New Tires: Toyo Versado Noir
It was time for new tires for my 2004 LS430. I think I could have gotten one more season out of the Continental PureContacts, but 1 tire I plugged recently and another had a slow leak (it was the tire, not the rim). So I opted to go new all around. On the surface, which tires to get should have been really easy. The tire thread here is king of discussion. The overwhelming consensus was the Pirelli P7 Plus. It's the finest riding, quietest tire available for the LS apparently. When I checked the reviews at Tirerack, sure enough the P7 Plus is the gold standard grand touring all season tire but with one caveat: if there's no rain in the forecast and a "big increase in wet grip is a must" under the cons. That ruled it out for me immediately. My local tire place I trust essentially said the same thing in addition to "I try talking people out of them. After the honeymoon of new tire wears out people seem to be really disappointed in this tire". So I'd say YMMV...but I didn't want to chance the wet weather ability.
Another choice was the Michelin A/S. It's a really good tire. Can't go wrong with it..apart from being a bit pricey. I also considered the General RT-43, which is another tire that consistently tests and receives excellent ratings. A couple people suggested I try the Toyo Versado Noirs. I had previously test driven an LS with Versado Noirs on it and was impressed. I had forgotten about this tire because you don't read many reviews about them...so they had slipped my mind. After doing further research I decided I'd give these tires a try!
I called my dealer (she also recommended them highly despite not carrying them) and we settled on a price. It took about a week to get in. Install was done in a mere 45 minutes (2 guys worked on it). Tires have an alleged life of 120,000kms. There was also a $70 rebate going on.
RIDE: Car is smooth as can be, but it's an LS so not unexpected. Car is definitely quieter (road noise) up to about 50 mph or so. After that I can't really notice a difference. Small road impacts seems smoother/quieter. A set of train tracks I cross every day was definitely quieter. I think larger imperfections (large cracks) are slightly louder with a slightly more pronounced "thud". I'm not 100% sure though. Might be just me looking for something that's not there.
HANDLING: Car handles better, which I wasn't really expecting, so a nice surprise. Roadholding is better around corners and turn in is also a bit more responsive. It's still an LS and isn't suddenly a sports sedan, but there is enough of a difference to notice.
That's my initial review with ~50 miles on them. The sidewall graphics are interesting..and you can notice it as you approach the car. Not sure if this is good or bad,...just different. According to a few people who own these, they somehow get quieter after "break in". I've not heard that before, so I'll have to see. I'm also curious to see how they perform in the wet.