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Continental Tires review

Can Germany’s Continental tires topple Michelin’s grip on the market? Our review finds out...

Our Verdict

Continental Tires also owns General Tires, and both brands offer some great options for your car. In fact, in some categories Continental rules the roost, particularly when it comes to ultra-performance tires, all-season truck tires, and all-season passenger tires.

For

  • Excellent quality tires
  • Great all-season ranges
  • Comes with warranties

Against

  • Not all that eco-friendly
  • Not an American company

The fortunes of Continental Tires have shifted radically over the years, but now it’s almost at the top of the game, and with General tires standing alongside, it might just be on the brink of a breakthrough. Continental and General branded tires rank highly in both expert and consumer reviews. We’ve selected the best Continental tires and the best General tires to help you make the right choice for your car, SUV or truck. 

It's worth noting that Continental offers a 60-day trial, limited warranty and a 3-year flat tire roadside assistance on many of its tires. General provides a 45-day trial and limited warranty on some models, but there's no flat roadside assistance at all. Terms apply to these additional benefits, but it's one of the main reasons they rank well in our round-up of the best tire brands in 2020.

1. Continental ExtremeContact Sport: Ultra-performance

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Continental ExtremeContact Sport

(Image credit: Continental)
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Continental ExtremeContact Sport

(Image credit: Continental)
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Continental ExtremeContact Sport

(Image credit: Continental)
Key features

- Price: From $155.78 to $162.99
- 30k miles limited warranty
- 60-day trial
- 3-year flat tire roadside assistance
- SportPlus Technology
- Tread Wearout Coverage
- ExtremeContact Sport

Pros:

  • Quiet
  • Great dry braking
  • Hydroplane resistant

Cons:

  • Ride comfort

If it wasn’t a little down on rolling resistance, this ultra-performance summer tire would knock Michelin’s Pilot 4 off the top spot. As it stands, this is fantastic tire is 20 bucks less than its rival and quieter to boot, though both are typically down (for the class) on ride comfort, so not perfect. The Michelin tires just edge it, though.

Continental claims the tires have been tested to the limits by championship racing drivers and are designed for car enthusiasts, but their biggest contender comes from within: the General GMax is rated as highly too, but it’s a whopping $60 cheaper. 

2. Continental CrossContact LX20 Eco Plus: All-season Truck/SUV

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Continental CrossContact LX20 Eco Plus

(Image credit: Continental)
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Continental CrossContact LX20 Eco Plus

(Image credit: Continental)
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Continental CrossContact LX20 Eco Plus

(Image credit: Continental)
Key Features

- Price: From $153.00 to $243.86
- 70K mile limited warranty
- 60-day trial
- 3-year flat tire roadside assistance
- EcoPlus™ Technology
- 70K Limited Warranty
- Tread Wearout Coverage

Pros: 

  • Low noise
  • Comfortable ride
  • Good snow traction

Cons:

  • Poor ice braking performance 
  • Wet braking could be better

In joint first place with the Michelin Premier LTX, in terms of user reviews, these all-season truck tires are not as good on the ice but they've got a longer tread life, are almost $30 cheaper and slightly more comfortable. 

They don’t quite make the grade when it comes to rolling resistance when compared to the LTX, which means the fuel economy won't be quite as good, but it’s still good enough to warrant the ‘eco’ tag. Great gear.

3. Continental TerrainContact A/T: All-terrain truck/SUV

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Continental TerrainContact A/T

(Image credit: Continental Tires)
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Continental TerrainContact A/T

(Image credit: Continental Tires)
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Continental TerrainContact A/T

(Image credit: Continental Tires)
Key features

- Price: From $159 to $306
- 60k miles limited warranty
- 60-day trial
- 3-year flat tire roadside assistance
- TractionPlus Technology
- Tread Wearout Coverage

Pros:

  • Long tread life
  • Low noise
  • Solid handling

Cons:

  • Rolling resistance could be better

It’s a similar story with this great all-terrain tire for Pick-ups/SUVs. With the CrossContact, Michelin has matched it for ratings and in comparison, and the A/T is down on rolling resistance and snow/ice braking but has a much longer tread life and is cheaper. According to Continental, it was in development for three years with 1,500 tires tested over 2 million miles. Both tires are way ahead of the 2nd place contenders (Goodyear Wranger and Yokohama Geolander) yet the Continental option costs about the same as the Goodyear offering which makes it the overall winner.

4. General Altimax RT43: All-season passenger car

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General Altimax RT43

(Image credit: General tires)
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General Altimax RT43

(Image credit: General tires)
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General Altimax RT43

(Image credit: General tires)
Key features

- Price: From $86.00 to $186.55
- 75k miles limited warranty
- 45-day trial
- Low Surface Abrasion Technology
- Twin Cushion Silica Tread Compound
- Anti-Slip Sipe Design Technology

Pros:

  • Long tread life
  • Great price

Cons:

  • Average wet braking

User reviews rank the General Altimax RT43 as the highest-rated All-Season tire on the market. This is a notoriously hard tire category conquer. To win by three points, over the magnificent Michelin Defender, is no mean feat. It may be average for wet braking and ride comfort but that’s not going to put off purchasers when they’re good for a huge 75,000 mile tread life and a very competitive price. Congratulations, Continental. 

5. General G-Max RS: Ultra-performance

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General G-Max RS

(Image credit: General Tires)
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General G-Max RS

(Image credit: General Tires)
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General G-Max RS

(Image credit: General Tires)
Key features

- Price: From $112 to $245
- 45-day trial
- Smart Grip Technology
- StabiliTread Technology
- Directional Tread Design

Pros:

  • Excellent braking in the dry
  • Outstanding resistance to hydroplaning

Cons:

  • Stiff ride

Continental gets two bites of the cherry at the Ultra Performance summer market with its General branded G-Max RS, made for the home market. For a start, it's got a longer tread life than both the Michelin and Continental options and it pretty much matches them both, but the real kicker is the cost, it’s just half the price of the Michelin, so when it comes to value that’s enough to make it the one to pick.

Other Continental and General Tires to consider

WinterContact tires are Continental’s best chance of getting you through the white stuff when it’s below freezing, and they may even be the best choice overall it if wasn’t for the superior ride comfort of the Discoverer Truth North from Cooper tires, and Hankook's option, the Winter iCept iZ2. They are a little pricier than both, but all are pretty evenly matched to the point that any of the three would be a good, safe bet. 

General Tires isn’t just about the fantastic Altimax, either. The Grabber HTS60 rates well in the All-season Light pick-up/SUV class too. It matches the Cooper Discoverer SRX in performances and if it wasn’t for its brother, the Cross Contact (see above), and the Michelin LTX it’d be second best. It also faces stiff competition from old rivals Firestone, with the Destination LE2, and the Scorpion Verde from Pirelli tires. It is, however, the cheapest of the bunch so if you want to save some money these are a solid option.

Continental Tires: User reviews

In the JD Power Original Equipment Tire Customer Satisfaction Study of 2019, Continental comes third on the list, behind Pirelli and first place Michelin. General doesn’t make this list.

According to Consumer Reports' Tire Brand Report Card for Passenger Cars, Continental Tires comes just one point behind Michelin on 71 and General is in 3rd on 69. Good job, then.

Overall - Should you buy Continental tires?

Continental is the company keeping Michelin awake at night. Continental has been slowly buying up tire brands over the past few years and in General has managed to manufacture a tire that even betters their own brand. Ironic or cunning? We think the latter and are sure that once the dust has settled on recent boardroom activities they could well be in contention for the top tire manufacturer spot that currently goes to Michelin. 

The only downside to all of this is its provenance. There are the murky past dealings during World War 2 (though that’s allegedly being addressed) and, unlike its main rivals, there’s no high-profile in motorsport connection, something that might prove to be a deciding factor in the future. Finally, they may not be the best at rolling resistance which impacts fuel efficiency and our environment. Save money by getting one of the best auto insurance policies, if you need to spend more on tires.

Continental tires review

Continental tires own a whole bunch of other brands (Image credit: Continental)

Continental Tires: Company history

Founded in Lower Saxony, Germany in 1871, Continental Tires pips Pirelli to the post as the oldest tire manufacturer in the world. Like most of its top-rated peers, Continental started life as a rubber company before moving into tires. Its big break came with the invention of the grooved tire in 1904, the following year it was the first manufacturer to bring the detachable wheel tire to market and following the takeover of smaller rubber manufacturers formed the largest rubber company in Germany, Continental Gummi-Werke AG. 

In the totalitarian years between 1933 and 1945, Continental (in line with many other German companies’) used slave labour in three of its factories. Continental has released this statement: “this shameful episode is deeply regretted and currently being investigated by a historical study which will be published in 2021” . 

Just before the end of the Third-Reich, Continental patented the tubeless tire and continued to develop and improve its manufacturing, growing exponentially. It brought the studless tire into the marketplace in 1972, took over Uniroyal in 1979 and in 1987 moved in the US market after taking over General Tires leading to the establishment of a new international subsidiary, Continental Tire North America, Inc.

In 2018 the Taraxagum Lab Anklam is opened to research the cultivation and processing of dandelions as an alternative source of raw material to the rubber potentially paving the way forward for a more environmentally-friendly way of tire manufacture.

Aside from General and Uniroyal, Continental owns Semperit, Barum, Viking, Gislaved, Mabor, Matador and Sportiva brands. One in every three new cars is fitted with Continental tires.  

Continental makes a full range of tires for the auto sector in line with the other top manufacturers, subdivided as Passenger, Light Truck/SUV, Performance and Winter, and for the most part, it’s highly rated by the industry and consumers alike. Similarly, its US brand, General is also highly regarded, even though its range is limited by comparison.

Continental Tire the Americas, LLC

‘General’ is the trade name for Continental Tire the Americas, LLC. The General Tire and Rubber Company was founded in 1915 to compete against Firestone. It began manufacturing tires a year later.