Auto Service World
Feature   September 1, 2011   by By Jim Anderton, Technical Editor, SSGM Magazine


Goodyear refreshes the firm's flagship Assurance TripleTred all-season with new design and materials

They say time moves faster as you get older…I’m not old, but can it really be seven years since Goodyear launched the Assurance series of all-season tires? It really was 2004 when the Akron-based company introduced the Assurance TripleTred to take on the premium passenger segment. Five million units later, “successful’ is clearly an understatement. It’s also a challenge for the manufacturer: do they walk away from the equity built into the TripleTred name or hold off on revolutionary change until they’ve extracted the full lifespan from the brand?
Goodyear has elected to run with a technological upgrade without dramatic changes to the external look or branding of the new TripleTred. Dealers familiar with the three-zone tread of the original will recognize the new tire. A centre “ice zone” has numerous lateral sipes for traction and braking, a “water zone” pumps water out of the contact patch and a big-block dry zone for cornering on dry roads. The tire looks familiar, but the compounds and shape are all-new, featuring an interesting technology Goodyear calls “Evolving Traction Grooves.” These are keystone-profiled lateral pseudo-sipes that widen as the tire wears, “evolving” from a blade to an open groove to maintain wet performance at lower tread depths. The tread compound is also new, containing silica in the wet and dry zones, and an interesting mix of volcanic sand and glass fibre in the centre ice zone.
New tread compounds and that widening groove technology is an invitation to thrash the product on the test track as I did, on equipment as varied as Toyota’s white bread Camry to sportier 3-Series BMWs, at full and worn tread depth. Dry performance feels similar to the original TripleTred and equivalent to premium European benchmark products, but it’s in the wet that the new tire shines. Lateral grip is considerably higher than the first-gen TripleTred and more importantly, when pushed over the wet limit the tire telegraphs its intent readily and progressively, giving the driver enough feedback to regain control with minimum drama.
In the worn state, the wet grip felt that same as the green tire, obviously due to the increased clearance volume the wider grooves generate under the footprint. On the tire wall, this feature alone should be a credible up-sell for value-conscious consumers.
SSGM hasn’t tested ice and snow performance, but like other all-season tires the TripleTred is not a winter product for our climate and the advertised ice capability shouldn’t be used to discourage winter tire sales.
The Assurance TripleTred All-Season is available in 22 initial sizes in 15 through 18-inch diameters in sizes from 195/60R15 to 215/55R18 covering an estimated 85 per cent of mainline to mid-luxury fitments, with a reach that covers several buyer demographics. Goodyear has identified target vehicles as diverse as Hyundai Elantra to Cadillac CTS. Post-purchase services include a 30-day exchange pledge, free roadside assistance, 130,000km tread life warranty (110,000 on V-rated fitments) and on-line registration.
This is an important product for Goodyear and the firm is using their traditional marketing full-court press with national broadcast, print and on-line advertising. There’s a lot to attract consumers in the new TripleTred All-Season technologically and the shape leverages seven years of brand awareness and tire wall presence. What consumers can’t see on the tire wall is the performance improvement over the original, but our testing suggests that few will be taking Goodyear up on their “love ‘em or leave ‘em” pledge.

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