Here at Automotive Addicts we pride ourselves with driving countless vehicles every year and giving our honest, unbiased, opinion of each regarding value, comfort, performance, and safety. Very seldom are we over exuberant with far-reaching opinions about certain vehicles due to items like their tires. However, in the recent years of owning several vehicles and driving them over 100,000 miles, we are starting to strongly reiterate the importance of a good set of tires, which brings us to reviewing our time in one of our many household vehicles, a 2009 Infiniti FX50S sports utility vehicle and its Dunlop SP Sport 01 tires.
Dunlop, as some may know, is a tire brand that is owned and operated by Goodyear Tire Company. In my experience with Dunlop tires, I have not had much to say in one way or the other when driving vehicles like the Subaru WRX or Audi A4, which have had the Dunlop SP Sport 01 as OEM-supplied tires. Most times, I regarded the tire selection as a careful choice by the manufacturer to extract the optimal performance under most excepted road conditions for each specific vehicle while maintaining the best fuel efficiency. In all, tire selection by automotive manufacturers is a delicate balancing act of many factors.
During the ownership of our Infiniti FX50S (now known as the QX70), one of the many vehicles supplied with the Dunlop SP Sport 01 tires as OEM equipment, the tires have played an integral role in the unique qualities of such a vehicle without many faults. Personally, I have logged just over 100,000 miles on the Dunlop SP Sport 01 tires with an average of 24,000 miles driven on each set. The most miles driven on one set of the Dunlop tires was just over 31,000 miles, which is respectable and expected considering the relatively low tread wear rating of 280 (Traction: A, Temperature: A).
Each set of our Dunlop tires proved to be a little better than the middle of the row when I consider road noise, ability to disperse water without hydroplaning, performance on dry pavement, treadwear (considering the 280 rating), and overall comfort. With the Dunlop SP Sport 01 tires dubbed as “Ultra High Performance Summer Tires,” there are a couple of compromises that you automatically take into consideration in choosing such a tire. Of course, enthusiasts like me have a natural gravitation towards ultra-high performance summer tires, which are utterly useless in the snow or icy road conditions. The softer compound and asymmetric tread area is broken down into three design-areas are all devoted to dry and wet traction duties in fair-weather climates.
My synopsis of the Dunlop SP Sport 01 tires I give them an overall grade of a B-plus. With that grade, there are a few factors that sway me in a positive perception of the tires due to the limited availability of other brands for our vehicle’s wheel size, which has recently grown in popularity with the emergence of similar segmented performance SUV and crossover vehicles.
While the treadwear could be a LOT better, the Dunlop tires have stood up to be quite respectable in their performance and ability to continue performing after wearing down to about 4/32 of tread left. The tires never did get loud with the exception of mild tire vibration noises that tend to reverberate into the cabin of our Infiniti, mostly when driving over grove-induced cement-paved bridges. The larger tire size of our 21-inch 265/45ZR21 tires didn’t allow much for slippage even on wet surfaces – even during occasional hurricane-weather-induced 3-inch road floods the tires were surprisingly capable without hydroplaning going just under the speed limit. Probably the most discerning factor of the Dunlop SP Sport 01 tires is the way the tread looks when they are worn to about 5/32 or less – they appear to look as if they are finished or in dire need of replacement. Though, the shrewd visuals of the tires at such a time during wear are in part due to a third of the tread compound flattened into single tread bands that were initially block-treaded about half-way into the tread area. While these bands may appear to be a completely worn tire, it is in fact not completely worn but halfway into its lifespan as you can easily verify with a tire depth measurement. For the most part, I never noticed any degradation in the overall performance of the tires during half way through their lifespan, which is another notable factor to the quality of the Dunlops.
Overall, the Dunlop SP Sport 01 tires are a repeated choice for us over the latest Pirelli P Zero and Bridgestone Dueler tires offered for our particular wheel size. In most cases, you get what you pay for in a tire and such is evident with the Dunlop SP Sport 01 tires listed at the time of our published review as about $370 per tire. While there are countless tire types and brands available, some vehicles have a narrow selection like our Infiniti and it just so happens that Dunlop has fit the bill for many years in our selection process. Never have we had any flat tires, blowouts, uneven wear, or any other issues through our many sets of the Dunlops. In the end, the tradeoff of having a 280 treadwear and a price point above $300 per tire is made up in the excellent performance that the Dunlop SP Sport 01 tires have provided.