Review: Firestone Firehawk Wide Oval AS

Shoes of Clay

car tire
(Photo from Firestone.com)

Firestone's entry into the High Performance All Season category, the Firehawk Wide Oval AS, is meant to be a workhorse tire that straddles a number of worlds. Like most HP tires, it is intended to perform only slightly less well than an Ultra High Performance tire, while delivering the smooth and quiet ride of a Grand Touring tire as well as rain and often light winter performance. As many a good tire engineer will tell you, often quite loudly and with accompanying arm movements, this is functionally impossible.

Tradeoffs must always be made, and the true character of any HP tire is ultimately determined by what tradeoffs the designers have built into them. Firestone seems to lean slightly towards ride quality in the Firehawk Wide Oval, or at least slightly away from a lot of performance.

Pros

  • Smooth ride.
  • Stable feeling.

Cons

  • Heavy, “flat” feeling.
  • Performance is just decent.

Technology

  • Silica-Enriched Tread Compound: A specialized all-season compound provides for better wet handling.
  • Full-Depth Tread Features: Something many tire makers are beginning to promote, possibly because of customer dissatisfaction with siping and other features that disappeared before the tire had fully worn down, Full-Depth features are cut all the way down to the end of the tread.
  • Noise Optimization: The tread pattern is computer-designed to damp out noise
  • Wide Shoulder Ribs: Wider shoulder blocks for cornering and handling stability.

    Performance

    The Firehawks have a decent if uninspired performance. Acceleration and braking grip are adequate, as is lateral grip, with a limited amount of squeal to let you know when the tires are about to break loose. On an Audi A4, they showed a noticeable tendency to oversteer, or “pull” in wet conditions, letting the back end out just a bit here and there.

    They are not very agile, and the sidewall response is not particularly great.

    Ride quality was smooth, quiet and stable, but the Firehawks ultimately feel very heavy and flat-footed, “like Army boots.” High-speed turns and evasion maneuvers only tend to exacerbate the feeling that the car is wearing shoes of clay. On the other hand, the ride is neither pillow-soft nor particularly hard-edged.

    Most HP All Season tires at least talk a good game about performance in “light snow” and the Wide Ovals are no different in this respect. But when you look at a tire like the Goodyear Eagle Sport AS, one can see that the tire has gone at least a little beyond lip service in terms of putting technology onto the tread that is intended for winter grip, so they are at least trying. The Firehawk has barely a winter sipe to its name, and although the jumble of curved grooves and oddly-shaped tread blocks in the center tread area might just barely give it some snow bite, they may just as easily contribute to the tramlining issues that many online reviews have complained of. You wouldn't trust it much if at all in the winter.

    The Bottom Line

    It's actually kind of hard to easily describe Firestone's Firehawk Wide Oval AS, as not much about these tires really tends to stand out.

    They're just... well... tires. When it comes to the inherent tradeoffs of HP tires, these appear to have fallen on the ride quality side of things. In terms of performance, it's near the back of the pack, but in terms of smooth riding, it seems to be more in the middle. Some may well find the flat-footed stability and not-too-soft-nor-hard feeling quite comforting. If so, and if you're not looking to drive these very hard, you may find that the feel, and the price, is quite right on the Firehawk Wide Oval AS. If you're looking for performance, the Goodyear Eagle Sport AS or Bridgestone's Potenza RE97AS may be much more to your liking.