Practical Performance: Goodyear Eagle Exhilarate Tire Review
We take a drive on Goodyear’s newest ultra-high-performance all-season tire.
Unless you're ponying up for a set of purpose-built tires—say, a set of DOT-rated R-compound track tires or knobby off-road rubber—deciding on a new set is anything but enjoyable. Re-rubbering the family sedan, for example, which may have to contend with as many wet days as dry, and maybe even some snow, typically puts you in a category of tire that's tough to get excited about. The recently launched Goodyear Eagle Exhilarate is trying to change that, so we decided it was time for a tire review.
Built to replace the Goodyear Eagle F1 All-Season in the ultra-high-performance category, the Goodyear Eagle Exhilarate is an all-weather tire the company also claims to be up to the task of enthusiastic, spirited driving. No, it's not a track tire—Goodyear has various remaining Eagle F1 Supercar options for that. Nor is it a dopey, flexy, and squealy touring tire, designed to optimize comfort and treadwear at the expense of performance. Instead, the Eagle Exhilarate comes as a sort of Goldilocks solution for drivers who enjoy driving but need a practical tire for the daily grind.
The Gritty Details
Our minds go a little numb at tire jargon, but Goodyear will have you know the Eagle Exhilarate features something called ActiveGrip Technology, which it claims gives the Eagle Exhilarate shorter braking distances and performance handling in both wet and dry conditions. Occasionally get into a little bit of snow? Goodyear says its newest offering is up to that, too, though areas with significant amounts of snowfall and prolonged freezing conditions should probably still opt for dedicated winter tires, either with or without studs. Nevertheless, Goodyear says the Eagle Exhilarate has a "new, all-season tread compound featuring an optimized combination of high-performance polymers, fortified with traction resins for superior handling."
Also on the list of ingredients: soybeans. Goodyear says the Eagle Exhilarate is the first ultra-high-performance tire in its lineup to use soybean oil in place of traditional petroleum oil, a nod toward using renewable resources in a more wide-spread range of products. Goodyear says most of the soybeans used in creating the Eagle Exhilarate are grown in the U.S.
What Sort of Cars Are They Made For?
What sort of vehicles does Goodyear expect to see the Eagle Exhilarate mounted on? The Porsche Cayman, BMW 3 Series, Ford Mustang, Chevy Camaro, Mazda6, Cadillac CTS, Mercedes-Benz E-Class and Lexus LC all make the list. We were offered a set of our own to review and chose four 17-inch Eagle Exhilarate tires in 225/45 to fit to a 2001 Volvo S60 T5, a turbocharged, 240-hp, front-wheel-drive sedan primarily used for commuting and the occasional backroads jaunt. The tires were mounted by a local Goodyear tire shop and were installed on the car without issue.
How Do They Drive?
After giving the new tires a week or so to break-in and wear-off their mold release agent, we spent several hours in mixed highway and backroad driving in both dry and wet springtime conditions, as are common to the Pacific Northwest over the course of just a single day. We noticed immediately that, for an ultra-high-performance tire, the Eagle Exhilarate doesn't seem to compromise much comfort on highways or surface streets. Not only are the tires quiet, they also don't seem to bring any harshness to the equation (at least on 45-profile sidewalls), so they don't transfer every surface imperfection straight to your posterior.
When rain started falling, we were able to keep up our highway speeds without trouble, and even the few instances of inch-deep standing water we encountered weren't enough to make our trusty Volvo hydroplane at our speeds of 65-70 mph. Similarly, wet-braking performance was strong and we experienced no excessive wheel slippage moving away from stop lights in town.
We saved a more spirited backroad jaunt for a dry day and found lots to like in the Goodyear Eagle Exhilarate. While you'll get some tire squeal more prematurely than a dedicated summer tire, the Eagle Exhilarate was more than able to keep up with our still-capable sedan; the car frankly became more enjoyable to drive quickly, and we're waiting for the next local autocross to see what more the rubber is capable of. As a fun-to-drive tire with all-weather capability, Goodyear has a real road warrior on its hands. For more information, available sizes, pricing, and ordering, check out the Goodyear Eagle Exhilarate at TireRack.com.