Much like walking in the wrong pair of shoes, choosing the wrong tires for your vehicle can turn an epic experience into a "meh" experience. This fact is particularly true for the Subaru Outback. Designed as a crossover vehicle, the Outback's tires need to be as happy off-road as on a trip to the supermarket.
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If you think all tires are basically just big rubber circles, then its time to check out some reviews. Progressive innovations and modern materials have introduced numerous features to optimize safety and functionality. This progress has turned the humble tire into somewhat of a technological masterpiece.
There are hundreds of tires out there, though. Knowing where to begin is half the battle. If you're in the market for a new set of tires, start with the basics. Here are some handy tips and tricks on what to look out for if you're looking for the best tire for Subaru outback vehicles.
Size: To go back to the shoe analogy, a poorly fitting pair doesn't cut it. Clumsy in the shoe world and downright dangerous in the world of automobiles, a poorly fitting set of tires is never a good plan. Choosing the correct size for your vehicle is first and foremost.
You can find the correct tire size in the owner's manual. If you don't have a copy of this, try the placard on the driver's door. The appropriate tire size should be printed here and will look something like this...P225/60R16. If all else fails, you can turn to your trusty Haynes Auto Manual for tire size and anything else you need to know about your Subaru Outback.
Manufacturer: If you already recognize the tire brand, then you're looking at a quality product that meets all the relevant safety standards. Michelin, Goodyear, Bridgestone, and other leading players will give you peace of mind that the product you're investing in is top quality.
If you've never heard of the tire brand, we suggest you keep shopping! Obscure tire manufactures may use substandard materials. This inferiority can be reflected in the price, which initially might be a drawcard. However, it will also be reflected in the quality. This can be bothersome at best and dangerous at worst.
User experience: All tires are not created equal, and tire choice can have a significant impact on comfort levels while driving. Multiple types of tires may be suitable for your Subaru Outback. This fact doesn't mean that they're all going to give you the same driving experience.
Since its a Subaru, it should feel as comfortable off-road as on the highway. A good tire will enhance your vehicle's handling and braking abilities across multiple terrains. Optimum inflation levels are crucial to getting the best results. Again, check your user manual or have a quick search online to find out the optimum tire pressure for your vehicle.
Budget: At the end of the day, your budget will always have a say in what type of tire you choose. The pricing range of tire sets can be huge, depending on the manufacturer or specific model features. Expect to pay anything from $300 to $1,000 for a set of tires for your Subaru Outback.
Don’t automatically go for the lowest option, however. While there are some excellent budget-friendly options on our list, sometimes the special features of a particular model will be beneficial to your specific circumstances. In this instance, the initial saving may not be worth it.
Tire Type: All-season tires, all-terrain tires, ultra-high-performance tires, winter-specific tires...the list goes on. Your choice of tire type will depend as much on the local climate as it does on personal preference.
It's crucial to choose the right tire to suit your lifestyle. This choice will enhance your driving experience and extend the lifespan of the tire. Getting the right tire for the weather conditions also impacts driver and passenger safety. Here's a quick rundown of the different tire types you're likely to come across.
All-Season Tires: As the name suggests, these tires are suitable for both winter and summer conditions. This feature makes them one of the most popular types. These tires give modest grips and traction in both summer and winter conditions. However, extremely adverse weather conditions may require a more specific tire.
Ultra-High-Performance All-Season Tires: These come in an H or V speed rating. That means they're speed tested up to 130 mph and 149 mph, respectively. The softer rubber of these tires gives optimum road handling in a variety of conditions. The deeper tread is engineered to disperse water, giving the tire extra traction in wet conditions. Designed more for extremely wet conditions rather than extreme snow, the rubber compound doesn't favor snowy terrain.
All-Season and All-Terrain Truck Tires: Engineered with size in mind, these tires enhance off-road performance for even the largest vehicles.
Winter Subaru Outback Tires: If you're expecting significant snow, these might be the tire for you. Specialized flexible rubber compound makes this tire ideal for snowy or low road surface temperatures. Look for the 3PMSF symbol to ensure you're buying a winter tire that has been rigorously safety tested to meet the conditions.
So they're the basics. Now let's take a look at some specifics. We've narrowed it down to 10 of what we consider the best tire for Subaru outback adventures. Keeping in mind cost, use, climate, and other variables, here's the list we've created.
First, on the list, we have the Michelin Defender LTX M/S. Suitable for SUVs, coupes, sedans and light trucks, the Defender is ideal for the Subaru Outback. Designed with steady performance and longevity in mind, it is a highway all-season tire and a great all-rounder. The Defender LTX M/S is ideal for daily living and mini-adventures.
Its symmetrical and highly functional tread pattern allows for a comfortable and steady driving experience, whatever the weather. Safety tested to function in wet, dry, and light snow conditions, this tire will keep you on the move all year round.
Enhancements over previous models include Michelin's Evertread Technology. This stronger, more advanced compound is designed to stand up to harsher conditions. Increased rigidity and incorporated silica particles give extra traction and longer shelf life.
Michelin’s Evertread Technology improves road handling in wet conditions:
Symmetrical tread design
Stable independent tread blocks
High-density 3-D Active Sipes to increase traction
Four circumferential channels / Lateral grooves / Open shoulder slots to dispel water more efficiently.
What does all this mean? It means the Michelin Defender LTX M/S is engineered to keep your vehicle safe, functional, and comfortable in any weather. We think this makes it one of the best tires for Subaru outback owners who want to enjoy suburban life and city living as much as off-road adventures.
Info at a Glance:
These days it's all about fuel efficiency. The tread patterns of this tire reduce rolling resistance for less fuel consumption per mile and faster acceleration. This feature makes it one of the best tire for Subaru outback owners that want to save a few bucks on fuel costs.Performance-wise, this tire holds up well on wet or dry roads and is considered useful and practical as an all-season tire. The outer edge has a thicker tread block for optimum biting grip in dry conditions. This thickness is counter-acted by hydroplaning resistance on the inner side of the tire for improved traction on wet surfaces.
Three central rib blocks act independently to optimize steering response to offer a smoother ride and add another boost to fuel efficiency. Shoulder block pitches reduce noise levels during directional steering. Also, Goodyear's unique shock-absorbent rubber layering between the tread and steel belts reduces steering noise even further.
All in all, it is an excellent all-season tire for the fuel-conscious driver.
Info at a Glanced:
Unsymmetrical zig-zag patters.
Rigid tread compound.
Central independent tread blocks to optimize steering response.
Hydroplaning resistant inner edge for wet surface traction.
Biting grip on the external edge for dry traction.
Described as an all-season tire, the Yokohama Geolander is suitable for SUVs, light trucks, and cross-over vehicles. Aside from being an excellent all-season tire, it is also considered one of the best tire for Subaru outback in snowy conditions.
It is Sever Snow Certified and branded with the 3PMSF symbol to verify this. Its triple polymer tread compound allows it to hold its own against even the most adverse off-road conditions. In addition to this, its tread block pitch variation ensures comfort and quiet, even on the roughest off-road terrain.
Other notable features include symmetric tread design to enhance cross-rotation and hydroplaning resistant grooves to increase wet weather traction. Snow traction is also engineered into the tire in the form of sipes and lug grooves.
This tire is unique in that it offers comfort, safety, and stability as an all-season tire while still holding its own as a durable snow tire. Look out for the 3PMSF symbol and enjoy peace of mind in severe wintery conditions.
Info at a Glance:
Made using a silica-enhanced tread compound, the Pirelli Scorpion ATR is sturdy, durable, and stable. This tire offers on-road comfort and traction and high levels of shock absorbency off-road. This feature makes it an excellent choice for the rough terrain.
-Large shoulder tread blocks optimize directional stability. This feature improves road handling and enhances steering response.
-Independent tread blocks increase traction over rough terrain, loose surface, or in icy conditions. Lateral shoulder grooves and wide longitudinal grooves improve wet surface traction to give a stable ride and avoid aquaplaning.
-Internal polyester cords add strength to the tire and increase stability. It’s optimized profile and innovative materials enhance fuel efficiency and reduce emissions
Info at a Glance:
This tire features Continental's patented EcoPlus technology. Enhanced with Tf-F Polymers and Silane additives to optimize treadwear and traction while driving. This feature can help to reduce fuel consumption on your journey.
These tires have a symmetrical design to allow for continuous road contact throughout your journey. This design allows for greater road-handling and reduced braking distance. Wet surface stability is achieved through wide circumferential grooves that help to combat aquaplaning.
Suitable for the snow as well, the Continental TruContact has large biting edges to increase snow traction.
This model is reinforced internally with twin steel belts. This component adds strength to the tire and increases stability across multiple terrains. To complement the stability, Continental's ComfortRide technology adds a shock absorbant layer of rubber to take away any bumps on the road.
An excellent tire for road handling in dry conditions, the TrueContact's real strength lies in its handling of more adverse weather conditions. Wet or snowy terrain is no problem for this tire, and its performance is well above average when it counts. This tire is an excellent investment for comfort, stability, and peace of mind.
Info at a Glance:
If you're looking for a quiet and comfortable ride, the Turanza might be one of the best tires for Subaru outback adventures. Reduced rolling resistance and enhanced rubber silica compound increase tread-life and fuel-efficiency in this model.
Three independent narrow tread blocks make up the central rib. Their zig-zag design improves road handling, steering response, and braking distance. Wet traction is enhanced by four circumferential channels that zig-zag to grip the road better.
The Turanza EL42 RFT is manufactured using Bridgemstone's run-flat technology. This feature means that the reinforced sidewall can support the weight of the vehicle in the event of a total loss of air pressure. This design can allow mobility for up to 50 miles to get you to safety. A specialized heat-resistant rubber material also aids in the efficiency of their run-flat technology.
This option is an excellent tire of superior quality that offers top performance through all seasons and all terrains. Quiet, comfortable, and fuel-efficient, you won't be disappointed with the Bridgestone Turanza.
Info at a Glance:
The Yokohama Geolander is an all-season tire with highly impressive durability. Hard-wearing construction protects it from punctures, impacts, and hazards of rough terrain to ensure a long-lasting investment. Constructed from advanced compounds, tread life is long and is backed by a 45,000-mile Limited Treadwear Warranty.
Traction in the Geolander has been extended due to the innovation of Triple 3D sipes. These can change shape as the tread wears down. This allows them to continuously adapt to the tread and maintain excellent traction, even in the most adverse weather conditions.
In off-road terrain, Yokohama’s EdgeTech Grooves create a void area in the tire. This aids in expelling dirt, stones, and debris from the tires before they can negatively impact performance
The Yokohama Geolander is, first and foremost, an off-road tire and will achieve high performance in any robust terrain. Each tire is designed to handle 60,000 miles or travel. An off-road tire that can handle the open road,
Info at a Glance:
The Mastercraft SRT Touring is a quality tire at a very reasonable price. It is generally in a lower price bracket than other similar tires for a Subaru Outback. This all-season tire offers a comfortable and quiet performance, while its symmetrical tread patterns mean excellent road handling.
Its four circumferential grooves handle wet traction. Optimum depth in its four circumferential grooves expels water out from the surface of the tire. Active sipes and lateral grooves complement this action to reduce the risk of aquaplaning in wet surface conditions. These double up to enhance dry surface traction making it ideal for changeable surface conditions.
Shoulder tread pitches help to reduce steering noise, allowing for a quiet and peaceful driving experience. The Mastercraft SRT is as comfortable and safe on-road as off. This one is not rated for severe snow conditions, however.
Model - SRT Touring
Weight - 23 lbs
UTQG - 540 AB
Speed Rating - T, H, and V
Info at a Glance:
Symmetrical tread pattern.
Active sipes, lateral grooves enhance wet surface traction.
Quite and comfortable performance.
For some all-terrain, all-season action with your Subaru Outback, the Goodrich All-Terrain can give you some excellent performance. Manufactured using a tough tread compound to resist punctures and damage, this tire is also reinforced by internal steel belts to provide extra strength and help to maintain balanced treadwear. This feature can improve the tire tread life and, ultimately, extend the lifespan of the tire.
Off-road, self-cleaning action keeps the tire performance sharp and optimal. Random, variable tread block patterns of good depth expel dirt, stone, and other off-road debris. This design means more driving and less tire cleaning!
Its unsymmetrical groove pattern and micro sipes ensure good biting grip over multiple terrains. This feature makes it an excellent choice for your Subaru Outback.
Info at a Glance:
The Extensa is an excellent choice for mini-vans, SUVs, and crossover vehicles. This characteristic makes it definitely worth considering for your Subaru Outback. It comes at a perfect price point and can be an economical option as a solid all-season tire. Variable shoulder pitches cut down on cabin noise and enhance road handling, steering, and braking performance.
Symmetrical tread patterns mean good performance and a comfortable ride in wet, dry and lighter snow conditions. This tire is not rated for severe snow. Central rib blocks and the zig-zag pattern of the grooves allow for balanced road-handling in dry conditions. Circumferential channels expel water from the tire surface to improve wet weather traction.
Info at a Glance:
We've looked at ten of the best tire for Subaru Outback owners. Our top pick remains the Michelin Defender LTX M/S. There is no denying that this is a good tire and a super choice for your Subaru Outback. Fuel-efficiency, enhanced safety features, and excellent traction combine in the Defender LTX to provide top performance and an enjoyable and safe user experience. Let's take a quick recap at the Michelin Defender LTX M/S:
Info at a Glance:
Michelin’s MaxTouch Construction to promote traction.
How Much are Tires for a Subaru Outback?
If you're shopping around for tires for your Subaru Outback, you've probably noticed that pricing can vary considerably. Different manufacturers and different product features will have a significant bearing on the cost. The price for a set of tires for a Subaru Outback can be anything from $280 to $1,000.
It's necessary to stay within your budget constraints, of course. Bear in mind, however, that the cheapest tire is not always the best choice. Depending on the driving conditions you expect to encounter, it may be worth investing in tires with specialized features. Self-cleaning, severe snow rating, and low rolling resistance, among other features, may help you to save money in the long-run. A slightly more significant initial outlay may end up being more financially savvy.
What is tire rolling resistance, and how does it relate to fuel efficiency?
Rolling resistance is just like it sounds. As your vehicle runs along the road, it will meet resistance from various factors. The weight of the car, air drag, inertia, and old-fashioned gravity will all provide resistance. The technical term for the energy loss that occurs is Hysteresis if you want to impress your mates.
Your engine will have to work harder to overcome the resistance and keep the vehicle moving continuously. This increased labor uses extra energy and, therefore, extra fuel.
Rolling resistance can't be eliminated entirely. Innovations in tire design have helped to reduce it significantly, though. Specialized tread compounds are formulated to be more resistant to heat generation and designed to minimize deflection. This characteristic reduces energy dissipation, which means your engine can conserve more energy. This feature ultimately means less fuel is required to keep the tires rolling forward. The U.S. Department of Energy has indicated that savings of up to 10% on fuel costs can result from making the switch to low rolling resistance tires. Average savings for the consumer come in at around 3%.
There are compromises to be made with low rolling resistance tires in that the specialized compounds may shorten the life span of the tire. Ongoing research and product innovations are working to combat this to create a tire that offers low rolling resistance with none of the compromises.
How often should I change my tires?
Different manufacturers will have various recommendations for how often you should change your tires. Real-life driving conditions, however, will ultimately dictate when your tires need replacing.
If you drive somewhere between 12,00- to 15,000 miles per year, you can expect to get 3 to 4 years out of your tires. The main issue with aging ties is tread depth. If this starts to wear and the tire tread is too shallow, it can impact performance and, more importantly, safety.
Regular vehicle servicing will draw your attention to any tires that need replacing. Between services, you can do regular visual checks yourself to make sure your tires are in top shape. Look out for treadwear patterns and make a note of any thinning areas. Cracks, bulges, or blistering on the casing can be an indication that you're not getting optimum performance. Noticeable changes in driving performance, such as altered road handling or too much vibration during driving, can also give you a hint that your tires are functioning at a suboptimal level.
The Penny Test is also a handy way to measure tread depth. Take a penny. With Lincoln's head upside down, place it between the tread blocks. If the tread blocks obscure the top of Lincoln's head, you still have sufficient tread remaining. If you can see the top of Lincoln's head, your tire tread wear is significant, and its time to invest in some new tires.
What does the speed rating mean?
The speed rating indicates the optimal speed that the tire can maintain over long distances or periods. It is not a speed limit. It states the rate at which the tire has been proven to perform at its best. Of course, you can choose to go faster than the speed rating. However, after an extended period, this may affect tire performance and longevity.
Speed ratings are given a letter from A to Z. They begin at 3mph and go all the way up to 186 mph. Operating your vehicle within the limits of the tire speed rating will optimize performance and extend the lifespan of your tire.
What is the UTQG?
UTQG" stands for "Uniform Tire Quality Grading." The UTQG is a uniform grading system that was developed by the Department of Transportation. It allows consumers to compare different tire performance easily. Tires are graded by traction, tread wear, and temperature.
Traction: For traction, grading goes from highest to lowest, and higher is better. AA, A, B, and C. This will measure the tire's ability to be able to stop on a wet surface. It is measured against a control tire. An AA tire will have excellent traction while a C rated tire may not have great traction.
The treadwear rating also goes from highest to lowest with higher being better. For treadwear, the control tire has a grade of 100. If the test tire grades at 200, for example, this means it will take twice as long to wear down the treads.
So that's our top picks of the best tire for Subaru outback adventures, both on-road and off-road. When it comes to buying tires, remember, you get what you buy. Always buy from a reputable source and never, ever compromise on quality. Happy touring!