The best SUV and truck tires of 2023 for all seasons and snow driving conditions
Tire classifications for SUVs and trucks
Shopping for new tires for your car can be overwhelming. Yes, you can own a four-wheel drive car. But is it a compact SUV, a midsize SUV or a large SUV? Which matters very little. In general, small SUVs can use conventional car tires which offer a lower tire replacement cost. However, larger SUVs and trucks need tires designed to resist tougher wear.
As such, automotive analysts from Consumer Reports recently released its latest analysis of tires designed for large SUV and truck models that are categorized as all-season SUV, all-season truck, all-terrain truck, and winter/snow truck tires. Within each tire classification, their findings include those tires that make smart shopping sense for consumers who need to replace or change their original tires to meet the demands of winter driving.
Related article: What you need to know about mixing car tires
Instead of accepting what tire manufacturers claim regarding their tires’ on-road performance in good or bad weather, consumer reports’ The Analyst Road tested a wide range of tires on closed tracks, open roads, and yes—even on an ice rink to provide a controllable test surface for comparing tires under identical icing conditions.
“We tested them at our track in Connecticut for braking and handling on wet and dry roads, ride comfort and quiet, and resistance to aquaplaning (when water gets between the tire and the pavement). We perform snow traction tests at our automotive testing center and in New York State. Ice braking evaluations are performed at a nearby rink“.
“We also commission outside laboratories to measure each tire’s rolling resistance, which impacts fuel economy, and conduct extensive 16,000-mile tire tread wear tests on public roads in West Texas“, says CR analyst.
That said, here’s a summary of CR’s best SUV and truck tires in several major categories.
The best SUVs and trucks for winter 2023
1. Best recommended all-season tires: Michelin Defender T+H—The best choice for larger SUVs and trucks due to superior dry surface braking, road handling and hydroplaning performance.
Priced at $179 per tire, this all-season tire provided an overall good mix of the above tire characteristics during testing including an expected tread life of 85,000 miles.
For a less expensive, cost-effective alternative in this category, they also recommend the General Altimax RT43 as a solid performance tire with an expected tread life of 70,000 miles.
2. Best recommended all-season SUV tires: Michelin CrossClimate— Especially notable for cross-country vehicles, this tire impressed analysts because although it had excellent traction in snow, it also performed well on cleared roads without losing any of its traction.
In addition, they are available in a wide range of sizes to cover the most popular SUVs. At $205.50 per frame, it’s a reasonable buy; However, the tread life is estimated to be less than other similarly rated tires at 40,000 miles.
For a lower-cost, cost-effective alternative in this category, CR analysts recommend the Vredestein HiTrac—a well-rounded tire, offering a good balance of all-weather grip and handling, and 55,000 miles of expected tread life. It is especially light for snow traction and noise reduction. Another good alternative is Goodyear Assurance ComfortDrive.
3. Best recommended all-season truck tires: Continental’s TerrainContact H/T— This is CR’s choice based on its high-performance all-weather grip and long-lasting wear over an impressive 95,000 miles. At $213.99, it takes the top spot over other similar tire brands.
A good alternative is the General Grabber HTS60 which came in second place as the tire choice.
4. Recommended Best All-Terrain Truck Tires: Continental TerrainContact A/T—Designed for a combination of some off-road and on-road use for all-terrain capable trucks.
Consumer Reports Analysts 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 65,000 miles. At $122.99 per frame, this is a good choice.
For a lower cost and cost-effective alternative in this category, they also recommend the Michelin LTX A/T 2, “…iSA is close to second place. They cost a little more and are louder, but their tread life is expected to reach 100,000 miles, and our tests show they have excellent resistance to hydroplaning“.
5. Best Recommended Winter/Snow Tires: Bridgestone Blizzak WS90— It is best known for its excellent snow traction capabilities as well as above-average dry braking, aquaplaning resistance, and ride comfort performance characteristics.
Because it is a winter/snow tire, it has a very deep tread that allows the vehicle to handle snow much better than an all-season tire, and therefore does not qualify for an accurate comparison when discussing tread life expectancy with other tire types. At $131.00 per tire, it is reasonable to purchase another tire.
The alternative tire is the Michelin X-Ice Snow tire which is linked to Bridgestone’s overall score. However, its handling has been tested below average, and it is a more expensive tire.
6. Best Recommended Winter/Snow Truck Tires: Nokian Hakkapeliitta R5 SUV — Although an expensive winter/snow tire at $246 per tire with a limited expected lifespan, the Nokian is the clear winner as an all-season tire.
“This category combines the strength and durability of a truck tire with the temperature resilience and grip needed to enhance winter traction. We do not test tread wear on winter/snow tires because they have a limited lifespan and are used only seasonally“.
According to their analysis: The Michelin Latitude X-Ice XI2 offers excellent snow traction and rolling resistance in our tests, along with very good noise levels. Its handling and aquaplaning results are quite fair, and as with all models in this class, its braking distances on wet roads are poor.
The replacement tire is the less expensive GT Radial IcePro SUV 3 tire, which has a “…It has similar results to the Nokian, even beating it in wet braking, making it a smart and valuable choice“, CR analysts say with this recommendation.
For more articles related to winterbe sure to check out these two specific books: “Everything You Need to Know About Buying Car and Truck Tires” and “Insulating Your Garage Door for This Winter.”
Timothy Boyer is an automotive reporter based in Cincinnati. He has experience in early car restorations, and he regularly restores older vehicles with engine modifications to improve performance. Follow Tim on the Zen and the Art of DIY Car Repair website, the Zen Mechanic blog and on Twitter at @TimBoyerWrites And Facebook for daily news and topics related to new and used cars and trucks.
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