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Best tires for on-road driving

Reviews say the Michelin LTX M/S2 (*Est. $225) is the best all-season tire for your pickup or SUV, followed closely by the cheaper Continental CrossContact LX20 EcoPlus (*Est. $165) . The main difference between the two is tread life, and experts say a longer-wearing tire can save you money in the long run.

"Think about it: Not only could you be replacing tires twice as often, but you will be doubling tire installation cost" if you choose a shorter-wearing tire, ConsumerReports.org says. In its latest test, experts there found one SUV/truck tire that lasted more than 100,000 miles, and another that wore out before 50,000, even though they both carried about the same treadwear warranty (65,000 and 60,000 miles, respectively).

Similarly, the Michelin LTX M/S2 and the Continental CrossContact LX20 EcoPlus carry the same treadwear warranty (six years/70,000 miles), but the Michelin tire lasts much longer in an independent treadwear test. The Continental still rates good for tread wear in that test, and owners don't complain, but we didn't find any owners at TireRack.com who have put more than 15,000 miles on this relatively new model, either. On the other hand, plenty of owners say they've gotten 90,000 miles or more out of their Michelin LTX M/S2s, and they're still going strong.

"Currently have 110,000 miles on this tire in the 1st version from Michelin (110K, that was not a typo)," reports a Toyota Highlander driver from Kentucky at TireRack.com. "They still look and feel like new. Expect to get an additional 10 to 20K more out of these before replacing with this new set I ordered today."

Otherwise, both the Michelin LTX M/S2 and Continental CrossContact LX20 EcoPlus perform equally well, experts and owners say. Both cling to wet, dry and snowy roads, with the Continental holding a slight edge, and they have good traction and braking on ice. Both handle well, are very quiet and deliver a comfortable ride. The Continental is supposed to be a more fuel-efficient, low-rolling-resistance tire, but an independent test finds about the same rolling resistance as the Michelin, with both rating good. In TireRack.com's eco-tire shootout, the Continental tire is slightly less fuel efficient than eco-tires from Bridgestone and Goodyear, needing about 34 gallons more per year from the average driver. But testers recommend the Continental tires anyway, because of their superior grip and handling.

In the past, experts have recommended three-season tires for people who drive trucks and SUVs in warm climates (or for those who switch to snow tires in the winter). Three-season tires have traditionally been designed to deliver optimal performance on wet and dry roads. Owners at TiresTest.com and TireRack.com like the General Grabber UHP (*Est. $145) better than any other three-season truck tire, saying it demonstrates excellent performance on wet and dry roads. Still, owners say the all-season Michelin LTX M/S2 and the Continental CrossContact LX20 EcoPlus grip just as well in the same conditions, and they can be driven during the winter, too.

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