Hankook Kinergy XP Review

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The all-season Hankook Kinergy XP is the successor to Kinergy GT, designed to deliver a balanced blend of performance, comfort, and durability. But is the newer tire worth considering? Well, you’re about to find out.

Hankook Kinergy XP on Equinox
Hankook Kinergy XP on Equinox

Positive Aspects of the Hankook Kinergy XP:

  • Superior Dry Performance: Exceptional braking grip and decent handling capabilities.
  • Enhanced Snow and Ice Performance: Shows significant improvements in snow traction and braking.
  • Durability: Provides superior longevity of its tread, thanks to its Corvex Tread Radius Technology.
  • Lightweight Design: One of the lightest tires in its category, contributing to its improved fuel economy.

Areas for Improvement for Hankook Kinergy XP:

  • Wet Performance: Needs further enhancement in wet handling and steering responsiveness.
  • Noise Levels: Generates a higher noise level, particularly noticeable at certain speeds.
  • Handling Larger Bumps: Struggles with absorbing larger road irregularities.
  • Thermal Adaptability: The rubber composition could be improved for better performance in colder temperatures.

Info on Sizes

The Kinergy XP comes in (41 sizes) 16 to 20 inches rims. And these sizes have following specs.

Tire categoryGrand Touring
Speed ratingsH and V
Load ratingsSL and XL
Tread depth10/32″ on all sizes
Weight range19 to 29 lbs
Treadwear warranty75k miles
Winter ratingsOnly M+S available

Dry Performance

Two things come into play when looking at tire’s overall dry performance. Braking grip and it’s cornering abilities. Let’s analyze both separately.

Linear (Straight-Line) Grip

The linear grip of a tire is its braking traction and is significantly influenced by the tread’s central footprint. This area is crucial because it bears the most weight when the tire rolls straight.

Now here the new Hankook XP tire does a decent job thanks to its sleek, longitudinally-aligned ribs and “almost” continuous-running patterns that enhance the consistent rubber-to-road contact, increasing friction and traction.

Hankook Kinergy XP
Hankook Kinergy XP

The tire is designed with an optimal balance between biting elements and rubber, ensuring excellent traction through both the available contact patch and voids (or in-groove notches, to be more specific).

I mean the tire offers a ton of off-set and chamfered edges, as well a mix of linear and wave-like siping providing the tire with multi-directional grip (and not just linear traction).

Plus its lighter weight (especially compared to its predecessor, the Kinergy GT) is also helping here a lot, as this reduction in weight keeps the tire’s momentum lower, facilitating easier and quicker stopping.

In fact, during my tests, (which included 60 to 0 mph braking across multiple tire sizes in both XL and SL load ranges), the Kinergy XP consistently stopped five feet shorter (compared to its predecessor).

Snow and Ice Performance

When assessing the snow traction of a tire, it’s crucial to consider key factors such as the tire’s micro-level bite and grip, its responsiveness to steering, and if it can handle different kinds of snowy or icy situations.

Now, the Hankook Kinergy XP does a decent job in all these key areas.

The tire definitely stepped up its game, I mean compared to its predecessor as now it offers 15% better in snow acceleration and nearly as impressive in braking capabilities. Though it would have been nicer to see the missing 3-peak mountain snowflake rating badge with the newer tire.

Nevertheless, there is a definite enhancement in performance on both icy and snowy terrains and the tire stands out in its non 3 peak rated all season grand touring category.

This improvement can be attributed to the tire’s design, which now features more abundant siping, including both interlocking (wave-like) and linear structures, as well as multiple slanted, offset lateral voids.

These design elements serve dual purposes:

  • One, they facilitate snow-to-snow contact by trapping snow particles in the voids (an effective strategy since snow adheres better to itself than to rubber).
  • And two, their lateral orientation aids in expelling snow particularly backwards, thereby generating forward momentum.

But yes the tire needs to improve its rubber in terms of thermal adaptability, as currently its tread tends to stiffen in colder temperatures, which gradually leads to reduced traction during prolonged exposure to icy conditions.

This basically freezes up its biters, reducing their effectiveness.

For Your Info: For folks prioritizing winter performance, exploring all weather options such as Nokian SeasonProof (review) is recommended. I rated this tire the best in my list of top grand touring all-season option, actually.

Ride Quality

Overall ride quality comes from dampening of two things. Noise and Bumps. Let’s see how Hankook does in both these areas.

Noise Comfort

Road noise can be a complex issue, often influenced by the movement of air around the tire. Essentially, as a tire rotates, air is compressed and released within its tread. Meaning, the more aggressive the tread design, the more noise it typically generates.

This is evident in the Hankook Kinergy XP, which, compared to its predecessor, produces a louder sound profile which should have been the other way around.

With the newer tire you now also get some very new types of tones as well, which weren’t previously heard on the GT variant.

There’s this persistent, noticeable buzz which gets intensified within a particular speed range between 30 to 45 mph particularly. Additionally, you also hear a distinct cavity noise, particularly when encountering significant bumps on the road.

Though there is a silver lining. I mean interestingly the XL (referring to load rating) sizes tend to do much better here compared to standard load-rated ones.

But all in all, if you need a quieter ride, I think there are better options out there, that you need to explore. Where to start? Well why don’t you check out my main all-season tire page.

Ride Smoothness

Regarding ride smoothness, the Hankook Kinergy XP offers a reasonable level of comfort, effectively absorbing minor road imperfections.

However, it falls short in handling larger bumps, likely due to its construction.

While the tire’s outer layer is sufficiently flexible, its stiffer secondary rubber layer beneath the lugs, combined with a more rigid internal structure, hinders its ability to smoothly navigate significant road irregularities.

Although these features enhance handling stability, they funnily don’t quite offer the level of comfort one might expect.

Wear Rate

When discussing tire wear, factors like the tire’s weight, composition, and tread depth are crucial.

And considering them all it makes sense how the Kinergy XP shows notable improvements in this area compared to its predecessor.

Hankook claims that their newer tire now offers 20% better longevity, and it’s actually accurate, well to some degree (it goes for specific sizes only). But hey its a significant improvement for sure.

So what’s changed with the newer tire? What makes it last longer? Well its attributed to what they calls Corvex Tread Radius Technology.

This term refers to the tire’s slightly rounded contact patch, a design feature that ensures a more uniform distribution of weight across the tread. As a result, each lug on the tread bears less pressure as it makes contact with the road, reducing rolling friction and, consequently, the rate at which the tread wears down.

Additionally, the Kinergy XP provides a remarkably lightweight structure, making it actually one of the lightest tires in the grand touring all-season category, and significantly lighter than its predecessor.

Another key factor contributing to its durability is the updated rubber compound used in the tire. This new mix is more effective at dissipating heat, (which is highly needed, since heat accelerates tread deterioration).

Thanks to all these improvements over its predecessor the XP variant now offers better treadwear warranty and a UTQG (Uniform Tire Quality Grading) rating, which is 200 points higher comparatively.

Dry Cornering

Dynamics of cornering is a more complex and a defining overall dry performance metric, as it takes into account everything from braking to lateral traction to the tire’s steering responsiveness.

Basically there are three main parts of a corner.

  • Entry Phase: This is when you’re just starting to take the corner and you have to slow down first to do so. Meaning this is the point where tire’s braking comes into play.
  • Mid-Corner Phase: This is where you communicate the most with your tires, through steering inputs.
  • Exit Phase: This is when you’re coming out of the turn, straightening up the car, and speeding up again.

Now what makes Hankook Kinergy XP’s overall handling so admirable is its excellent overall performance in all these three key areas.

I mean the tire provides superb braking with its appreciable directional grip. Plus it also provides a great steering precision and feedback during the mid-cornering phase too.

Meaning you get the right balance between under and over-steering and a more accurate idea about the available traction.

And although the tire’s steering feels a little lighter when getting out of the corner, it grows on you (as noticed from various handling lap time tests).

At first, you might need to put in a bit more effort to get your tires back in line after the turn, but as you get used to how the tire behaves, you’ll find yourself getting quicker on the next laps.

So what makes this tire great in overall handling? Well two things, its firmer rubber and its lighter weighing structure.

These factors prevent excessive flexing of the tread blocks as the weight shifts onto the tire shoulders, especially during aggressive cornering.

And with less compression of the tread blocks, they quickly return to their original shape, minimizing wasted time or delay in steering feedback improving overall tire’s responsiveness.

Wet Performance

When you stack the Hankook Kinergy XP up against other latest all-season tires, you see that it’s not quite at the top of the game particularly in terms of wet handling.

While it excels in delivering a solid steering feel on dry roads, a notable decrease is observed on wet surfaces, leading to some slippage.

But don’t get me wrong, its definitely improved now. I mean it still achieves handling lap times that are about half a second faster than its predecessor, the Kinergy GT (FYI, no notable difference is seen in wet braking, though).

But bring in other grand touring tires in to the mix, and you’d note that the tire still needs to improve things up further, especially in getting a better balance between the front and rear tires.

In other words, the tire struggles to regain control after losing it, leading to understeering (for the most part). And this is because of its less effective siping.

Sipes are basically small slits in the tread which work by soaking up the moisture coming directly underneath the lugs. They flex to create a suction effect that slurps up water particles in their slits and later spray them out as the tire rolls over.

So what’s the problem with Hankook XP siping? Well simply put, they tend to stiffen up with extreme cornering. And needless to say this stiffness reduces sipes’ water-absorption capabilities, affecting the tire’s overall wet performance.

This happens because of two things.

  • One, the tire’s overall rubber composition isn’t pliant enough.
  • And two its sipes aren’t providing a lot of angle variations (they are mostly laterally oriented), and such design lack the needed flexibility.

Though the good thing is, there are no complaints in terms of hydroplaning.

I mean the tire offers pretty efficient circumferential channels interconnected with each other by lateral grooves, providing decent water expulsion and with it, resistance to aquaplaning.

Wrapping Up

In conclusion, the Hankook Kinergy XP tire exhibits strong performance in dry conditions, with excellent braking grip and cornering abilities, where it consistently outperforms its predecessor, the Kinergy GT.

Same is the case in wet and winter conditions as well, though the tire could use some steering refinements there.

And speaking of drawbacks, the newer tire is actually a step down from its predecessor in terms of noise and impact comfort performance.

Though it provides superior fuel economy and longevity for sure.

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