Dunlop Sport All Season Review

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Finally got my hands on the Dunlop Sport All Season, a tire which redefines the whole driving experience with its superb year-round performance, especially when it comes to fuel efficiency. Let’s see if this tire is for you.

Lexus 350
Got these boys installed on the new Lexus 350 (235/65R18 XL).

Available Tire Sizes

Dunlop Sport All Season comes in 14 to 18 inches, with sizes having following specs.

  • Speed ratings: H and V.
  • Load ratings: SL, and XL.
  • Weight range: 16 to 26 lbs.
  • Tread depth: 10/32″ on all sizes

All sizes have the 3PMSF and M+S ratings.

Key Takeaway

Overall, the Dunlop Sport All Season is a great tire when it comes to:

  • Fuel Economy: Its lighter weight and efficient tread design contribute to lower rolling resistance, making it the most fuel-efficient (currently).
  • Wet Handling: Its combination of full-depth sipes and multi-directional linear patterns offers reliable performance on wet surfaces.
  • Hydroplaning Resistance: The tire demonstrates good performance in both straight-line and cornering hydroplaning resistance tests.

However, the tire needs improvement in:

  • Braking: It lags in directional grip (on both wet and dry roads), resulting in longer braking distances (on average).
  • Winter Performance: The tire struggles with lateral traction and adequate steering feedback in winter conditions.
  • Noise Comfort: Due to its design, the tire generates considerable road noise, especially on coarse surfaces.

Construction Features

The Dunlop Sport All Season comes with a pretty unique tread pattern.

Dunlop Sport All Season
The Dunlop Sport All Season comes with a rounded contact patch.

Now, this tire although features an asymmetric design with five block columns, it’s outer ribs/shoulders are still symmetric, (as they don’t have any variations from one another).

These shoulder blocks are characterized by straight lateral siping and robust longitudinal slits that segment through the lugs, connecting seamlessly with the lateral voids, (they have in between).

Moving towards the middle, you again get two similar ribs, even though all of them have lateral voids interlinking with the four circumferential grooves, they make.

The central most rib, and the one on it’s right (in the image), exhibit lugs with pronounced linear siping and unilateral notches, complemented by longitudinal siping channels.

While the other rib (left one from the middle, in the image), comes with smaller blocks. All of them are designed with subtle V-shaped voids and siping.

Fuel Economy

Fuel efficiency in tires is largely influenced by rolling resistance, which is determined by factors like the tire’s weight, composition, and tread design.

And this is where the Dunlop Sport All Season stands out as the best, providing you with the most fuel efficient design you can get in grand touring tires (right now).

That’s why I thought, it’s best we start from here.

Its advantage comes from its lighter weight combined with a contact patch that distributes this weight evenly.

Meaning each lug has smaller weight pressure on it self, as they get rubbed against the road, lowering rolling resistance, enhancing economy.

Additionally, the tire’s composition plays a crucial role.

Its harder rubber compound (combined with the tire’s lighter weight), keep the lugs from bending excessively. This results in limited momentum inertia, meaning that less energy is needed to start and stop the tire’s rotation, for example.

For Your Info: The tire’s impressive performance in this aspect is a key reason why it has earned a spot on the list of top grand touring tires.

Dry Performance

Evaluating a tire’s performance on dry surfaces hinges on two critical factors: grip and handling.

Let’s analyze them both.

Directional Grip

Directional grip is about the tire’s ability to brake and accelerate, often referenced as directional grip. It primarily depends on the effectiveness of the rubber’s contact with the road, particularly in the tire’s central region.

This (middle) area is crucial here because it sustains the most weight as the tire moves in a straight line.

And here, the Sport All Season is lacking behind. When compared to the Crossclimate 2 (review), a leading tire in this category, the Dunlop’s tire exhibits a noticeable deficiency, with an average braking distance exceeding 15 feet.

This shortfall can be attributed to the tire’s tread design, where its central ribs are notably voided laterally. This design fails to provide an adequate contact patch, basically, which is of course essential for optimal grip.

Additionally, the tire’s lugs are neither sufficiently angled nor feature chamfered edges.

So during braking, this causes the lugs to press against each other, leading to a loss of grip and reduced braking efficiency along with linear stability (or what I like to call on-center feel).

Overall Handling

Now, when it comes to overall handling of a tire, you should know that it also gets significantly influenced by its braking performance, and this is particularly evident in the case of the Dunlop Sport All Season.

To understand this, we need to consider the three phases of cornering:

  • Entry.
  • Mid-cornering.
  • Exiting.

In the entry phase, as the vehicle starts its turn into the corner, effective braking and potentially shifting down are crucial. Here, the Dunlop tire’s poor braking performance leads to “delayed slowing”, which ultimately results in “longer lap times” during testing.

The issue persists into the exit phase, where the car begins to straighten and accelerate. I mean the tire’s inability to stabilize quickly, affects the overall handling time again, as it takes longer to regain speed/accelerate and control.

The mid-corner phase, however, is a different story.

Thanks to its lighter construction, the tire is less susceptible to oversteering or understeering.

During this middle phase, the weight distribution shifts towards the tire’s shoulders, enhancing contact with the road.

And the Dunlop tire’s design features, such as prominent in-groove lateral notches and deep longitudinal slits, provide the needed traction here.

Furthermore, the tire’s lighter design is also helping a lot. This coupled with the tread’s (relatively) stiffer rubber, limits lug flexing, allowing for a more responsive and communicative handling experience (while in a corner).

So overall, you get average handling performance, despite the tire severely lacking in braking.

Wet Performance

Overall wet performance is linked with the tire’s water clearing abilities, this defines how well it’s able to handle/grip on wet roads, and resist from hydroplaning.

Let me explain both of these one by one.

Wet traction and Handling

On wet surfaces, the Sport All Season excels as a reliable option, distinguished by its combination of full-depth sipes and multi-directional linear patterns.

These features, along with strategic notches, ensure flexibility during handling and braking, essential for wet surface performance.

But why are these important here?

Basically while most of the water goes out through grooves, the remaining water gets squeezed into the voids and tread features.

This design means that the sipes and notches essentially function as water collectors, which then expel the water out later (as the tire rolls over), requiring flexibility to do so effectively.

So in terms of performance, the Dunlop tire’s generous notching and siping contribute to above-average handling in wet conditions, though its braking performance could be improved.

To give you idea, the tire takes an additional 3 feet to stop compared to the Crossclimate 2, in wet braking.

Hydroplaning Resistance

Hydroplaning, often referred to as aquaplaning, occurs when a tire “floats” on water, losing contact with the road due to a layer of water obstructing the tire-ground interface.

To prevent this, tires are designed with wide grooves that efficiently channel water away.

The efficiency of this water dispersion, however, can diminish at higher speeds, leading to hydroplaning.

That’s why this resistance (to hydroplaning) gets evaluated by tire’s float speeds (the maximum speed at which a tire can travel over a few mm deep watery surface without losing contact).

In this context, the Dunlop Sport All Season demonstrates good enough performance in both straight-line and cornering hydroplaning resistance tests.

Its design, featuring four circumferential channels, effectively expels water rearward/longitudinally as the tire moves forward.

Moreover, as the these grooves are also connected to each other laterally, water is also able to squeeze out sideways (with tire’s pressure on).

Though it’s overall straight aqua performance is much better here, relatively (compared to curved).

For Your Info: The best rated all season tire for overall wet performance is the Vredestein Quatrac Pro (review), I mean when it comes to all grand touring tires.

Winter Performance

Evaluating a tire’s performance in winter conditions involves considering key aspects such as grip, handling, and its ability to adapt to varying snowy environments.

And in this context, the Dunlop Sport All Season falls short of expectations.

It lacks sufficient lateral traction and does not provide adequate steering feedback. This means that while the tire can brake effectively, especially when approaching corners, its overall handling, especially in terms of steering and maintaining control, is not up to par.

Basically the tire tends to understeer, especially in wetter, icy conditions, where although it initially turns sharply, it quickly feels too soft and slightly unstable, leading to an exaggerated steering response.

Though on a positive note, the tire does offer a decent acceleration performance, which is above average (overall) in the realm of grand touring tires.

And this is supported by its 3 Peak Mountain Snowflake rating, suggesting it’s 10% better at acceleration compared to standard AS tires without this rating.

Noise Comfort

Road noise in tires results from a complex interplay of factors, including the sounds produced by the tire rolling over the road and the varying acoustics of different road surfaces.

Though a significant contributor to this noise is air movement.

As the tire rolls, air particles, predominantly entering through the shoulder area, collide with the tread walls, creating noise.

And this phenomenon is a key reason why the Dunlop Sport All Season comes as one of the loudest tires in its category.

Its design, featuring substantial voids in the shoulders and central ribs, allows air particles to easily enter and strike the tread walls. And this interaction produces a distinct growl and grinding sound, particularly noticeable on coarse concrete surfaces.

While on smoother roads, you hear a of sound patterns, where some blend in to background white noise, while others show off as a prominent two-tone cavity noise.

And this brings us to another point, the tire’s lacking pitch sequencing.

This is a design strategy where the tread is structured to create varied tones as air particles hit different areas. These tones ideally counterbalance each other, preventing certain sound waves from amplifying or becoming overly loud.

And as you may have already guessed it, the Dunlop tire here doesn’t effectively employ this feature.

For Your Info: Out of all the grand touring tires I reviewed, the Pirelli Cinturato All Season SF2 (review), stands out in its category for its minimal noise levels, as evidenced by its low decibel readings.

Tread Life

When assessing the tread life of a tire, two primary factors are crucial.

The first is the rate at which the tire’s rubber deteriorates or undergoes wear and tear. This aspect is indicative of the tire’s overall durability and expected lifespan.

The second key consideration is the time it takes for the tire to wear down to a tread depth of 2/32 inches. In the United States, reaching this depth signals the legal requirement for tire replacement.

In these respects, the Dunlop Sport All Season performs admirably.

Its specialized tread compound is fortified with various additives such as silica, carbon black, and antioxidants, which collectively enhance its resistance to wear.

This composition helps the tire combat wear effectively and prolong its usable life.

Moreover, the tire comes with a good enough tread depth, which takes a considerable amount of time for the tire to reach the critical 2/32″ replacement levels.

That’s why on average, the tire easily offers more than 50k miles, even though it doesn’t offer any treadwear warranty.

Key Takeaway

In conclusion, the Dunlop Sport All Season tire presents a mixed performance across various parameters.

It although lacks in dry and wet braking, it’s overall handling and steering response (in both environments) are doing okay.

Though the tire does the opposite in terms of winter performance (where its directional grip is better).

Noise comfort is a notable weakness, with the tire producing considerable road noise due to its design, which inadequately manages air particle collision and lacks effective pitch sequencing.

However, the tire shines in fuel economy, thanks to its lightweight design and lower rolling resistance.

Finally, its tread life is impressive, with a durable compound and design that delays wear, making it a lasting choice despite the absence of a treadwear warranty.

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