Best Tires for SUVs

Which are the best tires for your SUV? That depends on who you ask. The manufacturer’s priorities when they decided on tires for your SUV may be different than yours. You may place a high value on things like fuel economy and a smooth ride or maybe you’re focused on winter weather capability. Whatever your priority, the good news is that there are multiple tire choices for your SUV.

There are also a lot of choices when it comes to SUVs. There are small SUVs such as the Ford Escape, Toyota RAV4, Honda CR-V, and Jeep Cherokee. Then there are midsize SUVs including the Hyundai Santa Fe, Kia Sorento, Volkswagen Atlas, and Honda Pilot. Sitting at the top of the heap are large SUVs such as the Ford Expedition, Chevrolet Tahoe, and Nissan Armada.

That’s a wide range of potential tire sizes for a wide range of vehicles. Here are your best bets for tires for your SUV depending on which SUV you park in your driveway;

Small SUVs

Best 17-inch Tires for Small SUVs (Includes Ford Escape)

Best 18-inch Tires for Small SUVs (Includes Honda CR-V)

Best 19-inch Tires for Small SUVs (Includes Toyota RAV4)

Midsize SUVs

Best 18-inch Tires for Midsize SUVs (Includes Honda Pilot)

Best 19-inch Tires for Midsize SUVs (Includes Kia Sorento)

Best 20-inch Tires for Midsize SUVs (Includes Volkswagen Atlas)

Best 21-inch Tires for Midsize SUVs (Includes Ford Explorer)

Large SUVs

Best 18-inch Tires for Large SUVs (Includes Toyota Sequoia)

Best 20-inch Tires for Large SUVs (Includes Nissan Armada)

Best 22-inch Tires for Large SUVs (Includes Chevrolet Tahoe)

Original Equipment SUV Tires

There are a wide range of tire sizes for SUVs that not only vary from one SUV to the next, but even within the trim range of a single SUV depending on which one you buy. The key is getting a tire that fits the wheel you have on your vehicle, so start by determining the size of your wheels and then research the best tires in that size.

Top Replacement Tire Brands for SUVs

We’ve recommended three replacement tires in a variety of sizes, with moderately priced and cost-no-object varieties. No matter your budget, there are plenty of choices available for your SUV. All of these tires have ratings of four-stars or higher based on consumer surveys and all are based on the 2020 model year:

17-inch Tires for SUVs

  • Budget: Riken Raptor VR - This tire is an all-season grand tourer that offers good handling, a smooth ride, and year round traction for only $84 per tire.
  • Moderately Priced: Pirelli Scorpion Verde All Season Plus II - Coming in at $142.30, these Pirellis received high consumer ratings in all weather conditions and top marks for comfort.
  • Cost-No-Object: Michelin Latitude Sport 3 - At $191 per tire, the Latitude Sport 3 is a more expensive proposition, but gets high marks for performance in wet or dry conditions.

18-inch Tires for SUVs

  • Budget: Laufenn S Fit AS - Priced at $110 per tire, consumers gave these high ratings for comfort and dry weather performance, but not for winter weather.
  • Moderately Priced: Michelin Defender LTX M/S - Long tread life, all-season capability, and a smooth ride are yours for $207 per tire.
  • Cost-No-Object: Michelin Primacy MXM4 - At $264 per tire, you are paying a premium, but are getting a tire highly rated for comfort, and both wet and dry performance.

19-inch Tires for SUVs

  • Budget: Laufenn S Fit AS - Priced at $115 per tire, is again a top budget pick with high ratings for comfort and dry weather performance, but not for winter weather.
  • Moderately Priced: Michelin Primacy MXM4 - Priced from $209, this tire balances comfort with good performance.
  • Cost-No-Object: Michelin Latitude Sport 3 - At $242 per tire, the Latitude Sport 3 gets high ratings for its performance in both wet and dry conditions.

20-inch Tires for SUVs

  • Budget: Laufenn S Fit AS - You may be sensing a trend as this tire keeps coming up as a solid budget choice. Priced at $128 in this size, it performs best in wet and dry road conditions.
  • Moderately Priced: Goodyear Assurance WeatherReady - This is a solid performer with high marks for snow, wet, and dry conditions, good treadwear performance, and a comfortable ride at $205 per tire.
  • Cost-No-Object: Goodyear Eagle Sport All-Season - Solid performance in all types of weather and a comfortable ride are yours for $267 per tire.

21-inch Tires for SUVs

  • Budget: Bridgestone Dueler H/L Alenza Plus - At this size, even budget tires get pricey. At $260 per tire, the Dueler gives you a long treadlife, smooth ride, and year-round traction.
  • Moderately Priced: Vredestein Quatrac Pro - Priced at $290 per tire, these receive high marks from consumers in all weather along with high ratings for comfort and treadwear.
  • Cost-No-Object: Pirelli Scorpion Verde All Season - At $315 per tire, this all-season gets high marks for wet and dry performance and helps optimize fuel efficiency.

22-inch Tires for SUVs

  • Budget: Kumho Crugen HP71 - Affordably priced at $186 per tire, this all-season does best in dry weather and offers high ratings for comfort.
  • Moderately Priced: Bridgestone Blizzak DM-V2 - Rated for severe ice and snow, the Blizzak is priced at $301 per tire with high ratings in all weather conditions.
  • Cost-No-Object: Pirelli Scorpion Winter - At $397 per tire, theScorpion has a high price, but receives top marks across the board for wet, dry, and snow performance.

When Should You Replace Tires?

There are two regular milestones that will suggest that it’s time to replace the tires, not only on your SUV, but any vehicle: Time and mileage.

Considering most drivers cover between 12,000 and 15,000 miles per year, the vast majority of SUV owners are going to be past the mileage that their original equipment tires were intended to cover before they’ll go past the tire’s usable age.

The life of your tire can be somewhat predicted by its UTQG (Uniform Tire Quality Grade) rating. Tire manufacturers apply their own grades to tires for treadwear, traction and temperature. When you’re researching tires online, a UTQG will come up next to the tire name in three digits and a number (ex. 500 A A).

You can glean a bit of info from the tires by reading this rating:

  • 500 - The durability rating of a tire, compared to a control tire with a treadlife of 100. To obtain a grade, tires run on a 640 kilometer course for 11,520 km. Every 1,280 km, the tread depth is measured, to provide a projected tread life. The higher the number, the longer the predicted treadlife.
  • A - This is the Traction rating of a tire, which indicates how well a tire stops in wet conditions. The highest letter grade is AA, followed by A, B and C.
  • A - The second letter in the UTQG is the Temperature rating, which indicates how well a tire holds up to extreme heat. A is the highest, followed by B and C.

Original equipment Bridgestone Dueler H/L Alenza tires on the Chevrolet Tahoe earn a solid 600 A A UTGQ rating. Unless they are damaged, these tires could last as long as 60,000 miles before you need to replace them.

The other consideration is time. Each tire has a raised date code on the sidewall. The number begins with the letters “DOT” followed by 12 digits in three four-digit groups. The date code is the third group of four digits. To decipher the date of your tires, the first two digits represent the WEEK the tire was produced, and the second two digits represent the YEAR.

For example, if your tire’s date code is 3217, that indicates the tire was manufactured in the 37th week of 2017, or some time between September 11 and 17th that year.

Once tires go beyond five years old, it’s time to consider replacing them. Tires are made up not just of rubber and steel or kevlar belts, but chemicals that help the tires resist UV rays, temperature changes and a lot of other environmental hazards. Those chemicals start to break down after five years or so, and the tires aren’t doing the job that they need to do.

Why Not Replace with Original Equipment Tires?

There’s no harm in replacing your tires with the shoes it came with from the factory. However, depending on what kind of driver you are, there are significant reasons to purchase something different.

You only need to purchase ONE set of tires for your car every four years or so, depending on how much you drive. When an auto manufacturer purchases tires, they buy them by the hundreds of thousands. For the manufacturer, the decision to choose a supplier one brand or another comes down to a price point.

Consider how you will be driving your SUV. Are you sticking with highway miles for the daily commute? Are you focused on having an SUV that won’t get stuck when winter does its worst? Are you all about heading off-road? Pick replacement tires best suited to the kind of driving you plan to do in your SUV.

Changing SUV Tire Sizes

Depending on the year and model, you may be shopping tires to fit anything between 15-inch for older models to 22-inch wheels with various widths and sidewall sizes along the way. It is possible to change the wheel and tire sizes, but a general rule of thumb is to keep the total diameter of the wheel and tire the same. So, that means that downsizing an 18-inch wheel to a 17-inch wheel would include a proportionate upsizing of the tire sidewall to compensate.

Downsizing wheels has its advantages. Benefits include:

  • Better ride quality – More rubber means more cushion for poor road conditions.
  • Cost reduction – Big tires are expensive, so moving to a smaller wheel size will mean less costly tire purchases.
  • Seasonal changes – Winter and snow tires are available for a larger selection of smaller wheel sizes and the narrower footprint will provide better traction.
  • Off-road – Many people choose to downsize wheels for off-road use to increase the vehicle’s shock absorption capabilities and bump traction on loose surfaces.

On the other side of the coin, going up in wheel size has its benefits:

  • Better handling – Slimmer profile tires makes for less rubber to move around.
  • Better looks – This one’s subjective, but many people feel that larger wheels look better than smaller wheels with more rubber.
  • Better braking – Larger, wider wheels provide a bigger patch of rubber on the ground to slow the vehicle, reducing braking distance.

How to Read Tire Sizes

When reading tire sizes, it’s important to understand what the numbers mean. Let’s stick with our Chevrolet Tahoe example, which has 22-inch wheels and P285/45R22 110H all-season tires:

  • 285 - indicates the width of the tire from one sidewall to the other in millimeters. This tire is 285 millimeters wide.
  • 45 - indicates the aspect ratio, or sidewall height, as a percentage of the tire’s width. In this case, it’s 45 percent or of the tire’s width.
  • R - means radial tires. Radials are the most common type of automotive tire and have fabric woven in at various angles with tread that is strengthened with additional layers of rubber.
  • 22 - indicates the wheel diameter.
  • 110 - is the tire’s load rating.
  • H - is the tire’s speed rating. H-rated tires have a maximum top speed of 130 mph.

You may notice an SUV has different diameters and also different aspect ratios. Generally, automakers choose tires that have the same outer diameter. This allows them to have only one speedometer setting.

Now that you know how to read the size numbers to understand the tires on your SUV, let’s look at the different types of tires available to you. Depending on the type of driving you’re doing, where you live, and the weather, you have a variety of choices for tire types:

  • Touring and All-season tires - provide a smooth ride, good wet and dry traction, decent winter traction, and longer tread life. These tires are acceptable for winter use but can’t be expected to provide the traction and stopping power that a dedicated winter tire can.
  • Performance tires - are focused on providing confident handling, better wet and dry traction, and a sporty feel. Their higher grip and speed ratings come with a tradeoff of shortened tread life and reduced ride quality.
  • All-terrain tires - are built to maximize off-road traction and provide good durability overall. Their construction means more noise and less comfort on the road, but winter traction and tread wear is acceptable.
  • Winter and snow tires - are made with special rubber compounds that maintain grip and pliability when temperatures drop. They are also built with special tread patterns to maximize the vehicle’s ability to start and stop on very slippery roads.

SUV Tire FAQ

What’s the best brand of tires for an SUV?

There’s no answer to this question. There isn’t any brand that necessarily provides a better tire for one class of vehicles versus another. You need to ask yourself some questions about what you’re looking for in a tire. Do you want quiet highway cruising, or are you more interested in off-highway performance? Are you looking for a tire that provides long life, or outstanding grip in the corners? From there, you can begin to narrow down your choices, and find a tire that meets your budget.

What is the best SUV tire pressure?

Check inside your driver’s side door for a white and yellow label that will tell you the exact tire pressure recommendations for your SUV model. That tire pressure can also change depending on the load of passengers you’re carrying, as well as the cargo load and off-road conditions. Note that the pressure on the tire itself is never the correct setting, but rather a maximum.

How often should I rotate my SUV’s tires?

Rotating tires is more about the tire than it is about the vehicle. A typical rotation interval is somewhere between 5,000 and 7,000 miles, though specific cars and tires may change those numbers a bit. Uneven tire wear is more common if you don’t have all-wheel or four-wheel drive, making rotating your tires even more important. Do not blow off this service.

What is the best SUV tire change kit?

Depending on your SUV, you’ll likely have a spare tire mounted inside the cargo area underneath the floor or on the exterior of the vehicle under the same area. There will also be tools for changing the tire. In this case, you already have everything you need to physically change the tire, but you may want to carry an extra roadside emergency kit with an upgraded lug wrench, jumper cables, and emergency markers just in case.

Tire Buying FAQ

Where do I shop for the best prices?

Several online retailers like Tire Rack offer regular discounts and free shipping for their tires. Their sites also have tire fit guides and pricing estimators to help you understand what you’re buying.

How much is shipping?

Most online tire retailers have free shipping or reduced shipping cost when you choose to have them installed at a partner shop. The retailer may have an arrangement with a local tire chain or installation center and can ship the tires there for free.

How long does shipping take?

Retailers like Tire Rack offer fast shipping and can often have tires to your preferred installer in as little as two days. Many others, like Discount Tire Direct, offer the same fast and free shipping. It also depends on where you live. If you’re in a large metro area, close to a distribution center, it should be relatively quick. If you live 5 miles from East Moosejaw, it might take a little longer.

How much does it cost to install a tire?

Some shops will offer free installation when you purchase tires from them, and online retailers often promote the same deal for people who choose to have installation done at one of their partners. If you do find yourself paying for tire installation, expect to pay between $15 and $50 per tire, depending on what is needed. That money pays for mounting and balancing the tire to ensure a safe and comfortable ride.

Do I need to change the tire pressure monitoring system with tires?

The tire pressure monitoring system (TPMS) is independent of your tires, but should be checked at regular intervals to ensure no damage or malfunctions are occurring. Your local tire shop can perform this check as part of normal tire rotation or installation.

Can an online retailer help me with winter tires?

Yes! You can find the right fit, tread pattern, and speed rating on nearly any online retailer’s site. They sometimes offer specials and rebates around the time when people start looking for winter tires (late fall).

If I’m changing tire sizes or buying winter tires, should I buy a wheel and tire package from an online retailer?

It’s certainly not a requirement to buy your tires and wheels from the same place, but you’re more likely to get a deal on the package if you buy from the same place. Check the retailer’s specials and make a determination from there. You may also find a better deal ordering either the tires or wheels online and buying the other component from your local shop.

Do online retailers provide tire rebates the way traditional stores do?

Yes, and in some cases rebates are offered alongside discounts on the tires. It’s important to ask questions and understand what you’re getting, so be sure to chat or call the retailer before ordering if the rebates are unclear.

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