Tire Review: Cooper CS5 Grand Touring

Car speeding towards an office, Illinois, America, USA
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If you are looking for an all-around great tire, consider the Cooper CS5 Grand Touring. Founded in 1914, Cooper is one of the few American owned and operated tire companies left that is still going strong, providing quality tires in a variety of categories for cars, trucks, SUVs, and crossovers. It is available in 31 sizes, with a speed rating of T, a UTQG rating of 780 A A, and a tread warranty of 80,000 miles.

CS5's Precursor

For years, one of the flagships in Cooper's tire lineup had been the CS4 Touring, a workhorse among the luxury touring breed. However, the workhorse began showing its age as tire technology vaulted into the high-tech realms of silica compounds and interlocking sipes, and the explosion of touring tires on the market brought on a lot of competition.

Enter the CS5 Grand Touring in 2014, which Cooper claimed to be the most important tire in the company's history. It still boasts a solid four-star rating on the company's website, and it remains a popular choice for drivers seeking superb handling and all-weather performance.

Pros:

  • Firm feel with sporty performance
  • Fantastic wet grip
  • Progressive and communicative
  • Excellent wear
  • Great price

Cons:

  • Unable to also make coffee

Technologies

Silica-enhanced rubber compounds: The CS5 Grand Touring contains about four times more silica than the previous CS4 tires, which means better fuel mileage thanks to improved grip and reduced rolling resistance. Cooper calls this a “coupled silica compound,” meaning that the silica is paired with a silane polymer, which causes the silica to bond more tightly with the natural and synthetic rubbers at the molecular level, allowing for even more silica-enhanced goodness.

3D Micro-Gauge Siping: Back in 2014, interlocking sipes were considered the wave of the future in tire design. The future is now. The CS5s use them to enhance wet grip and long-term performance by siping the entire tread depth down to 2/32", while the interlocking design prevents “tread squirm” and irregular wear caused by tread blocks flexing too much.

Wear Square Visual Indicator: The Wear Square is quite literally a square pattern cut into the inner and outer edges of the tread. The sides of this square are cut to different tread depths, so that at 75 percent tread depth, it resembles a U shape. At 50 percent, it looks like an L, and at 25 percent an I, until an exclamation point indicates that it's time to replace the tire. Because these wear indicators are located on both sides of the tire, they can be used to detect irregular wear relatively early.

StabilEdge Technology: Cooper uses small rubber “bumpers” placed between the tread blocks to keep the blocks from flexing under cornering pressure and closing off the grooves between the tread blocks. Keeping the grooves open increases water evacuation and stiffens the handling for sportier performance and response.

Performance

Touring tires are generally known for their smooth ride and good fuel economy. Cooper has gone in a slightly different direction with the CS5 by deciding to hide a performance tire inside the grand touring label. Unlike the pillow-soft feel of Bridgestone's Ecopia EP422 or the silky-smoothness of Michelin's Defender, the CS5 has a confident and stable firmness about it as well as an extremely sporty responsiveness. They react immediately and enthusiastically to steering input with a knife-edge precision that one would expect from much more performance-oriented (and expensive) tires.

While it is by no means a UHP tire, and you won't be burning up any autocross tracks with it, the CS5 is not your average grand touring tire either. There is a reason Cooper allowed the press to test these tires on Mustangs at their launch event, even though they're really designed more for luxury vehicles. There's a lot of performance hidden in these tires that comes out when you ask for it. Whether that's because you really like to push your daily driver now and then, or whether you just have it in reserve for emergency maneuvers, it's very nice to know it's there, and having it makes you safer.

Both dry and wet grip are standout features here. Wet grip is truly superior in both lateral and linear planes, and the grip is extremely progressive, letting go very slowly even at extremes of cornering force. The tires communicate very well to the driver, giving plenty of warning before reaching their limits. Braking grip is similarly stable, keeping the car in a straight line and showing no tendency to lose the rear end, even under panic braking in the wettest of conditions.

The Bottom Line

In the CS5, Cooper has focused on making a stable and very safe touring tire that is still a lot of fun to drive. Certainly the firm and sporty feel of the CS5 can make them a bit tiring on long highway drives as opposed to less performance-oriented touring tires, but not by much. These are primarily tires for people who really like to drive, but don't want to break the bank for a set of UHP tires.