Tire Review: Cooper SRX Discoverer
Because even “boring” cars need tires
Tire reviews almost always focus on the sharp end of the market, that is, the extreme performance summer tire segment. While big sticky tires with rubber-band sidewalls are lots of fun to shred to a smoking hulk on a race track, such tires make up a notably small segment of industry sales and are rarely used on cars that are daily driven in most parts of the country.
While many Automobile readers own cars to take advantage of such a tire, it's also true that almost every Automobile reader has a more ordinary vehicle—yes, a "boring" car—needing a boring car tire that optimizes comfort and wet weather performance over ultimate dry grip. To that end, we recently mounted up a set of everyday tires, the Cooper Discoverer SRX, on a very everyday vehicle, a 2006 Saturn Vue CUV and noted some of our impressions.
First of all, a little backstory. The Cooper Discoverer SRX is a tire specifically designed for CUVs and SUVs and specifically those which will be seeing most of their miles being driven on plain old, everyday roads.
To that end, Cooper was less concerned about how the tire would perform on off-road trails as it was how quiet and comfortable the ride would be when doing perfectly ordinary driving: going grocery shopping, picking up the kids from school, or heading off on a weekend road trip.
Cooper incorporates a few nifty features into the Discoverer SRX tire, each coming with a little bit of hyperbole, as is the norm for the industry. The first is something it calls Stabledge technology, which refers to the sidewall's ability to resist twisting forces, providing better dry grip and stability.
Next, the silica compound is said to be a "competition-grade resin" which purports to give better traction and road feel in wet conditions. A Wear Square indicator, a square-shaped marking on the tire, offers at-a-glance feedback on how worn the tires are at any given time and 3D micro-gauge siping helps the tires tread blocks maintain their shape under heavy forces, such as cornering and braking.
If that all sounds like a bunch of manufacturer mumbo-jumbo, you may be right. That said, our impression of the tires on the road were very favorable. We ordered up four Cooper Discoverer SRX tires in the 215/70R16 size and had our local preferred tire store mount them up on our Saturn.
They were replacing a set of Michelins that were still within tread wear spec, but past their safe operating life at seven years old and showing signs of surface cracking. The shop had no trouble getting the tires balanced and mounted, so we put some miles on them to wear off the release lubricant and then put a lot of extra miles on them for impressions.
In our experience, the Cooper tires were actually a little quieter than the Michelins they replaced, though some of the noise from our old tires was likely due to their wear. We were also impressed with their dry grip. Hard cornering brought out squeals far sooner than your favorite set of sticky summer rubber, but for all-season tires on a CUV, they remained quiet in hard cornering for longer than we'd expect them to.
Most of all, we appreciated their ride quality and lack of any tramlining or other undesirable qualities—they tracked straight and true and generally did their job without alerting us to the fact. As passenger car tires go, the best ones are those you don't even notice. Unfortunately, we didn't get a chance to test their wet weather grip, as rain in Southern California is about as common as spots on a zebra.
Our takeaway is that you can do a lot worse than add a set of Cooper Discoverer SRX tires to your all-season machine and Cooper's prices are fairly competitive, meaning you'll spend a lot less cash than if you were to shop some of the other big brands.