultra is not doing so great, particularly when compared to its primary competitors.

I mean it comes with a relatively reduced lateral traction, and steering responsiveness, leading to longer lap times and less agility in slalom tests.

During tests, one can easily see the tire’s steering response subdued at the center. Meaning, it requires more input than usual to achieve the intended steering action.

(And once it does respond, there’s a tendency for oversteer).

Now the problem here again is the tire’s weight, which pushes down on lugs, causing them to flex/bend more, decreasing the overall steering precision.

(Though it’s still manageable, given that you put very controlled throttle inputs).

Wet Performance

Wet performance of a tire is crucial and can be assessed by focusing on three key aspects: overall wet grip, steering response, and hydroplaning resistance.

Hydroplaning

Starting with hydroplaning, this phenomenon occurs when a tire is unable to effectively displace water through its grooves, leading to a loss of contact with the road surface.

So tires began to float or you can say, “hydroplane”.

And the point (in speed), where this happens, measure float speeds.

Now, the Alenza AS Ultra coming with pretty wide 4 circumferential grooves provide efficient water displacement, no doubt about that.

And since, these channels, are also interlinked with each other (by lateral voids), you also get effective sideways water evacuation with that as well.

Meaning, with the Bridgestone’s tire here, you get a greater linear and curved float speeds, relatively.

Wet traction and Handling

So the Bridgestone’s tire here although falls short in directional grip, its wet handling is still its standout feature, attributed largely to its numerous winter-tire-like “sipes” distributed across its tread.

These basically act as mini water containers, as the moisture coming between the tread and the road is squeezed in to those siping slits, and so that way, they clear off the remaining water particles (left out by grooves).

Now the tire comes with a design that includes both linear and interlocking siping, along with substantial longitudinal slits, ensuring a robust wet grip from multiple angles.

But yes, there’s a room for improvement in the braking department, where the tire’s weight generating significant momentum, makes it more challenging to stop, especially when measured against other tires in its category.

And this aspect also causes some issues with handling too, where it leads to understeer, particularly noticeable during corner entry.

Meaning, with this tire, drivers might find themselves needing to brake earlier than usual. And sure this impact overall lap times, the difference is not so great, thanks to the tire’s good enough lateral grip, and overall steering.

Noise Comfort

The Bridgestone Alenza aims to deliver a very silent on-road ride, where the tire achieves one of the lowest decibel readings among its competitors.

So what makes this tire so great here?

Well, this is largely due to its QUIETTRACK technology, which involves several innovative features designed to reduce noise.

But first, you should know that, noise is mostly generated by air particles colliding with the tread walls, predominantly entering through the shoulder voids.

And sure, while there are other types of noise, like air pumping in/out sounds, and impact noise, the interaction of air with the tread is the most significant contributor.

Having said that, the design of the Alenza AS Ultra addresses this with densely packed shoulder lugs with rubber ridges blocking the lateral grooves in between them.

This means, there’s less air entry to begin with. So, yes you can say, the tire is dealing with noise at the source.

Additionally, the tire incorporates a variable pitch formation structure, which is also part of the “QuietTrack tech”.

This design causes air particles hitting different parts of the tread at varying angles, to produce a range of tones that effectively cancel each other out, thus reducing overall noise.

Moreover, the tire’s tread is infused with polymers that absorb sound waves, further diminishing in-groove resonance, providing one of the quietest rides in its SUV touring category.

Side Note: This tech. is also featured on Bridgestone Turanza QuietTrack (review it here), which one can guess from the tire’s name.

Fuel Economy

Fuel consumption is influenced by various factors, including the tire’s design, its manufacturing process, and operational conditions.

And given these factors, the Bridgestone’s performance in fuel economy is just average. And here two things are worth noting.

  • Heavier Construction: The tire has a relatively heavier build, with weight reaching up to 42 lbs. This added weight potentially impact fuel efficiency, as being heavier, it requires more energy to rotate, and stop.
  • Stability and Lug Design: Despite its weight, the Alenza AS Ultra maintains stable lugs, reinforced to enhance their stability. This design means that even though the tire’s heavier structure exerts more pressure on the lugs during rotation, their tendency to bend is minimized.

For Your Info: Lug bending plays a significant role in fuel consumption. When the lugs bend excessively, energy is expended in this deformation rather than in rolling the tire, leading to increased rolling resistance and, consequently, lower fuel efficiency.

But the thing is despite having a lot of weight, the AS Ultra’s stiffer rubber, and thoughtfully composed structure with tread depth help reduce a lot of this unnecessary bending.

So the tire’s design effectively balances its weight with efficient energy use during rolling, preventing a significant decrease in fuel economy.

Winter Traction

The winter performance of the Bridgestone Alenza presents a varied picture.

I mean, the tire excels in lateral traction and steering feedback, but its performance in the braking department is not as strong.

And this braking, (just like the tire’s dry and wet performance), leads to slower handling lap times. Though they are still average, when compared to a wide range of tires in its category.

If you’re wondering, this lacking of braking performance means that the AS Ultra takes longer to slow down, particularly, before entering the corner.

And that longer time to slow down, is directly reflected in overall handling times, as seen by the time to complete laps tests.

To give you an idea, about its performance here:
When it comes to snow braking, the tire lags behind the Crossclimate 2 (review here), by approximately 4 feet, and on ice, the gap widens to about 6 feet. This comparison is particularly relevant given the current popularity of the Michelin’s tire.

Bottom Line

In summary, the Bridgestone Alenza AS Ultra presents a complex profile across various performance metrics. But you should know that in all areas, the tire lacks in terms of effective braking.

Though other than that, it offers great handling overall. Though on dry the handling is prone to oversteer.

While on wet roads, the need for earlier braking leads to some understeer.

And just like dry and wet, its winter performance has similar results, where the tire leads in lateral traction and steering feedback but falls short in braking, affecting its overall handling and lap times.

Other than that, it’s noise reduction performance is one of it’s best features, where it offers QUIETTRACK technology.

And regarding fuel economy, the tire’s heavier construction is a potential drawback, requiring more energy for rotation. However, its stable lug design and stiffer rubber composition mitigate excessive lug bending, meaning it’s overall performance is average here.

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