The Toyota Highlander is one of the most popular cars in the biggest Japanese car manufacturer, not just because it offers a compelling set of characteristics, but also due to the fact that mid-size crossovers are very popular today. Unveiled at the turn of the century, the Highlander came just at the right time, and it was an immediate success. There are several reasons why the Highlander is very popular, but it ultimately boils down to the legendary Toyota reliability, comfortable ride quality, car-like dynamics, and the sheer space on offer.
But, we’re not here to talk about the Highlander. Instead, we will talk about how to improve on the already good dynamic abilities of the Japanese crossover with a new set of tires. They may seem trivial to some people but trust us – tires are perhaps the most important part of any car. When you think about it, the best tires for Toyota Highlander should be able to provide the passengers with comfortable driving experience, usable traction, grip, and braking regardless of the conditions, and also a long-lasting treadlife.
That’s a very long list of qualities that not a lot of tires can manage, which makes choosing the right one a pretty daunting task. Sure, you can always ask the seller for the best tires for Highlander, but the answer he/she will give you might not be the best for you. Like most things in life, different tires appeal to different types of drivers. They are also designed for various climates – there is no single tire that will work flawlessly in every weather you encounter.
Luckily, we’re here to help. In this article, we will give you a list of the 10 best tires for Toyota Highlander, also divided into several categories, so everyone can find his/her favorite. Then, we will explain to you what’s the difference between various tire types and why some are better, and some worse for you. Let’s begin!
Best Touring Tires for Toyota Highlander
1. Continental CrossContact LX20 with EcoPlus Technology
If you want a set of tires that won’t cost as much as its closest premium alternatives, but one that also offers great performance across the board, then the CrossContact LX20 is an excellent choice. Starting with comfort, the Continental offers one of the quietest rides in the category, and the ride quality isn’t far behind.
Behind the wheel, the LX20 is very responsive and provides the driver with high levels of grip and traction, as well as stopping power. Wet traction and braking are also top-notch, easily among the best contenders in the category. High-speed stability is excellent, as expected from a touring tire made from a reputable German manufacturer. On top of that, this tire also comes with EcoPlus Technology, which means that it will improve the fuel economy of your Highlander.
The Continental CrossContact LX20 is also a very durable tire that should last you for at least 5-6 years. The 70,000-mile treadwear warranty is very good, but there are some newer competitors that offer 80,000-miles right now.
2. Bridgestone Dueler H/L Alenza Plus
The Dueler H/L Alenza Plus is a tire that is also designed to offer combination of qualities and one that doesn’t disappoint anywhere. The best thing about Dueler is how comfortable it is. Ride quality is as plush as it gets, while tire noise is almost non-existent on the highway. If comfort is what you’re after, look no further than this Bridgestone.
On the road, the Dueler provides the driver with ample grip and traction on dry surfaces for everyday driving, as well as excellent stopping power and high-speed stability. However, some drivers may want it to be a tad more responsive. Wet traction, grip, and braking are excellent, though, even in heavy rain. The Dueler is one of the best all-season tires when it comes to traction in light snow, which is another great positive.
The Dueler H/L Alenza Plus comes with an outstanding 80,000-mile treadwear warranty, one of the longest in the business.
3. Pirelli Scorpion Verde All-Season Plus
Pirelli’s touring tires might not be as popular as their high-performance P Zero lineup, but that shouldn’t detract from the fact that they’re still brilliant tires. The Scorpion Verde All-Season Plus is one of the best crossover tires right now, especially when it comes to driving dynamics.
On the road, the Pirelli is very responsive and direct, giving the driver a lot of confidence. It also provides excellent high-speed stability, high levels of grip and traction, and excellent braking performance. Driving in wet conditions is easy-peasy as well, thanks to the four circumferential grooves that give the Scorpion Verde excellent hydroplaning resistance.
The Italian tire is also very comfortable and quiet and even has low-rolling-resistance built-in for those that care about fuel economy. However, the warranty could be longer – at 65,000-miles, it is beaten by its closest premium competitors.
4. Michelin Premier LTX
The Michelin Premier LTX is a premium tire designed to offer a better driving experience than other touring tires. Luckily, it succeeds, albeit at the expense of two glaring disadvantages – higher price and lower 60,000-mile treadwear warranty.
Still, if you care about how your Highlander drives and feels, there is no better option than the Premier LTX. With a set of these tires, your car will feel much more responsive than with the alternatives. Traction and grip will also be much better, while braking is simply unbeatable by any other competitor. On top of that, the Total Performance Technology improves the fuel economy of the Highlander, without adverse effect on the performance.
The Premier LTX is the best touring tire in the rain as well, thanks to the Expanding Rain Grooves around the circumference and Emerging Grooves across the shoulders.
Did we say that the Premier LTX is also supremely quiet and comfortable? Again, one of the best in its class!
5. Goodyear Assurance CS Fuel Max
The Goodyear Assurance is another excellent touring tire from a reputable manufacturer that will appeal to Highlander buyers. It offers low-rolling resistance, as its name implies, which improves the fuel economy and lowers emissions of any vehicle you install it on.
On top of that, the Assurance CS Fuel Max is also very responsive in the corners and provides high levels of grip and traction due to the Dry Tread Zones on the inboard and outboard layers. Wet traction is covered with the Wet Tread Zone, which takes care of driving over damp surfaces, while the Dual Aquachannel Grooves take care of hydroplaning. Light-snow traction is also very good for an all-season tire.
Sadly, the good dynamics abilities of the Assurance aren’t covered with comfort on the level of the best in the category, and the 65,000-mile treadwear warranty is also lacking in comparison.
Best Highway Tires for Toyota Highlander
6. Michelin Defender LTX
For people that tow trailers or haul a lot of cargo with their Highlander’s, we can’t think of a better choice than the Defender LTX. The most popular option with truck and SUV owners is known for its durability, high load ratings, and overall excellent performance.
On the road, the Defender LTX delivers excellent traction, grip, and braking on dry surfaces, as well as very good responsiveness. High-speed stability is outstanding, even with a trailer attached, while wet traction and braking are best-in-class.
On top of that, the Defender LTX is also supremely quiet and comfortable for a highway tire, and it comes with a 70,000-mile treadwear warranty – the best result in the category. The Defender LTX even features a cut- and chip-resistant compound for driving on gravel if that’s your thing. The only downside is the price, but that’s understandable given the qualities of this tire.
7. General Grabber HTS60
General Grabber is another excellent option for those that tow with their Highlanders. It offers almost the same performance as the Defender LTX, albeit at a lower price point. If you don’t care about having the ultimate highway tire, this one is the best choice right now.
Like the Michelin Defender LTX, the Grabber features a cut- and chip-resistant compound that helps for light off-roading. On-road dynamics are also very good, thanks to the vehicle-tuned tread patterns, while high-speed stability is outstanding, even with a trailer attached. That said, while the “normal” versions offer excellent hydroplaning resistance, the heavy-duty ones are a little bit worse.
The 65,000-mile treadwear warranty for S- & T-Speed Rated models is also very close to the Defender LTX and very good given the price point of the Grabber HTS 60. However, LT sizes and H-Speed rated models get only a 50,000-mile treadwear warranty.
Best Winter Tires for Toyota Highlander
8. Michelin Latitude X-Ice Xi2
The Latitude X-Ice Xi2 is simply the best winter tire for crossovers right now. It offers excellent handling abilities in freezing conditions with best-in-class traction and grip. Wet traction and braking are also among the best in the category, both in light and heavy rain. What you’re probably most interested in is the snow traction, and that one is simply outstanding as well. With a set of these tires, there is no snow or ice that will stop you from accelerating, or slide you when you want to stop. The Latitude X-Ice Xi2 even comes with a 40,000-mile treadwear warranty, better than every other winter tire right now. Like every Michelin tire, though, this one is also the most expensive in its category.
9. Bridgestone Blizzak DM-V2
If the Michelin is too pricy for you, then the Blizzak DM-V2 is another excellent winter choice. Thanks to the NanoPro Tech Multicell compound that has a water-loving hydrophilic coating, the Blizzak has outstanding snow traction and stopping power. Handling in wintry conditions is also extremely good, as is high-speed stability. However, the DM-V2 doesn’t come with any treadwear warranty, which is a shame for a premium tire.
Best High-Performance Tires for Toyota Highlander
10. Yokohama Parada Spec X
Drivers that are ready to accept a shorter treadlife while seeking ultimate performance, might be tempted to try the Yokohama Parada Spec X. This tire will give the driver much more confidence to push forward, even when compared to tires like the Michelin Premier LTX.
Responsiveness is absolutely amazing here, while traction and grip are one of the best in the category. As expected, braking is also outstanding. The same that we said about dry performance also applies to wet performance, but not for driving in light snow, where the Parada Spec X starts to suffer, despite the all-season moniker.
On the positive side, Yokohama is actually pretty comfortable and quiet for a high-performance tire, but on the negative, it doesn’t come with any treadwear warranty.
Touring and Highway Tires are the Best Choice for Most Highlander Owners
It is no surprise that touring and highway tires are loved by Highlander owners around the USA. They offer the most balanced characteristics of any other type of tires and don’t have some glaring disadvantages. And as their names suggest, they’re built for long tours or highway sessions, something that Highlander owners do most often.
But let’s start with the single most important thing about these tires, and that’s durability. Touring and highway tires are by far the most durable type of any on the market right now. The best premium touring tires come with outstanding 80,000-mile treadwear warranty, which is double the warranty other types of tires offer. And it’s not just the tread – most modern touring and highway tires have strong casing that won’t lose the geometry over time. These qualities also make touring, and highway tires the most cost-effective option on the market, especially when you consider the lower price than other tire types.
Then, these tires also offer good performance across the board. Sure, they will not light your socks on fire with the handling abilities, but they’re still capable of completely safe and reliable driving experience. The best touring tires for Toyota Highlander offer high levels of traction, even for the V6 version of the car, outstanding grip in the corners, and excellent stopping power. They also work remarkably in wet conditions, even when it pours. Due to the fact that most touring and highway tires today are all-season tires, they also work in near-freezing conditions and light snow.
And if that wasn’t enough, touring and highway tires are also designed with comfort in mind. They offer absolutely the best ride quality of any other type of tire, which means that smaller and bigger bumps will be ironed-out much better. Also, the tread of these tires is designed so that it lowers noise levels – great news for the long driving sessions on the highway.
Until now, we’re sure that you asked the question “but what’s the difference between touring and highway tires?” Don’t worry; we have the answer to that as well. Honestly, today the line is blurred a little, but touring tires have lower load ratings, while highway tires have higher load ratings. This means that highway tires are better for towing very big trailers, something that Highlander owners rarely do, but it still happens. That said, there are some touring tires with genuinely high load ratings, which makes them capable of towing mid-size trailers.
What if I Want More Responsive Handling?
For most Highlander owners, touring and highway tires will suffice in the handling department. However, if you own a Highlander V6 and want an even better driving experience than the one offered from the factory, a set of high-performance tires will make all the difference in the world. These tires are specifically designed to offer much better dynamics in almost every measurable aspect, including traction, grip, braking, and stability. High-performance tires are also much more responsive and generally make for a more direct feeling behind the steering wheel. The best high-performance tires for Toyota Highlander will make your everyday drive much more enjoyable, especially if you’re enthusiast like us.
However, high-performance tires also have some glaring disadvantages that you should know off. The first is, of course, the price, which is much higher than that of touring or highway tires. Then, high-performance tires also don’t last nearly as long – the best of them come with a 50,000-mile treadwear warranty. Finally, the ride quality is worsened, and there will be more noise on the highway.
What About Off-Roading?
The Highlander is available in AWD form, which in the mind of most people means better traction for off-roading. While this is generally true, the Japanese crossover isn’t really designed to tackle harsh terrain. That’s one of the reasons why we won’t include off-road tires in the list above, the other one being that they are compromised for on-road driving. If you still want to use your Highlander for off-roading, a set of all-terrain tires from a reputable manufacturer will certainly suffice.
What About the Climate? Does it Make a Difference?
Of course! Apart from choosing a set of tires that will suit your driving style, it is very important to choose a set of tires that will also adjust to the weather in your area. Right now, there are four options on the market when it comes to weather: all-season, all-weather, summer, and winter tires.
All-season tires are the most popular type simply because they work in the widest temperature range. This means that you can use them freely without worrying about the temperature dropping below zero or going too high. The best all-season tires for Toyota Highlander offer high levels of grip and traction in warm and cold weather, as well as excellent stopping power. They also work in wet conditions, and the best of them even work in light snow.
All-weather tires are closely-related to all-season tires, but they’re designed to work in colder weather. They still work very well in warmer conditions, albeit slightly worse than all-season tires. In the winter, though, they are better in every measurable aspect, and especially when it comes to light snow traction and braking. On top of that, all-weather tires are very good for driving in heavy rain, thanks to their prominent tread depth with a lot of sipes.
That said, while all-weather tires are certainly sufficient for mild winters, they’re still unusable in very deep snow. If you live in areas with harsh winters, a set of proper winter tires is a must. These tires offer by far the best driving characteristics in very cold weather, including traction, grip, and braking. They are also much better in the snow – the best winter tires for Toyota Highlander offer outstanding traction and braking on packed or unpacked snow, and they even work on ice. Nonetheless, winter tires are completely unusable when the weather becomes warmer.
On the opposite side of the spectrum, summer tires are the best choice for those that want to experience the best driving experience in warm conditions. The best summer tires for Toyota Highlander offer much better responsiveness, grip, traction, and braking than any other type of tires when the weather is warm or hot. They are also the best choice for rainy weather, especially in light rain. However, summer tires are unusable in colder conditions, and might even get damaged in the process.
You probably noticed that we only included tires from reputable manufacturers in the list above – no cheap tires on this website. The reasoning is very simple, actually – cheap tires from manufacturers that you don’t know are often unsafe to drive. Also, they aren’t nearly as durable as premium or budget-oriented tires from reputable manufacturers, which means that they might be more expensive in the long run. In other words, even if you don’t choose a set of tires from the list above, be sure that the ones that you chose are from a company you trust. Only then you’ll be completely satisfied with the purchase and perhaps even more importantly, safe while driving.