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7 Best Winter Tires For The New Subaru Forester, Outback, Crosstrek, And Ascent

What are the best tires for the new 2020 Subaru Forester, Outback, Crosstrek or Ascent? Check out the best winter tires for your AWD vehicle.


If you have a new 2020 Subaru Forester, Outback, Crosstrek or Ascent, or older model you are probably asking the question, “Why do I need snow tires if I have all-wheel-drive?” You want the “stickiest” tires on your vehicle to get the car’s Symmetrical all-wheel-drive power to the ground. They will also help you brake and steer better.

Not all tires are best for driving on snow and ice and you want tires (known as snow or “winter” tires which better describe their function since they perform better in cold temperatures, not just on snow). Your new AWD Subaru comes equipped from the factory with “all-season” tires, but they are not the best for severe conditions.

2020 Subaru Forester

Just like you wouldn’t wear flip flops when there is snow and ice on the sidewalk, you put on a pair of shoes or boots to give you the best footing. It’s the same idea with your Subaru’s tires. If you live in an area where snow and ice regularly accumulate, winter tires will noticeably reduce wheel spin and sliding on slick surfaces.

Your Subaru Outback, Crosstrek, Forester or Ascent will perform admirably with all-season tires in a variety of temperatures and conditions, but take them off and put on a good set of winter tires if you want the best traction, especially if you live in a cold climate. Winter tires combined with Subaru’s Symmetrical all-wheel-drive are the perfect match.

Subaru Outback

This automotive journalist lives at 8300 feet elevation west of Denver and we’ve seen many all-wheel-drive vehicles stuck on the side of the road because they didn’t have the right tires. So we’ve done some shopping and found seven of the best winter tires designed to get you through the harshest winter driving conditions. Click on each to see which is best for your specific Subaru and if it’s available in your area.

When shopping for winter rubber, look for an Alpine pictograph (a snowflake inside a mountain) on the tire’s sidewall. When you see this icon, you can be assured it meets more stringent winter traction performance requirements. This includes snowy, slippery roads and low temperatures. All the tires listed below have the highest winter rating.

7 best winter tires

The Bridgestone Blizzak WS 80 is highly rated and offers the latest in winter performance for coupes, sedans, minivans, and crossovers. Nokian Hakkapeliitta R2A is a tire for drivers who require driving comfort, tangible fuel savings, and non-studded winter tire technology with the best safety characteristics. Continental WinterContact SI is the ultimate winter tire with powerful grip in rain, snow, and ice using their PolarPlus Technology in tough winter conditions.

Torque News Writer John Goreham says, "I've used Bridgestone Blizzaks on many vehicles. They seem to work best on my 2016 Forester. The added stopping and turning performance are really noticeable.”

Image credit (John Goreham)

The Michelin X-Ice Xi3 is built to take on snow and ice providing superior winter performance, giving you winter driving performance even in the harshest conditions. Pirelli Ice Zero FR is a good choice for those who drive in Nordic winter conditions looking for a high level of stability and control with superior driving comfort.

Yokohama iceGUARD W. Drive V905 delivers balanced winter traction. With its increased edge effect and all-new compound, the V905 will keep your car ready for the wintery roads. The Gislaved NordFrost 200 is an ideal choice for drivers of cars and SUVs requiring a high-end tire that delivers strong performance on snowy and icy roads: They offer a smooth, quiet ride at a lower price than many competitors.

Make sure you get four winter tires that are the same size and of identical category in order to maintain optimal driving performance. Buying the right winter tires can give you instant “bolt-on” traction, confidence and control for your 2020 Subaru Forester, Outback, Crosstrek, or Ascent or older model Subaru with all-wheel-drive.

You Might Also Like: Need An Extreme Winter Vehicle? 3 Reasons Subaru Forester Is The Best

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Photo credit: Subaru USA


Digitaldoc (not verified)    October 13, 2019 - 12:27PM

Around here in the Northeast, nobody I know changes to winter tires in the snow season. I know some Subaru owners, and they keep the all seasons for the winter as well.

Raj Padmanaban (not verified)    November 22, 2019 - 2:06PM


I have a 2016 Subaru Forester, 2.5i Limited Edition. I'm thinking of getting winter tires. I have 18" tires but the dealer recommends downsizing to 17". However, my mechanic suggests I should stick to 18" . I don't know who I should listen to.
I would greatly appreciate your opinion. Thank you.

Jim R (not verified)    October 29, 2020 - 9:04PM

In reply to by Raj Padmanaban (not verified)

It's cheaper to buy tires and wheels in the smaller size. When I had to upsize to 17 inches it cost $200 more for the set. Had the 16 inch sizes been available, I could have bought steel wheels for $20 less each. The thing to keep in mind is tire height and tread width. In my case I moved from 215/60-16 all seasons to 215/55-17 and the width is nearly identical and the height is less than 1% smaller. Therefore, the speedometer is barely off. Maybe 0.6 mph at highway speeds. Just be sure your cars brakes can handle the smaller sized wheels. On my wife's honda accord EX, I actually did the downS
sizing to 16inch steel wheels and it cost me only 600 for her set after a 50 dollar rebate.

Bruce Musler (not verified)    August 12, 2020 - 10:55PM

I bought my wife Michelin snow tires for her 2015 Forrester.
She almost completey spun out driving home from skiing one day on the highway.
Good snow tires would never have done that going straight on the highway
driving conservatively. I heard later everyone in the car was terrified. I bought the Michelin ties the next day and they are highly rated and terrific.

Jim R (not verified)    October 29, 2020 - 9:12PM

In reply to by Bruce Musler (not verified)

With the cost of insurance deductibles, buying a safer set of winter tires is a no brainier if they can help avoid a single accident. Just buy them mounted on their own rims to speed installation and avoid mounting and balancing charges every year. They also save mileage on your regular tires so those last longer too. Just have a place to store each set when not in use. I bought a wall rack when we got the second set. Otherwise I used an inexpensive plastic shelf 18 inches deep.