Review: Continental ExtremeContact DWS

The ExtremeContact DWS (Dry/Wet/Snow) are Continental's offering in the Ultra High Performance All-Season niche, designed for 3-4 season capability without sacrificing high-speed performance. By all accounts, they fulfill on that promise in a big, big way.

I recently had a chance to evaluate these tires when one of my ski buddies put a set on his Honda CR-V and found out that he liked them a lot. That's an opinion that is emphatically shared by About's Guide to Mustangs, Johnathan Lamas, who was able to put them through some much more serious testing at Fontana Speedway.

Although none of us has had the chance to put them through their winter paces yet, both testers and customers at The Tire Rack have been extremely impressed. Based on that, I am provisionally prepared to believe that the DWS may be one of those rarest of tires, an All-Season that really does perform in all seasons.


  • Extremely good treadlife.
  • Excellent grip in all conditions.
  • Good ride comfort.


  • Soft compound leads to some flatspotting issues.
  • Softer sidewalls affect steering response.
  • Some reported noise problems that seem to get worse as the tire wears.


  • Internal Structure
    The DWS features twin steel belts and jointless nylon cap plies spirally wound with nylon thread to keep the structure stable at high speeds.
  • Asymmetric Tread 
    The DWS has a silica-based high-grip compound molded into an extremely busy asymmetrical tread design. The tread features sweeping curved grooves on the inboard side to evacuate water efficiently, “crisscross grooves” in the center of the tread to provide biting edges for snow and ice grip, while “stable shoulder blocks” and a circumferential rib on the outboard side delivers responsiveness and stability.
  • Heat Distribution
    One thing Johnathan Lamas noted in his review is that the tires function extremely well even under very high heat loads. Continental says that the tires “utilize dynamic temperature distribution which reduces distortion for enhanced energy delivery, lower rolling resistance, and improved tread-life."
  • Tuned Performance Indicators 
    The DWS also features Tuned Performance Indicators, which are letters molded into the rib designed to show drivers when wear is affecting the capabilities of the tire. A visible "DWS" indicates the tire has sufficient tread dry, wet and snow conditions. Once the "S" wears away, the tire only has sufficient tread depth for dry and wet conditions. When only the “D” remains, the tire has tread depth only for dry conditions.


Continental's ExtremeContact DWS are designed for high speed and high performance, and boy do they deliver. The ride quality is smooth and gentle, with just a touch of softness. The steering response is perhaps not quite as crisp as, say Bridgestone's Potenza RE970AS or some other tires in this category. The fact that the sidewalls are rather soft and flexible is rather evident, however, overall handling is perfectly acceptable, even well above average for an all-season tire.

It is in the area of grip that these tires impress. Dry grip is frankly excellent, inspiring confidence at all speeds and showing no tendency to become “greasy” even in the hottest of conditions. Wet grip is only slightly less phenomenal, with a tremendous feeling of stickiness on wet pavement and just a slight tendency to understeer under higher G-loads in standing water.

As I noted above, I, unfortunately, cannot make it snow by command, and so I am reserving judgment as to winter grip, but after reading literally hundreds of owner reviews online, I saw very few that did not consider the DWS' snow and ice grip to be little short of astonishing for a tire of this nature.

On the other hand, more than a few owner reviews noted that the soft compound can lead to some flatspotting issues, where sitting overnight left the tires somewhat out of round, which causes vibration. In most cases, this issue was described as going away after some driving time, but it can be deeply annoying to have the tires vibrate for the first 10-30 miles of driving. Other owners complained of noise issues, and there may be a vague pattern to these complaints, as they seemed to be primarily occurring with lighter cars.

The Bottom Line

I suspect that these tires are best used on heavier cars and SUV's to avoid noise issues, and I would suggest keeping a close eye on your tire pressures to avoid the worst of the flatspotting issues. Overall, however, I found the Continental ExtremeContact DWS to be highly effective, very grippy and pretty fun to drive, and they may be about the second-best all-season tires I have ever encountered. They might even shatter my own preconceived notions of what all-season tires can do in the winter, but I'll have to update this review on that matter once the snow starts to fall.

Available in 87 sizes from 195/50R16 to 255/30/24
UTQG Rating: 540 A A
Treadwear Warranty: 6 years/50,000 miles