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The Top Winter-Rated Tire Brands For Your All-Wheel-Drive Subaru SUV

What are the best winter/snow tires for your Subaru Forester, Outback, Crosstrek, or Ascent all-wheel-drive SUV, and do you need snow tires?

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If you own a Subaru Forester, Outback, Crosstrek, or Ascent, you are probably asking the question, “Why do I need snow tires if I have all-wheel-drive?” Or can I get by with the all-season tires that came on my new car? It all depends on where you live and how much extreme winter weather you will experience.

If you live in a northern climate, you want the “stickiest” tires on your vehicle to get the Subaru’s Symmetrical all-wheel-drive power to the ground. They will also give you improved braking and steering. Here are the highest-rated winter/snow tire brands from Consumer Reports. Each tire manufacturer has different winter tires, and you can choose what’s best for your vehicle from the 10-best tire brands list below.

2022 Subaru Forester, 2022 Subaru Crosstrek, 2022 Subaru Outback
photo credit: Brilliance Subaru

Winter tires combined with Subaru’s Symmetrical all-wheel-drive are the perfect match. You may be asking the question, “Why do I need snow tires if I have an all-wheel-drive vehicle?” Or can I get by with the all-season tires that came on my new car?

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 Subaru Forester, Outback, Crosstrek, and Ascent models come equipped from the factory with “all-season” tires, and they are fine for mild winter weather, but they are not the best for severe road conditions.

2022 Subaru Forester, 2022 Subaru Crosstrek, 2022 Subaru Outback
photo credit: Subaru of New England -

Just like you wouldn’t wear flip-flops when there are snow and ice on the sidewalk, you wear shoes or boots to give you the best footing. It’s the same idea as your 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.

The Subaru Forester, Outback, Crosstrek, or Ascent will perform admirably with all-season tires in various 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 climate where you encounter severe weather.

2022 Subaru Forester, 2022 Subaru Crosstrek, 2022 Subaru Outback
photo credit: Subaru of New England

When shopping for winter rubber, look for an Alpine pictograph (a snowflake inside a mountain) on the tire’s sidewall. You know it meets more stringent winter traction performance requirements when you see the icon, including snowy, slippery roads and low temperatures.

What are the best winter tire brands for your all-wheel-drive Subaru?

Consumer Reports arrives at its best tire brands ranking from winter/snow tire testing at its Auto Test Center and regional ski mountains and does braking tests on the controlled surface of a local ice skating rink. They also compiled results from 15,000 owner surveys who bought tires in the preceding 12 months and asked them about their overall satisfaction.

The 10-Best Tires brands in owner satisfaction in alphabetical order are listed in the image below. You can check out the 28 Most and Least Satisfying Brands for Winter/Snow Tires by checking out the complete report here.

2022 Subaru Forester, 2022 Subaru Crosstrek, 2022 Subaru Outback
photo credit: Consumer Reports

Be aware that winter tires have softer rubber for maximum sticky grip, so they will wear out quicker when driven on dry pavement.

Make sure you get four winter/snow tires of the same size and identical category to maintain optimal driving performance. Buying the right winter tires can give you instant “bolt-on” traction, confidence, and control for your 2022 Subaru Forester, Outback, Crosstrek, or Ascent all-wheel-drive SUV.

You Might Also Like: The 10 Best AWD Cars This Winter - Subaru Dominates The List With 4 Models

Denis Flierl has invested over 30 years in the automotive industry in a consulting role working with every major car brand. He is an accredited member of the Rocky Mountain Automotive Press. Check out Subaru Report where he covers all of the Japanese automaker's models. More stories can be found on the Torque News Subaru page. Follow Denis on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

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Paul (not verified)    October 23, 2021 - 4:02PM

That list of manufacturers allegedly organized by positive feedback is suspect. I dislike all of them. For my Subaru for the winter, I go hakkapeliitta ONLY they are absolutely king of snow tires, the very first maker of snow tires were nokian ... and these guys bought them.

David (not verified)    October 23, 2021 - 4:54PM

What? No mention of Nokian?

I have been running Nokian Hakkapeliitta winter tires for 20 years and wouldn’t go through a Canadian winter without them

George Haeh (not verified)    October 23, 2021 - 6:20PM

I put on Blizzaks beginning winter 2013. The tread was getting low last winter; so, left them on through the summer and they work fine. In fact Alberta EMS leaves them on year-round. I have a new set that will go on when snow's forecast.

The one thing to remember when changing over is that Blizzaks are directional. It can get exciting if the tires are mounted backwards.

John Whittaker (not verified)    October 24, 2021 - 9:18AM

I was surprised not to see Nokians on the list. Is that because the quantity they sell in the US was not high enough to make the review? Or are these only tires manufactured in the US?

Jason (not verified)    October 26, 2021 - 1:22PM

Nokians should definitely be on this list. I run them in the winter on my STI and they're the best winter tire I've ever used (I've tried a few of the other top-rated ones). And I have Nokian all-weather tires on my wife's SUV since they do better in the winter than all-season tires. Simply posting a list from Consumer Reports isn't good research, if you ask me.