Tire companies put the emphasis on street driving when designing all-season tires. Because most light trucks and SUVs "spend 99 percent of their time on the paved road," these "have soft sidewalls (for a good ride) and a mild tread pattern (for quietness)," says Ken Brubaker with Four Wheeler magazine. This gives the tire very little traction and durability for off-road trails. As SUVs and crossovers also move farther away from their work-oriented predecessors, all-season tires shift their focus to "on-road sportiness … to blend handling capability, ride quality and year-round traction," say editors with TireRack.com.
Reviews say the Michelin LTX M/S2 (Est. $200) is a perfect example of a well-designed all-season tire for trucks and SUVs. Michelin tires are known for their long life and impressive performance in all types of weather, according to experts, and the LTX M/S2 holds true to this image. Comparison tests show that its open-shoulder tread pattern is exceptional at shedding water away from the tire to prevent hydroplaning. The LTX M/S2 is one of the longest-lasting tires in our report and includes an outstanding six-year, 70,000-mile warranty. "I know they cost more, but it is worth it," says an owner at TireRack.com.
For a more high-performance experience, reviews recommend the Pirelli Scorpion Verde All Season (Est. $200) and Yokohama Parada Spec-X (Est. $170). Both have a higher speed rating -- up to 130 mph -- but can haul less weight. The Pirelli excels on dry pavement, according to reviews, with slightly less traction on wet roads. In a comparison test by TireRack.com, editors say its handling is "responsive and nimble with a very direct feel in the steering wheel." Their test in the snow illustrates the Scorpion Verde's weakness, where it "could provide only adequate traction." Pirelli covers treadwear with a 50,000-mile warranty.
In comparison, the Yokohama Parada Spec-X "handles very well in the snow and ice," says an owner at TireRack.com, adding, "I love how they grip the road in dry conditions and rain as well." Reviewers also frequently praise the tire's sleek look and directional tread. On TireRack.com's owner surveys, the Yokohama gets higher marks for ride comfort and tread noise next to the Pirelli. However, the Parada Spec-X doesn't include a treadwear warranty and tends to wear out sooner.
As price shifts from premium to budget many tires can maintain a high level of performance or durability, but they can rarely feature both. A reduction in life span is common -- and with the cost to mount and balance tires, some experts say it can be worth it to spend more on tires and replace them less often. For shoppers looking to spend $150 or less per tire, however, a few all-season models stand out. It may not seem like a $50 price drop is particularly significant, but when you're looking at cost across four tires, it adds up.
Two of the best budget picks -- the Continental CrossContact LX20 EcoPlus (Est. $150) and the Bridgestone Dueler H/L 422 Ecopia (Est. $140) -- are part of a select line of tires that focus on saving you money at the gas pump. These eco-friendly tires are "designed with low rolling resistance as a high priority," say editors of TireRack.com. The easier a tire rolls, the less fuel it burns. TireRack.com includes both the Continental and Bridgestone in a comparison, showing about a 2-mpg increase for their test SUV, with slightly better results from the Bridgestone.
Though both tires both have first-class performance -- with high ratings for a smooth, quiet ride -- reviews say the CrossContact LX20 EcoPlus has better handling and grip on the road. Editors with TireRack.com say it "offers excellent wet and dry traction" and the "steering feels noticeably more responsive" than the Bridgestone's.
Editors with TireRack.com say the General Grabber HTS (Est. $120) focuses on "all-season traction and ride quality for drivers who never need to venture off paved roads and highways." Owners like its balance and wet-pavement traction, but say that tread life is shorter than the other all-season tires in our report. In one comparison, TireRack.com says it "offered the best road handling and driving feel of the group with excellent on-center feel when travelling straight at highway speeds combined with responsive steering when cornering."
All three budget all-season truck tires feature excellent treadwear warranties: Continental has the longest coverage at six years and 70,000 miles, with General and Bridgestone coming in just behind that.