Firestone Destination LE3 vs Bridgestone Alenza AS Ultra


Both the Firestone Destination LE3 and the Bridgestone Alenza AS Ultra fall into the SUV Touring All-Season category, designed for crossover, SUV, and pickup truck drivers seeking a comfortable and confident all-season ride. Let’s see which tire aligns better with your requirements.

Doge Durango
Alenza AS Ultra has killer shoulders, and with those rims, I have no words.

Main Highlights

So overall, the Firestone Destination LE3 is better at:

  • Overall Handling: Due to its lighter weight, it provides superior lateral grip and steering responsiveness.
  • Dry-Road Performance: Demonstrates shorter braking distances and better traction in dry conditions.
  • Winter Traction: Offers decent snow acceleration and handles well in winter conditions, despite its firmer rubber composition.
  • Fuel Economy: Thanks to its relatively lighter structure.

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Whereas the Bridgestone Alenza AS Ultra is better at:

  • Wet-Road Performance: Superior in handling and grip in wet conditions due to its abundant siping and interconnected grooves.
  • Noise Dampening: Excels in reducing noise through its QUIETTRACK technology, compacted shoulders, and variable pitch formation.
  • Ride Comfort and Vibration Dampening: Provides a smoother ride by effectively dissipating road bumps, owing to its internal construction with extra polyester cap ply.

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Tread Features

The Firestone LE3, features a symmetric tread pattern, which is a typical design choice for SUV touring all-season tires.

Firestone Destination LE3
Destination LE3 has central ribs with S shaped lugs, while others show F shaped ones.

It’s equipped with 5 total ribs/block columns, forming 4 circumferential grooves.

The 3 central ribs are characterized by distinct lug shapes, where the central most rib comes with S shaped lugs, while the adjacent ribs have F shapes.

These shapes are made because of the multiple in-block notches the tire make, which blend seamlessly into four circumferential channels.

Additionally, all these lugs have wave-like siping, chamfered edges, and off-set sides.

Moving towards the shoulder lugs.

These are less aggressive, with their more packed up design, and a combination of streamlined lateral and longitudinal sipes.

And yes, they also feature small notches, angled towards the middle.

Shifting focus to the Bridgestone Alenza AS Ultra, it also showcases a symmetric tread pattern.

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

Its most prominent feature is the wide central rib, equipped with chamfered edges and abundant wave-like siping.

And yes, you can see how this rib is neatly divided up by a longitudinal slit, running right in the middle of the tread.

The ribs adjacent to the central one are more spacious, and are distinguished by thicker lateral voids with offset edges.

Now together, all these three central ribs form four circumferential channels, and at the base of these grooves, there’s a secondary tread pattern.

See if you can picture it (looking at its tread image).

This feature of the tread basically aid to the noise dampening properties of the tire.

Moving towards the edges, these outer shoulder blocks are relatively straightforward, with curved lateral voids and linear sipes, that run both horizontally and vertically.

New to my site and needing that perfect all-season tire for your specific need, well you need to start here:

Info on Sizes

The Firestone Destination LE3 comes in 15 to 22 inches wheels. And all of those sizes have following specifications.

  • Speed ratings: T, H and V.
  • Load ratings: SL and XL.
  • Tread depth range: Almost all sizes have 10/32″.
  • Weight range: 21 to 40 lbs.
  • UTQG: 700 A B
  • Winter ratings: No 3PMSF, only M+S.
  • Tread mileage rating: 70k miles warranty.
  • Internally, the tire comes with a single ply polyester casing with 2 steel belts and a nylon reinforced cap ply on the very top.

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

Dry-Road Performance

Evaluating the tire’s dry performance is crucial to understand its directional traction and steering response fully. It’s recommended to read the details on both these elements, posted below.

Linear Grip

Linear grip relates to a tire’s capacity to sustain friction with the road during straight-line movement, a crucial aspect often evaluated through the tire’s stopping abilities.

This ability is significantly influenced by the central area of the tire, which bears the majority of the vehicle’s weight when traveling in a straight line.

In this context, the Bridgestone AS exhibits room for improvement, particularly when compared to the Firestone Destination LE3.

And its relatively longer stopping distance can be attributed to two main factors:

Tread Void Design: While the voids in the Alenza Ultra tread act as in-groove notches, providing biting edges that are essential for grip, they also reduce the amount of rubber that comes into direct contact with the road. This decreased contact area affects the tire’s grip more, leading to a longer stopping distance.

Weight and Rubber Density: The Bridgestone AS is characterized by a denser rubber composition, which contributes to its greater overall weight. While this density offers the advantage of increased longevity, it also results in higher momentum inertia.

Essentially, this means the tire requires more energy and time to come to a stop. The increased mass of the tire generates greater momentum, which necessitates additional braking force and time to halt effectively.

So comparing both tires, you see Destination LE3 taking a lead by showcasing 4 feet shorter braking distances, on average, on my braking tests.

Overall Handling

Handling in tires is critically evaluated based on two main factors: the steering feel and lateral grip.

Now in both these areas, the Firestone Destination LE3 makes its mark.

It offers greater lateral grip, where it consistently outperformed the AS Ultra in my lateral g-force tests, and it also provided superior steering responsiveness, leading to a quicker handling lap times.

So what tends the Alenza AS Ultra to show sluggish steering response, particularly?

Well, a significant factor influencing is its relatively heavier construction, which impacts the lugs in two different ways:

  • Stress on Lugs: The increased weight puts more strain on the tire lugs as they bend, disrupting their interaction with the road as the tire turns.
  • Balance in Steering: The additional weight also leads to understeering on this tire, as heavier weight takes more energy and grip to turn, on corners.

Therefore, the Firestone Destination LE3’s lighter weight allows for a second faster handling lap times, on averaged tests.

Wet-Road Performance

In wet environments, grip and the ability to resist hydroplaning are key, with both relying on proper water evacuation. Let’s explore each of these aspects.

Wet Grip and Handling

Wet traction in tires is heavily reliant on sipes, which are essentially small cuts in the tire tread.

Despite their seemingly simple appearance, they are pretty important, as they’re designed to create suction that pulls up moisture away from underneath the lugs, allowing tire’s rubber to properly grip on a relatively dried up surface.

That’s why for a better wet traction, you need a lot of sipes, and their flexibility (which defines their effectiveness).

Considering this, the Destination LE3 shows some shortcomings in this area, evident in its longer braking distances and handling times during wet lap tests.

This is mainly due to its relatively less pliant rubber composition, which limits the sipes’ soaking capabilities.

In contrast, the Bridgestone Alenza AS Ultra outperforms in this area due to several factors:

  • Abundant Siping: It features a greater number of sipes compared to the Firestone Destination LE3, contributing to better water clearance.
  • Varied Siping Design: The Bridgestone tire incorporates linear sipes on the shoulders and wave-like sipes in other areas, offering a more effective structure for water dispersion.
  • Interconnected Grooves: The grooves in the Alenza AS Ultra are better inter-linked, enhancing greater water expulsion, to begin with, leaving behind less water, and reliance on sipes.

About the last point here: The Firestone LE3 although features hydro-grip technology, which also involves interconnected voids, its overall structure of both its sipes, and grooves is still less effective overall.

Resistance to Hydroplaning

Hydroplaning is a hazardous condition where a tire fails to displace water, causing it to essentially float on the water’s surface and lose traction. To combat this, tires are designed with grooves to efficiently channel water away, determining their hydroplane resistance or the speed at which hydroplaning begins.

As discussed earlier in the wet traction (section, above), the LE3’s groove structure is less effective in this regard.

This limitation means that the Destination tire is more prone to hydroplaning at lower speeds compared to its counterparts.

Winter Traction

In terms of winter traction, both boys are doing great, even though they lack the 3-Peak Mountain Snowflake certification.

This certification indicates a tire’s proficiency in severe snow conditions, typically offering about 10% better acceleration in snow compared to standard all-season tires without the certification.

The Bridgestone Alenza AS Ultra stands out with higher winter performance scores, as evaluated from my tests, and subjective evaluations.

Its design incorporates central interlocking lugs and multiple biting edges, including those at the base of its circumferential grooves.

These features enable the tire to effectively catch and trap snow particles, enhancing snow-on-snow traction, which is highly needed here, given snow’s tendency to bind better to itself, rather than to rubber.

On the flip side, although the LE3’s design of biters/siping, provides decent snow acceleration, its overall winter performance, including snow handling and braking, still lack to Alenza AS.

Additionally, the Firestone’s rubber composition is also firmer, which reduces its thermal adaptive properties.

This means, its biters are more prone to becoming stiffer in freezing temperatures, reducing their effectiveness and hindering the tire’s overall winter performance.

Side Note: Overall I’d suggest you to go with grand touring tires, instead of SUV ones, if winter traction is your primary concern. Learn about all different types of all-season tires here, if you’re wondering.

Ride Quality

The key factors determining tire comfort are noise suppression and the absorption of road bumps. We will break down and discuss these two elements separately.

Noise Dampening

In terms of noise dampening, the Bridgestone Alenza AS Ultra is one of the best tires in its SUV touring category, as evidenced by its pretty low decibel reading, calculated on average.

And its superior performance here can easily be attributed to its QUIETTRACK technology, which encompasses several features specifically designed to minimize noise.

Now as noise mostly emerges from air particles colliding with the tread walls, the Alenza comes with a lot more compacted up shoulders, blocking air’s predominant entry point (as the tire rolls).

Additionally, the tire employs a variable pitch formation, mostly owned to its secondary tread pattern on its grooves (on the tread’s base).

This structure causes air particles striking different parts of the tread at varying angles to create a range of tones that cancel each other out, thus reducing overall noise.

And yes its rubber is also infused with polymers that absorb sound waves, further diminishing in-groove resonance, that in layman’s term is the echoing of the generated sound waves.

Road Vibrations Comfort

The Bridgestone Alenza AS Ultra also stands out in terms of vibration comfort, which is derived from a tire’s ability to handle road imperfections while maintaining stability.

While personal preference can play a role, the Alenza AS Ultra generally offers a ride comfort, that would satisfy a lot, in my opinion, compared to Firestone LE3, I mean, of course.

This is because my subjective evaluations, in terms of impact comfort, judges both smaller and larger road imperfections, as well as cracked roads.

So what makes this tire better here? Well for the most part, its internal construction, where it offers extra polyester cap ply, is allowing for a more effective dissipation of road bumps.

In contrast, the Destination LE3, although has a relatively softer rubber composition, it lacks the same level of control over bump dampening, as Alenza offers.

Final Thoughts

As we approach the finish line in our comparison, let’s take a final look at how both tires stack up against each other.

Now out both tires, the Alenza although offers well engineered contact patch, it lacks to its counterpart in overall directional grip.

Moreover, its heavier weight, also causes it to have lacking performance in terms of steering responsiveness, and overall handling.

Though the tire quickly makes up for it, on wet roads, delivering better wet traction, and resistance to hydroplaning.

In winter conditions, we get some mixed results, though overall winner is still Alenza here as well.

The Firestone LE3 on the other side, offers superb steering feedback, and a great impact comfort performance, but for larger bumps.

The Alenza AS Ultra on the other hand, provides better dampening along with control. And speaking of dampening, the tire is also quieter out of the two. Though it lacks to LE3 in terms of fuel economy.

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