All-Season versus All-Terrain Tires

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CoyoteNumber2

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I have a 2020 Outback that I drive to launches. It's due for new tires and I'm having trouble deciding which kind to put on. 99% of the driving I do is on pavement, but I don't want to find myself off pavement and not being able to move when I need to (e.g. sand traps during desert rocket recovery.) That makes all-terrain tires seem like the natural choice, but I'm concerned about decreased fuel economy, louder road noise, and quicker tread wear. I've read that manufacturers have made improvements in those areas, but I'm curious what the collective hive mind has to say from real-world experience.

Alternatively, is there any sort of in-between tire that's considered all-season, but known to have decent performance off-road? I'm not very car-savvy and new to the [light] off-roading scene.

C#2
 

Sandy H.

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If 90+% of your driving is pavement, then do yourself a favor and get road tires. They will last a lot longer and be way less noisy.

I ride with a buddy who does off-road for fun and he drives mostly highway. He bought his last set of off-road tires a year ago and they are darn near bald. His next plan is to buy a new set of wheels to mount his off-road tires and switch them when he plans to go off road. That's a 1-2 hour effort by yourself each switch, costs another set of wheels, a decent jack and he is all on board with no longer riding the off-road tires daily. . .

He actually plans to buy an off-road Jeep and make his current Jeep his commuter. He wants to buy a new vehicle vs driving off-road tires daily. From his perspective, I think you'll hate off-road tires as a commuter.

Sandy.

Edit: Apparently I went off on off-road tires on Jeeps vs your actual question. . . doh!

I do wonder if money spent on a winch might be money well spent, regardless of the tires, if you play in the desert or snow. Even with the best tires, if you get stuck, you're stuck. If you have a winch, you only *might* be stuck. I'd guess getting a good on-road tire is still smart if you're on pavement 90+% of the time. Add a winch if you're going to get frisky. . . I look forward to those who explain why I'm wrong. I'll learn something and tell my buddy.
 
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teepot

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My all seasons have prominent, I'm not sure what to call them. They are not tread. They remind me of the outside of off road tires. They are not in contact with the pavement. But if I was in 3 or 4 inches of something they would help. My summer tires do not have this feature. They are Bridgestone G Force Comp 2. There must be something else. May be talk to a tire store or your dealer. And buy name brand.
 

teepot

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They are on my Mustang GT. I came over a 5000' pass in about 4" of snow and more falling. The car went up the 6* grade no problem. But then, I grew up in Michigan and lived in Idaho so I know how to drive in the snow.
 

DigBaddy

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I also drive an Outback (2016). I tow a lot with it, so when it came time to replace the garbage stock tires I went with Firestone Destination LE2s. A little more "trucky" of a tire but still ride decent and aren't much louder. Hasn't hurt mileage either. No comment on snow performance since I run General snow tires in the winter (amazing). But the tread pattern says it would be just fine in snow. We did some fun unpaved roads on BLM land near Moab two summers ago and encountered a lot of deep sand. No issues. Plowed right through it.
 

Woody's Workshop

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Unless you need possi rear differential and full lockable 4 wheel drive to get to your launch sites stay with what came on the vehicle.
There's a guy that has a old Outback that comes and goes here, spray can paint job and some kind of off road oversized tires.
He's cut out the wheel wells and looks like crap.
All Terrain Tires pretty much sums up what there function is.
There is no such thing as everyday driver AT's, unless your commute includes climbing rock hills, crossing rivers, and swamp crossing.
 

wonderboy

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I vote for sticking with whatever your vehicle was originally equipped with.

Off-road tires (as mentioned) are going to be noisy and wear more quickly, and to be blunt, probably won't make that much difference on your outback. The thing that is usually going to get you stuck off-road is ground clearance or loss of traction on one wheel. You've already got good AWD (combatting the loss of traction on one-wheel issue), and tires aren't going to make an appreciable difference in ride height.

Driving with your windows down and off-road tires will drive you batty... unless you REALLY like to hear your tires on the road.

Quick note: If you find yourself on very loose sandy surfaces and are worried about getting stuck, a common off-road technique is to lower your tire pressures. This puts a larger contact patch on the ground which improves your traction and helps prevent you from sinking as far into a loose surface (like sand). Obviously, you'll need a portable air compressor to air back up once you get back on the road.
 

Rory Gin

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I have a 2020 Outback that I drive to launches. It's due for new tires and I'm having trouble deciding which kind to put on. 99% of the driving I do is on pavement, but I don't want to find myself off pavement and not being able to move when I need to (e.g. sand traps during desert rocket recovery.) That makes all-terrain tires seem like the natural choice, but I'm concerned about decreased fuel economy, louder road noise, and quicker tread wear. I've read that manufacturers have made improvements in those areas, but I'm curious what the collective hive mind has to say from real-world experience.

Alternatively, is there any sort of in-between tire that's considered all-season, but known to have decent performance off-road? I'm not very car-savvy and new to the [light] off-roading scene.

C#2
I do a fair bit of gravel road travelling so I went with Cross Contact LX25 that are purpose designed SUV tires. (2015 Ford Escape) They are very highly rated by Tire Rack and are a 3 1/2 season tire and will work well in snow because of the 12/32" tread. They have better traction than a so called all-season tire (in reality an all-season is only 3-season). I drove to Tuktoyaktuk on the Arctic Ocean with them towing a small trailer; that road was all wet gravel & mud and 740 km ea. way. The destination LE2 or LE3 are light truck tires which can also work on most SUVs.

Tire Rack is the place to go for tire advice and shopping.
 
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jrap330

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I have a 2020 Outback that I drive to launches. It's due for new tires and I'm having trouble deciding which kind to put on. 99% of the driving I do is on pavement, but I don't want to find myself off pavement and not being able to move when I need to (e.g. sand traps during desert rocket recovery.) That makes all-terrain tires seem like the natural choice, but I'm concerned about decreased fuel economy, louder road noise, and quicker tread wear. I've read that manufacturers have made improvements in those areas, but I'm curious what the collective hive mind has to say from real-world experience.

Alternatively, is there any sort of in-between tire that's considered all-season, but known to have decent performance off-road? I'm not very car-savvy and new to the [light] off-roading scene.

C#2
Also which version of X-mode on your transmission do you have, the normal 2 settings (basic and premier version of the car) or the 4 settings X-Mode for Deeper snow and Mud. I have a 2021 Outback and after seeing all those Subaru videos on X-mode on their web site, I believe Subaru's Recommended tires should be fine ( Yokohama's) and whatever the higher end versions get. You will hate the noise, grip and the thread life should be less. You are not climbing Hills, crossing rivers and tackling forestry. Hey Subaru states ask us for tire recommendations so ask your dealer for an opinion.
 

DEmery

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I have a 2019 Ford Expedition that I do maybe 5% off road stuff, but a lot of snow driving in the winter. I got a flat in the stock tires about 20 miles into Jungo Road in NV in 2019. I bought 4 new Mazama Open Range AT SQM-3 tires in Winnemucca. They were expensive. I have been very happy with them, road noise is pretty good. I have 41,000 miles on them with excellent remaining tread. I think these will be my first set of tires that I will get more than 45,000 miles on in 30 years.
 

MidOH

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Michelin LTX A/T2.


I've got five of those. 245/75R17. IIRC.

Junk. Smooth riding, great fuel economy, junk. No grip in mud. Mediocre in snow. For light trucks Cooper ST Maxx are king. Cooper ST Pro for a more off road bias.

OP: Suby owners seem to like the Yoko Geo G015's:

 

afadeev

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I have a 2020 Outback that I drive to launches. It's due for new tires and I'm having trouble deciding which kind to put on. 99% of the driving I do is on pavement, but I don't want to find myself off pavement and not being able to move when I need to (e.g. sand traps during desert rocket recovery.) That makes all-terrain tires seem like the natural choice, but I'm concerned about decreased fuel economy, louder road noise, and quicker tread wear.
The only folks I know who run off-road / all-terrain tires go REALLY far off-road: mountains, bouldering, fording rivers, borderline unmarked forest trails, sand dunes.
For those use cases you want increased ride clearance as much as, if not more than, raw tire tractions.
For what you are describing, I don't think you want anything more then quality road tires. And since you live in SD, I would personally steer towards a proper summer tire.

Alternatively, is there any sort of in-between tire that's considered all-season, but known to have decent performance off-road? I'm not very car-savvy and new to the [light] off-roading scene.
Truth be told, there is no such thing as a decent "all-season" tire. All season tires suck in all seasons.
Unless you live in a climate where temps drop below freezing , or performance summer tires are not available in your OEM size, then maybe go with all-seasons. Then get the best ones money can buy. Otherwise, get a set of proper performance summer tires, and enjoy the improved handling, grip, and safety that they provide!
This is a very good place to start your search: https://www.tirerack.com/tires/Sele...del=Outback&autoYear=2020&autoModClar=Limited

If 90+% of your driving is pavement, then do yourself a favor and get road tires. They will last a lot longer and be way less noisy.
Amen to that.

He bought his last set of off-road tires a year ago and they are darn near bald. His next plan is to buy a new set of wheels to mount his off-road tires and switch them when he plans to go off road. That's a 1-2 hour effort by yourself each switch, costs another set of wheels, a decent jack and he is all on board with no longer riding the off-road tires daily. . .
For the record:
  • Swapping wheels on all 4 corners should take less than 30 minutes (second time around). Closer to 15 if you have an impact wrench on hand.
  • Every man should own a set of tools and a jack to work on his car. That's just the bare minimum requirement to be called a man. ;)
  • We all spend way too much time in cars not to properly enjoy them. Don't skimp on maximizing smiles / mile !
a
 
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teepot

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Something else to consider. I have a 2018 Explorer Sport. It has 20" tires. I was coming out of the mountains where we had an away launch. It was about 15 miles from the pavement. The road was dirt with rocks thrown in. Most of the bigger rocks, think grapefruit, were off to the side. I went around a blind corner hugging my side of the road and hit one of the bigger rocks. It blew the sidewall out. I was quite surprised. You would think a 4 wheel drive would have stronger tires. I replaced it. It was $300. ouch. Now if I had been in my Ranger with light truck tires I would have just rolled over the rock without a flat. I know this because the road up into the mountains from where I live is a rock strewn barely maintained road. So a tire that has a strong sidewall would be good. The truck has snow and mud tires. It does not have heavy lugs and rides fine on pavement.
 

OverTheTop

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Unless you have two sets of wheels and tyres whatever you get will be a compromise. I used to do that when I did a lot of off-roading. Low-profile soft compound for onroad, and split-rim almost tractor tyres for offroad. I would just drive through where others were stuck, after pulling them out, but it handled like a sack of potatoes on the bitumen.

Now I do mainly road driving but my priority is grip in the wet or dry. I go for soft tyres and particularly look for good siping grooves to get the water out sideways. Many tyres don't have much in this regard. Many have a continuous, or almost continuous, band of rubber for the full circumfrence of the tread. This gives them low road noise but the water has nowhere to go in the wet, except for setting up a bow-wave. You will find most new cars have the low-noise tyres. That includes my Jeep Grand Cherokee I bought a couple of years back. I will put better tyres on it in a couple of years when these ones get too hard. I would rather have grip in the wet, thanks very much.

tyre-sipe-diagram.png


Have a look at some other tyre tread patterns online and you will see many have the siping grooves almost completely blocked.

I guess you would just go for something a bit knobby in your case, if you really only want to use one set. Just acknowledge the compromise and go with the flow.
 

tomsteve

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a 2020 outback due for new tires.
how many miles you drive a year?????
youre best bet is 2 sets:
road set and rocket set.
 

Back_at_it

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Buy normal road tires. Some years back my then GF wanted to make her Forester look a bit more rugged and wanted to do some minor gravel roads etc. At the time we were both into outdoor activities and used her car to haul bikes and camping gear. We put a very mile set of Firestone AT tires on and she hated them after the first highway trip due to noise and ride quality.

We Pulled them off and sold them to someone a bit more hardcore than she was and replaced them with a normal goodyear tire at the time.

We currently have a Michelin Premier LTX's on a couple of different SUV's and really like them. Nice and quiet, had no issues with 12+ inches of snow here in Chicago last winter and we have been caught in a more than one total downpour rain storms in TN and AL. I've had the Explorer down a few back roads here and there getting to camp sites and have never slipped a tire. Even did Onion Creek trail in Moab with them.

If you're familiar with the 2018 Explorer you know that it's nothing more than a Taurus with a box body on top so the tires are the only reason it performed as well as it did. Otherwise it's a FWD car based chassis that sends power to the rear only when needed. Your Outback's AWD system is much better.
 

CoyoteNumber2

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Thank you everyone for sharing your experience. I'll be forgoing the all-terrains and getting a set meant for the road.
 
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