Hankook Kinergy 4S2 Review

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The Hankook Kinergy 4S2 is a grand touring all-season tire that focuses on providing a smooth ride in a wide range of temperatures with its thermal adaptive rubber. This is why the tire earns a 3 Peak Mountain Snowflake rating, making it suitable for use even in severe snowy conditions. Let’s see if this tire is made for you.

Hankook Kinergy 4S2 tire
With rolling , the directional design of Hankook Kinergy 4S2 allows water to be pushed outward, enhancing hydroplaning resistance.

As a tire engineer, from my perspective, the Hankook Kinergy 4S2 offers very stable traction on dry pavements, which is not overly affected by temperature. However, for wet traction, the tire is among the best out there, allowing for consistent performance, especially in hydroplaning. In snow, the tire is branded with a severe winter rating, and its performance really meets expectations.

I highly recommend this tire, but that does not mean it is without drawbacks.

Areas for Improvement in the Tire:

  • The tread of the tire is prone to wear, so you will likely see a reduced total mileage before it’s time to replace.
  • The fuel economy is below average.
  • Wet traction is also a step back, compared to other premium options.

Available Sizes

Hankook Kinergy 4S2 comes in 81 total sizes in 15 to 19 inches. They have following specs.

  • Speed ratings: H, V, and W.
  • Load ratings: SL and XL.
  • Weight range: 16 to 34 lbs.
  • Tread depth: 9.5 and 10/32″.
  • UTQG: 500 A A.
  • Treadwear warranty: 60k miles.
  • All sizes have 3PMSF and M+S ratings.

Compare Hankook Kinergy 4S2 with:

Durability

The Hankook Kinergy 4S2 offers decent durability, featuring a 2-ply polyester carcass that provides protection to the sidewalls, which are the weakest part of the tire.

At the points where the sidewalls become 2-ply, the central area of the tire becomes more durable, as the polyester casing adds 2 more layers of broad steel belts, which are then further reinforced with a joint-less covering of single nylon cap ply.

With this construction, the tire provides a great combination of stiffness and softness, ideal for facing multiple temperature transitions.

Tread Appearance

The directional design of the Hankook Kinergy 4S2 is developed to provide excellent snow traction. The tire’s pattern is very similar to that of the Michelin CrossClimate 2, especially, when you consider it’s edges.

Hankook Kinergy 4S2
The Hankook Kinergy 4S2 offers a combination of summer and winter sipes, providing all-season traction.

Starting from the shoulder blocks with saw-toothed edges, the tire features very strong biters here.

These biters, known as snow vices, trap snow particles, enhancing traction through snow-to-snow contact.

Aside from these biters, the shoulder blocks are optimized for maximum grip, as the rubber has less siping. With less siping, the tire’s design promotes rubber contact with the road.

There are two longitudinal grooves that divide the shoulder blocks from the middle area. Additionally, in the center, every other lug features longitudinal slits as well, providing further resistance to hydroplaning.

As you will see in the traction section, combined with a few other factors, this tire offers some of the best hydroplaning resistance.

Furthermore, the lugs also feature a dual siping pattern, with both summer and winter sipes. The rectilinear pattern provides grip on dry roads, especially in summer, while the wave-like, interlocking pattern enhances wet and snow traction.

Concave tie bars connecting lugs together in the middle act as reinforced foundations and are also seen under shoulder blocks. They enhance on-road stability during cornering.

Winter Performance

With a 3 peak mountain snowflake rating, the Hankook Kinergy 4S2 performs well in snow, particularly in acceleration (which is what the 3PMSF represents).

Compared to other premium all-season tires, it is very competent, as it only slightly trails the Michelin CrossClimate 2 in braking and acceleration tests, whereas its handling is actually better in comparison here.

So what makes Hankook so great in winter conditions?

Well, the Kinergy 4S2 does everything right: its softer rubber maintains traction even in freezing temperatures, and the reinforced foundations underneath keep the tread stable.

Moreover, the saw-tooth edges on its shoulder blocks are very efficient at biting into snow. These snow vices grab and hold onto the snow, allowing the tire to have effective snow-to-snow contact, which is desirable on snowy surfaces.

Another advantage of this tire is its section width; its narrower design is effective, adding to holding snow abilities, providing traction.

Basically Narrower tires can exert more pressure on the snow, lodging it in the grooves.

Dry Performance

The tire’s performance is generally measured by assessing its cornering abilities and responsiveness, combined with traction. Let’s discuss these aspects one by one.

Dry Traction

Traction is all about, how well the tire meets with the road, and its the combination of lateral and directional grip.

Directional grip measures tire’s braking efficacy, and since it depend on central lugs, the tire with closed up interlocking blocks there, provides superb rubber-to-road contact.

Moreover, the mixture of summer and winter sipes on these lugs, with their linear and zigzag structures, the tire is also able to provide a great bite, as it brakes, allowing for quicker stopping distances.

And yes, with minimal shoulder designs, with less tread elements on them, the same is going on towards the tire’s edges.

I mean the tire also provides a pretty decent grip and bite form its shoulder lugs too, even though they are more voided up.

To give you an idea about its performance, the Hankook 4S provides better handling times than the Vredestein Quatrac Pro (review), but falls a little short of the Goodyear Vector 4 Seasons (review).

However, keep in mind that its performance is affected by temperature, and with more heat, the handling performance is slightly compromised.

Wet Performance

Wet traction is somewhat challenging to achieve, as it requires efficient cleaning, given that water is an incompressible liquid.

This is where two key aspects assist the tire: resistance to hydroplaning and wet traction. Let’s explore each one.

Wet Traction

The Hankook Kinergy 4S2 does pretty great in both wet braking and handling, though, there’s still some room for improvement here.

And to understand why behind it, you should first know how things work here.

Now as wet traction depends on water clearance, tire’s incorporate grooves and sipes. The grooves do most of the cleaning, while sipes come in later.

These sipes suck up the remaining water particles (left out by grooves), allowing rest of the rubber and biters, to properly contact the surface, providing traction.

Now, the Hankook’s tire here although provides decent grooves/voids, taking care of the first half of water clearance, its lacks in the second half.

Simply put, the tire doesn’t offer ample number of sipes, particularly towards shoulders, causing issues, particularly in terms of wet handling.

Though, as you get decent siping in the middle (of its tread), there are no complaints in its wet braking department.

In other words, you do get quality, but not enough quantity, in terms of its siping design, lowering down its overall wet scores, especially compared to premium grand touring options.

Hydroplaning Resistance

Hydroplaning is often underestimated. Efficient tire grooves aid the sipes, as more efficient water clearance means less for the sipes to handle.

This is why the Hankook Kinergy 4S2 excels in wet traction. In my list of top all-season tires, it ranks best for hydroplaning resistance.

While its V shaped lateral grooves provide water, decent pathways to leave out quickly, their inter-connectivity (thanks to longitudinal voids joining those channels), further add to the whole clearing process.

So with water clearing off in both directions, you get ample float speeds, as seen on both straight and cornering hydroplaning tests.

Steering Response

In terms of steering response, the tire feels very sporty. However, on sharp corners, if the tires are pushed to the limit and they slide, it takes a while to recover them before you can throttle back again.

Other than that, the tire is very responsive.

The tire features a strong 2-ply sidewall design which stays stiff on roads, keeping lugs stable, and composed in terms of flexing/bending. And with less bending, there’s smaller delay between the driver’s inputs and wheel’s feedback.

Moreover, while its shoulder lugs provide a significant contact patch with ground with minimal tread features, providing traction, the reinforced foundations underneath them add to the cornering stability.

FYI, the best steering responsiveness so far is seen on the Goodyear Vector 4Seasons Gen 3, in-fact I rated these tires exactly as the best for dry handling in my list of top grand touring tires. Check out the list here: https://tiredriver.com/best-grand-touring-all-season-tires/

Wear and Fuel Economy

Wear resistance requires tires to have a stiffer rubber composition, and a lighter construction weight, and Hankook here is missing with both.

I mean, the tire’s softer rubber compound although offers great comfort (dampening road imperfections), its very susceptible to faster wearing.

Moreover, its weight is also on the heavier side, looking at other grand touring tires in its category.

The result? You get one of the most lacking tire in terms of tread longevity, even though the tire offers 60k miles warranty.

Moreover, the Hankook Kinergy 4S2 is also not optimized for fuel economy.

The tire’s weight (compared to others) and its softer rubber exert a lot of pressure on the pavement. That’s why, besides wearing faster, the tire also shows much greater rolling resistance, compared to its direct competitors.

Overall Comfort

Now comfort is two parts, how well a tire reduces the impact of road imperfections, and how well it dampens down the noise.

Now, noise reduction is one of the strongest suits of this tire, where the tire mainly performs well, due to its snow vices, and variable pitch producing tread design.

Now air gets produced by air particles striking the tread walls, where they come in mostly through shoulder area.

And thanks to the Hankook’s snow vices (sharp saw-toothed edges on lateral shoulders voids), those air particles entering in get scattered. This dispersion of air, lowers overall noise.

Moreover, the tire also offers subtle variations in block angles, providing variable pitch, which further dampens noise.

However, note that with wear, this tire starts to get a little audible, especially at highway speeds, but this applies mainly to vehicles that are not properly cabin insulated.

Moreover, the tire’s softer rubber, although limits its wear resistance, it pays off here, in the form of road smoothness. So yes, the Kinergy 4s2 is a comfortable tire overall, both in terms of noise and bumps dampening.

Take Home Points

The Hankook Kinergy 4S2 is a pretty decent pick, where the tire is jack of all trades, but master of none.

It checks all boxes related to traction. On dry roads, its thermal adaptive polymer is very resistant and does not lose its friction properties.

And on wet roads, it offers dual siping with reinforced foundations for stability, providing superb wet braking, and hydroplaning resistance, though lacking in handling.

In winter conditions, its snow vices, multiple groove notches, and narrow section width earn it a 3-peak mountain snowflake rating.

So all is great, except for its fuel and treadwear, which are very lacking.

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