Suggestions for LRR tires?

I’m having a very difficult time finding rolling resistance ratings for new tires. The studies I’ve found only rate a few models, and many of those rated aren’t available in the 205/70R15 that I need. Can anybody point me in the direction of a good LRR tire?

I never drive in snow, rarely drive in the rain, and my driving style is best described as “calm”, so high performance is not a priority for me. What I do need is something that’s super-efficient, that doesn’t have horrible dry-braking or road noise. The best I’ve been able to find so far is the Michelin Symmetry. Can anyone suggest something better?


Goodyear is advertising some new tires with “Fuel Saver” technology.
Also, some Michelins are advertised as being more fuel-efficient than other tires.

These are two good brands to concentrate on, so I suggest that you visit Michelin and Goodyear dealers to see what the “official” materials from those manufacturers tell you about their LRR tires.

I’m puzzled why you went to the extra expense of owning one of the best All Wheel Drive vehicles, presumably to get the best traction, and then start shopping for tires, not with the best traction, but the lowest rolling resistance.

AWD vehicles have a significant gas mileage penalty, far larger than any LRR tire can make up.

The Prius is the gas mileage champ, but its tires, with very low rolling resistance, are no great shakes for traction.

The real difference in gas mileage is so small that by changing your driving style, you could probably do just as well. All Michelin tires have close the best gas milege in their respective categories without being noisy.

Look at Consumer Reports Nov 09. They did tests on quite a few tires and do measure rolling resistance. If I remember correctly, the Symmetry was a pretty good tire overall. Understand your desired outcome for efficiency, but you may be overstating the overall effects of a “super-efficient” tire. Our Subaru’s overall gas mileage doesn’t vary by about 1 or 2 mpg on our commuting routes (cold, bad weather and all), and we have had three diffeent brand/models of tires on it.

If you never drive in the snow and want better gas mileage why are you driving a four wheel drive vehicle ?

“I’m puzzled why you went to the extra expense of owning one of the best All Wheel Drive vehicles, presumably to get the best traction, and then start shopping for tires, not with the best traction, but the lowest rolling resistance.”

Because when I purchased the car, I was driving aggressively on snow and ice. Now, I drive defensively on dry asphalt.

To get to work.

You should be aware that there is a technology triangle involving rolling resistance, traction, and treadwear. These are all trade offs - meaning while you can get excellent treadwear, but it is done at the expense of traction and / or rolling resistance. Nothing is for free.

Any improvement in gas mileage will not be noticeable or measurable. If you pay $200 more for special LLR tires, you will NEVER recover the $200 over the life of the tires…

If you want to double your gas mileage, trade the Outback for an Echo…

For all those who are wondering why I have a Subaru but want more efficient tires:

  • I used to drive in areas where traction was a problem. Now I don’t.
  • I drive about 6000 miles/year, so I’m wasting about $250/year in gas over what I would be paying if I had a 35mpg car.
  • I could buy a new, smaller car, but that would cost WAY more than $250/year. And then I wouldn’t be able to buy a new car in 3-4 years when hopefully they will be marketing something smaller than what is available now.
  • I could buy a used, smaller car, but then I run the risk of getting something that requires major repairs. I have taken excellent care of my current ride, I have a pretty good idea of what’s wearing out, and I don’t want to trade that for something that won’t start on prime-numbered days of the month like my last car. Something like the latter would again cost WAY more than $250/year.
  • Unlike my car, my tires are worn out, done, finished, kaput. I need to replace them anyways.
  • Even a 3% increase in efficiency will save several hundred dollars over the life of the tire. And since pretty much any tire is going to be adequate for my needs traction-wise, why not go for efficiency?

Thanks for the Goodyear/Michelin and CR Nov '09 suggestions. I had looked at the CR report before I posted, and curiously the tires with red-half-circle or better ratings are a Uniroyal, Yokohama, Cooper, and Sumitomo. Not a Michelin in the bunch. And they didn’t even test the Symmetry. (OK, the Uniroyal is made by Michelin, iirc. But still.)

I have no technical advice here. I just want to compliment you on your well-reasoned approach.

Thanks for the answer. A Subaru is certainly worth hanging on to. Our family has used Michelin X which have a very long life (rated figure is 90,000 miles) with good results. Gas mileage is great and they seem to last forever.

Since we live in a severe winter area, we use Michlin X-ICE in the winter months.

Any tire you buy will be some kind of trade-off between economy and tread life. I would look for any fuel economy tire that fits your car and has a life of at least 90,000 stamped on its label.

Good luck!

You’re on the right track; it sounds like you just retired in the suuny South.

In the next 3 years there will be a large number of exciting economy cars coming on the market. The new Ford Fiesta, new smaller car from Toyota, Fiat 500 (not recommended), the Mazda 2 ( a real honey), smaller Volkswagen, and so on. You will find it worthwhile to wait for any of these and then still get a good trade for you well kept Subaru. Those cars will all get 40 mpg on regular gas.

Exciting? If the Focus RS makes it over here that would be an exciting car. The Fiesta is nice economy car, but I wouldn’t call it exciting.

Anyway. I think the OP is letting the idea of improved fuel economy cloud his/her judgment. I don’t think it’s a good idea to sacrifice traction for the sake of saving a few bucks a year. Typically the low rolling resistance tires have relatively poor traction compared to stickier tire with higher rolling resistance. Even if you’re a conservative driver it doesn’t mean you’ll never be in a situation where a set of high-grip tires will mean the difference of avoiding a collision and actually hitting something.

OP wants to get very good gas mileage; the Focus won’t give him that. The Fiesta is now on sale in Europe and it really is fun to drive. The Mazda 2 is a similar nice car, and going over very well in Europe when driving qualities are a primary and necessary consideration, unlike the US.

I agree, that OP, driving just 6000 miles a year should not worry about gas mileage. The overall operating expense of the car is what counts. In that case the cheapest tires Walmart sells will easily suffice until he buys a new small car 3 years from now.

Michelin Primacy MXV4 meet your requirement. However, they are fairly pricey. Cooper Lifeliner GLS would also meet your need at one third the price.

At 6000 miles per year and $3/gallon, you save a little over $200 each year in gas if you have a 6-cyl Outback wagon and replaced it with a car that get a city/highway average of 35 MPG. Unless you buy a small hybrid, it’s more likely that you would replace it with a car that averages 30 MPG. The savings is just $125 per year under those circumstances. You seem to be a detail oriented person, so I imagine that you check your tire pressure every couple of weeks and keep up on fluids and filters. If calm includes obeying he speed limit, then you are saving fuel on that count, too.

I ended up getting a set of Goodyear Assurance Fuel Max. Due to many conflicting ratings I felt like this was a bit of a shot in the dark, but most seem to agree that they retain traction pretty well on dry and wet roads, and they have one of the lowest rolling resistances of any tire. Price (including tax, installation, disposal, and fees) was just under $500.

Other tires that I considered were the Michelin Hydroedge, Uniroyal Tiger Paw Tour SR, and Yokohama Avid Touring-S. Michelin brags about their GreenX technology, but the tires they claim to be better than are all fairly inefficient (and CR rates the RR only 3/5). The Uniroyals have a handling rating of only 2/5, and while I don’t go swooping back and forth a lot, I’d like them to perform at at least an average level. I would have gotten the Yokohamas if I had found a place that had them in stock before the Goodyears.

Incidentally, the Michelin Primacy MXV4 seems to clearly stand out performance-wise over all the other LRR tires that CR rates. Unfortunately they weren’t available in the size I needed, but if they had been they would have been the clear choice despite the extra $20 per tire.

I’ll post again once I’ve run through a few tanks of gas and let you know what happens to my mileage. That is, if I manage to survive the inevitable loss of traction and fiery crash that seems inevitable when driving on LRR tires.

We are all hanging on the edge of our seats to see if you are able to measure ANY improvement in fuel mileage…

It should be noted, professional drivers who are being PAID to achieve maximum fuel mileage can usually improve on an “average” drivers mileage by at least 1/3…Maybe a few old hands remember the “Mobilgas Economy Run” and the mileage (verified) numbers they were able to achieve…

I suspect driving habits and technique can produce far more than a set of trick tires…

If your really worried about the gas mileage for your Outback, you may want to check in with some of the Subaru discussion groups and look into the long-term effects of turning off the 4WD system in your particular model. I had a friend who did that in his Impreza by pulling a fuse, and gas mileage jumped 4 MPG. He replaces the fuse before the first frost of Fall, and leaves it in through Winter. Once Spring returns, he pulls it again. May be worth looking into. BTW, it is supposed to be standard practice to pull this fuse anytime you put a spare tire on.