Senior TN Member
Join Date: Feb 2009
Location: San Antonio
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You should listen to your own advice. You can't say that brand X is good and brand Y is bad, you have to look at individual tire models as each brand makes good and bad tires. Saying to stay away from all Goodyear tires goes against your advice of reading the reviews, surveys, and test results on Tirerack, Why? Because the Goodyear tires he is looking at got the best reviews, 1st place in the surveys, and first place in the Tirerack tests for the category that they are in. So which is it? Go by the advice or Tirerack or avoid The tires because they are Goodyear?
Also, you can't always ignore the speed rating. Like you said, you should pay attention to the tire characteristics. The speed rating can determine the characteristics of a tire so it is something you should not ignore. If a car's suspension was designed for a certain type of speed rated tire, the driving dynamics will change if the tire speed rating is changed. Why? Because in general, a higher speed rating means a stiffer sidewall.
However, a stiffer sidewall does not always mean a harsher ride. Like you pointed out, the Camry was designed with a Speed rated V tire and the Camry XLE is far from having a harsh ride. However, you could put that same tire on a different car and get a harsh ride. It is all how the suspension was designed, which is why I recommend sticking with the OEM speed rating. That does not mean you HAVE to stick with it though, as some people might find the change in driving dynamics better. While a lower speed rated tire may provide a softer ride, it may also dull initial turn ins and produce more lean in corners. That is why I recommend trying a set of tires first if you are able too. It all comes down to what the driver feels is the most important characteristic of a tire.
For me, I prefer turn in, hydro planing resistance, and ultimate dry/wet traction over noise, comfort, and tread life. While others prefer the opposite.