I love driving an SUV. I think it’s one of the best vehicles for commuting, off-roading, and carrying out those wonderful cross-country trips – even if you’re the only passenger. Its imposing exterior, paired with a comfortable interior, makes me a huge fan.
But when you’re driving an SUV, you have to make sure it’s equipped with the proper set of tires. Or else dangerous scenarios may arise. Think of excessive body roll and increased wear rate (which, in turn, may open an altogether new Pandora’s box of dangers).
What makes choosing SUV tires difficult is that there is no one-size-fits-all tire. Every tire demands a trade-off. Some may be good on dry roads but struggle in the rain. Others can keep your SUV stable on snow, only to hit its fuel economy, and, your pocket.
You should thus be prepared to make a trade-off. Opt for all-season tires if you primarily use your SUV for trips to/from the office. Select all-terrain tires if you feel like doing off-road adventures. Or go for snow tires when there is, well, snow on the roads.
Best All-Season Tires
There are lots of good reasons to install all-season tires on your SUV. The most important of which is convenience, as all-season tires don’t require seasonal changes. Other benefits include a refined ride, enhanced fuel economy, and safer handling in the rain.
#1. Michelin CrossClimate 2 SUV
Michelin’s CrossClimate 2 ticks several boxes for the average SUV driver.
Start with year-round stability. This tire stays glued to the road regardless of whether the roads are dry or wet. An all-season tread compound is to thank for that. The compound also makes the rubber flexible for excellent performance in the snow.
It also offers a quiet and comfortable ride. Why should you trust my word? Because I have tested this tire first-hand. During the ride, its road manners were beyond superb, letting only a modicum of road noise inside the cabin. I was thus won over.
This tire also carries the 3PMSF and M+S ratings. Any tire that comes with one of these ratings (particularly the 3PMSF one) is considered safe for driving on snow. That this tire has both tells me that it can go so far as to replace dedicated winter tires.
Lastly, with data indicating that an average American driver covers around 15,000 miles every year, you can expect at least four years of road life from the CrossClimate 2. Why is that so? Because it comes with a 60,000-mile treadwear warranty.
- Offers a quiet and comfortable ride
- Extremely short braking distances in the rain
- Backed by a 60,000-mile treadwear warranty
- Eye-wateringly pricey
#2. Continental CrossContact LX25
The CrossContact LX25 is one of the best all-season tires on the market because of its impressive year-round performance as well as superb traction on wet and light wintry roads.
This tire also has the stability needed to minimize body roll, a problem many SUVs pose at high speeds. Due to its ability to stay glued to the road, your SUV won’t tilt to one side, even as you enter bends. As such, there won’t be any concern for your safety.
Its fuel economy isn’t bad, either. Many users I have spoken to claimed to achieve notable savings after installing this tire. Should you believe their word? Independent tests, which show that its rolling resistance is among the lowest in class, give every reason to.
A quiet and comfortable ride is also guaranteed, thanks to Continental’s Comfort Ride Technology helps this tire absorb ride bumps like a champ. This technology places a foam beneath the tread to smoothen out the ride without affecting steering performance.
Best of all, it comes with a 70,000-mile treadwear warranty. This suggests that it’s designed to provide years of road life under normal driving conditions.
- Plenty of traction on wet and light wintry roads
- Demonstrates excellent aquaplaning resistance
- 70,000-mile treadwear warranty
- Not the best for spirited driving
#3. Pirelli Scorpion AS Plus 3
The Pirelli Scorpion AS Plus 3 possesses every attribute of the modern-day SUV tire, which isn’t surprising considering it was only released in July 2023.
At the time of writing, this tire has been on the market for over six months. During this period, the sentiment shared by its users has been nothing but positive. Many drivers who have used this tire claim to be awe-struck with its dry and wet performance.
They also wax lyrical about its fuel economy. Again, that isn’t surprising at all, considering Pirelli has a history of making fuel-efficient tires. Many of the AS Plus 3’s predecessors – Verde All-Season Plus II, Cinturato All Season – also maximized mileage.
Where this tire behaves better is on the snow. Braking distances are short, straight-line tracking is impeccable and aquaplaning resistance is outstanding. Plus, while it isn’t an off-road tire per see, gravel or dirt roads cannot pose a problem for this tire.
Best of all, it is available in 37 different sizes, covering 17 to 22-inch wheels. Pirelli says that such an extended size range helps it cover more than 80% of the crossover market.
- Excellent grip in snow
- Superb cold weather traction
- Excellent wear rate
- Ride could be more refined
#4. Firestone Destination LE3
The Firestone Destination LE3 isn’t your average all-season tire.
Mainly because your standard A/S tire gets loud the moment you get off the highway. In contrast, this tire’s tread growl remains unobtrusive even on broken roads. This means you won’t have to find (and drive on) paved roads to enjoy a quiet ride.
Another difference is that it can easily navigate harsh wintry conditions. Thanks to multiple grooves (water and slush evacuating channels) in the tread and sipes (biting edges), it offers decent grip on snow and ice. The risk of losing control is bare minimum.
Yet another difference is that it’s backed with a 70,000-mile treadwear warranty. Now, if you own a car, such a warranty might seem standard. But ask people who have been driving an SUV forever, and you’d realize not many SUV tires cross this threshold.
Finally, in opting for this tire, you don’t have anything to lose. Not at least in the first 90 days of its purchase, as that is the period for which its moneyback guarantee stays effective.
- Stays quiet off the highway
- Can tackle snow and ice
- 70,000-mile treadwear warranty
- Off-road capabilities aren’t the best
Best All-Terrain Tires
#5. Falken Wildpeak A/T Trail – Best for Highway Driving
The Falken Wildpeak A/T Trail is one of those tires that offer the best of both worlds. That too at a pretty reasonable price, especially when compared with that of its fellow premium A/T tires.
On the one end, this tire tracks straight down the highway. You don’t have to make steering corrections to keep it follow the lane. Its high-speed stability is pretty good, too. This means you can push it to its limits without risking your SUV’s stability.
Two more things prove that this tire lets you have your cake and eat it too. The first is that it carries the 3PMSF symbol (an indicator of severe snow performance). Another is the 50,000-mile treadwear warranty, best in class for an all-terrain tire.
On the other end, a sturdy sidewall lays bare its off-roading credentials. A tough sidewall is a non-negotiable requirement for any tire designed for off-roading. That the A/T trail has it means you can count on it to resist cuts, chips, and punctures.
Despite being tough on the outside, the sidewall has innumerable little pores on its inner side. What function do they carry out? The pores help with heat dissipation. In doing so, they minimize the risk of heat build-up, and, by extension, blow-outs.
- Available at a reasonable price
- Performs decently on off-roads
- Solid treadwear warranty
- High weight could hurt your SUV’s fuel economy
#6. BFGoodrich Mud-Terrain T/A KM3 – Best for Off-Roading
The BFGoodrich Mud-Terrain T/A KM3 is an excellent option for SUV drivers who frequently do rock-crawling, mudding, or trail driving.
Start with why it’s one of the best tires for driving in the mud. Data released by BFG indicates that the T/A KM3 offers 5% improved traction in the mud. Not impressed? You should be, considering that the T/A KM2 was no shrinking violet on loose terrains either.
Numbers also indicate how good this tire is for rock crawling. Its puncture resistance, a key indicator of stone crawling, is among the highest in the class. So are its self-cleaning abilities, which enable this tire to maintain traction without becoming clogged with rocks.
This tire’s snow driving credentials are equally compelling. It carries the 3PMSF symbol which indicates that it has met specific standards for use in severe snow. This symbol is commonly found on winter tires, making this tire a good choice for driving in severe snow.
Bear in mind, though, that this tire isn’t made for highway driving. Its above colleague would thus be a better purchase if you rarely venture off paved roads.
- Offers outstanding traction in deep mud
- Is an incredibly efficient rock crawler
- Decent traction on loose and hard-packed snow
- Isn’t the best option for highway driving
Best Snow Tires
Snow tires are available in two types: studded and studless.
Studless tires are designed to provide better traction on snow-laden roads, whereas studded tires offer better stability in icy conditions. However, some places ban the use of studded tires due to possible road damage. So be sure to check with your local laws before investing in studded tires.
#7. Michelin Pilot Alpin 5 SUV – Best Studless Winter Tire
The Pilot Alpin 5 SUV shows why Michelin is among the market leaders in the winter tire category.
This tire offers superior road traction and grip, no matter how low the temperatures fall. Its aquaplaning resistance (measured by how quickly a tire gets ride of water) is equally exemplary. As such, you won’t have to worry about skidding on icy roads.
Tests by the German magazine Auto Zeitung delivered more good news. Not only did this tire finished 1st in the wet braking tests, it also earned top marks for snow traction and wet handling. The result? You can count on this tire to perform well on the ice.
All of which is what you normally expect from premium winter tires. What you don’t expect – and what this tire does offer – is good handling on the dry. Equally unexpected is its low rolling resistance, which should translate to significant fuel savings.
Best of all, the Pilot Alpin 5 comes with a 30,000-mile treadwear warranty. This is significant considering that 99% of winter tires don’t carry a mileage guarantee.
- Excellent snow and ice traction
- Low rolling resistance for a winter tire
- Shortest wet braking distance in the class
- Average noise levels
#8. Nokian Hakkapeliitta 10 SUV – Best Studded Winter Tire
The Hakakapeliitta 10 SUV is currently the market’s leading studded winter tire.
Which shouldn’t be surprising considering the model it has replaced. The Hakkapeliitta 9, this tire’s predecessor, was a market leader in the same category.
Compared with its previous version, this tire features 16% more studs. Nokian has also added more rubber at the base of this tire, while stiffening its rib and adding more sipes.
The result of all these improvements? Added traction on snow and ice, studs that last much longer inside the rubber, and an enhanced overall wet grip.
To further sweeten the deal, Nokian has equipped this tire with Silent Drive Technology. Independent tests reveal that the technology has lowered cabin noise by as much as 6 decibel.
Unfortunately, though, the technology isn’t available on all versions. Only models designed for electric vehicles (EVs) have it. This means that all the versions aren’t equally silent.
- Offers remarkable ice and snow traction
- Incredibly quiet for a studded snow tire
- Offers better fuel economy than its predecessor
- Silent Drive Technology only comes on the EV version
How To Choose SUV Tires
In general, there are two major differences between SUV and car tires. SUV tires usually have higher load ratings to withstand the added weight of these vehicles. Another difference, one which you may already be aware of, is that SUV tires come in larger wheel sizes.
If you only use your SUV for commuting purposes, all-season tires are a safe bet. These tires will join their forces with your crossover’s suspension for a refined ride. Also, unlike their counterparts from previous years, today’s A/S tires can also be used in colder climates.
However, if you use your SUV for off-roading, all-terrain or mud terrain tires are a must. These tires have aggressive tread patterns for better traction on sand, mud, dirt and gravel.
Lastly, if your area receives more than its fair share of snow, consider installing dedicated winter tires. These tires have flexible tread compounds that keep them from ‘hardening’ in sub-zero temperatures. They also offer reduced braking distances than all-season tires.