The Ford Explorer had a very shaky relationship with tires in the past. The Explorer – Firestone recall is one of the largest in automotive history, and also one that took the most casualties. The most important thing about that recall was the lesson we learned from it. Tires are not only there to give the automobile motion; they are an integral part of any vehicle that might be even more important than the engine or other systems for that matter.
The new Ford Explorer doesn’t have the issues of its notorious predecessor. As a matter of fact, today, it is one of the most polished mid-size SUVs and one that is known for its excellent driving dynamics and safety. That said, to fully exploit Explorer’s dynamics prowess, you will need the right set of Ford Explorer tires for your driving habits and the climate in your area. The thing is, there are many different tires and tire types available on the market today. This makes choosing the best tires for Ford Explorer a pretty daunting task, especially if you don’t know much about tires.
Whatever the set you choose, the tires must give you a safe and reliable driving experience in most conditions. In other words, the tires should adapt to you and not the other way around. This means that they must work flawlessly on dry and wet pavement, especially when you drive into the speed limit. Given the fact that the Ford Explorer is a family-oriented SUV, it would be great if the tires are also comfortable and quiet. Furthermore, nobody wants to replace tires every 2-3 years, so durability is another concern that should be addressed.
To help you choose the best tires for Ford Explorer, we created a Top 10 list of the best products. Our list is divided into categories. The reason is simple – not everybody wants the same qualities from a set of tires, and not everybody lives in the same environment. We strongly recommend choosing a set of Ford Explorer tires that will work best for your scenario. That’s why there is no single tire that we can proclaim as the winner. Here, every product is a winner in its own right.
Finally, for those that don’t know much about Ford Explorer tires, we also created a buying guide for the best tires for Ford Explorer. In that buying guide, we will explain our reasoning behind the Top 10 list. More precisely, we will explain the qualities of every tire type that seems viable for the Explorer. We are quite confident that the guide can help you learn more about tires and how they affect your driving.
- Top 10 List of The Best Tires for Ford Explorer are Recommended & Reviews
- 1. Michelin Premier LTX
- 2. Bridgestone Dueler H/L Alenza Plus
- 3. Pirelli Scorpion Verde All-Season Plus
- 4. Continental CrossContact LX20 with EcoPlus Technology
- 5. Michelin Defender LTX M/S
- 6. Cooper Discoverer HTP
- 7. Michelin Latitude X-Ice Xi2
- 8. Bridgestone Blizzak DM-V2
- 9. Yokohama Parada Spec X
- 10. BFGoodrich All-Terrain T/A KO2
- Best Tires for Ford Explorer: Buying Guide
- Final Words
Top 10 List of The Best Tires for Ford Explorer are Recommended & Reviews
Best Touring Tires for Ford Explorer
The Michelin Premier LTX is one of the best tires for Ford Explorer, especially the last two generations of the car. It plays well with the sporty nature of the crossover by giving the driver the best responsiveness in its category.
Grip and traction are also excellent, both in dry and wet conditions, while the braking is supremely secure and strong. Despite that, the Premier LTX is also very quiet and comfortable, among the best in the category. It even works on light snow!
That said, you should be prepared to live with a shorter 60,000-miles treadwear warranty and higher asking price to fully appreciate its qualities.
Best Touring Tires for Ford Explorer
The Bridgestone Dueler H/L Alenza Plus lacks the overall responsiveness of the Premier LTX, which means that you will not have that much fun behind the steering wheel.
However, grip and traction are still excellent, while braking is strong. On top of that, the Dueler provides the passengers with extra-plush ride quality and noise-free drive on the highway. This is one of the few all-season touring tires that’s also usable over light snow.
Most importantly, though, the Alenza Plus comes with an 80,000-miles treadwear warranty, which is the best result in the category.
Best Touring Tires for Ford Explorer
The Scorpion Verde is sort of between the Bridgestone and Michelin. It does provide the driver with excellent responsiveness on twisty roads, which pays well with the newer generations of the Explorer.
Grip and traction are also top-notch, and the braking distances are short. Like most premium touring tires, the Pirelli is quiet and comfortable, while also lowering the fuel consumption of the Explorer.
With that said, it comes with a 65,000-mile treadwear warranty, which is fine, but still far from the best in the category.
Best Touring Tires for Ford Explorer
The Continental CrossContact LX20 comes with a 70,000-miles treadwear warranty, one of the best results in the category, but still shy from the class-leading.
On the road, Continental’s offering shows excellent performance in wet conditions. As a matter of fact, it has the best hydroplaning resistance in the touring category for safe driving during heavy rain.
When it comes to comfort, the CrossContact LX20 is among the best in the touring category, both in terms of ride quality and quietness.
Last but not least, it also has the best low-rolling-resistance technology for reduced fuel consumption in its class.
Best Highway Tires for Ford Explorer
If you own an older Explorer or just want to do heavy-duty stuff with your new one, there is no better tire than the Defender LTX M/S.
This tire will provide you with excellent high-speed stability with or without a trailer attached. It also plays well on wet surfaces – hydroplaning resistance is top-notch. Braking is one of its advantages as well, even with a trailer attached.
Like most Michelin tires, the Defender LTX is quiet and comfortable. The treadwear warranty is class-leading at 70,000-miles. Sadly, though, it is also more expensive than its closest competitors.
Best Highway Tires for Ford Explorer
The Cooper Discoverer HTP is a cheaper highway alternative that still provides excellent performance throughout.
On the road, this tire works excellently on dry and wet surfaces. It has excellent high-speed stability, lots of grip and traction, and strong braking. It also plays well with trailers. That said, snow traction isn’t its forte.
On the positive side, this is one of the most comfortable and quiet highway tires on the market. It also comes with an excellent 65,000-miles treadwear warranty.
Best Winter Tires for Ford Explorer
Winter tires aren’t known for their durability, but the Latitude X-Ice Xi2 tries to rectify that with the 40,000-mile treadwear warranty.
It is an amazing tire for every winter condition as well. It provides the driver with outstanding snow and ice traction and handling, while also working excellently on dry and wet surfaces. This is the best winter tire for Ford Explorer overall for sure.
Best Winter Tires for Ford Explorer
The only large downside of the Bridgestone Blizzak DM-V2 is that it doesn’t come with any treadwear warranty. If you can go over that, you’ll get the best snow tire for Ford Explorer.
The Blizzak brakes strongly and accelerates swiftly over snow or ice, but also on dry and wet surfaces. All of this is achieved with the NanoPro Tech Multicell compound that has a water-loving hydrophilic coating that simply destroys the competition when it comes to performance.
Best Street/Sport Tires for Ford Explorer
The Yokohama Parada Spec X offers the best combination of performance and price in the Street/Sport category. It is supremely responsive and direct, improving on the already excellent drivability of Explorer 3.0-liter EcoBoost.
Grip and traction are also outstanding, while braking is among the best in the category. The Parada Spec X works very well on wet pavement as well but sadly isn’t as good over light snow. It also lacks a treadwear warranty, which is a curious choice from Yokohama.
On the positive side, this is one of the most comfortable Street/Sport tires around.
Best All-Terrain Tires for Ford Explorer
If you can live with the slightly higher road noise, the BFGoodrich All-Terrain T/A KO2 is the best all-terrain tire around.
Thanks to the race-derived Krawl-Tek compound, this Ford Explorer tires offers amazing off-road traction on gravel, rocks, sand, and mud, almost on the level of mud-terrain tires. The T/A KO2 also has a Sidewall Armor for extra durability and loose object rejection for added peace of mind.
On the road, grip, traction, braking, and stability are all very good, both on dry and wet surfaces. This is also one of the best tires for driving over unpacked snow, and it even comes with a 50,000-mile treadwear warranty.
Best Tires for Ford Explorer: Buying Guide
1. Touring Tires are the Best Choice for Most Explorer Owners
Most Explorer owners bought it because they wanted a versatile crossover with excellent performance, high levels of safety, and a lot of room for passengers and cargo. These drivers don’t care a lot about high levels of grip and traction in the corners – they just want a dependable solution for everyday family transportation.
We consider these drivers as the average Explorer owner, and for those, Crossover/SUV touring tires are the best choice. These are the tires that even Ford puts on the Explorer from the factory on entry-level and mid-level models.
Touring tires are mostly known for their price to durability ratio. Large tires for crossovers and SUVs tend to be very expensive, but touring models will definitely save you a few bucks, especially when compared to more specialized products, such as high-performance or all-terrain tires.
On top of that, touring tires are also extremely durable, especially when it comes to tread life. The best touring tires for Ford Explorer last for 5-6 years, which is pretty much amazing for a set of tires. Most manufacturers even cover these tires with outstanding warranties – some offer an 80,000-miles treadwear warranty!
Another quality of touring tires that Explorer owners will love is comfort. Touring tires offer by far the smoothest ride quality, both on the street and on the highway. Furthermore, manufacturers employ tread patterns that minimize noise. Thanks to that, even if your Explorer sits on larger 18-inch or 19-inch wheels, the tires will be almost silent on the highway.
Which begs the question – are they any good to drive? It depends. For everyday driving, touring tires are completely safe. They offer high levels of grip and traction, both on 2WD and 4WD models, and strong braking. The best thing about touring tires is that they work very well on wet pavement, especially during heavy rain. Thanks to the circumferential grooves and ample siping, touring tires provide outstanding hydroplaning resistance.
However, if you own a more powerful version of the Explorer, like the 3.0 EcoBoost, these tires won’t cut the mustard. Hard cornering isn’t really their forte – they will start twitching and lose grip much earlier. Moreover, they lack ultimate traction on more powerful engines and stop a few feet later if you drive really fast.
With all that said, if you don’t care much about performance, touring tires are the best tires for Ford Explorer. They are cheap, durable, comfortable, and completely safe for everyday driving.
2. Highway Tires are the Best Choice for Towing or Hauling
Highway tires are, in most ways similar to touring tires. They are super durable and cheap, offer a quiet and comfortable ride, and safe traction and braking on dry and wet surfaces.
That said, highway tires are more geared towards heavier SUVs and trucks, or for people that regularly tow or haul heavy cargo with their crossovers. Highway tires usually come in higher load ratings than touring tires, which makes them great for heavy-duty applications.
On top of that, highway tires have stiffer and tougher casings. Some of them are cut- and -chip-resistant, which makes them an excellent choice for driving on dirt and gravel. Despite the heavy-duty construction, highway tires have slightly lower treadwear warranties – the best you will get is 70,000-miles.
For newer versions of the Ford Explorer, we think that touring tires are still a better choice. They offer better stability when the owner is not towing, and last a bit longer. However, owners of older Explorers’ that were more heavy-duty focused will be better-served by highway tires.
3. Street/Sport Tires are the Best Choice for Performance Models
Family crossovers aren’t the first thing people’s minds when thinking about performance, but manufacturers still make fast versions of them. A great example of that is the Explorer 3.0 EcoBoost, which develops healthy 400 horsepower. For that model or any driver that wants a more engaging driving experience, we recommend going for Street/Sport tires.
These tires are specifically designed to offer more of everything when it comes to performance. On more powerful models, they will have much better traction during hard acceleration, improving the overall performance of the vehicle. Responsiveness is better as well, improving the overall feeling behind the steering wheel.
Furthermore, they also provide the driver with a much higher grip, which translates into faster and more secure cornering. As expected, braking distances are also shorter, which means that you can drive harder and faster. That’s especially important on crossovers such as the Explorer, which are already heavy and don’t sop as good as normal cars. Finally, Street/Sport tires offer much better high-speed stability, which means that driving on the highway will be safer.
Given their immense performance abilities, why not install these tires on every Explorer, you ask? The first and most obvious reason is the price. Street/Sport tires are pricey and on top of that, they don’t last as long as touring or highway tires. This means that you will be replacing them more frequently, while also paying more every single time.
Street/Sport tires are also not as comfortable as touring tires and might be noisier on the highway. That’s why, if you own the slower versions of the Ford Explorer, we recommend going for touring or highway tires. They still provide decent performance for everyday driving, especially when you drive around the speed limit.
4. What About Off-Roading?
Past Ford Explorer models were more suited to off-roading than the “softer” new ones. If you own one of the first four generations of the Explorer and want to tackle off-road conditions, we recommend going for all-terrain tires. These tires offer excellent off-road traction for the average driver, regardless of the surface. They work excellently on dirt, gravel, mud, sand, and even unpacked snow.
Moreover, all-terrain tires work better on the road than any other off-road alternative. Mud-terrain tires, for example, are much noisier on the highway and lack ultimate traction, grip, and stability. All-terrain tires are much closer to highway tires in the way they behave on the road.
Nonetheless, the last two generations of the Explorer are based on a car chassis (unibody) and aren’t really good for off-roading. For these cars, we recommend highway tires, which are a good choice for driving over dirt and gravel. Even if you put all-terrain tires on the new Explorer, it won’t translate into better off-road performance.
5. What About the Climate?
That plays a big role as well. The rubber compound in all tires is designed to operate in a specific temperature window. Some tires operate in a tighter window, while others in a wider window. Whatever the tire you install, it is recommended that you use it in areas where the temperature fits the tire.
Let us give you an example. If the tire is designed for warm weather and the outside temperature is freezing, the rubber compound becomes too hard and brittle. The result is a lack of traction and braking performance, especially in wet conditions.
On the other hand, if you use cold compound tires in hot weather, the tires become too soft and squishy. The result is a completely unresponsive handling, loss of high-speed stability, and overall traction and grip.
With that said, all-season tires are designed to operate in most conditions. That’s why they are the most prevalent tire type available for the Explorer. Touring, highway, Street/Sport, all-terrain, and mud-terrain tires are all available with an all-season compound.
All-season tires provide the driver with ample traction, grip, and braking in most temperature conditions, both on dry and wet surfaces. Some of them are also good over light snow, but still not sensational. Also, handling in very hot weather suffers a little when compared to hot-compound tires.
All-weather tires are a version of all-season tires designed for colder conditions. They lose a bit of responsiveness in warm weather but gain traction in freezing conditions. All-weather tires are also much better over light snow and ice when compared to normal all-season tires.
That said, winter tires are kings when it comes to driving in harsh wintry conditions. They offer the best traction and shortest braking distances in freezing conditions, regardless of the surface (wet, dry, snowy, or icy).
Finally, summer tires offer absolutely the best handling in hot conditions. The summer compound literally stays glued to the road, even during very fast driving. That’s why most Street/Sport tires are available with a summer compound.
You probably noticed that we didn’t include cheap tires on the list above. In our opinion, very cheap tires that you first saw on some retailer’s websites are completely unsafe to drive. They are probably produced in China without any quality control. In our testing, even the best tires from unknown manufacturers don’t provide safe traction and braking on the street, especially when it’s wet. That’s why we strongly recommend going for tires from reputable manufacturers, even if they are not on the list. Only then you’ll be completely satisfied with the purchase and perhaps even more importantly, safe while driving.