Let’s say you start a completely new tire brand, and you need to choose a name for it. Would you go with some random name that signifies the history of the brand, like Michelin, or a catchy name? Well, Kumho and Discount Tire went with the latter when establishing the Road Hugger brand. It’s quite a memorable term that will surely capture the attention of buyers.
However, there are multiple tire brands with interesting names. Lionhart, Achilles, and Hercules are the first that come to mind, but let’s not forget the amusing Mastercraft. Interestingly, the established tiremakers don’t use such names. Instead, you have Bridgestone, Michelin, Continental, Pirelli, Cooper, Firestone, Hankook, Kumho, etc.
The reason I listed these brands is to show you that real tiremakers don’t use catchy names. Instead, they let the products speak for themselves, and they indeed do. New tire brands, like Road Hugger, use various marketing practices to reach customers, and catchy names are definitely becoming overused. Besides, with some exceptions, tire brands with interesting names don’t produce high-quality tires. That’s the truth, sorry.
Now, sure, Road Hugger tires are cheap, so customers don’t expect that they are on the level of premium tires. However, I’ve tested many cheap tires, and most of them don’t produce reliable grip and traction, especially in the rain. Some are even dangerous on wet roads, which is why I will never recommend them, even if they cost $0. There is no price on safety, at least in my book.
But, hey, enough with the Road Hugger – do these tires really hug the road? Well, it’s complicated. Road Hugger tires are manufactured by Kumho for Discount Tire, meaning they have a large tiremaker behind the brand. In most circumstances, this means that the tires are developed and tested like premium tires, albeit with lower-cost materials.
Notably, Road Hugger focuses on developing high-performance tires with an all-season tread compound. These tires should provide you with better cornering grip and traction than regular all-season touring units, but without the excessive treadwear associated with summer tires. Its products come at much lower price points than the premium competition, making them an enticing option for buyers with tight budgets.
Let’s have a look at Road Hugger as a brand and answer the burning question – are they worth it?
Road Hugger has only two models in its portfolio currently, both all-season tires. Therefore, if you live in areas with harsh wintry conditions, you definitely won’t be served properly by these tires. And that has nothing to do with the brand – all-season tires usually don’t function well in deep snow or over ice.
Furthermore, just like the brand’s name suggests, the tires are designed with grip and traction in mind. Notably, Road Hugger tires should provide you with a better cornering grip than regular touring tires, more acceleration traction, and stronger braking.
You also won’t find summer tires in the company’s portfolio, although that might change in the future. There are other notable exceptions, such as specialized SUV and crossover tires, vehicles that are becoming increasingly popular lately.
Road Hugger is still a young brand, though, and I reckon its parent companies, Discount Tire and America’s Tire, will produce more models in the future. Demand for SUV and crossover tires will only increase, and Road Hugger will definitely respond.
Best Road Hugger Tires of 2021
1. Road Hugger GTP A/S
The Road Hugger GTP A/S is a regular touring/grand-touring all-season tire for passenger vehicles. It comes in sizes ranging from 16-20 inches, thus covering a large variety of cars. However, I think it works best on slightly older mid-size cars, such as the Toyota Camry, Honda Accord, Ford Fusion, and Chevrolet Malibu. Owners of Corolla, Civic, and Focus from the 2010s might also have a look at these.
The reason why I recommend the GTP A/S primarily to owners of older vehicles is simply that this tire won’t provide you with the best possible performance. Put simply, a set of Michelin or Bridgestone tires will deliver better performance overall, something that owners of new cars will certainly appreciate.
Still, the Road Hugger GTP A/S is extremely affordable and doesn’t really compete directly with those brands. Specifically, it costs 30-40% less, which isn’t insignificant. On a set of four tires, you are looking at 150-300$ in savings.
The real question, though, is how it performs. And, I got to say, it’s not bad. The GTP A/S is responsive and communicates with the driver well, at least for a touring tire. In addition, it delivers overall good longitudinal traction, meaning the stopping distances are not overly long. Cornering grip is also good, although a bit off the pace in the category.
The GTP A/S stays safe in rainy conditions, with good longitudinal traction and hydroplaning resistance. However, it feels a tad more nervous at the limit and exhibits understeer, something you won’t feel with premium tires. So, I guess it’s fine for daily driving, but certainly not for spirited cornering.
That said, you shouldn’t bother with snowy conditions. The Road Hugger GTP A/S simply doesn’t deliver reliable traction on snow, both longitudinal and in the corners. Ice traction is also almost non-existent. Thus, don’t plan on using these in harsh wintry conditions.
When it comes to durability, though, the tire should perform well. Discount Tire provides a 55,000-mile treadwear warranty, which is more than fine for the price, although less than the 65,000-mile class average. Some grand-touring tires, like the Bridgestone Turanza QuietTrack, come with an 80,000-mile warranty, although they cost a lot more.
2. Road Hugger GT Ultra
The Road Hugger GT Ultra is a more performance-oriented tire intended for higher-performance cars. However, it still features an all-season tread compound, meaning owners of powerful muscle cars and sports cars should look elsewhere. In other words, V6 versions of muscle cars and mid-size sedans should work fine with the GT Ultra, but not V8 models.
When it comes to the driving experience, you’ll be pleasantly surprised with the GT Ultra. It’s no Michelin Pilot Sport A/S 4, that’s for sure, but it’s good for the price. The tire is more responsive than your regular grand-touring model, provides a good on-center feel, and generally a rewarding driving experience.
The grip is easily higher when compared to the GTP A/S, although far from the best-in-class tires. Still, drivers that don’t attack every corner with maximum ferocity will be pleased with the cornering grip. Longitudinal traction is also good, meaning the braking distances aren’t overly long.
Rainy conditions aren’t an obstacle for the GT Ultra as well. The hydroplaning resistance is very good, and longitudinal traction is comparable to other budget-friendly tires. Furthermore, the cornering grip is definitely higher than on the GTP A/S, although still far from premium tires.
What you definitely don’t want to do is driving fast with GT Ultras on snow-covered roads. Traction is not reliable, meaning the stopping distances are longer, and handling is unstable.
Fortunately, Road Hugger provides a 50,000-mile treadwear warranty, which is actually good for a low-priced, high-performance all-season tire. Owners are also satisfied with how long these tires last, so no issues there.
Road Hugger Tires: Buying Guide
1. Road Hugger Tires Positive Aspects
- Good Dry Handling
Both Road Hugger tires provide good traction and grip on dry pavement. Sure, you shouldn’t expect performance on the level of premium tires, but for general driving, they are completely fine. And, trust me, that’s not something I could say for most budget brands.
- Safe in the Rain
Unlike other manufacturers of cheap tires, Road Hugger’s products are reliable in rainy conditions. Again, you could do much better, but for the price, they work completely fine. Hydroplaning resistance is good on both models, and the braking distances aren’t very long.
- Durable Tread Compound
Road Hugger provides treadwear warranties on both of its models. Moreover, Discount Tire offers free airchecks, flat tire repair, and tire rotation in the service, making them a good deal overall.
2. Road Hugger Tires Negative Aspects
- Aren’t reliable in wintry conditions
Although both the GTP A/S and GT Ultra utilize an all-season tread compound, they aren’t the best choice for driving over snow and ice. There is simply not enough traction on offer, especially in the corners.
- Still a step behind the best in terms of traction and grips
Although Road Hugger produces good tires for the price, there is no question that paying a little extra will bring you much better performance. Even models from Kumho, the company that produces Road Hugger tires, perform much better across all conditions. If money is no object, I recommend going with a more recognizable brand.
Discount Tire offers its customers a lower-cost option with the Road Hugger brand, fortunately without sacrificing safety.
The products from this brand provide good road manners, especially when drivers up to the speed limit. Road Hugger tires are also very durable for the price, and the brand provides good treadwear warranties.
Accordingly, I recommend Road Hugger to shoppers that are tight on budget but don’t want to sacrifice safety. However, if you want the best possible driving experience, paying extra will definitely give you that.