Best All-Seasons Tires for '07 Subie Outback?

My wife’s 2007 Outback that we bought used last year has only 23K on the OE tires, but with winter here I’m thinking of upgrading to newer and better all-seasons. I’ve toyed with the idea of a separate set of winter tires, but since most of the time here in suburban eastern Mass. the roads and our driveway are plowed out, she’s not usually driving in deep snow. Presumably the all-seasons handle and stop better on wet and dry snow-free surfaces, including ice.

I looked at the TireRack surveys, but am overwhelmed with the options. So I’d welcome any opinions and comments on your experience with currently-available tires.

The Goodyear Triple-Tread Assurance tires seem to be well-regarded. But I’m open. My wife uses the car for mostly commuting on secondary roads; occasionally we might use it for an highway trip.

/Mr Lynn

Consumer Reports Nov 09 also helps narrow down your choices. Particularly note the Goodyear Triple Tread that did well. As I recall, the Hankook did best when it came to snow.

Our Subaru has BF Goodrich Traction T/A and is doing fine with them. They did not score high in CR testing, but the previous tire reports were too old to be useful when I needed to do the purchase.

Let’s face it. Virtually ANY tire would be superior in winter traction to the crappy Bridgestone Potenza RE-92 tires that Subaru supplied with these cars.

That being said, like jayhawkroy, I use BF Goodrich Traction T/A tires on my Outback.
They are superior in every way to the original Bridgestones. However, since I like to have as much of a safety advantage as possible, I use a set of Michelin X-Ice tires in the winter.

If I was going to limit myself to one set of tires, I would probably go for the Goodyear Triple Treads.

You would also do well with the Goodyear Assurance ComforTreds The TripleTreds are directional tires, while the ComforTreds are not. A test (not owner opinion) run by Tire Rack had the TripleTred barely ahead of the ComforTreds. They were essentially equal.

Another great choice is Nokian WR or Nokian WR G2. They are all-seasons rated as winter tires also. Many Subaru (WRX) owners I know like them as a winter tire for eastern MA/coastal NH conditions as they are wonderful in rain, slush the majority of conditions.

They can be pricey but I found Maynard & Lesieur(Nashua NH) and John & Sons to be the cheapest by far.

Are you saying there’s a disadvantage to directional tires? If so, what is it?

/Mr Lynn

If you are really worried about winter driving, I strongly suggest Winter tyres. These are not your father’s snow tyres or the so called all season (really three season) tyres. They are far better on snow and ice.

After much research (TireRack, Consumer Reports, etc) I purchased a set of Bridgestone Turanza Serenity tires for one of my cars. They’re expensive, but they have provided excellent traction wet or dry, good ride and handling, and very low noise.

I’ve put about 3,000 miles on them so far, and I believe that, over time, they will prove to be the best tires I’ve ever owned.

I’ve driven through some slushy snow with these tires, and they handled it well, but I normally install winter tires when the snow season arrives, so I don’t plan to drive on them when there is real snow on the ground.

Anyway, if you’re looking at high quality tires (and why would you look at anything else), check out the Bridgestone Turanza Serenity.

Directional tires means the tread design for best performance is mounted on a rim and mounted on a vehicle so that tire will roll in the direction the design warrants. (Best handling and road performance)

IF the tires are rotated so the right (passenger) side tires become the left (drivers) side, the tread design will face the opposite direction voiding the manufacturers claim of reliability.

Plus, the tire may wear unevenly and prematurely.

To compensate (and add cost) the tires would need to be removed, turned and remounted (on the rims) and rebalanced before mounting on the vehicle.

If the tread design is such that it performs equally well in either direction, it becomes non-directional.

FWIW my next door neighbor has an '05 Outback and swears by his Michelin X-Ice tires (like I do for my '04 Toyota Matrix.)

I just wish they weren’t so darn expensive.

But you can rotate them front-to-back and vv, on the same side, right? That’s all I do now with all my vehicles, FWD, RWD, and now (I assume) the AWD Subie.

Doesn’t sound like much of a disadvantage to me.

/Mr Lynn

As I said, too many options!

I was heading for winter tires, but then was told, “Hey, the roads get plowed. Most of the time, even in winter, you’re driving on pavement, wet, dry, or icy, but not much snow. The winter tires are terrible on regular pavement.”

Who do you believe?

/Mr Lynn

Tire store shelf-space is COMPLETELY overstocked. There are probably 200 different tires offered that will fit your car. One guy loves them, the next says they are POS…

So use your own common sense. The BEST tire for dry pavement is a slick. The BEST tire on snow has an open, aggressive, deep tread with “Z”-bars zig-zagging back and forth. Some “all-season” tires are more like slicks, optimized for high-speed dry road driving but still safe on wet roads. They have more rubber and less air in the tread. Others have a more open tread with lots of “edges” to bite into packed snow. The more open the tread, the more pressure the remaining rubber is put under so they “bite” very well but tend to wear quickly and be noisy. Check the “treadwear rating” to get some idea of how long the tire will last. “Winter Tires” are great on ice and snow but they are noisy and wear quickly… On dry pavement at high speed they deliver something less than crisp handling…So visit several tire stores and see what they have to offer and make an informed decision…

Well, it seems to come down to either three-month winter tires (ideally on their own rims), or twelve-month all-seasons. If we were in the mountains or had to deal with a lot of snow-packed roads, I’d opt for the winter tires. As it is, it’s a guessing game. More rain? More ice? Better handling? I’ll probably go with a decent all-seasons tire. Do I even need to replace the 5/32" Potenzas at this point? Seems a shame to waste that much rubber. . .

Well, we’ve got run-flats now, which were science fiction not so long ago (I always wondered why they didn’t just fill tires with foam rubber, which never goes flat!), so maybe we’re not too far away from electronically-controlled nano-rubber tires that sense road conditions and change their tread pattern to match: the Intelli-tire!

/Mr Lynn

At 5/32" even an good all-season is well past its point for winter traction. My wife dumped her (Subaru Legacy) RE92’s at 7/32" after nearly hitting the rear of a car on some slippery pavement. We did save them and remount them in the spring for one more season. RE92’s turn from mediocre to dangerous in winter traction somewhere before 5/32".

Again the Nokian WR or Nokian WR G2’s are probably the best bet for a one size fits all tire. We are at 40k in wear and still likely another 15k left on low profile V-rated WR G2’s which is unheard of on our Legacy GT wagon. However the Goodyear model may cut it.

The real secret IMHO is keeping treadwear for any tire (winter or all-season) at/above 5/32" for your winter season. Otherwise in those conditions the tires will be treachrous.

A pure winter tire will likely at best get one week total of optimal use in Eastern MA/Coastal conditions. Performance winter tires which give nothing up on dry/wet days and some winter traction are more optimal. However usually they are used by sportier model car owners who run pure summer tires.