Best SUV and Truck Tires of 2021 for All Season and Snow Specific Driving Conditions
Why Now Is The Right Time To Shop For Tires
With fall just around the corner and SUV prices beginning to drop with some great discounted deals, now is the time to plan ahead and decide what tires you are going to have placed on your vehicle.
In fact, by learning right now what tires are available and a good match for your vehicle and driving needs, there’s no reason why you cannot make a preferred tire selection part of the bargaining process when negotiating with a car dealer on a new car or SUV purchase.
Choosing new tires for your vehicle can be confusing. Yes, you may own an SUV. But, is it a compact SUV, a mid-size SUV, or a large SUV? Which matters quite a bit. In general, the smaller SUVs can use traditional car tires that offer a lower cost in tire replacement. However, larger SUVs and trucks need tires designed for more rigorous wear and tear.
As such, automotive analysts from Consumer Reports recently released their findings on tires designed for the larger SUV models and trucks that are categorized as all-season SUV, all-season truck, all-terrain truck, and winter/snow truck tires. Their findings within each classification of tire include those tires that make smart shopping sense for consumers who need to replace their original tires or perhaps wish to specify what tires they want on their new car purchase.
The Tire Tests
Rather than take for granted what tire manufacturers claim with their tires uses and performance, Consumer Reports' analysts road test a wide selection of tires on closed tracks, open roads, and yes---even on hockey rinks to provide a controlled test surface to compare tires under identical ice conditions.
All tires were evaluated for their resistance to hydroplaning on wet roads; braking and handling on dry roads; comfort and quietness (some tires are noisier than others); and, their rolling resistance which affects not only tire wear, but fuel efficiency as well.
Tire Test Results
That said, here is a summary of CR’s best SUV and truck tires in several key categories:
1. The Top Recommended Best SUV and Truck All-Season Tire---The Michelin Defender T+H is their top choice for either the larger SUVs and for trucks due to its superior dry surface braking, road handling and resistance to hydroplaning performance.
Priced at $156.99 - $157.99 per tire, this all-season tire provides a good overall blend of the aforementioned tire qualities during testing including a projected tread life of a remarkable 85,000 miles.
For a less expensive cost-saving alternative in this category, they also recommend the General Altimax RT43 as a solid performance tire with a projected tread life of 70,000 miles.
2. The Top Recommended SUV All-Season Tire---Especially notable for crossover vehicles, this tire impressed the analysts that in spite of having excellent snow-gripping traction, it also did very well on cleared roads without losing any of its traction abilities.
In addition it is available in a wide range of sizes to cover the most popular SUVs. Priced at $215.08 - $224.87 per tire, it’s a reasonable buy; however, it’s estimated tread life is less than other nearly-similarly rated tires at 40,000 miles.
3. The Top Recommended All-Season Truck Tire---Especially for trucks, Continental’s TerrainContact H/T is CR’s choice based on its good performance in most tested driving conditions to meet the needs of most truck owners.
At a cost of $166 per tire and a projected tread life of 95,000 miles, it came out on top of other similar brands of tires.
4. The Top Recommended All-Terrain Truck Tire--- The Continental TerrainContact A/T is engineered for a mix of some off-road and paved-road use for all-terrain capable trucks.
Consumer Reports analysts note that when selecting an all-terrain tire that shoppers need to be aware that there are tradeoffs between qualities such as noise, dry and wet condition grip, and rolling resistance. However, they found that the Continental TerrainContact A/T was surprisingly quiet for an all-terrain tire and earned average or better scores in all test categories and is expected to last up to 55,000 miles. At $123 per tire, it’s a good choice.
5. The Top Recommended Winter/Snow Tire---The Bridgestone Blizzak WS90 rates best with its excellent snow traction abilities as well as its above average dry braking, resistance to hydroplaning, and ride comfort performance qualities.
Because it is a winter/snow tire, it has extra deep tread that allows a vehicle to handle snow significantly better than an all-season tire, and therefore does not qualify for an accurate comparison when discussing expected tread life against other tire types. At a cost of $131per tire, it is another reasonable tire buy.
6. The Top Recommended Winter/Snow Truck Tire---Although a relatively pricey winter/snow tire at a cost of $258.96 per tire, the Michelin Latitude X-Ice XI2 is a clear demonstration that no all-season tire---as Consumer Reports puts it---“...can claw through harsh winter weather as good as these specialty tires.”
According to their analysis: The Michelin Latitude X-Ice XI2 delivers excellent snow traction and rolling resistance in our tests, along with very good levels of noise. Its scores for handling and hydroplaning are just fair, and as is the case for all models in this category, wet braking distances are poor.
Tire Testing on Ice
Curious about how tires for their ice-gripping properties are tested? Take a look at this Consumer Reports’ video where experts demonstrate how CR tests tires for icy conditions.
How Well Tires Stop on Ice
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Timothy Boyer is Torque News Tesla and EV reporter based in Cincinnati. Experienced with early car restorations, he regularly restores older vehicles with engine modifications for improved performance. Follow Tim on Twitter at @TimBoyerWrites for daily Tesla and electric vehicle news.