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For the most part, American car buyers love the SUV for its versatility. This category—sometimes expanded to include crossovers, station wagons, and pickups—offers the people-hauling abilities of a minivan, the gear-hauling talent of a truck, and the style of a traditional car. SUV versatility extends to the terrain and road conditions handled by the vehicle as well. SUVs have proven capable both on- and off-road, as well as the hottest stretches of blacktop in the summer and the snowiest back roads in the winter.
HOW SHOULD YOU CHOOSE AN SUV TIRE?
When choosing a new set of SUV tires, it’s important to remember just how versatile the SUV is. However, this versatility also means that SUVs can vary dramatically in size, weight, and towing capability. Since one SUV can differ so enormously from the next—and most tire manufacturers offer a variety of SUV tires for a significant number of models and purposes—it’s essential to find the tire size and type recommended for your model.
Also, not every SUV owner will utilize their SUV in the same way. Whether you’re sticking mainly to the highways in a warm region of the country, traveling off-road in the snowy backcountry, or frequently encounter rain, mud, and other elements, you’ll need to choose a tire that works best for your SUV’s primary use. In this sense, choosing the best tires for SUVs is all about focusing your search on how you use your SUV the most often.
OUR BEST SUV TIRES, 2020 EDITION
SUV tires are not one-size-fits-all, so it’s important not to enter into your SUV tire buying decision expecting a simple solution. First, you’ll need to put some thought into how you use your SUV and consider these tips:
- Where do you do most of your driving? If you drive off-road a great deal, you’ll likely want to consider mud tires or all-terrain tires instead of traditional SUV tires.
- Do you encounter ice and snow? If so, winter tires may be necessary through part of the year.
- Consider all-season SUV tires for the smoothest everyday ride and ideal tread wear.
- Find your SUV’s weight before choosing your tires to make sure your choice can handle your SUV.
- Do you pull a trailer? If so, you’ll need to factor in the weight of the trailer and cargo before choosing a tire weight capacity.
- Check the size of your tires before purchasing new ones—if you have the original wheels and rims, you can find your tire size on your current tire’s sidewall, or in your owner’s manual. For custom wheels and rims, check with the manufacturer.
With these considerations in mind, you’re sure to find a tire that suits your needs in our tire ratings guide. Here’s our list of the top SUV tires 2020 has to offer:
Red Mountain Pick — Goodyear Wrangler Adventure Tire
This all-season SUV tire is our pick for the all-around best in diverse road conditions in 2020. Reviewers give it high marks for traction both on and off the road, and it has a high-tech Kevlar layer for additional protection against punctures. With this tire, Goodyear has come as close as you can get to a one-size-fits-all tire if you split your time on-road and off-road.
- Pros — superior grip to the others on our list due to its edges, making it perfect for wet and icy roads. Both quiet and smooth on the highway, even when pulling a trailer, with a 60,000-mile tread-life warranty
- Cons — a bit more expensive than some of the other tires featured here. Also, not as reliable in the snow as a dedicated winter tire.
Best All-Season Tires 2020 — Michelin Defender LTX
For a versatile all-season tire with excellent traction in wet or dry conditions, look no further than the Michelin Defender LTX. This all-season even offers decent traction in light snow, unlike many other all-season favorites. Plus, the long tread life will give you the luxury of putting off your next tire-buying decision for a few years.
- Pros—functional tread pattern that lends itself to the long tread wear mentioned above. Great performance through numerous types of weather makes this tire one of the best all-around tires on the market. Finally, the Defender has a higher weight capacity than most—up to 10,000 pounds.
- Cons—reviewers say these tires are stiffer than others on this list and don’t perform as well on snow and ice as a dedicated winter tire. Another point of contention is that they heat up quickly while in use.
Best All-Season Tires for Snow and Ice — Goodyear Assurance CS TripleTred All Season
This all-season tire from Goodyear has three distinct tread areas to get you through all types of road conditions, including wet roads as well as snow and ice. Directional tread and biting edges give this tire a boost in wintry conditions, especially over other all-season tires on this list. With its 65,000-mile treadwear guarantee, you’ll be experiencing this ride for some time.
- Pros — even with all-season traction, the handling remains fluid, and the ride is a smooth one. Our reviewers classify this tire as a good value for the money.
- Cons — there aren’t many downsides to this tire. It doesn’t perform quite as well in the winter as a dedicated snow tire, which is to be expected of an all-season tire. Also, reviewers say the ride can get a little noisy when the tire is near the end of its life.
Best Value Tires — Kumho Crugen HT51
This affordable all-season tire from Kumho offers an excellent grip in dry and wet conditions as well as light snow capabilities due to its asymmetric tread design. The additional horizontal grooves are designed to push water away and reduce hydroplaning. Finally, a five-rib tread design offers superior road handling in dry conditions.
- Pros — reviews cite excellent handling during both dry and light snowy conditions as well as a relatively smooth ride. In addition, the tire is rated 3PMSF for severe snow. The best feature, however, is the excellent value in its class for the performance you’ll see from this tire.
- Cons — this is not an off-road tire, so if you ever hit the backcountry, look elsewhere. Some reviews mention reduced handling abilities in heavy rains.
Best Light Truck Tires 2020 — BF Goodrich Advantage TA Sport LT
Consistently rated a top choice for SUVs and light trucks, the BF Goodrich Advantage TA Sport LT is another all-around best pick on our list. The tire features asymmetrical tread and a 3PMSF rating to handle snow. At the same time, well-placed, circumferential grooves improve the tire’s ability to push water out of the way and enhance hydroplane resistance.
- Pros — this light truck, SUV, and crossover tire meets many snow requirements others on our list did not. Despite its grooved surface and superior weather capabilities, reviewers noted a smooth, quiet ride.
- Cons — this tire’s superior performance does come at a cost, compared to other tires on our list. In addition, some reviewers noted a drop in fuel economy as well, which will cost you more at the pump.
REMINDER: TIRES NEED MAINTENANCE TOO
With careful attention to the terrain, road conditions, and towing conditions you experience the most in your SUV, we’re confident you’ll find a set of tires on our list that fit your needs. Before ordering, double-check your tire size and vehicle weight to ensure you’ll receive the perfect fit for your SUV. After installation, be sure to perform regular maintenance and tire care to ensure that your tires will look and perform their best.