Kumho Crugen HT51 vs Firestone Destination LE3

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Both the Kumho Crugen HT51 and the Firestone Destination LE3 come in highway all season category, where they offer the needed durability and of course, all-season capability for pickups and SUVs. Let’s find a better pick for you.

Ford Explorer
Being HT AS tires, both work great on Ford Explorer.

So my tests tell me that the Firestone Destination LE3 shines with better dry handling and reduced noise, while offering similar tread life (in P metric sizes’ comparisons). The Crugen HT51, however, performs better in snowy conditions, wet performance, though lacks in the wear department, especially when it comes to it’s LT sizes.

Sizes Available

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.

Review this tire in greater details: https://tiredriver.com/firestone-destination-le3-review/

The Kumho Crugen HT51 comes in inches wheels, and they come with the following specifications.

  • Speed ratings: T only.
  • Load ratings: SL, XL, C, D and E.
  • Tread depth: 12.5 to 14.5/32″
  • Weight range: 24 to 56 lbs.
  • Treadwear warranty: 70k for P metric and 45k for LT sizes.
  • UTQG rating: 720 A A.

Review this tire in greater details: https://tiredriver.com/kumho-crugen-ht51-review/

Construction – Things To Know

Let’s start things off with Firestone’s tire.

Destination LE3
Firestone Destination LE3 is overall less aggressive.

So the Destination LE3 comes with a symmetric tread pattern.

Here 5 total block cloumns/ribs are seen, where the outer shoulder ones are the least aggressive.

They are basically more streamlined, exhibiting a cleaner look if you will, with their straight grooves merging into notches that face the center.

In the middle, however, you see ribs with more biters, forming “F” and “S” shapes.

(S in the middle most rib, and F on outer ones).

These lugs, a blend of lateral grooves and notches, enhance the connectivity between the four (circumferential) channels, ensuring effective water displacement.

Moreover, they also carry chamfered edges and a consistent/similar wave-like siping pattern (though that’s common with all ribs).

Internally, the tire has a single ply polyester with dual steel belts, and a single nylon cap.

Moving towards the Kumho HT51, this tire comes with an asymmetric tread design.

Kumho Crugen HT51
The Kumho Crugen HT51 tread pattern, reminds me on Defender LTX MS.

Though, like the Destination, you also see 5 block columns here as well, all ribs are more voided up in comparison.

So you get better inter connectivity of the 4 circumferential grooves, these ribs make, allowing for superior water evacuation capability.

All 3 ribs in the middle, have squared off blocks, placed at an angle.

And they don’t differ from each other, except for their siping pattern.

Similarly, shoulder lugs are also not so different on both sides.

Though still, digging deep, you can see one shoulder rib presents clear lateral grooves, while the opposite side has more compact lugs complemented with in-groove notches.

Nevertheless, both sides exhibit pronounced interlocking siping, offering a distinct edge over the central ribs.

Internally, the tire comes with 2 ply polyester, 2 steel belts, and 2 nylon cap plies.

Winter Performance

When it comes to winter terrains, the performance differences of these two tires become pretty evident. Now here, the Firestone’s tire is good for sure, it doesn’t match up to its winter-specialized counterpart.

I mean it’s showcases a decent overall traction (both directional and lateral), but it still struggles in terms of overall handling, where it frequently displays tendencies to understeer.

In contrast, the Kumho Crugen HT51 stands out, thanks to the superior biting edges incorporated throughout its tread, which are further enhanced by its interconnected central grooves.

These design intricacies although bite on icy terrains effectively, are basically more adept at grabbing and retaining snow particles, promoting enhanced snow-on-snow contact.

And this interaction is critical for overall winter performance (particularly for snowy terrains), as snow adheres better to itself than to rubber, creating superior friction.

On the other side, although the Destination Le3 also provides you with numerous siping and biting edges, it lacks temperature-responsive polymers found in the Kumho. Meaning, it’s biting edges become less flexible in colder climates, especially below 7°C (or 44.6°F), losing their biting efficacy significantly.

Note: Out of both tires, only the Kumho HT51 is certified with 3-Peak Mountain Snowflake rating, though these tires manufactured before April 2017 (have older gen composition, missing with this branding).

Overall Dry Performance

The metric for dry performance boils down to two main components: grip and handling.

Let’s start with grip.

Straight Line Grip

Straight-line grip is shaped by several factors, from tread composition and road contact area to tire weight and rolling resistance. And analyzing these, the superior performance of the Firestone Destination LE3 becomes pretty evident.

This is because this tire has expertly designed central ribs, which feature multiple angular notches and in-groove biters (forming F and S shaped lugs, as discussed in the “Construction” section, scroll to the top to see).

And together, they offer a much better overall longitudinal grip, relatively.

Moreover, its intelligently crafted, lightweight construction is an added bonus, enhancing grip and promoting uniform pressure distribution across its tread.

Basically these factors result in the Firestone tire’s reduced momentum/inertia, particularly when its moving at higher speeds. Meaning, it’s easier to slow it down (as seen by it’s stopping down 5 feet quicker on average, on braking tests).

Whereas the Kumho Crugen HT51, with its heavier build, does the opposite, where with its more voided up structure, it’s greater weight sits on a smaller rubber area. So you can easily do the math here to figure out, why it lacks here.

Dry Cornering

The efficiency of cornering is largely dictated by a tire’s shoulders, as these are the parts most in contact with the road (while the tire is cornering).

Don’t want to teach physics here, but this is due to the effects of centripetal force (which causes that familiar feeling of being pushed towards the opposite side in a turning car).

Now although both tires come with pretty compacted up shoulder designs, resulting out with similar and satisfactory levels of (lateral) grip, the Firestone’s tire still takes the lead (literally), as it offers “faster” average handling speeds on laps (during tests).

This is because it provides a more direct steering, whereas the Kumho Crugen HT51 trails behind, due to it’s such deeper tread depth, softer compound and much heavier weight.

All these factors basically disrupts the tire’s under/over-steering balance, simply put.

And it makes sense, since its a more aggressive highway all season tire here.

Wet Performance

Overall wet performance has two parts, one is resistance to hydroplaning which predominately depends on grooves, while the other is wet traction, which depends on how effective the tire’s siping and biters are.

Grooves take out most of the water out of the tread, while sipes clear off the remaining, (providing biters a relatively drier path, to grip on).

So you see, how they all are working together here? But note that the goal is the same, effective water dispersion.

Now having said that, it makes sense why Kumho takes the lead here.

The tire with more voided up structure, and greater tread depth, takes more water out in the first place, leaving less burden on sipes, behind.

While it’s sipes coming with a better blend of plentiful interlocking and linear patterns do the rest of the job great, where the tire’s softer compound also helps, adding to their (sipes) flexibility, so they can properly contract/expand to suck up water particles efficiently.

This is unlike the Firestone’s tire, which although also offers abundant siping and biters, prevents them from effectively absorbing and dispelling water, as it’s overall tread’s rubber is relatively stiffer.

So overall, Kumho Crugen HT51 offers superior resistance to hydroplaning, and provides you with better overall wet performance as well.

Tread Life

The durability of a tire’s tread is influenced by several factors: the balance between rolling resistance, tread depth, and the tire’s composition.

But what impacts tread life the most?

It’s fairly straightforward. Tires made of harder rubber tend to have longer wear resistance. Additionally, the depth of the tread is a strong indicator of how soon a tire may need to be replaced.

Now take the Firestone Destination LE3, for instance. Its stiffer rubber composition suggests that, it should have superior tread life. However, its performance is only similar to that seen on its counterpart. Why?

Well, because Crugen HT51 has more tread depth.

However, this comparable performance is limited to P metric sizes, as evidenced by their similar 70,000-mile warranties.

Whereas when we talk about LT sizes, even though the Kumho’s tread depth reaches up to 14.5/32″ here, it still lacks a lot more as this deeper tread comes with a much greater weight, relatively.

And ironically, it causes greater rolling resistance for this tire, reducing it’s wear resistance.

So simply put, while both tires offer similar performance with their P metric sizes, if you’re considering LT, keep in mind, that they wear a lot faster on Kumho.

Pro Tip: If you’re searching for the top performer in highway all-season tires, don’t overlook the Michelin LTX MS (review it here). Despite its age, this tire continues to outlast its competitors, setting a high standard for durability.

Noise Mitigation

The primary source of tire noise is the impact of air particles on the tread walls, with the tire’s shoulder voids acting as the main access points for these particles.

The Destination LE3 excels in combating this issue, as it features densely packed shoulder lugs which substantially minimize the entry of air, thereby addressing noise right at its origin. So when it comes to noise measurements, LE3 outperforms with a lead of over 2 decibels, (on average).

On the other hand, the Kumho Crugen HT51, with its pronounced void structure, provides more space for air particles and consequently struggles to match Firestone’s performance.

Moreover, it’s deeper tread depth doesn’t assist in noise reduction either, even though its pitch sequencing technology mirrors that of its competitor.

About this technology: So the pitch sequencing revolves around the strategic variation of lug and rib geometries. This ensures that when air particles impact them, they produce a range of tones or frequencies. These tones then interact in a way that they attempt to negate each other. This means they prevent noise waves from amplifying, leading to reduced in-groove resonance and overall tire cavity noise.

In Summary

In general, each tire has its own set of strong points and opportunities for betterment across the spectrum of driving experiences.

The Firestone Destination LE3 excels in the following:

  • Dry performance, with superior straight-line grip and more responsive handling during cornering.
  • Reduced noise levels due, to densely packed shoulder lugs which mitigate air particle impact.
  • Greater overall tread life.

While the Kumho Crugen HT51 takes the lead in:

  • Winter terrain performance, especially in snowy conditions, owing to its biting edges.
  • Wet performance, with better hydroplaning resistance, and siping flexibility.
  • Tread life but only on P metric sizes.

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