Ford Explorer has everything to be an ideal family SUV. There is lots of space for long trips, extra friends and family members, or budget-blowing shopping sprees. Its road ride is comfortable and the tech-laden infotainment system has what is needed to keep the entire family occupied.
At the same time, this SUV’s strong acceleration won’t leave it gasping for power when making quick passes on the highway. A rear-wheel-drive platform enhances its handling, while the sturdy road grip and strong brakes keep it firmly planted around turns and on slippery roads.
Yet there are areas where this SUV could have done better. A fuel economy of 20 miles per gallon (mpg) in the city and 27 mpg on the highway means the Explorer isn’t the most fuel-efficient SUV. Plus, its second and third-row seats are less comfortable than those of competitors.
Why are we telling you all this? So that you can pick tires that enhance this model’s strong points while also taking care of the weak ones. The best tires for Ford Explorer should be able to improve this SUV’s average fuel economy and make its ride quality more refined.
#1. Michelin Premier LTX – Best Overall
Why is the Michelin Premier LTX our top pick for Ford Explorer? Mainly because this luxury all-season touring tire enhances the strong point of this SUV. But also because the Premier LTX has what it takes to improve the Explorer’s average fuel economy numbers.
The Premier LTX is as reliable in the heat of the summer as it is in wintry conditions. A sunflower and silica oil tread compound gives this tire the perfect mix of flexibility and firmness to perform reliably on the highway, regardless of the weather conditions out there.
Michelin’s EverGrip Technology provides the Premier LTX with consistent and long-lasting traction. This technology sees to it that additional grooves replace the tire’s built-in grooves when the latter start wearing out. The result is a surefooted driving experience.
As stated above, the Ford Explorer isn’t a winner when it comes to fuel economy. The Premier LTX solves this key problem with its low rolling resistance. This tire won’t require much power from your Explorer’s engine to keep rolling, resulting in improved fuel mileage.
However, just as it is with this SUV, there are areas where the Premier LTX disappoints. Its 60,000-mile warranty might look good on paper. But once compared with that of its rivals – most of which are backed for 80,000 miles – the warranty loses its appeal.
- Dynamic handling characteristics
- Will enhance the Ford Explorer’s average fuel economy
- Offers a quiet and comfortable driving experience
- Relatively small treadwear warranty
#2. Continental CrossContact LX25 – Best Touring Tires
The CrossContact LX25 is Continental’s flagship touring tire for SUVs/crossovers. Another reason it’s one of the best touring tires for Ford Explorer is that it is the replacement of CrossContact LX20, our previous touring tire pick for SUVs, crossovers, and light trucks.
The LX25 features various improvements over the LX20. This tire is backed with a longer treadwear warranty (70,000-mile vs. 60,000-mile), which is incidentally 10,000-mile longer than our top pick. It also features additional wet traction grooves that the LX20 didn’t have.
Comfort Ride Technology is another nice addition to this tire’s already extensive list of features. This technology uses the extra layer of rubber underneath the tread area to improve the LX 25’s ride quality. You could thus count on it to keep road vibrations and noise at bay.
An Alignment Verification System is another feature that LX20 fails to offer. What the AWS does is made clear by its name. It features two rubber bars on the opposite shoulder blocks of the same tire. As long as both these rubber bars are aligned, so are your SUV’s wheels.
A low rolling resistance which all but guarantees improved fuel economy is another reason why we’re recommending this tire for the Ford Explorer. Still, when you compare it with our top pick, the CrossContact LX25 won’t come out on top for spirited driving.
- Generous 70,000-mile treadwear warranty
- Comfortable and quiet ride
- Best-in-class hydroplaning resistance
- Not the best for spirited driving
#3. Bridgestone Dueler H/L Alenza Plus – Best Highway Tire
The Bridgestone Dueler H/L Alenza Plus is one of the most reliable SUV tires on the market. How can we be sure? This highway tire comes with a market-high 80,000-mile treadwear warranty. Such an extensive warranty means you can count on this tire to stay good for 6, 7 years.
Its symmetric tread pattern kills three birds with one stone. It soaks up road vibrations (on the highway) for a comfortable driving experience. Aside from that, the tread pattern deflects road noise to let you enjoy long drives in silence and ensures consistent road contact for an even wear.
A continuous center frame also helps the H/L Alenza Plus in multiple ways. When working alone, the frame will enhance the H/L Alenza Plus’s high-speed stability with its ruggedness. Side by side with the knurled shoulder blocks, the center frame enhances this tire’s wet traction.
Breaking away from tradition, the H/L Alenza Plus hasn’t opted for circumferential grooves, the most popular choice for water evacuation. Instead, this tire features parallel grooves. Fortunately, this decision hasn’t hurt this model’s hydroplaning resistance one bit.
Given the fact that it’s a highway tire, it shouldn’t surprise anyone that the Alenza Plus falters on snow. The absence of biting edges means that even in mild wintry conditions, this tire will struggle to perform. As such, it’s suggested to replace this model in the winter season.
- 80,000-mile treadwear warranty
- Offers reliable year-round traction
- Quiet and comfortable ride
- Not designed for snow driving
#4. Pirelli Scorpion Verde All-Season Plus – Best Fuel-Efficient
According to independent estimates, the Ford Explorer does 20 miles per gallon (mpg) in the city and 27 mpg on the highway. No matter how you slice them, these numbers are average. The only way you can improve them is by installing a set of fuel-efficient tires.
Enter Scorpion Verde All-Season Plus. This tire’s computer-optimized pitch sequence helps it boast one of the lowest rolling resistance among all-season tires. It does that by increasing the tire’s road contact for even pressure distribution and improved fuel economy.
Poor fuel efficiency is one of two glaring shortcomings of the Explorer. Anyone who has switched to this SUV from any of its rivals knows it falls behind class leaders in refinement. Guess what? That is another problem that the Scorpion Verde All-Season Plus may solve.
Pirelli has placed a sound-absorbing device (a fancy name for a rubber patch) inside this tire’s tread. The device absorbs the majority of road noises. And together with the vibration-reducing pitch sequence, it will elevate your Ford Explorer’s refinement.
Yet there are two reasons why this model isn’t our top pick. For one, its 65,000-mile treadwear warranty is among the lowest of any A/S tire in this review. Secondly, this model’s average wet traction is nowhere near what you get from premium all-season tires.
- Delivers excellent fuel economy
- Offers noise- and vibration-free driving experience
- Enhanced steering response than most all-season tires
- Wet traction could have been better
#5. Cooper CS5 Ultra-Touring – Best Grand Touring Tire
The Cooper CS5 Ultra Touring is one of those grand touring tires that perform as reliably on SUVs as on passenger cars, muscle cars, and even minivans. Which is why this tire is one of our picks for Toyota Sienna, Ford Mustang, and Mazda 6.
Cooper’s StabiliEdge Performance Technology helps enhance this tire’s performance in three key areas. The technology enhances this tire’s cornering performance, gives it the high-speed stability you expect from grand touring tires, and enhances its responsiveness.
An M+S rating should raise your trust in this tire’s capabilities in light snow and mud. The rating is justified by the presence of full-depth 3D Micro-Gauge siping. These sipes are the major reason why the CS5 Ultra Touring can grip the road reliably in inclement weather.
Aside from that, its inboard shoulders and outboard shoulder blocks help shorten the tire’s braking distances in wet conditions. Together with the above sipes, these two design elements help make sure that this tire never skids on slippery surfaces.
All of this is not to say that this tire can rival a dedicated winter model. Its biting edges are simply not aggressive enough to plow through deep snow and ice. Neither does its tread compound has the flexibility needed to withstand sub-zero temperatures.
- Competitively priced
- Great traction and grip on dry tarmac
- Very good wet and light snow performance
- Some models are backed with a 70,000-mile warranty
- Not reliable on deep snow and ice
#6. Goodyear Assurance WeatherReady – Best All-Season
Three Peak Snowflake Mountain (3PMSF) emblem? Check. Excellent hydroplaning resistance? Present. Availability in all Ford Explorer tire sizes? Yup. All of this should make it clear why the Goodyear Assurance WeatherReady is one of the best A/S tires for this SUV.
Start with the 3PMSF emblem. This symbol indicates that the WeatherReady has what it takes to come in handy in mild-to-moderate wintry conditions. It also highlights that this model’s tread compound has the flexibility needed to stay useful in sub-zero temperatures.
This tire owes its excellent hydroplaning resistance to its dual aqua channel grooves. These grooves, or water channels, evacuate water from beneath the tread area. Their action not only minimizes the risk of aquaplaning. It also enhances this tire’s wet traction.
Goodyear has also equipped this tire with its Evolving Traction Grooves. These grooves are designed to bare their teeth when the tire’s built-in grooves start losing their aggressiveness. As such, they would help the tire avoid the dangerous loss of traction that comes with age.
All of this is not to say that the WeatherReady is faultless. This model has the joint-lowest treadwear warranty (60,000 miles) of all the tires we have seen until now. Still, if its features give any clue, this tire has all the attributes to outlast its average warranty.
- Comes with the 3PMSF emblem
- Offers excellent traction on wet roads
- Incredibly resistant to hydroplaning
- Relatively small treadwear warranty
#7. Goodyear Assurance MaxLife – Best Budget
The Goodyear Assurance MaxLife+ proves that you can get decent tires on a budget. This affordably priced model is as reliable as any of the tires we have seen until now. And while it does have a few shortcomings, they don’t impact this tire’s performance much.
A symmetric tread design, continuous center rib, and internal nylon steel belts work side-by-side to make this tire ultra-stable at high speeds. Their partnership is the reason why this tire’s cornering performance gives you the confidence to attack corners with a vengeance.
TredLife Technology is another of the standout features of this model. This technology works by enhancing this tire’s contact patch. In doing so, it increases the MaxLife’s contact with the road. This, in turn, enhances the tire’s tread life and improves its fuel economy.
Wet traction is another area where this tire defies its price tag. Multiple circumferential grooves perform a commendable job of evacuating water and keeping the contact patch dry. Thanks to these grooves, this model performs reliably on wet and slippery roads.
Given that it has a symmetric tread pattern, it shouldn’t be surprising to note that this model’s steering responsiveness is slower than a performance tire. The delayed steering response means it would take a few seconds to respond to the driver’s steering inputs.
- Backed with an 80,000-mile treadwear warranty
- Puts up incredible resistance to hydroplaning
- Outstanding traction and grip in wet conditions
- Slow to respond to steering inputs
#8. Cooper Discoverer HTP – Best Budget Highway Tire
The Cooper Discoverer HTP is a reliable, pocket-friendly tire for daily highway driving. It is one of those few models that don’t let their affordable asking price hamper their performance. Thus, don’t let this model escape your attention if you’re on a tight budget.
The coming together of serpentine sipes, biting edges, and grooves enhance this model’s wet performance. All three design elements help this tire grip the road reliably in slippery conditions, while the grooves enhance its hydroplaning resistance.
A computer-optimized tread pattern helps this tire solve a major pain point for Ford Explorer users. As stated above, this SUV falls behind its competitors in terms of refinement. The tread pattern reduces the gap by deflecting road noise and soaking vibrations.
Given what we have said till now, this model’s 65,000-mile treadwear warranty might appear uninspiring to you. But based on its budget asking price, we couldn’t have asked for more.
Yet there are a few shortcomings that its meager asking price cannot excuse. For a highway tire, the Discoverer HTP’s high-speed stability is bang-average. Similar is the case with its cornering performance, which is lackluster for a dedicated highway tire.
- Available at a budget price point
- Decent treadwear warranty for the price
- Excellent wet traction
- Cornering performance could have been better
#9. Yokohama Parada Spec X – Best Street Tire
The Yokohama Prada Spec X offers excellent high-speed stability, aggressive cornering performance and enhanced steering feedback at a budget price point. In doing so, this tire presents itself as one of the best street/sport Ford Explorer tires.
A stiff sidewall helps this tire earn its performance credentials. The sidewall’s flexibility is the reason why you can enter and leave corners at speed with this model. Its softness is also the force behind the tire responding to your steering inputs within seconds.
An aggressive tread pattern further strengthens this model’s street/sport cred. Its large tread elements offer improved handling and performance at higher speeds. The tread pattern’s multi-purpose design also keeps this tire glued to the road in summer conditions.
Unlike most sports tires, the Parada Spec X performs reliably in wet conditions. A single central groove and multiple additional grooves channel water quickly and effectively to minimize the risk of hydroplaning. Deep/angled sipes help it plow through light snow and ice.
However, as is with most sporty tires, the Parada Spec X isn’t backed with a treadwear warranty. This means you’ll be on your own if this tire exhausts its utility in the first year of driving.
- Offers superb cornering performance
- Cheaper than rival street/sport tires
- Offers amazing steering response and feedback
Doesn’t come with a treadwear warranty
#10. Michelin Latitude X-Ice Xi2 – Best Winter Tire
The Michelin Latitude X-Ice Xi2 has everything to offer a surefooted driving experience on snow-laden roads. This tire has the latest technologies, flexible tread compound and winter-specific design elements to safely carry you from point A to point B in harsh wintry conditions.
Start with the technologies. Michelin’s Cross Z-Sipes TM technology helps lock the sipes when you’re driving at high speeds. This ensures that nothing goes through the sipes to disturb their aggressiveness, resulting in more consistent road contact on the highway.
Next comes the tread compound. Like most dedicated winter tires, the X-Ice Xi2 has a tread compound that stays flexible at or close to sub-zero temperatures. There is zero danger of the tread compound stiffening up as the temperatures drop. This results in improved snow performance.
Yet another thing that we liked about this tire is its 40,000-mile treadwear warranty, which is excellent for a dedicated winter tire. In fact, the warranty is class-leading for a snow tire.
That said, there is one area in which this tire could have done a bit better. Even for a Michelin tire, the Latitude X-Ice Xi2 doesn’t come cheap. Its asking price might seem like a necessary expense for anyone who regularly drives on snow. For everyone else, it may prove to be a deal breaker.
- 40,000-mile treadwear warranty
- Offers excellent stability in winter conditions
- Has the biting edges to carry you from point A to point B on snow
- Steep asking price
Best Tires for Ford Explorer
Touring tires are the ideal option for most Ford Explorer owners. These tires strike a perfect balance between road manners, treadwear warranty and price. On top of that, the best touring tires are capable of lasting 5 – 6 years with minimal care.
Another characteristic of touring tires that Explorer owners might appreciate is refinement. As stated above, the Explorer’s drive isn’t as refined as that of its class-leading competitors. Touring tires will resolve this issue with their smooth ride quality, especially on the highway.
Bear in mind, though, that touring tires won’t cut it for the more powerful trims of the Explorer, like the 3.0 EcoBoost. Despite all their qualities, these models don’t have the biting power that would help them stop immediately if you’re pressing the pedal too hard.
Do you use your Explorer for towing or hauling? If so, highway tires might be an option worth considering. These tires come with higher load ratings than their touring counterparts, the main difference between touring and highway tires. As such, they are better suited for carrying heavier loads.
Another difference between highway and touring tires is that the former come with tougher casings. Some of them even feature cut- and chip-resistant sidewalls and are thus ideal for driving on dirt roads. All these qualities make them a better choice for heavy-duty driving.
There is one area where touring tires fare better. These models are backed with more generous warranties than their highway counterparts. While we have seen touring tires backed for as many as 100,000 miles, it is rare for a highway tire to cross the 70,000-mile mark.
If you own the Explorer 3.0 EcoBoost, which is one of the more powerful trims of this SUV, street/sport tires might be right for you. These models offer excellent traction during hard cornering and are extremely quick to respond to steering inputs.
Braking distances are also much shorter with these tires, especially when compared with highway and touring models. They also give amazing steering feedback to the person sitting behind the wheel, giving you the full experience of driving a sporty vehicle.
Remember that street/sport tires are designed to last many years. Had that been the case, all of them would be backed with generous warranties (they aren’t). Furthermore, these models are less refined and make more noise on the street and the highway.
What to Consider when Choosing Tires for Ford Explorer
Multiple estimates have shown that the Ford Explorer isn’t the most fuel-efficient SUV on the market. This sub-urban vehicle’s mileage (20mpg city; 27 mpg highway) is much lower than its competitors, such as Kia Telluride, Jeep Grand Cherokee, Ford Bronco, and others.
As such, if you don’t want this model’s average fuel economy to pinch you in the pocket, opt for tires with low rolling resistance. Such tires will put less pressure on your Explorer’s engine to keep rolling, saving you from getting punished at the pump.
Treadwear grade is a rating awarded by the US Department of Transportation National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. It demonstrates how many miles the manufacturer promises the tire’s tread will last before requiring replacement.
A treadwear grade of 200 would indicate that the tire you’re looking at would last 200 times longer than an average tire. This means that the higher the number, the longer the tire’s tread will last. Make sure to buy a set of tires with a treadwear rating of 250 or higher.
What are the road conditions out there? If it rarely snows in your part of the woods, you’d be better off with a set of touring, highway or street/sport tires. All three tire types have the ability to perform at their best in summer and in mild, wet conditions.
However, if you regularly drive on snow-laden roads in the winter months, purchase one set of tires from the above three categories and another set of dedicated winter tires. As you cannot use dedicated winter tires on summer roads without risking your vehicle’s stability.
Frequently Asked Questions
What tires come on Ford Explorer?
Here are the standard tire sizes on the current generation Ford Explorer trims:
- Base Model Explorer: P255/65R18 Hankook Kinergy GT tires
- Explorer with upgraded 20-inch wheel: P255/55R20 Michelin Primacy A/S
- Explorer with upgraded 21-inch wheel: P275/56R21 Pirelli Scorpion Zero A/S
When should Ford Explorer tires be replaced?
Make sure to replace your Ford Explorer tires with the remaining tread depth is less than 2/32 of an inch. You can check the remaining tread depth by inserting a penny (Lincoln’s head upside down and facing you) into the tread groove. If you can still see all of Lincoln’s head, tread depth is below 2/32-inch.
How long should Ford Explorer tires last?
According to Ford, you should replace your tires if they are more than six years old. However, you might want to replace them early if any of these signs appear: remaining tread depth is less than 2/32″, vibrations while driving, sudden/frequent loss of tire pressure, and tire veering to one side while driving.
Ford Explorer has everything to be the perfect SUV for the entire family. It offers plenty of cargo space, provides massive legroom and headroom in front and back seats and offers the lively acceleration that will help you pass obstinate drivers on the highway.
The only thing that this SUV lacks is a set of tires that will help you make the most of its qualities. Which is why we have come up with this comprehensive guide. All the tires reviewed above are better than this SUV’s OEM tires and should thus be installed without much further delay.