I've been on a mission this summer – a mission to directly compare as many low rolling resistance tires as I can on the same car, my own 2004 Prius Nerdmobile. I've spent the past few months swapping tires back and forth to perform medium-term testing of tires like Bridgestone's Ecopia EP422 and Nokian's eNTYRE. Now comes the famous “orange oil” tire, the Yokohama Avid Ascend.
I've already reviewed the Avid Ascends once, based on about four hours of seat time provided by Yokohama at their launch event in Orlando, Florida. This time I've had about 3 weeks with them on my car, and am able to make some more in-depth observations regarding these tires.
As I covered in my first review, the Avid Ascends are the first real consumer tire to come out of Yokohama's orange oil compounding program to the American market. The orange oil resin used in the compound has the effect of binding the molecules of natural and synthetic rubber much more tightly together than would otherwise be possible, creating a tire compound that is grippy, long-wearing and has low rolling resistance.
The Avids also use a siping pattern that Yokohama calls “adaptive siping” in which the sipes change shape to become more effective as the tire wears, helping to keep up the tire's grip even while the tread wears down.
Having the Avids on my own car for three weeks went a long way to reminding me how subjective this whole business of reviewing tires can be.
First of all, I still like the way the Avid Ascends perform, but my wife absolutely hates them. This - although I should be very careful here – may in fact be a gender difference. I have noticed that my wife and many of her female friends much prefer the handling and feel of Bridgestone's Ecopia EP422, a tire that I find somewhat balloonlike and mushy in terms of handling. It seems that I and my male friends tend to prefer tires that have a slightly harder ride and more precise handling and response.
Second, despite having read a number of reviews praising the fuel-efficiency of the Avid Ascends, the results on my car were disappointing, to say the least. The Avid Ascends averaged 3 mpg less than Nokian's eNTYRE, which themselves averaged 3 mpg less than the Ecopias! In fact, I ended up keeping the Yokohamas on the car for a week longer than I had planned to ensure that other variables were not interfering with my results. I tried different gas stations to ensure that bad gas was not a problem, and changed out some brake pads and rotors which were nearing the end of their lifetime to ensure nothing was rubbing or otherwise causing unwanted friction. No joy.
The Bottom Line:
I still like these tires, despite not getting the kind of fuel-efficiency numbers I might have expected and despite familiarity taking some of the bloom off the rose, as it were. It also must be said that women, as well as some men, may not find them as fun to drive as I do. I find that I have to fall back on tire performance, as well as fuel-efficiency numbers, being highly dependent on factors such as the car they are on and the person in the driver's seat. So, I must say that in more ways than one, your mileage may vary.
Average MPG: 34
UTQG Rating: 740 A A
5 Years / 85,000 Miles (T rated tires only)
5 Years / 75,000 Miles (H rated tires only)