Last updated: June 20, 2020 by Tire Deets
There are many ways to improve the looks and dynamics of your car, but you should always start with the wheels and tires. Larger wheels combined with low-profile tires certainly look more appealing, especially if you have a dynamic-looking vehicle.
But it’s not only about looks. Larger wheels and low-profile tires can make your car sharper to drive, especially in the corners. Your vehicle will also benefit from better overall stability and handling and stronger braking.
From these qualities, it is obvious that low-profile tires are the best choice for enthusiasts or anyone that wants to improve the looks and dynamics of their vehicle. That said, just opting for the cheapest possible low-profile tires won’t give you the desired results. It might make things even worse. Sure, they will look nice, but in our book, safety always comes first. And, honestly, it should be your priority as well.
To save money, many people opt for the cheap option, only to be dissatisfied with the purchase later. Fortunately, there are many low-profile tires that won’t break the bank, yet will give you an exhilarating drive through the corners.
To help you choose a set of low-profile tires to replace the existing ones on your vehicle, or to improve on the high-profile tires, we created a list of the Top 10 best low profile tires. In that list, you’ll be able to find a variety of tires, including models for passenger cars, sports cars, crossovers, and SUVs.
This means that you should not just buy the No1 on our list right away, as it may not fit your vehicle properly. Find the category that fits your vehicle, read through the short review, and then choose a model that fits you. This way, everyone can find a set of tires that fit them right.
And it’s not only about vehicle type. Many modern low-profile tires are offered with an all-season, summer, or winter tread compounds. In the past, only summer tires were available with shorter sidewalls. You will also need to think about the weather you encounter to make the best choice.
To better understand all these things, we also created a buying guide after the Top 10 best low profile tires list. In the buying guide, we will tell you everything there is to know about various types of tires. We suggest reading through it carefully if you’re a first-timer in the low-profile world, and especially if you want to improve the performance of your vehicle.
- The 10 Best Low Profile Tires Available in 2021
- Buying Guide for Best Low Profile Tires in 2021
- Final Words
The 10 Best Low Profile Tires Available in 2021
Best Grand-Touring Summer Low Profile Tires
Continental’s entry in the grand-touring summer category provides the driver with excellent traction and braking on dry and wet surfaces. Handling on dry surfaces is exceptional as well, almost on the level of high-performance tires. That is especially true on low-profile models, which offer a responsive driving feel.
The PremiumContact 6 is also characterized by low-rolling resistance for improved fuel economy, smooth ride quality, and quiet rolling on the highway. That said, wet handling isn’t on the level of high-performance summer tires, and Continental doesn’t offer any treadwear warranty on the PremiumContact 6.
Best Grand-Touring All-Season Low Profile Tires
Bridgestone’s newest grand-touring all-season tire isn’t designed for outright performance, despite the fact that it’s available in large sizes with very low sidewall profiles.
On the street, the Turanza QuietTrack performs admirably. Traction, grip, and braking are very good, both on dry and wet surfaces. The tire is even usable over light snow, unlike other all-season tires. That said, don’t expect to have fun behind the wheel – the Turanza isn’t very responsive.
The best thing about this tire, though, is how quiet and comfortable it is. Even on models with low side profile, the QuietTrack provides a plush ride quality and low levels of noise.
Bridgestone provides an 80,000-mile treadwear warranty on the QuietTrack, which is one of its highest selling points. That said, the tire is also pretty expensive for the category.
Best Ultra-High-Performance Summer Low-Profile Tires
BFGoodrich isn’t a company that’s synonymous with ultra-high-performance tires – they are more popular within the off-road community. Nonetheless, that doesn’t mean that the company doesn’t have great tires in other categories.
The g-Force Sport COMP-2 is a perfect example that the Michelin subsidiary knows how to make a performance tire. The tire not only looks stunning when put on a sports car, but it behaves even better when you start rolling it down the road.
Behind the wheel, the COMP-2 feels outstandingly lively. Responsiveness is outstanding, but without being overbearing. There is a fluidity and precision that many other budget-oriented ultra-high-performance tires lack that the g-Force Sport COMP-2 has.
Moreover, the tire communicates with the driver very well, even when put to its limits. Grip and traction levels are also excellent, albeit not on the level of the best premium tires. Still, that’s something you should expect given the price of the tire.
Apart from the excellent dry handling feel, the g-Force Sport COMP-2 performs excellently on wet surfaces, where it beats some more expensive competitors. On top of that, the ride quality is one of the best I experienced in an ultra-high-performance summer tire, period.
That being said, the g-Force Sport COMP-2 can become noisy on the highway. You can still live with it, but many competitors already sorted this issue and are better to live with on longer road trips.
Best Ultra-High-Performance Summer Low Profile Tires
The Azenis FK510 is one of our favorite summer low-profile tires. It’s not very expensive, yet it offers an exhilarating drive, both on the track and on the street.
Overall, we couldn’t find a fault in how this tire handles. The tire communicates with the driver at all times and is very controllable at the limit.
The only gripe we have is that the tire feels slightly dead-ish on-center, but you probably won’t feel that on the street.
On the positive side, grip and traction on dry and wet surfaces are exceptional – this is one truly grippy tire.
That said, the Azenis FK510 can be harsh over broken surfaces.
Best Ultra-High-Performance All-Season Low Profile Tires
The Pilot Sport A/S 3 Plus is one of the first all-season tires that truly caught our attention in terms of performance.
On the road, this tire is super-responsive – it feels almost like a summer tire. The grip and traction are also outstanding, both on dry and wet surfaces, while braking is top-notch.
Unlike many all-season tires, the Pilot Sport A/S 3 Plus works over light snow. It even comes with a 45,000-mile treadwear warranty, excellent for the category. That said, like most Michelin tires, this one is very expensive.
Best Ultra-High-Performance All-Season Low Profile Tires
The newest Potenza all-season tire is perhaps the best in terms of handling. We never thought that all-season tires could have so much grip and traction before we tried the RE980AS.
Moreover, the Potenza RE980AS is very responsive and feels like a summer tire on the street. We found it to be very usable in wet conditions as well.
This is one of the quietest ultra-high-performance tires that we tested, but the ride quality can be harsh over broken surfaces.
On the positive side, Bridgestone offers a 50,000-mile treadwear warranty.
Best Max-Performance Summer Low Profile Tires
The Pilot Sport 4S is overall the best max-performance summer tire for drivers that drive mostly on the street but want to take their vehicle on track days occasionally.
In terms of handling, we found no fault. The Pilot Sport 4S is extra-responsive and grippy, giving the driver a lot of confidence at very high speeds.
Unlike the competition, Michelin even provides a 30,000-mile treadwear warranty, impressive for the category. As expected, though, the Pilot Sport 4S is also very expensive.
Best Max-Performance Summer Low Profile Tires
The direct competitor to the Pilot Sport 4S impresses in the handling department – in terms of responsiveness, it is probably our favorite tire right now.
As expected, grip levels are very high, traction is outstanding, while braking is excellent. The Potenza RE050 is equally usable on wet pavement.
That said, the RE050 produces more noise on the highway and can be a bit rough over uneven surfaces.
Best Street/Sport Summer Low Profile Tires
Bridgestone’s summer performance tire for drivers of SUVs and trucks impresses in many ways, and especially in the way it drives.
The Dueler H/P Sport provides the driver with responsive handling, high levels of grip and traction on dry and wet surfaces, and a very quiet and comfortable ride.
Despite the fact that Bridgestone doesn’t offer any treadwear warranty, we think that the combination of comfort and performance makes the Dueler H/P Sport unbeatable in the segment.
Best Winter Performance Low Profile Tires
Winter tires aren’t often associated with performance, but Michelin tried to change that with their Pilot Alpin PA4.
We were quite impressed by how this tire handled everyday winter driving over all surfaces. Handling on dry pavement is very responsive for a winter tire, and the grip levels are very high as well.
More importantly, the Pilot Alpin PA4 is outstanding over wet surfaces and works exceptionally well over snow, slush, and ice.
Michelin even offers a 30,000-mile treadwear warranty, which is outstanding for a performance winter tire. Of course, you will pay a pretty penny for all these qualities – the Pilot Alpin PA4 is expensive.
Buying Guide for Best Low Profile Tires in 2021
1. What are Low Profile Tires?
Tires that have shorter sidewalls are considered low-profile. That’s a vague term, though – what is low-profile in my eyes might not be in your eyes. That said, it is generally considered that tires that have under 55% sidewall height when compared to the width of the tire are low-profile models.
Let’s have a look at the 235/45R18 tire size as an example. Here, the first number signifies the width of the tire in millimeters. The second number is the percentage of the tire width. In this case, 45% of 235mm is 105.75mm, which is the height of the sidewall. The number after the letter “R” is the radius of the wheels in inches.
What you need to know is that when you put wider tires, the sidewall percentage should be smaller in order to keep the vehicle height largely the same. That is an important thing to know if you replace the rims with larger ones to get the low-profile look. There are many wheel size calculators online that will help you find the right size for your vehicle.
You should always strive to keep the overall diameter of the wheels (rims + tires) identical. That’s why, when you put larger wheels, you should always go with tires with smaller sidewalls.
2. Advantages and Disadvantages of Low Profile Tires
While low-profile tires bring some obvious advantages in terms of looks and drivability, they also have some glaring disadvantages. Let’s get into more detail:
3. Grand-Touring Tires are the Best Choice for the Average Driver
Grand-touring tires are the most passenger-oriented tires that you can find with a low-profile sidewall. These models are also available with an all-season or a summer tread compound, which broadens the choice.
As the name of these tires suggests, they are designed for covering larger distances. In other words, if you cover a lot of miles annually, or travel on long road trips with your family, grand-touring tires are an excellent choice.
Now, these tires aren’t available with very short sidewalls, but you’ll still be able to find popular sizes, such as 245/45R17, 235/45R18, and 235/40R19. Thanks to that, you can install grand-touring tires on popular mid-size sedans, sports sedans, crossovers, sports compacts, etc.
The biggest advantage of grand-touring tires is the comfort levels they offer. With a set of these tires, you will get the best combination of plush ride quality and quiet rolling. That might be important to buyers that don’t want to sacrifice comfort when they opt for low-profile tires. Keep in mind, though, the lower the profile of the tire is, the worse the ride quality it will be.
Furthermore, grand-touring tires are also very durable. The most popular all-season options on the market today are offered with up to 80,000-mile treadwear warranties, which is exceptional. On top of that, thanks to their availability, all-season grand-touring tires are inexpensive nowadays.
When it comes to performance, grand-touring tires are good enough for everyday driving. They feel completely safe on the street, with good levels of grip and traction. Braking is also very good, while the handling is pretty responsive. Grand-touring tires work excellently on wet pavement as well.
That said, they won’t give you the sharpest possible handling. These tires are still oriented towards comfort and not performance. In other words, while they are completely safe and reliable in many conditions, they aren’t the best choice for spirited drivers.
4. But What If I Want a More Responsive Handling?
Then, you should go for high-performance tires (or Street/Sport tires if you own an SUV or a truck). These models are specifically designed to give you better performance overall. They are also available in low-profile sizes.
The best thing about these tires is how good they stick to the road. With a set of high-performance tires, you will be able to achieve much higher speeds in the corners without worrying about losing control. These tires have vastly better traction, which means that you can accelerate harder without any tire slip.
Moreover, high-performance tires possess a much better grip, which translates into better road holding and shorter braking distances. High-speed stability will also be improved, especially on tires with very low side profiles.
Responsiveness and steering feel will be improved as well. These tires also have stiffer sidewalls, which makes them much quicker to react to driver’s inputs. With high-performance tires on, your vehicle will immediately react after you touch the steering wheel.
That said, you will pay with comfort if you want the added responsiveness and steering feel. High-performance tires have much stiffer ride quality, which can become tiring on longer distances. They also tend to produce more noise, especially at higher speeds.
Furthermore, high-performance tires also wear faster than grand-touring tires. Usually, a set of these tires will last around 20,000 to 30,000 miles less than their grand-touring counterparts. Also, at least when it comes to all-season tread compounds, grand-touring tires are cheaper than high-performance tires.
Even in the high-performance category, though, there is a difference in classification. High-performance models are only the entry-level here – there is also ultra-high-performance, max-performance, and extreme-performance tires on offer.
What you should know is that the higher you go, the better performance you will get. For example, max-performance and extreme-performance tires are an outstanding option for drivers of powerful sports cars and supercars or anyone that wants to go on track days. That said, you will also get a less comfortable ride and shorter treadlife with max-performance and extreme-performance tires.
5. What About the Climate? Does it Make a Difference?
You bet it does! If you read this far, you’re probably interested in improving the performance of your car. The best way to do that is by installing summer tires.
Summer tires are made from a sticky tread compound that gives by far the best traction and grip on dry and wet surfaces. These tires are also stiffer, which improves responsiveness greatly, especially in very hot weather. For spirited drivers, there is no better choice than summer tires.
When combined with low side profiles, summer tires will give you an exhilarating drive on the street, and also on the track. That’s why, in our opinion, low-profile tires are best combines with a summer tread compound.
That said, summer tires also have some disadvantages. First of all, they don’t work in very cold weather and might get damaged if driven in those conditions. Moreover, they tend to be noisy and harsh over rough surfaces and have very short treadlife.
For people that want a reliable low-profile tire throughout the year, all-season tires are a very good option as well. These tires are designed to work in a wider temperature range, and have additional sipes and biting edges for driving over snow. All-season tires are also much more durable than summer tires and provide the passengers with better overall comfort.
With that said, all-season tires lack the responsiveness and drivability of summer tires. Even if you choose ultra-high-performance all-season tires, you won’t get near the performance a proper summer tire will offer on dry and wet surfaces. They are completely safe for everyday driving, though, especially if you aren’t a very aggressive driver.
With all that said, if you live in areas with very harsh wintry conditions, the best choice is winter tires. These tires are specifically designed for better performance in the winter, especially when driving over snow, slush, or ice. With a set of winter tires on your car, you will benefit from high levels of traction and strong braking over snow and ice. It will feel almost like driving on wet surfaces!
That said, while winter tires aren’t often offered with low side profiles, there are some high-performance models that come in those sizes. That’s why we included one model in our list to appeal to drivers that live in the northern areas.
Low-profile tires can change the nature of your vehicle significantly, especially in terms of dynamics and comfort. That’s why we strongly recommend having a look at the disadvantages of low-profile tires to see if you can live with them.
Moreover, low-profile tires often demand very large wheels, which can cost a fortune. And to make things even worse, the low-profile tires won’t protect the wheels as good as standard-sized tires.
That said, if you’re a real driving enthusiast, choose a set of tires from our Top 10 list and have fun! Low-profile tires are a clear way forward if you want a better driving experience.