My colleague was thinking about selling his trusty and dependable 2008 Mitsubishi Lancer. The car has served him well on numerous road trips and was at one point modified for track days with friends and family. I told him to buy a new of tires before advertising the sale online since the old Falken tires were ready to give up the ghost.
My friend was not in the mood to spend $400 or $500 on a new set of tires, so I recommended the Kenda Kenetica KR17. I told him the Kenetica KR17 is one of the most affordable all-season touring tires you can buy right now. He pulled out his smartphone, went online, and smiled. True to my word, he found Kenda Kenetica KR17 tires (215/50/R17) sold for less than $85 each.
We took the car to our neighborhood tire dealer and found a set of Kenda Kenetica for the same price online. My friend was not only impressed with the price. He was smitten by the sporty asymmetric tread design of the Kenda Kenetica tires.
He told me: “These are great looking tires! But are they any good on the road?”
I told him: “I guess we will need to wait and see.”
The Kenda Kenetica is an all season performance touring tire for cars, coupes, crossovers, minivans, and small SUVs. The tire was constructed using Kenda’s advanced NMA technology which incorporates a tread compound that is designed for durability, longer wear, and excellent performance on dry and wet pavement.
The Kenda Kenetica is equipped with a rather gorgeous asymmetric tread design with a notched center rib design. This feature is designed to enhance stability, steering feel, and braking on dry roads. The tire is blessed with large shoulder blocks to deliver crisp handling and better cornering stability at high speeds.
I agreed to drive my friend to his meeting, drop him off, and come back later while I test the tires. I must admit I have always admired the handling and cornering capabilities of the Mitsubishi Lancer compared to other Japanese compacts so I was excited to give it a go. My test vehicle is equipped with a smooth-revving 2.0-liter four-banger and CVT transmission.
The Kenda Kenetica KR17 tires were unsurprisingly good on dry roads. Traction and grip were plentiful as I tackled a winding corner at higher-than-average speed. The CVT transmission was a bit of a letdown if you are used to the neck-breaking engagement of a normal automatic once you step hard on the pedal, but things get better as you pile on the speed. Braking was also magnificent as I hauled the Lancer to a full stop from 60mph. The steering was firm, accurate, and spot-on even on dry roads peppered with moderate amounts of sand and loose dirt.
The tires felt wonderful in the wet, but things can get hairy as you approach higher speeds. Braking and cornering were still acceptable given the slippery road surface. However, I felt the tires could be better in terms of wet traction and grip. I felt the tail slide out a bit as I sped over water puddles on the highway, but this could also be caused by worn out springs and shock absorbers in the rear.
There was no chance for me to drive in the snow. We talked to the local tire dealer about the winter performance of the Kenda Kenetica and the response we got was not inspiring at all. The dealer told us the tires are only applicable for very light snow duty and nothing more. They had a client who had to buy a new set of winter tires to replace his adequate set of Kenda Kenetica KR17s. Of course, given the low price point of the Kenda tires, I was expecting them to be average in terms of snow performance.
The Kenda Kenetica KR17 tires were a bit more comfortable compared to other cheap tires. I have driven a lot of vehicles equipped with cheap tires and most of them are either not comfortable or silent enough, or are incapable of lasting longer than 30,000 or so miles. The Kenda Kenetica are not the most comfortable touring tires you can buy, but they won’t excessively ruffle your feathers, either.
Cheap tires are usually a bit noisier on the road and the same holds true for the Kenda Kenetica KR17. Tire roar was evident from above average to higher speeds, and you will still hear a bit of noise even at low speeds. It seems comfort and refinement were not the primary factors in developing the Kenda Kenetica KR17.
The Kenda Kenetica KR17 tires fitted to my test vehicle were brand new so I can’t comment on the wear characteristics of the tires. However, the local tire dealer had a few things to say about the tires. They told us that treadwear will be directly related to how you drive the car. If you are an aggressive driver, don’t be surprised if the tires will wear out faster than normal. But if you drive like a nun, you can expect the tires to last a bit longer. Is this a good deal? I guess it’s fair enough given the low price of the tires.
For reasons unbeknownst to me, my friend eventually decided to keep his car after all. You can buy a better set of tires if you wish to spend more, but if all you want is an all-season tire for normal driving, it is hard to argue with the value proposition of the Kenda Kenetica KR17.
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Alvin Reyes has expertise in automotive evaluation. He collaborated with famous newspapers and is still making efforts in tire review for DrivingPress.com