How To Choose The Right Tires For Your Crossover: Adventure Edition
Over the past decade, people across North America have been spending more and more time outdoors. Whether it’s hiking, camping, skiing or mountain biking, this rise in outdoor activities means drivers are demanding more from their vehicles. More capability, more convenience, more adventure. Meanwhile, crossovers are selling like hotcakes. Folks are drawn to vehicles like the Toyota RAV4, Ford Escape, Jeep Compass, and Subaru Outback that deliver off-road capability without sacrificing on-road performance. Rapid growth in both outdoor recreation and CUV popularity has presented a need for products that help crossover owners adventure further. Arguably the most impactful of these products is a new set of tires, the only thing keeping your vehicle in contact with the road (kind of important). If you’re looking to get the most out of your adventure-seeking crossover, make sure you have tires that bring these four elements to the table:
What To Look For
1. Crossover-Specific Design
2. Off-Road Durability
3. All-Weather Capabilty
4. Original Equipment Fitment
1. Crossover-Specific Design
“It’s crucial to outfit your vehicle with tires that were developed for its specific body type. In other words, crossovers need crossover-specific tires.”Crossovers are the perfect option for people who don’t want to compromise. They combine the positive features of a car (fuel efficiency and sporty handling) with the benefits of a truck (cargo space and comfort), minus the drawbacks. This can mostly be attributed to the way a CUV is constructed. While trucks and large SUV’s are designed using body-on-frame construction (two pieces), crossovers are designed using a car’s unibody platform (one piece). In this sense, crossovers are basically sturdier, more capable sedans with extra leg room and a higher center of gravity. Because crossovers seem much more capable than your typical sedan, owners often decide to install bulkier, heavier pickup truck tires on their CUV, in search of a bit more durability and rugged aesthetics. Unfortunately, this usually doesn’t end well.
Putting heavy duty pickup truck tires on a CUV is like washing your windows with a firehose. It might seem like a great idea, but you’ll likely do more damage than good. This is because most All-Terrain (A/T) and Mud-Terrain (M/T) tires were designed and developed with pickup trucks in mind, not crossovers. Naturally, tires built for a body-on-frame vehicle aren’t ideal for the unibody construction of a CUV. Crossovers don’t have the drivetrain nor the internal cooling systems to handle tires this heavy, so installing them anyway can cause irreversible damage. It’s crucial to outfit your vehicle with tires that were developed for its specific body type. In other words, crossovers need crossover-specific tires.
Now we know that a crossover should have tires developed specifically for vehicles with a unibody construction. However, if you want to take your crossover off the beaten path, you’ll likely require more durability than a typical passenger car tire can provide.
2. Off-Road Durability
“By combining the rugged features of an All-Terrain truck tire with the unibody-specific construction of a CUV tire, engineers can strike the perfect balance between durability and efficiency for the modern outdoor adventurer.”Imagine the road you might encounter on your way to a remote camping spot. Rugged, uneven terrain riddled with jagged rocks can present major challenges for drivers without proper equipment. Unfortunately, situations like these often result in a flat tire, the headache nobody wants to spend their precious weekend time dealing with. Pulling over to the side of the road, calling AAA, and replacing a tire is never part of the plan, and for good reason. To avoid this altogether, it’s important to have tires that can handle some rough terrain when you need them to.
All-Terrain tires are built to be taken off-road. Unlike your typical All-Season tire, A/T’s feature aggressive upper sidewalls and puncture-resistant tread, providing support for unexpected run-ins with rocks and other rugged terrain.
But remember, crossovers need crossover-specific tires. Even if your adventurous lifestyle demands the added durability of an All-Terrain tire, too much extra weight can cause more harm than good. That’s why an All-Terrain crossover tire is the ideal option for a Subaru Crosstrek that sees its fair share of rough roads.
Striking The Perfect Balance
From Left to Right: Falken WILDPEAK A/T3W – Truck/SUV All-Terrain Tire, Falken WILDPEAK A/T TRAIL – CUV All-Terrain tire, Falken ZIEX CT60 A/S – CUV All-Season TireBy combining the rugged features of an All-Terrain truck tire with the unibody-specific construction of a CUV tire, engineers can strike the perfect balance between durability and efficiency for the modern outdoor adventurer.
All-Terrain tires, with their rugged sidewall features, make camping, fishing and other summertime activities easier to enjoy. But adventure doesn’t stop there. Winter excursions demand even more from your vehicle, so it’s extremely important that your tires are up for the challenge.
3. All-Weather Capability
“Severe Snow Rated tires have proven to be at least 10% more effective in winter conditions than a typical All-Season tire.”Whether you’re heading to the slopes for a weekend getaway or simply battling through an icy morning commute, winter weather can pose serious challenges on the road. To combat this, many modern crossovers are offered with All-Wheel Drive. This can be extremely helpful in stressful winter environments, but only if your tires are up for the task.
When it comes to tire performance in winter conditions, there are two rating terms worth knowing: M+S and Severe Snow Rated (or 3PMSF). The M+S (Mud and Snow) rating, first introduced in the 1970’s, highlights all-season tires with a specific tread design meant to provide extra traction in snow and mud. Unfortunately, earning this rating provides very little indication of a tire’s winter capabilities. Tire manufacturers aren’t required to prove any advanced level of snow or ice traction to boast the M+S symbol; they simply need to design the tire with a specific tread pattern that “looks the part.”
Severe Snow Rated tires, however, must demonstrate true winter effectiveness. According to the USTMA, Severe Snow Rated tires have proven to be at least 10% more effective in winter conditions than a typical All-Season tire. This means improved forward traction, safer handling and shorter stopping distances. Win, win and win.
“Severe Snow Rated tires have proven to be at least 10% more effective in winter conditions than a typical All-Season tire.”
Falken WILDPEAK A/T TRAIL tire – 3PMSF symbol highlighted blue for illustrative purposes only.Some folks require stronger winter performance than others, but it’s definitely better to have tires that could handle unexpected snowfall if they had to. Top manufacturers like Toyota agree; which leads us to our last point.
4. Original Equipment Fitment
“Those beefier, square-shouldered tires are arguably the most important part of the equation in terms of the RAV4 TRD Off-Road’s ability to tackle unimproved surfaces.” – Edmunds.comCar manufacturers are held to extremely high standards. Their reputation is on the line every time they decide to outfit their vehicles with a specific product, and they don’t take that lightly. That’s why they invest significant amounts of time and energy into finding the right suppliers for the job. There’s just too much at stake for these major corporations to skimp out on anything associated with their vehicles.
Think about it as a CUV owner. If the cupholders in your Compass aren’t wide enough to house your 128 oz. Big Gulp, you blame Jeep. If your Crosstrek’s navigation system leads you to an abandoned psych ward instead of the local farmer’s market, you blame Subaru. And if the tires on your RAV4 make you drive like Ace Ventura… guess who you’re blaming.
Once again, tires are a vehicle’s only connection to the road, so manufacturers know how important they are. Just check out this snippet from Edmunds.com about the 2020 Toyota RAV4 TRD Off-Road: “Those beefier, square-shouldered tires are arguably the most important part of the equation in terms of the RAV4 TRD Off-Road’s ability to tackle unimproved surfaces.”
Tires selected for Original Equipment have earned the trust of top vehicle manufacturers, and if you’re looking for the automotive seal of approval from anyone, Jeep, Subaru and Toyota are generally good places to start.
Now, don’t feel like you need to buy the same tires that came with your crossover. Sometimes there are tires that better suit your lifestyle and driving habits; that’s always the most important thing to consider. But when in doubt, it’s always a huge plus knowing that your tire brand is trusted by the world’s top automobile companies.
When you’re out exploring, you want to enjoy every moment of the adventure. So if you’re spending time and energy worrying about your crossover’s capabilities, you’re missing out on the full experience. The best way to avoid this is being prepared with the right set of tires. Tires designed specifically for your vehicle; capable of taking on rugged terrain; proven to handle winter weather; and trusted by top vehicle manufacturers. Tires like those help you adventure further. Tires like those make all the difference.