Cooper Tires may not directly trouble the top tire brands in America, but it does offer good, solid tires in a number of categories. This is a US company that's more than 100 years old and has been quietly and effectively buying up other tire companies around the world and now manufactures tires in 13 countries. It also comes with strong links to the US military that can broaden its appeal, for some.
Cooper offers a range of car and truck tires for winter, summer, all-season on all-terrain driving. There are three major brands, Adventurer, Discoverer and Evolution with a host of popular one-off tires to keep its customers well-shod in all driving conditions.
In this Cooper Tires review we've spent hours researching the tires it produces and compared those to its competitors according to price and performance. We've pulled user reviews, survey information and industry reviews into one place so you have everything you need to know about Cooper Tires, and why it ranks among our best tire brands (opens in new tab) list of 2020.
1. Cooper Discoverer True North: Winter tires for passenger cars and SUVs
- Price: $92.00 to $125 (opens in new tab)
- Standard limited warranty
- 45-day trial
- Noise Dampening Structures
- Snow Groove Technology
- Outboard Onboard Tread
- High T and H speed ratings
- Great on snow and ice
- Not good under wet braking
- Poor rolling resistance
- Dry braking only average
There are 13 tire categories in Cooper's range of Discoverer tires. These mostly cover trucks and SUVs, but some models also fit passenger cars and minivans. In fact, one of the best Cooper tires you can pick up are snow tires designed for cars and SUVs. The Discoverer True North studless winter/snow tire is only matched by the Hankook Winter i*Cept iZ2, which puts it joint top in user-reviews of winter tires.
In line with most winter tires, the wet braking aspect is sacrificed for snow traction and ice braking, but that’s what you need in a winter tire. In addition, True North tires handle well and are comfortable, but the i*Cept iZ2 almost matches these pros, but also has excellent rolling resistance, making it better for the planet and your wallet. This could give it the edge if it wasn’t for some so-so handling. The ultimate decision, then, comes down to your preference of performance and comfort over long-term cost.
2. Cooper Discoverer SRX: All-season tires for light pick-up and SUVs
- Price: From $163 to $192 (opens in new tab)
- 65-75k miles limited warranty (depending on speed rating)
- Stabledge™ Performance
- Wear Square® Indicator
- 3D Micro-Gauge™ Siping
- Comprehensively resistant to hydroplaning
- Comfortable and quiet
- Good snow traction
- Tread life could be longer
The All-season SUV and Light Truck category is as competitive as its crowded. The top four places are covered by seven different tires according to Consumer Reports (opens in new tab), and just getting a look-in is the Cooper Discoverer SRX. It's matched in fourth place with the Grabber from General, behind the third-placed trio of the Firestone Destination LE2, the Michelin Defender LTX M/S and the Pirelli Scorpion Verde All-Season Plus, who languish behind the Continental Cross Contact LX20 ECOPLUS and, maybe the best of the lot, the Michelin Premier LTX which has better rolling resistance. Michelin tires (opens in new tab) are the best for all-seasons.
The Cooper option has 10,000 miles tread-life less than the Grabber’s but, remarkably, 15,000 more than the Michelin Premier LTX. Its price is average, but more expensive than the Cross Contact and the Grabber. Where it stands out is its resistance to hydroplaning, matched only by the Pirelli Scorpion and Michelin Defender that it out-brakes in the wet too.
3. Cooper CS5 Grand Tourer: All-season
- Price: From $82 to $154 (opens in new tab)
- 80k miles limited warranty
- Four wide circumferential grooves
- Wear Square® Indicator
- 3D Micro-Guage™ Siping
- Great in the dry
- Huge treadwear warranty
- Quiet and comfortable
- Poor ice-braking
- Average wet-braking
Cooper’s CS5 Grand Tourer is an all-season tire that comes with a whopping 80,000-mile treadwear warranty. It’s great in the dry, handles well and is quiet and comfortable. Things go a little downhill when it’s wet, but its major issue is that it doesn’t like to brake on ice. Being pragmatic, however, they’re inexpensive and with that warranty, you could be onto a winner. That's as long as you live somewhere with a warmer climate that doesn't get too wet or icy. One of the best value picks outside of Nexen tires (opens in new tab).
Other Cooper tires to consider
Cooper’s Zeon RS3-G1 tire ultra-high-performance sports tire could be a solid bet if you’re after an all-season tire and live in a place where it doesn’t get too cold in the winter. It comes with an impressive 50,000-mile treadwear warranty and is a solid all-rounder for three seasons of the year.
Apart from the General G-Max, which is the cheapest tire at the top echelons of this class, it’s reasonably priced too. It brakes well on ice but things get a little tricky when there is snow on ground. Even though this is fairly typical of ultra-high performance all-season tires other brands do fare better, like Pirelli tires (opens in new tab), and there’s a similar gripe for comfort and rolling resistance, though some of the more expensive boots, including Michelin's, aren’t any better.
Cooper Tires: User Reviews
In the JD Power (opens in new tab) Original Equipment Tire Customer Satisfaction Study of 2019, Cooper Tires doesn't get a ranking in any classification. That may be because it's still a lesser-known brand and because some of its tires are rather niche.
According to Consumer Reports (opens in new tab), Cooper comes seventh on the list with 63% behind Fallon and Yokohama tires (opens in new tab) on 64%, Bridgestone, Goodyear and Nexen on 65%, Pirelli 66%, General 69%, Continental 70%, and Michelin at the top on 71%.
Overall - Should you buy Cooper tires?
While Cooper is expanding its portfolio we’re all about how they’re getting on in the here and now and so far it’s all about the Discoverer range. Its other tires are rather niche and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that, Cooper makes good tires that are well priced and get the job done. What they’ve done best of all, though, is something money can’t buy, because Cooper comes with a backstory, a history intrinsically linked to the USA and it’s that provenance that makes Cooper tires attractive. For more car-saving tips, check out our best auto insurance (opens in new tab) guide.
Cooper Tires: Company history
Cooper’s origins can be traced back to 1920 when the M and M Manufacturing Company, established in 1914, Akron, Ohio, purchased The Giant Tire & Rubber Company, a tire rebuilding business. Two years later it moved to Findlay, Ohio, on a site still occupied by Cooper today.
The origins of the Cooper name also date back to 1920 when Ira J. Cooper, an auto-parts, formed the Cooper Corporation in Findlay to manufacture tires. A decade later Cooper and M and M had merged, along with the Falls Rubber company and started to grow. During the Second World War it manufactured major equipment for the war effort, including tires, for the U.S. In fact the government recognized the company's contribution to the war effort and awarded them an Army-Navy Excellence award.
This almost certainly aided its expansion, and in 1960 it became a publicly held corporation and listed on the New York Stock Exchange which led to new products and manufacturing plants and inevitable further growth. Net sales reached $1 billion and by the time it purchased UK tire company Avon in 1997, Cooper had 60 manufacturing facilities in 13 countries. Over the next few years it went on to form alliances or purchase tire and rubber companies in Serbia, Mexico and China. It is now the 13th largest tire company in the world, second only to Goodyear tires (opens in new tab) in the USA and is the only official supplier of the FIA World Rallycross Championship.
In addition to the Cooper brand, the Cooper family of companies also designs and manufactures tires for Mastercraft, Dean, Starfire, Roadmaster, Avon Tyres, Mickey Thompson and Dick Cepek.