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- Outstanding cornering grip on dry surfaces
- Very short dry braking distances
- Responsive and fluid steering with excellent feel
- Excellent traction and cornering grip on wet surfaces
- Strong braking on wet surfaces
- Very good hydroplaning resistance
- Rides reasonably well for a UHP tire
- Not a lot of noise on the highway
- Light-snow traction is laughable
- Ice traction is below average
- The premium competition offers longer treadlife and treadwear warranty
The Kumho Ecsta 4X II KU22 is an ultra-high performance tire for all-season driving. But Kumho went a little further by creating a tire that maintains aggressive traction over snowy or wet roads. Of course, no performance tire is considered excellent if cannot deliver better handling and stronger braking.
This tire is different from other high-performance alternatives. Kumho specifically engineered the Ecsta 4X II to have an oversized tire footprint. This enables the tire to maintain maximum road contact in all-season driving.
In this review of the Kumho Ecsta 4X II KU22, you’ll find out why this tire remains a popular choice for enthusiasts. As it turns out, this tire is capable of more than just providing an exhilarating drive.
What vehicles are applicable to the Kumho Ecsta 4X II KU22?
Due to the wider contact patch, the Kumho Ecsta 4X II is applicable to performance sedans and muscle cars such as the Chevy Camaro, Ford Mustang, and Audi A4. This tire is also good for sports cars such as the Scion FR-S, Mazda MX-5, Nissan 370Z, and Mini Cooper S.
And since Kumho is offering the Ecsta 4X II in 15” to 20” diameters, it is also an ideal choice for small and sporty crossovers such as the Infiniti QX50, Land Rover Discovery Sport, Lincoln MKC, Hyundai Tucson, and Mazda CX-5.
What are the features of the Kumho Ecsta 4X II?
The Kumho Ecsta 4X II KU22 is equipped with tons of features. It starts with Kumho’s unique rubber compound. The Ecsta 4X II is engineered to always run cooler than other ultra-high performance rubber. This means the tire can always maintain higher levels of traction and grip even over extended driving periods.
The special tread compound is also engineered to remain flexible even when exposed to extreme cold. This means the tire offers true all-season capabilities even in freezing temperatures. The Kumho Ecsta 4X II is not primarily designed for winter driving, but it can maintain solid grip in icy weather unlike other performance tires.
Handling and stability is also ensured courtesy of the stiffer tread block. This allows the tires to maintain and hold their shape even when pushed hard on those tight and winding corners.
But the biggest known attribute of the Kumho Ecsta 4X II is the oversized tire foot print. This alone is responsible for the stickier traction and grip of the tires in all-season driving. It also helps that the asymmetric tread design of the Kumho Ecsta 4X II is a perfect match to the sporty and muscular attribute of your fast car.
How does it perform on dry roads?
The Ecsta 4X II handles daily driving with aplomb. It’s not overly responsive, but I think most drivers will prefer that. More importantly, the tire performs with a fluidity that few other cheap UHP tires can. It reacts reasonably fast to the drivers’ inputs, feels good on-center, and communicates well mid-corner. A pleasant experience, if you want.
Traction and grip on dry roads are even more impressive. Among budget-oriented UHP all-season tires, the Ecsta 4X II in the top-three for braking and cornering grip.
I was actually surprised at how good this tire sticks to the road, especially since it comes with an all-season compound. Traction for acceleration is excellent, the stopping distances are very short, and you can enter corners with some dizzying speeds.
Thus, if you own a sports car and want a good-driving UHP all-season tire, the Ecsta 4X II will fit the bill. Sure, premium competitors from Bridgestone, Michelin, Pirelli, and Continental will fare better, but for the price, the Kumho is among the best.
How is it over wet and slippery roads?
Usually, when a cheaper UHP all-season tire performs well on dry roads, it suffers from traction on wet roads. Not the Ecsta 4X II, though. The Korean tiremaker managed to design an excellent wet tire and one that instills a lot of confidence.
Even an amateur driver will feel safe with these tires in the rain. The hydroplaning resistance is outstanding, even when it rains heavily. Moreover, the tire sticks to the road like few others, giving you the confidence to push forward.
And, even when you enter a corner too fast, the tires are easy to control at the limit. Another positive is that the Ecsta 4X II goes to understeer rather than oversteer, so it’s easy to control.
Furthermore, the tire stops with authority in the rain. In terms of stopping power, it’s among the best budget UHP all-season tires and also provides the best traction for acceleration.
Overall, another excellent showing from the Kumho. The Korean tiremaker showed that you could have excellent traction on dry, damp, and a wet track, which deserves applause, even more so when you put the price into consideration.
With that being said, how is it on snowy roads?
Although primarily aimed at enthusiast drivers, the Kumho Ecsta 4X II also features an all-season tread compound. Therefore, customers expect it to perform at a high level both in warmer and colder conditions.
So, should you use Kumho’s all-season UHP in snowy conditions? Well, not so much. The Kumho Ecsta 4X II might be outstanding on dry and wet surfaces in the winter, but it suffers badly on snow. You can immediately feel that when accelerating. The tire seeks grip immediately, and sometimes it doesn’t find it.
Cornering is even worse. The sharp turn-in on dry and wet roads is transformed into absolutely no reaction here. The tire simply refuses to turn on snow. When it turns, though, it becomes very uncontrollable, which makes it hard to keep your vehicle from spinning. Ultimately, the stopping distances are much longer than the class average.
The tire redeems itself on ice, but only just. It still performs poorly, but here at least it comes close to the competition.
Now, I know most UHP all-season tires suffer in snowy conditions. However, even relative to its peers, the Ecsta 4X II performs much worse in every aspect. This is simply not a good option for driving in harsh wintry conditions. In some ways, it even resembles a summer tire.
Therefore, I suggest purchasing an additional set of winter tires if you live in areas with freezing winters. The Ecsta 4X II is only good for places with mild winter conditions and little to almost no snow.
Is it suitable for off-road driving?
Since the Ecsta 4X II is designed for low-clearance vehicles, you probably won’t use it for off-roading. However, even if you did, note that the tire won’t provide you with usable traction. Moreover, sharp objects might easily damage the tread compound and even puncture the tire.
Is it comfortable and quiet on the highway?
UHP tires usually don’t provide smooth ride quality, and most of them can be noisy on the highway. Thankfully, Kumho managed to alleviate some of the negatives in the Ecsta 4X II.
The ride quality isn’t as smooth as on a touring tire. However, we didn’t expect it to be. What impresses, though, is that despite the lower price, the Ecsta 4X II can shame some more expensive competitors in that area.
Namely, the tire absorbs the bumps with authority. Small imperfections are ironed-out perfectly, and there is only a small thump from larger potholes. I was especially impressed at how the tire handles highway driving. Sharper bumps do disturb the tire slightly, but nothing too serious.
Moreover, the Ecsta 4X II isn’t as noisy as other budget UHP tires. The tread growl is well-suppressed, especially on smooth roads. There is more noise on rough surfaces, but again, nothing too serious. Besides, most UHP tires will be even noisier in those circumstances.
Overall, the Kumho is a well-rounded tire in terms of comfort abilities. It does jolt over sharp bumps, but most UHP tires do that. For the price, it’s excellent.
How about tire wear?
Kumho utilized the regular tread wear indicators (TWIs) on the Ecsta 4X II. These are narrow rubber bars that sit recessed in the circumferential grooves of the tire that the owner can use to monitor tread depth.
The minimum tread depth on UHP all-season tires is 2/32-inch. When the tire reaches that point, the TWIs will be completely flush with the surface. As soon as that happens, you should immediately replace the tire. That’s because it won’t provide you with safe traction in wet conditions, but also because it’s not legal.
In terms of treadlife, the Ecsta 4X II is good for the category, but you can still do better. Premium competitors, such as Continental DWS06, Michelin Pilot Sport All-Season 4, and Bridgestone Potenza RE980AS, will certainly do better. Moreover, the 40,000-mile treadwear warranty falls short of the same competitors.
You’ll be pleased to know the Kumho Ecsta 4X II has the wear characteristics of a touring tire as well. If you’re not convinced, the impressive 40,000-mile mileage warranty might change your mind. This tire is engineered to deliver many miles of driving enjoyment.
You can see more Kumho Ecsta 4X II KU22 Review here: videos created by Kumho Tire Training
Should I buy the Kumho Ecsta 4X II KU22?
Perhaps the only caveat with the Kumho Ecsta 4X II is the price. Of course, this is relative given the all-season and all-weather capabilities of the tire. But if you’re on a tight budget or if you’re looking for a more affordable set of performance rollers, this tire might not be to your liking.
But then again, ultra-high performance tires are known to be more costly than an ordinary set of touring and all-season rubber. In all honesty, the Kumho Ecsta 4X II is still priced lower than other alternatives. But for the price, you get a true all-season tire that offers elevated levels of wet and dry performance with no sacrifices to comfort and ride quality.