Best Tires for Subaru Forester

Introduction

The Subaru Forester was introduced in 1997 and quickly became a hit. Known for reliability, fuel efficiency and safety, the Forester is a two-time Motor Trend SUV of the Year winner.

Used for daily driving, off roading and all weather trekking it screams for quality tires. When considering the best tires for Subaru Forester, many great choices exist. We have detailed reviews of our top picks below.

If you want a great daily driver, the Goodyear Assurance Max Life is tough to beat. For those needing a year-round tire with more grip, the Michelin CrossClimate+ is our top pick. Budget-minded shoppers should check out the excellent General Altimax RT43.

Best Tires for Subaru Forester in 2019

 

best tires for subaru forester

 

The best tires for a Subaru Forester in 2019 across all categories are:

  • Goodyear Assurance Max Life (Standard Touring)
  • Michelin CrossClimate+ (Grand Touring)
  • Continental TrueContact Tour (Standard Touring)
  • Vredestein Quatrac 5 (Value, Grand Touring)
  • General Altimax RT43 (Value, Standard Touring)
  • Goodyear Assurance Weather Ready (Grand Touring)
  • Continental TerrainContact (All Terrain)
  • Michelin x-Ice x13 (Studless Snow)
  • General Altimax Arctic 12 (Studdable Snow).

All of these tires are made by manufacturers with excellent reputations and receive great customer feedback. Let’s dive into the individual tire reviews.

Best All Season Tires for Subaru Forester 

All season tires are just what their name implies. They work well for driving in hot summer months and on light snow in the winter. Often you will see “M+S” on the side of these tires, which stands for “mud and snow.”

There are two types: Grand and Standard Touring. Grand Touring tires offer very good year-round traction, solid comfort and a reasonable tread life. Standard Touring tires provide a much longer tread life and outstanding comfort. However, traction that is a notch below in bad weather.

Below we review six of the best.


Goodyear Assurance Max Life 

The Goodyear Assurance Max Life is an outstanding standard touring all season tire.

Goodyear Assurance Max Life side view

The Assurance Max Life is designed with three objectives in mind: fuel efficiency, long useful life and good traction in all driving conditions up to light snow. Goodyear met those objectives and then some. This is a great riding tire that lasts a long time.

The tread pattern is symmetric with four channels that help displace water and snow to the sides. The continuous center rib provides constant rubber-to-road contact and results in a solid feel when driving.

Construction consists of two steel belts supported by a single-ply, polyester casing. A polyamide reinforcement helps handling response, especially at higher speeds.

Reasons to Buy

  • Great customer feedback
  • Very comfortable for daily driving
  • Excellent wet, dry and light snow traction
  • M+S mud and snow rated
  • Manufactured in U.S.A.
  • Outstanding 6-year, 85,000 mile warranty

Reasons to Not Buy

  • Less “steering feel” than very aggressive drivers may prefer
  • Traction in deep snow and ice not as good specialty snow tires

Summary

If you are an everyday driver who wants a Forester tire that will last a long time, the Goodyear Assurance Max Life may be the perfect tire. It’s affordable, comfortable and gets solid traction to boot. As one happy customer noted, “these tires are night and day better than my OEM tires.”

Type: Standard Touring.  Size: 225/60R17. Max Load: 1,709 lbs. Weight: 25 lbs. Country of Origin: U.S.


Michelin CrossClimate+ Grand Touring 

The Michelin CrossClimate+ is a grand touring tire and may be the perfect choice for those needing all-season versatility and great winter traction.

Michelin Crossclimate+ side view

 

Other than having the Michelin name on the side of the tire, the two things that jump out about the CrossClimate+ are the aggressive tread pattern and the outstanding wet and dry traction. This tire grips!

The wide lateral grooves and highly directional tread pattern efficiently move water and snow away from the tire when driving. As a result, traction is excellent in all weather conditions. Only true, purpose-built snow tires will outperform the CrossClimates.

Internal construction is relatively standard. The design includes a single-ply polyester casing supporting two steel belts. As with other similar quality tires, a polyamide reinforcement helps handling performance and durability at high-speeds.

Reasons to Buy

  • Ultra-premium brand
  • Top notch wet, snow and ice traction for an all-season tire
  • Excellent hydroplaning resistance
  • Best-in-category dry traction
  • Modern, aggressive look
  • Severe snow rated (has three-peak mountain snowflake “3PMSF” symbol)

Reasons to Not Buy

  • Premium price to match the premium quality and brand name
  • Some tread noise at lower speeds
  • Shorter life than standard touring tires (all grand touring tires = better grip but shorter tread life)

Summary

If you live in a challenging climate and don’t mind a little tread noise, Michelin CrossClimates+ may be the best Forester tires available today.

Size: 225/60R17. Max Load: 1,929 lbs. Weight: 23 lbs. Country of Origin: Spain.


Continental TrueContact Tour 

The Continental TrueContact Tour tire is one of the best-rated standard touring all-season tires.

 

Continental TrueContact Tire

 

This made-in-the-U.S tire sits atop the standard touring category along with the Goodyear Assurance Max Life. Great road manners and confident handling have made it the favorite of both professional reviewers and everyday drivers for years.

The tread is highly symmetrical with three groove channels. Lateral vents help push water and snow to the side. An interesting feature is the Comfort Ride Technology. It incorporates an underlay beneath the tread designed to isolate the tread from the rest fo the tire and reduce perceptible vibration in the cabin.

The internal construction features a C-Ply outer casing, with a single ply under the tread for handling and rolling resistance and two plies in the sidewall to help prevent impact damage. Like most tires in this category it is reinforced with two steel belts.

Reasons to Buy

  • Great price for the quality
  • Most comfortable riding tire in the standard touring category
  • Both wet and dry traction are excellent
  • Good light snow traction
  • Made in the U.S. and designed in Germany
  • Outstanding 6-year, 80,000 mile warranty

Reasons to Not Buy

  • May not be responsive enough for aggressive drivers.

Summary

If you’re looking for a good everyday tire that can handle its own in all but harsh winter climates, the Continental TrueContact Tire is a fantastic bargain. It’s quiet, comfortable, safe and affordable.

Size: 225/60R17. Max Load: 1,709 lbs. Weight: 23 lbs. Country of Origin: U.S.


Vredestein Quatrac 5

The Vredestein Quatrac 5 is a great value for a grand touring tire, available for usually less than $125 per tire.

Vredstein Quatrac 5 three quarter view

The Quatrac has two design objectives that it achieves with flying colors. First is to be a one-tire solution in environments that experience all 4 seasons but don’t receive such high levels of snow that a dedicated winter tire is needed. The second is to provide great value.

The tread pattern on the Quatrac 5 is somewhat different because of its highly asymmetrical design. It is made with a high-silica tread compound designed for traction, handling and steering precision in dry and wet conditions.

The inboard rib and inside shoulder are tuned to provide confidence in wet and wintry conditions with circumferential grooves and lateral notches to force water to the side of the tires.

The Quatrac 5 has a single-ply polyester casing supporting two steel belts. A polyamide reinforcement helps with handling performance and provides high-speed durability. This construction design is similar to other grand touring tires.

Reasons to Buy

  • Great price for this quality of a grand touring tire (~ 35% cheaper than the CrossClimate+)
  • Few compromises (no real weaknesses)
  • Highly “driveable” and easy to maneuver
  • Excellent grip and handling at higher speeds
  • Both wet and dry traction are excellent
  • Great customer feedback

Reasons to Not Buy

  • Moderate level of tread and impact noise
  • Slightly worse snow and ice traction than other 3PMSF rated grand touring tires
  • Shorter warranty on miles, not years (8 years, 45,000 miles)

Summary

If you’re looking for value in a tire with few compromises, the Vredestein Quatrac 5 may be the perfect choice. It makes driving a pleasure.

Size: 225/60R17. Max Load: 1,709 lbs. Weight: 26 lbs. Country of Origin: Netherlands


General Altimax RT43

The General Altimax RT43 is a value standard touring all season tire usually found for $120 or less.

general altimax rt43

 

A marketing slogan for the AltiMax could be “95% of the performance of best-in-class standard touring tires for 80% of the price.” That’s not the official slogan, but it could be.

These tires are have great manners, are highly responsive and get solid traction in all but heavy snow. Add in the lowest price among premium brands, and the value proposition is hard to beat.

The tread is a symmetric design featuring a continuous center rib and independent tread blocks that use sound wave suppression technology to reduce noise. Circumferential grooves and the Anti-Slip Sipe Design Technology increase the number of biting edges to create grip on difficult roads.

Reasons to Buy

  • Great price for this quality of a standard touring tire (~ 20% cheaper than the Goodyear Assurance MaxLife)
  • Comfortable ride
  • Firm grip on both wet and dry roads
  • High marks for responsiveness for a standard touring tire
  • Tried and true product (long time best seller)
  • Manufactured in the U.S.
  • 6-year, 75,000 mile warranty

Reasons to Not Buy

  • Ice traction not as good as the Goodyear Assurance or Continental TrueContact
  • Faint rumbling sound.

Summary

If you’re looking for an affordable daily driver, the General Altimax RT43 is hard to beat as long as you don’t live in an especially snowy climate.

Size: 225/60R17. Max Load: 1,709 lbs. Weight: 24 lbs. Country of Origin: U.S.


Goodyear Assurance WeatherReady

The Goodyear Assurance WeatherReady is an ultra-premium, general touring tire that gets rave reviews.

Goodyear Assurance tire tread

The value proposition of the WeatherReady is simple. You can have one tire even in snowy climates AND have a decently long tread life. This tire approaches the useful life found in standard touring tires while still providing the awesome all season traction of a grand touring tire.

The WeatherReady has a unique tread pattern. The four wide channels each have a different tread mold. The most distinctive are the diagonal Sweeping Tread Grooves (see right hand side of tire pictured above) that are outstanding at moving water out from underneath the tire.

Internal construction is very consistent with other ultra-premium tires. It utilizes a single-ply polyester casing. The tread area is supported by two wide, steel belts. A polyamide reinforcement aids handling response and high-speed capability.

Reasons to Buy

  • Excellent snow traction and handling (M+S symbol)
  • Long tread life
  • Comfortable ride
  • Great all around performance, no real weak spots
  • Best-in-class warranty for a grand touring tire (6-year, 60,000 miles)

Reasons to Not Buy

  • A little firmer and less refined than some other grand touring tires (though not a lot)
  • Premium price

Summary

The Goodyear Assurance WeatherReady is perfect for those who want a long-lasting tire but need excellent traction across all four seasons. As one happy customer said, “it’s the best all season tire I’ve ever owned.”

Size: 225/60R17. Max Load: 1,709 lbs. Weight: 27 lbs. Country of Origin: Chile


Best All Terrain Tires for Subaru Forester 

All terrain or off-road tires have deeper tread depth and wider grooves to provide better traction on dirt, sand, gravel or any loose surface.

Continental TerrainContact A/T

The Continental TerrainContact is our favorite Subaru Forester off-road tire.

 

continental terrain contact

The TerrainContact A/T aims to be the civilized “on-road” tire that provides “off-road” performance when needed. Another design objective is outstanding tread life for a Forester all-terrain tire. Continental succeeds on both fronts.

Traction is category leading in all weather, with the exception of very snowy and icy conditions. However, most people that live in those climates probably use dedicated snow tires or chains.

The tread is 12/32″ deep and molded into a mild, symmetrical all-terrain tread pattern. The full-depth sipes and edge-of-the-block traction grooves improve all-season traction.

Internally, the TerrainContact A/T contains two high-tensile steel belts with a spirally-wound polyamide reinforcement supported by a two-ply casing. As you probably recognize by now, that is very standard for a premium tire.

Reasons to Buy

  • Very comfortable ride for an all terrain (off-road) tire
  • Excellent dry and wet traction
  • Taut steering and handling
  • Long tread life for an all terrain tire
  • Made in the U.S. and designed in Germany
  • 6-year, 60,000 mile warranty

Reasons to Not Buy

  • Some may find the ride too firm
  • Snow traction less than a specialized snow tire

Summary

The Continental TerrainContact A/T is one of the best all-terrain (off-road) tires for a Subaru Forester. For the family that uses their car as an everyday driver but also like to camp, the TerrainContacts may be the perfect choice.

Type: All terrain (off-road).  Size: 225/60R17. Max Load: 1,709 lbs. Weight: 27 lbs. Country of Origin: U.S.


Best Snow Tires for Subaru Forester 

Snow tires have deep and aggressive tread patterns that provide better traction on both snow and ice. Snow tires may be “studded” or “studless.”

Studded tires have small pins arrayed across the tread face. These tires provide the best driving traction on snow or ice. However, many states have restrictions on when studded tires may be used. Studless tires, not surprisingly, don’t have studs. They simply have tread patterns and depth optimized for snow.

Michelin x-Ice x13 Studless Snow Tire

The Michelin x-Ice x13 is a third-generation studless snow tire for coupes, sedans, small crossovers and SUVs.

 

Michelin x-Ice x13

The design objective here is a very capable snow tire that also has predictable handling in cold, dry and wet wintry conditions. Based on customer feedback, Michelin has wildly succeeded.

Michelin’s FleX-Ice silica-based winter tread rubber compound is known for firmness at higher temperatures for wet and dry traction while remaining flexible at lower temperatures to enhance packed snow and ice traction.

The directional tread design helps evacuate water and slush to improve hydroplaning resistance. Cross Z Sipes increase tread and shoulder block stability to provide the lateral and longitudinal firmness to enhance driving precision on dry and wet roads.

The internal structure is the same as we’ve seen with other tires. This includes twin steel belts reinforced by a spirally wound nylon to stabilize the profile and improve high-speed handling.

Reasons to Buy

  • Premium brand with a premium reputation
  • Great road manners for a snow tire
  • Capable traction in all weather conditions
  • Qualifies for 3-peak mountain snowflake (3PMSF) rating
  • Aggressive, modern look

Reasons to Not Buy

  • Less snow traction that studded tires
  • All snow tires have shorter tread lives (6 year, 40,000 mile warranty)

Summary

The Michelin x-Ice x13 are very capable road tires that happen to be designed for snow. As one customer said, they make the car “very predictable and easy to control in conditions that seem to keep everyone but 4x4s off the road.” If you live in a snowy climate, give them a look.

Since this is a snow tire after all, we thought you might enjoy seeing it in action.

Type: Snow.  Size: 225/60R17. Max Load: 1,709 lbs. Weight: 27 lbs. Country of Origin: Thailand


General Altimax Arctic 12 Studdable Snow Tire

The General Altimax Arctic 12 is an excellent studdable snow tire that’s hard to beat at a ~$125 price point.

 

General altimax artic 12

 

The Arctic 12 is a new generation tire designed to improve tread life. The tread is a winter-focused design molded into a highly directional tread pattern. The arrow-shaped central rib provides great on-center feel and responsive handling

High-void, angled grooves and wide lateral notches move water and slush from the tire to prevent hydroplaning. Handling and traction are great in wet, dry and and snowy conditions.

Reasons to Buy

  • Outstanding price for a specialty winter tire
  • Top-notch deep snow and ice traction
  • Very good hydroplaning resistance
  • German design and manufacturing
  • 3-peak mountain snowflake (3PMSF) certified.

Reasons to Not Buy

  • Some road noise from the aggressive tread
  • Comfort while good is a notch below standard all season tires
  • 6 year workmanship warranty but no tread wear warranty (due to being studdable)

Summary

The General Altimax Arctic 12 is the tire you need if you drive in severe snow and ice locations. It’s affordable, gets great traction in all conditions and is a beast in the winter. We find it hard to argue with the happy driver whose review said, “Still hands down the best winter tires I have ever owned.”

Type: Snow (winter).  Size: 225/60R17. Max Load: 1,929 lbs. Weight: 30 lbs. Country of Origin: Germany


Subaru Forester Tire Size Guide

Since tires are expensive and last for several years, it is obviously important to get the correct size.

Before purchasing tires, be sure to find the correct size on the side of the tire. Also, you can check our Subaru Forester Tire Size Guide below.

We cannot express how important it is to check and double check to make sure you have the right size.


Subaru Forester Tire Sizes

From 1997 to 2002, Subaru kept both their Forester sub-models and tire sizes (in parentheses) consistent:

  • Base Model (205/70R15)
  • L (205/70R15)
  • S (215/60R16).

For 2003 and 2004, Subaru began to adopt the sub-model names most Forester drivers would recognize today:

  • 2.5 X (215/60R16)
  • 2.5 XS (215/60R16)
  • 2.5 XT (215/60R16)

From 2005 to 2008, the Subaru Forester tire size recommendation chart expanded considerably.

Forester ModelTire Size
2.5 X215/60R16
2.5 XS Base Model215/60R16
2.5 XS LL Bean Edition215/60R16
2.5 XS Premium215/60R16
2.5 XT Base Model215/60R16
2.5 XT Premium215/60R16
2.5 XT Limited215/55R17
2.5 Sports X215/60R16
2.5 Sports XT215/55R17

For the five years from 2009 to 2013, the Forester saw a few changes in both sub-models and tire sizes. The main change was the introduction of the “225” tire size.

Forester ModelTire Size
2.5 X215/65R16
2.5 X Premium225/55R17
2.5 X Touring225/55R17
2.5 X Limited225/55R17
2.5 XT225/55R17
2.5 XT Limited225/55R17
2.5 XT Premium225/55R17
2.5 XT Touring225/55R17

The next five years, 2014 to 2018, saw the most change in the Subaru Forester tire size chart including “R18” tires for the first time in the Forester lineup.

Forester ModelTire Size
2.0 XT Premium225/55R18
2.0 XT Touring225/55R18
2.5i225/60R17
2.5i Limited225/60R17
2.5i Premium225/60R17
2.5i Touring225/55R18
2.5i Black Edition225/60R17

For 2019, Subaru has changed the names of its sub-models again. The tire sizes however are the same as in previous years.

  • Base (225/60R17)
  • Limited (225/55R18)
  • Premium (225/60R17)
  • Sport (225/60R17)
  • Touring (225/55R18).

Always check and double check that you have the correct tire size before purchasing. Returning tires is not easy!


Speed and Load Indices

Following the tire sizes in the above charts, you may notice another number followed by a letter, such as 99V or 102H. The number refers to the maximum load rating for the tire. For example, many of the tires reviewed earlier had a 99 load rating or 1,709 pounds.

The letter that follows the number indicates the speed index.  S, H, T and V are common symbols. An S has a max speeds of 112 mph. These index codes do not affect the tire size, only the performance rating.

Vehicle speed and load indices can be found here.


Conclusion 

The Forester is one of the best compact SUVs available today. Reliability is so good that drivers end up replacing tires 2-3 times over the lives of their Foresters.

When it comes to the best tires for a Subaru Forester, all of the ones we reviewed are top performers. Always consider how the relative strengths or weaknesses of a particular tire fits your situation.

In summary, our top picks are:

As we said, all of these are great tires. Definitely check them out!

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