Unlike other cheap tire brands, Federal tires are made in Taiwan. The company was established in 1954. Technical partnerships with Bridgestone in 1960 to 1979 and with Sumitomo Rubber Industries in 1981 to 2000 gave Federal tires the necessary capabilities to manufacture their own breed of tires for cars, trucks, crossovers, SUVs, and commercial vehicles worldwide.
It was during my trip to South East Asia in 2007 that I got the chance to test drive a modified 2002 Honda S2000 fitted with Federal race performance tires. This was my first time to hear about the Federal brand, having previously thought that this is just another generic tire maker from China.
In my humble opinion, the marketing team of Federal tires deserves an accolade. As a way to promote the tires and bring customers closer to the brand, Federal tires ventured into motorsports events, particularly in drifting and various track events. This not only gave the brand a young, fresh, and sporty image, but it was an easy way to get direct feedback from the drivers so they can further refine the design and on-road performance of their products.
No other cheap tire brand can boast of a racing pedigree. Such is the reason why I had high expectations when crafting this Federal tires review.
- Federal All-Season Passenger Tires
- Federal High-Performance Tires
- Federal Ultra-High Performance Tires
- Federal Mud Tires
Why Choose Federal Tires?
- Low price
Federal tires are competing not only for your heart and mind but also for your wallet. These tires are cheaper than the more popular brands, and they have a similar price to Chinese-made tires.
- Motorsports pedigree
Federal tires are a mainstream in the motorsports industry. In fact, Federal is the only cheap tire brand that sells tires designed for racing. If you enjoy track days or if you frequently visit the drag strip or the drift course, you should check out Federal’s line of impressive racing tires.
I am fully aware that the design of the tire should be the least of your concerns, but it is hard to deny Federal tires when it comes to the tread design. Conservative and discreet are not the right words to describe Federal tires. These tires have a sporting nature and feature aggressive tread patterns with equally stylish sidewalls, particularly the high-performance and ultra-high performance tires.
Federal Tires Review
Federal All-Season Passenger Tires
Federal Formoza GIO
The Federal Formoza GIO is the entry-level all-season tire designed for subcompacts, compacts, small sedans, and crossovers.
This tire is geared more to provide better handling courtesy of the advanced tire compound and outstanding fuel economy due to the low rolling resistance.
The Federal Formoza GIO is equipped with enclosed tread and tire blocks to reduce road noise and to give you a more comfortable ride. It also features a honeycomb design on the sidewall that is reputed to reduce the build-up of heat on the tire as you drive. It also has blade-shaped tread grooves to effectively channel out water from the treads for better performance on wet and slippery roads.
The unique thing about this tire is that it has a M+S rating. This means it is also capable of providing acceptable levels of traction and grip on mud and snow-covered roads.
I got the chance to test drive a 2014 Mazda 3 sedan equipped with stock 16-inch wheels and Federal Formoza GIO all-season rubber. I wasn’t expecting much in terms of overall performance but I was impressed with the dry traction and comfort of the Federal Formoza GIO. Road noise is a mixed bag; it was quiet in the city, but highway driving will reveal a bit more noise at speed. Traction in the wet is acceptable, but if you want a tire that performs better in slippery conditions then this is not the tire for you.
Treadwear was also a bit of an issue. The owner of the Mazda 3 bought the tires 5 months ago and has traveled 2,500 miles. The tires were already showing signs of wear.
The Federal Formoza GIO is a good tire for the price. Just don’t expect much in terms of intense sporty handling, wet performance, and longevity.
Higher up the food chain is the Federal SS657. This is an all-season radial tire designed for subcompacts and small sedans. With a tread pattern designed to decrease noise levels at speed, the Federal SS657 is also equipped with larger grooves to deliver better driving performance on wet roads.
I had a brief test drive inside a 2012 Volkswagen Jetta equipped with Federal SS657 tires on 16-inch OEM wheels. The tires were indeed a bit more hushed on the highway compared to the Formoza GIO. The tires were also silent in city driving and were a bit more comfortable and reassuring when faced with road irregularities and deep potholes.
I can honestly say that the Federal SS657 is more refined than the Formoza GIO, and it also performed better in the wet.
It remained quiet, comfortable, and stable when I was driving in the rain, and I did not sense a loss of traction or grip even when the tires were sloshing on the roads at higher speeds.
Traction and grip on dry roads were good, which is not surprising since the tires were effective on wet roads. This tire is also M+S rated so it seems it can perform well on muddy and snowy roads as well. The Federal SS657 is a bit more costly compared to the Formoza GIO but not by much. If you demand more from an entry-level all-season tire then the Federal SS657 is a sterling choice.
Federal High-Performance Tires
Federal Formoza AZ01
The Federal Formoza AZ01 is a high-performance tire with an asymmetric tread design. It aims to deliver the best possible combination of comfort, fuel economy, and performance at a friendly price. This tire is has a wider outer profile design to increase the contact patch to improve handling and cornering. The inside profile is equipped with curved groove walls to increase stability when traveling on wet roads at higher speeds.
The Federal Formoza AZ01 is also engineered with a brand new noise reduction design courtesy of five differently formed tread blocks to significantly reduce road noise at highway speeds.
I got the chance to test these tires on a 2013 Subaru Impreza WRX sedan fitted with stock 17-inch wheels and Federal Formoza AZ01 tires. The owner of the Subaru used to do a lot of track days until deciding to buy a souped-up BMW M3. The Bimmer is now his track car, and the Subaru is now delegated to pure street driving.
The Federal Formoza AZ01 tires were silent and quite comfy on the highway, but it was a different story in city driving.
The Subaru is partly to blame since it is equipped with stiffer coil springs for a slightly lowered look. Traction and grip on dry roads were good and the tires also performed well on wet roads. This has something to do with the advanced silica rubber compound and the wider outer shoulder design of the tires.
Treadwear was also remarkable given the fact that these tires were installed more than 6 months ago and have accumulated 4,500 miles. I handed back the keys to the Subaru with a lasting good impression of the Federal Formoza AZ01 tires. The owner was planning to upgrade to a more aggressive set of Federal tires since he was also impressed with the wet/dry performance and comfort of the AZ01.
Federal Formoza FD2
You only need to take one look at the Federal Formoza FD2 to conclude that this is a tire designed for high-performance driving.
It is equipped with a wider solid central rib for better stability and to further enhance the on-center feel of your ride. This tire is engineered with a 3-in-1 innovative groove design that not only makes the tires look spectacularly good, but this feature is designed to reduce road noise, enhance riding comfort, and deliver better traction and grip on both wet and dry pavement.
My test car is a 2013 Ford Focus ST hatchback fitted with aftermarket 18-inch wheels and Federal Formoza FD2 tires.
It would be impossible to judge the overall riding comfort of the tires since the Focus is fitted with stiffer coilover street suspension, but the ride silence was evident barring the droning sound of the sporty exhaust set-up.
Traction and grip on dry roads were outstanding, and performance in the wet is not mediocre either.
The Federal Formoza FD2 is created using an advanced silica rubber compound so it’s no surprise that the tires never lost grip in the wet, even as I locked the steering wheel while catching the apex in a particularly fast and winding corner.
The owner of the Focus ST only had one complaint about the Federal Formoza FD2.
Not surprisingly, he had issues with the tread wear of the tires, although he is the type of driver to drive a bit more aggressively than the norm. But considering the low price, the Federal Formoza FD2 is a solid choice for sporty cars.
Federal Ultra-High Performance Tires
Federal 595 RPM
The Federal 595 RPM is designed for sports sedans and sports cars. This is an ultra-high performance tire with the looks of a supermodel.
What makes this tire unique is the soft inner tread and the stiff outer tread that delivers the perfect balance of handling and comfort.
The soft inner tread is equipped with main grooves to reduce road noise while improving grip and traction in the wet. The stiff outer tread is engineered to enhance grip when cornering while significantly reducing unwanted road noise at high speed.
I was supposed to test a 2009 BMW M3 fitted with Federal 595 RPM tires, but the owner canceled at the last minute to fix an engine overheating issue. I asked him about the performance of the tires, and he sounded visibly pleased. He had no complaints when it comes to wet and dry traction, but he was more concerned about the tread wear.
I tried hard to source an alternative test drive but to no avail. The tire dealer told me that the Federal 595 RPM is popular because it costs less than comparable tires from Continental and Michelin while having a more aggressive tread design.
Don’t be confused about the Federal 595. This was formerly named the SS595 and is one of the most popular tires in Federal’s lineup.
This is also the same tire that was fitted to the 2002 Honda S2000 that I drove in SE Asia. It is easy to distinguish this tire courtesy of the aggressive V-shaped tread. This tire was constructed using an innovative silica compound to deliver excellent traction and handling on both wet and dry pavement.
The V-shaped tread design is also engineered to maximize the contact patch of the tires for better handling, cornering, and high-speed stability.
The Honda S2000 that I drove was aggressively modified for show purposes. I don’t want to comment on the ride comfort since the car was fitted with racing coilovers, but the ride silence on both city and highway driving was acceptable given the extreme nature of the S2000.
Traction and grip on both wet and dry surfaces were superb. The only complaint was the rapid tread wear, but the owner of the S2000 said this was not a major issue given the low price of the Federal 595.
Federal Truck/SUV Tires
Federal Couragia XUV
The Federal Couragia XUV is an all-season touring tire designed for modern pickup trucks, SUVs, and crossovers.
It has four vertical tread grooves and a slanted long groove center rib to quickly evacuate water from the treads for exceptional performance on wet roads. The center rib is equipped with lateral patterns to enhance straight-line stability and performance at higher speeds.
The Federal Couragia XUV is also engineered with bigger and stiffer interconnected shoulder blocks to enhance cornering stability while reducing road noise. There are 148 varied siping combinations on the treads to further reduce road noise while offering better traction and grip.
I had a brief encounter with a 2007 Lexus RX50 fitted with 17-inch wheels and Federal Couragia XUV tires.
The ride comfort was a given and so is the hushed silence at high speeds. The tires were also quiet and comfortable on pockmarked city streets.
Traction and grip on dry roads were good, and the tires also scored high in terms of wet weather performance as long as you are traveling at moderate speeds. It seems that the Federal Couragia XUV has a lot of selling points besides the price.
Federal Couragia F/X
The Federal Couragia F/X is designed for high-performance SUVs with high horsepower outputs and a high center of gravity.
This odd-looking tire is equipped with a wide center grip to enhance comfort and tire wear. The interconnected shoulder blocks are designed to minimize road noise while improving the comfort and stability of the tire at high speeds.
This asymmetric tread pattern varies on the inner and outer parts of the shoulder. This helps the tire to perform better and deliver outstanding traction without compromising ride comfort. The large ultra-rigid blocks on the outer shoulder are responsible for improving the steering accuracy, handling, and dry traction of the tire.
I was unable to find a test vehicle fitted with the Federal Couragia F/X. The tire dealer told me that this particular tire is available in a variety of sizes and configurations, making it perfect for plus-sized applications.
Federal Mud Tires
Federal Couragia M/T
In the fascinating realm of mud tires, the price is usually an indication of quality, performance, and service life. The Federal Couragia M/T is designed to shatter your expectations. This is Federal’s ultimate off-road tire and it comes with a pocket-friendly price.
This off-road tire has an aggressive tread design to deliver unparalleled traction and grip on the most demanding and extreme off-road terrain. Equipped with large shoulder lugs to resist bruising and ward off strong impacts, the unique incremental block edge is designed to effectively disperse water, sand, mud, and sharp stones from the tread to offer constant traction even when the going gets tougher still. The Federal Couragia M/T is constructed using an advanced tread compound that is designed to resist chips, cuts, and abrasions to increase the service life of the tire.
I was handed the keys to a 2013 Toyota 4Runner equipped with a lift kit, larger 20-inch off-road wheels, and Federal Couragia M/T tires.
I was surprised at the refinement of the tires as they were a bit more silent on paved roads compared to other mud-terrain tires that I have tested so far.
The ride comfort was also stellar given the aggressive off-road nature of the tires. Off-road performance was commendable as the tires were relentless even when faced with deep, thick mud and loose gravel peppered with sharp stones and gravel.
The Federal Couragia M/T is an awesome tire given the price.
These tires should definitely be on your shortlist if you want a dependable off-road tire that also manages to deliver a relatively silent and comfortable ride on smooth tarmac.
You will notice that the common complaint of car owners who participated in this Federal tires review is the rapid tread wear. Other than that, Federal tires remain a solid choice if you are looking for high-performance tires and stylish tires at an affordable price.
Alvin Reyes has expertise in automotive evaluation. He collaborated with famous newspapers and is still making efforts in tire review for DrivingPress.com