While today almost every car manufacturer that you should care about offers compact crossovers, not a lot of them have vehicles with the unique set of abilities the Subaru Forester has. One of the pioneers in the sector, the Subaru is known for its practicality, roominess, excellent on-road abilities, and very good off-road abilities. Yes, you’ve heard that right – the Forester is surprisingly good for off-road driving, unlike many of its competitors, which only pretend to.
That said, the Forester can still get easily stuck without the right set of tires. On the other hand, if you choose hardcore off-road tires, your family might start complaining on the added road noise and worse comfort over bumps. This makes choosing the best set of tires for Subaru Forester all the more difficult. Owners of these vehicles often need to ask themselves what is the right type of tire, and then what is the best tire in that category.
Don’t worry – we’re here to help. In this article, we will first clarify what every type of tire means and which one is the best for your needs. Then, you can have a look at our list of the best tires for Subaru Forester, where we will include every type of tire an owner of this Japanese crossover might need.
Touring All-Season Tires are the Best Tire Type for Most Forester Owners
If you don’t know what type of tires to choose for your car, then it is probably best to see what other owners install on their vehicles. Or see what the car manufacturer uses as an OEM choice. In the case of the Subaru Forester, the most popular tire type is touring all-season, or their variations grand-touring and performance touring.
The reason why these tires are most popular with Forester owners is pretty simple – they work in almost every condition you encounter. Thanks to their all-season moniker, these tires work through a wider temperature range. In other words, they will give you high levels of traction and grip both in the summer and in the winter. On top of that, most high-quality all-season tires work excellently in dry and wet conditions, and some of them even work in light snow.
Touring, grand-touring and performance touring tires are also known for their driving comfort and quietness at higher speeds. Most of them also come with lavishing treadwear warranties, which are better than any other tire type you might encounter. These qualities make touring tires the best choice for owners with kids as they not only improve comfort, but save money on the long run.
What if I Live in a Warmer Place?
That’s always a good question. See, all-season tires are made to work in wide temperature range, which means that they sacrifice ultimate traction, grip and braking performance in warmer conditions. For the best possible handling in warmer states (like Florida for example), summer tires are the best option. They will give your Forester an even better performance in the corners, shorter braking distances, and better responsiveness overall.
What About High-Performance Driving?
Like all-season tires, summer tires also come in different flavors. There are touring and high-performance tires of these variants and those are as different as they can be. Touring summer tires are a better choice for those who value comfort and quietness – the same as touring all-season tires.
However, if you mostly care about high-performance driving – and we know some Forester owners that do, the best choice is definitely high-performance tires. These tires are made to give the driver maximum performance in the corners. With a set of high-performance tires, the Forester will immediately become more responsive, it will grip the road better, it will brake better, and it will be much more stable at higher speeds. Trust us, the difference will be immediately noticeable, even after the first corner. That said, high-performance tires also last much less than touring tires due to their softer tread.
High-performance tires come in very different flavors. First of all, there are summer and all-season models available. The former offers much better performance, but only in the summer, while the latter work in colder climates as well. Also, you might encounter ultra-high-performance tires or max-performance tires while shopping. They are an even more extreme version of high-performance tires, designed for track use and very fast vehicles. As far as Forester owners are concerned, though, these tires aren’t the best choice around.
What If I Use the Forester for Off-Roading?
Off-roading popularity has grown in the past decade to the level that we’re seeing off-road builds of the Subaru Forester. Sure, not many people do that, but there are still some that use this crossover for off-roading. The best tires for those people are all-terrain tires. These tires are made to work for off-roading, but also to be usable on the road. Imagine them as a halfway between touring tires and hardcore off-road tires. With all that said, you might want to replace the rims as well, because the standard OEM rims aren’t the best option for off-road driving.
Okay, But What About the Winter?
One of the best things about the Subaru Forester is that it has symmetrical all-wheel-drive system. This system is one of the best in the business for driving on slippery surfaces such as snow. However, even though the Forester is better on snow than its competitors that only have front-wheel drive, winter tires are recommended for best results and maximum safety.
The question you’re asking yourself now is why winter tires if you already have all-season ones? Well, all-season tires are in reality not that good when it’s snowing – they only work in colder weather. Winter tires will give you much, much better traction and grip in snow, as well as much shorter braking distances. Paired with the symmetrical all-wheel drive on the Forester these tires will provide you and your family with safe and reliable driving experience in the winter. In other words, if you live in areas with harsh winters, replace your summer or all-season tires with winter ones in November and you’ll be good to go.
One last advice – if you live in areas with warmer winters, then all-weather tires might be a good option. These are somewhat similar to all-season tires, but with a bit more sipes and softer rubber that give them an advantage in snow. All-weather tires are still not a replacement for a proper winter tire, but they are much more usable and safer than all-season tires.
Best Touring Tires for Subaru Forester
1. Continental TrueContact
Luckily, you don’t have to spend a fortune to get a high-quality premium tire. The TrueContact might be the “budget” option in Continental’s lineup, but it still offers outstanding performance in almost every condition you encounter. As a standard touring tire, the TrueContact is a great choice for drivers with families, or anyone that covers a lot of miles annually with their Forester.
This tire has Continental’s proprietary Tg-F Polymers and +Silane additives in the tread compound that give it advantage over its rivals in dry and wet conditions, aided of course by the symmetrical tread design. This translates into the real world where the Continental provides excellent traction, grip and braking performance on dry, damp and very wet surfaces. As a matter of fact, this is probably the best touring tire for wet conditions.
Apart from that, the Continental TrueContact is also equipped with the ComfortRide technology, which helps in the comfort department. This is one of the quietest and most comfortable tires in its category, even when compared to some grand-touring tires.
With all that said, while the TrueContact is equipped with Traction Grooves, performance on light snow is not the best among its peers. What is the best, though, is the treadwear warranty. At 90,000-miles for T- & H-Speed Rated models and 80,000-miles for V-Speed Rated models, the Continental TrueContact is the most durable tire in its category. You can definitely forget about installing new tires in the near future.
2. Michelin Defender T+H
The Michelin Defender T+H is a tire that’s similar to the Continental TrueContact, but it comes at a much higher price point. If money is no object, then the Michelin might be a better option overall, especially for people that want the best possible traction in dry and wet conditions, as well as better traction in snow.
The Defender T+H has the EverTread all-season tread compound focused on durability and longevity. It is aided by the MaxTouch construction which evenly distributes the contact forces of the tire on the road. Thanks to that, the tire now comes with outstanding 80,000-mile treadwear warranty for all sizes, which is one of the best results in its category.
The IntelliSipe technology, on the other hand, maximizes the biting edges of the tire for better traction in wet and snowy conditions. This translates well into the real world – the Defender T+H is outstanding when it rains, beating almost all of its competitors. It is also usable in light snow, again beating most of its competitors. Dry handling is also covered – the tire is responsive and grips the road well.
As expected, the Defender T+H is also extremely quiet and comfortable thanks to the Comfort Control Technology. Overall, the Michelin would’ve probably been on the first place on this list if it weren’t for the higher asking price than that of most standard touring tires.
3. General AltiMAX RT43
Grand-touring tires are a slightly enhanced version of standard touring tires, especially when it comes to handling performance. The good news is that you can have a great set of grand-touring tires for almost the same price as the Continental TrueContact. The General AltiMAX RT43 is one of the most popular tires in the US due to its unique combination of qualities.
The first of those qualities is the Low Surface Abrasion technology, which reduces tread distortion while you’re driving and prolongs the life of the tire. The RT43 comes with 75,000-mile treadwear warranty for T-Rated models and 65,000-miles for H and V-rated models. This is not the best result in the grand-touring category per se, but it beats almost all value-oriented competitors.
The AltiMAX RT43 is also equipped with an advanced dual tread compound with Twin Cushion Silica that combines dry and wet traction with comfortable ride quality. This also translates into the real world. The AltiMAX RT43 is definitely one of the most responsive tires in dry conditions, and one of the best when it comes to wet traction. It is also supremely quiet and comfortable – great for long journeys. The General is even usable in light snow thanks to the Anti-Slip Sipe Design Technology.
Overall, the General AltiMAX RT43 is a worthy competitor in the grand-touring category, despite its lower price point.
4. Kumho Solus TA31
Kumho has become one of the most trustworthy names in the budget category, competing with the likes of General Tire, Firestone, and Hankook. Their Solus TA31 is one of the most popular tires for crossovers thanks to the low price and good performance throughout the tests we’ve done.
The Solus TA31 is a grand-touring all-season tire, which mean that it is perfectly suited for those that cover a lot of miles with their Subaru Forester. It offers very good responsiveness in the corners, paired with high levels of grip through the corner and excellent traction during hard acceleration. The Kumho also works in wet conditions, resisting hydroplaning like a champ.
That said, the Kumho Solus TA31 doesn’t have the same light-snow performance as its premium competitors, and the 60,000-mile treadwear warranty is somewhat lacking in comparison to the General AltiMAX RT43.
5. Pirelli Cinturato P7 All Season Plus
The Pirelli Cinturato P7 All Season Plus is another very popular grand-touring all-season tire thanks to the plethora of positive characteristics is possesses. It competes directly with similar tires from Bridgestone, Michelin and Continental, and it even beats them in some categories, like for example comfort. The Pirelli is supremely quiet, even at velocities well above the speed limit, and it also swallows smaller and bigger imperfections from the road. With a set of these tires, your Forester will become a much better highway companion.
Apart from that, the Pirelli Cinturato P7 is also outstanding in dry and wet conditions, regardless of the temperature outside. It also comes with a 70,000-mile treadwear warranty, which is not the best in the category, but still very good. The Pirelli is also cheaper than the Michelin Defender T+H for example, which may be very important for some buyers.
That said, the Pirelli trails the Michelin when it comes to light-snow traction, if only slightly.
Best Winter Tires for Subaru Forester
1. Bridgestone Blizzak WS80
The first three tires on this list might be usable in light snow, but they can’t hold a candle to the Blizzak WS80 when the real winter comes. Bridgestone’s winter offering is the best winter tire you can install on your Forester, combining several key characteristics that other competitors lack.
The first and most obvious one is snow traction. The Blizzak WS80 has Bridgestone’s proprietary NanoPro-Tech Multicell compound that is hydrophilic, which means that it loves water. It works by taking the water out of the snow, making it less slippery, and improving traction along the way. We know, it sounds silly, but trust us, it really works, even in very deep snow. The tread compound is further helped by the 3-D Zig-Zag Sipes which increase the number of biting edges, crucial for snow driving.
Apart from the outstanding snow performance, the Blizzak WS80 also offers excellent responsiveness and grip in dry and cold conditions, and outstanding traction in rainy weather. Oh, and it is also usable on ice, something that most winter tires can’t be praised for.
Overall, the Blizzak WS80 is definitely the best winter tire for Subaru Forester right now. Some competitors may beat it in one category, but no other winter tire is as consistent as the Bridgestone.
2. Goodyear Ultra Grip Winter
If you want high-quality winter tires and the Bridgestone Blizzak WS80’s are too expensive for you, fear not – the Goodyear Ultra Grip Winter is also an excellent option, albeit at a lower price point. Despite the lower price, the Goodyear is almost as good as the Bridgestone in dry and cold conditions. Responsiveness is excellent, traction is very good, and grip is outstanding. The Ultra Grip Winter also works in wet conditions – it resists hydroplaning very well.
But you’re probably still reading this because you want to know about its snow performance and that one is pretty good as well. Sure, the Blizzak will be better, but for the price, the Goodyear is probably a better value. Traction in light and deep snow is excellent, and the tire even works on ice, especially if you put studs on it.
That said, the Goodyear Ultra Grip Winter has higher road noise than the best winter tires out there, but that’s something that you must live with if you want a cheaper set of tires.
Best All-Weather Tires for Subaru Forester
Goodyear Assurance WeatherReady
If you live in areas with slightly less-harsh winters and don’t want to invest in winter tires, then a good set of all-weather tires might be the best option for you. Right now, the Goodyear Assurance WeatherReady is the best all-weather tire for the Subaru Forester. The main reason behind this is the Weather Reactive Technology with 3D TredLock Technology Blades that enhances the tire performance throughout the year.
This tire can be used throughout the year – it works in an even broader range than all-season tires. Thanks to that, the Assurance WeatherReady offers much better handling performance in very cold conditions, and also better performance on snow and ice. The difference is instantly noticeable and, in some situations, can be a life saver. Thanks to the more prominent tread design, the Goodyear is excellent in very wet conditions as well – hydroplaning is almost never an issue with this tire.
That said, the Goodyear lags behind its all-season rivals in dry and warm conditions, especially in responsiveness, and it also comes only with 60,000-mile tread warranty. The former will not be noticed by most drivers, but the latter might be an issue down the road.
Best Sporty Tires for Subaru Forester
1. Bridgestone Potenza RE980AS
The Forester has no shortage of racing-oriented models which borrow some mechanical components from the Impreza WRX STI. If you own a Forester Turbo (also known as the XT), then the best set tires for you are the Potenza RE980AS. Bridgestone’s high-performance all-season offering is one of the newest tires in its category and brings several technologies that make it an outstanding choice among enthusiasts.
The RE980AS is made of advanced all-season tread compound that is molded into an asymmetric tread pattern. Thanks to that, the Potenza is an absolute beast in the corners. Responsiveness is top-notch, almost on the level of summer tires, while grip and traction are also excellent. The Potenza RE980AS is also brilliant in wet conditions, beating most of its competitors. As expected, braking distances are extremely short both in dry and wet conditions.
While high-performance all-season tires aren’t really known for low noise, the Bridgestone somehow manages to be usable on the highway. The ride quality is slightly worse than expected, but still perfectly manageable. Interestingly, the Bridgestone is also usable in light snow, which is not something that we expected from a high-performance offering.
2. Nitto NT421Q
The Bridgestone Potenza RE980AS is undoubtedly an outstanding tire, but some people may find it expensive. If that’s the case with you, don’t worry – the Nitto NT421Q will do a very good job as well and it will cost much less. Sure, the Nitto is not a high-performance tire, but it still offers an elevated driving experience when compared to grand-touring one. It is responsive, it grips the road well, and it has a lot of traction.
The Nitto is also an all-season tire, which helps in colder conditions, while the water-evacuating circumferential grooves help in heavy rain. Despite the focus on performance, the Nitto also comes with 60,000 to 75,000-mile treadwear warranty, depending on the speed rating, which is pretty amazing for the price.