Pros: Comfortable, Quiet, Price, Longevity, Warranty, Wet Traction
Cons: ESCOT Technology does nothing for handling.
When it came time to retire the Falken 912's (an excellent all-season/performance tire) on my Civic Coupe, I decided to switch to a more economical tire mounted to a set of O.E. wheels. I originally went with a set of Goodyear Eagles, but after they were kindly slashed (along with several other car's tires in my neighborhood) I found myself looking for a quick replacement. I initially wanted another set of Goodyear Eagles, but after finding it would be more than a week before I could get them in my size I decided to settle for another tire.... Enter the Kumho Solus KR21. Although I had been unimpressed with the Kumho (pronounced koo-mo) brand in the past, the KR21's had been getting rave reviews and the price tag was even less than the Goodyear's. It has now been approximately 3 seasons and a good 25,000 + miles since I first purchased my KR21s. Can Kumho prove that they can make a good all-season tire?
About the Solus KR21 :
The Kumho Solus KR21 is one of those 3-in-one tires; Kumho claims the KR21 is an all-season/performance/touring tire. According to Kumho, the KR21's boast an advanced carbon tread compound with nylon belt edge layers helping provide superior wet and dry traction while allowing for an extended tread life. The KR21's also boast Kumho's "ESCOT Tension Control technology." This ESCOT technology supposedly increases the tension in the bead and shoulder area of the tire, resulting in improved handling and better steering response.
While Kumho uses " high performance" in the description of its KR21, this tire isn't available in the low profile sizes that many consumers use on their high performance cars or even the stock sizes recommended for many modest performance coupes or sedans for that matter. This being the case, the KR21 is a tire more for those who own economical cars (like my Civic Coupe), large non-performance oriented sedans, minivans, and small crossover vehicles or small on-road SUV's.
If you are looking for an aggressively designed tire you probably should take a big pass on the KR21's. Like most inexpensive all-season tires, the KR21's tread design screams minimalist. I, for one, am a fan of the KR21's plain-Jane tread design, at least for my particular vehicle. I drive a Civic with barely enough horsepower to get out of its own way, so the KR21's unpretentious tread design is aesthetically perfect for my car.
Specs: Kumho Solus KR21 Size 195/60/15's (specs will vary slightly depending on tire size)
Tread wear rating 680 (one of Kumho's highest)
Temperature rating B
Traction rating A
Speed Rating T
Tread depth- 10/32"
Maximum pressure- 44 psi.
Maximum load rating- 1188lbs.
Dry Traction and handling: C+
Though Kumho claims their ESCOT technology improves handling, I have not noticed any advantage in handling with this so called technology, at least not compared to the Goodyear Eagles GT . Though the KR21's do a good job keeping my Civic glued to moderately twisty roads and they do a remarkable job keeping wheel-hop to a minimum while covering rough terrain (even better than the Goodyear Eagles), they hate to be pushed hard. Driving on some of the more demanding roads in my area, for example, I have to slow significantly with the Kumho KR21's in order to avoid experiencing extreme body roll coupled with equally extreme tire squeal. While I didn't expect the Kumho KR21's to be as grippy as a summer performance tire, I did expect better than this- considering the rave reviews of this tire and Kumho's own boastful description with regards to performance.
Wet Traction/Snow Traction: A
The last set of all-season Kumho's that I had on my Civic were horrible in the rain and snow, so bad in fact I had to switch to a different set of tires just for the winter season: not something I usually need to do considering my geographic location . It's refreshing then that the KR21's are a great inclimate weather tire. I have driven my Civic with the KR21s through many heavy rainstorms and never have had a problem with hydroplaning, at least not to he extent where it was obvious that I was losing traction with the pavement. These tires are also acceptable for driving in minor snow storms. While they are no alternative to a true winter tire, I had no problems accelerating or stopping in a recent snow storm that we had here in NC. I was also impressed with how well I was able to accelerate with the KR21's on snow covered roads with only the occasional controlled wheel spin while accelerating from stoplight to stoplight. That being said, if you live in an area that receives a lot of precipitation or an area that occasionally sees a dusting of snow, this is definitely a tire worth looking into as they provide excellent traction on slick roads.
Though the KR21's exhibit a lot of tire squeal when asked to perform on twisty roads, I am very impressed with how quiet the Kumho's KR21's are at both low and high speeds on straight highway stretches. Being among some of the least expensive tires on the rack , I was expecting a lot of road-grain noise from these tires. However, the Kumho KR21s are just as quiet as any expensive tire and are much quieter than the Goodyear Eagle GT's that I had on my Civic prior to the KR21's.
Gas Mileage: C-
Unfortunately the KR21s seemed to have negatively effected my Civic's fuel economy, albeit not by much. With the Goodyear Eagle GT's I was getting about 38- MPG on the highway in my Civic, so it's a bit disappointing to see my fuel economy dip to around 35- MPG on the highway with the KR21's.
Ride Quality: A
Where the Kumho KR21's fail in the handling department, they excel at proving a comfortable and compliant ride. Compared to the more performance oriented Goodyear Eagle GT's that I previously had on my Civic in the same size, the Kumho KR21s provide a much softer ride, able to easily soak up potholes and road imperfections.
I currently have a little over 25,000 miles on my Kumho KR21's and they still are at a tread depth of 8/32"(down from 10/32) uniformly across every tire. This being the case, the KR21's rank as the best wearing tire I have ever had on any of my vehicles, even surpassing the excellent wear I got out of my Falken Ziez ZE 912s. If these tires continue to wear at their current rate, I shouldn't have to take advantage of the 4-year 85,000-mile tread-wear warranty to 2/32" that Kumho provides.
Price and warranty: A+
The price of the Kumho KR21 varys greatly from store to store and obviously from size-size. According to The Tire Rack's website the KR21's start at $42 for the 13" sizes and top out at just $93 each for the 17" sizes. I paid a mere $69 each for my KR21's in size 195/60/15s at my local tire shack (they are less at The Tire Rack). As mentioned, Kumho provides this tire with an excellent 85,000-mile warranty against defects and materials to the final 2/32" of tread. Also, Kumho offers free road hazard for the first 25% of wear and 2 years of road-side assistance after the purchase of the tire, regardless of tread-wear.
The Kumho Solus KR21 is an excellent all-season economy tire. While the Kumho Solus KR21's haven't done my Civic any favors in the handling department and seem to have reduced overall fuel economy, they make up for said underpinnings with excellent wet traction, a quiet and comfortable ride, a long lasting tread design, and a price tag and warranty that is hard to beat in this class of tire. If you are on the market for a non-performance tire that is capable of shredding tons of water, then I recommend the KR21's 100%. However, if you are looking for a high performance tire, this isn't it. Would I buy these tires again? Absolutely.
A special thanks to Scmrak for adding this tire to our database!
Thanks for reading!