SUV (sport utility vehicle) is a common choice for many car owners nowadays, thanks to its versatility. This powerful vehicle is an excellent combination of a passenger car with off-road elements. It can cope with even the heavy load of daily life or cruising through the wild should the occasion come up.
However, like a strong horse needs his hoops, a good car also needs to be equipped with suitable tires. And not everyone has the necessary technical knowledge about what makes a good tire. When buying new tires for an SUV, people will typically decide based on price as the sole deciding factor. But we will share with you that this should not be the case.
Within the scope of this article, we will share with you the essentials, technically, of choosing the right tire for your precious SUV.
The Basic of SUV
What is an SUV
As stated above, the SUV is an all-rounded vehicle with the capability to meet a variety of usages. The primary design trend is athleticism with sporty style, angular personality, and the ability to move firmly on steep passes and many other types of terrain. This advantage is obtained by equipping a powerful four-wheel-drive system with a high chassis structure.
Advantages of SUV
High-chassis: This feature provides a favorable view for the driver. The powerful engine makes SUVs truly off-road experts on rough and winding roads. Thanks to this feature, SUVs are always the preferred choice of customers who love to drive on challenging terrain.
Spacious interior space and luggage compartment: Even when traveling on flat terrain, SUVs are popular because of their ample, comfortable space. They can host from 5 to 7 people with luggage. Thanks to this plus point, SUVs are always the first choice when families want to organize long-distance travel with many people.
Powerful engine: Possess a more robust engine block than many other cars. SUVs often give the driver a natural feeling thanks to the airmatic suspension system that makes the car move as smoothly as possible.
Related post: What are All-Season SUV Tires Offer Year-Round Traction?
Disadvantages of SUVs
Less flexible when traveling in urban areas with narrow roads: Owning a structure like a truck makes SUVs more versatile when off-road, but the downside is cumbersome. Therefore, SUVs will move more limitedly in urban areas with narrow alleys, crowded residential areas, or stopping and parking cars.
Fuel efficiency: Because the car engine has to carry a heavy body, it consumes more fuel than small cars.
If not careful, chances of rollover: This is a limitation of SUVs when driving at high speeds, in sharp turns, or on uneven terrain. Because of the large center of gravity, these vehicles are more prone to overturning than their low-ground relatives.
Lifespan – Treadwear Grades
The mileage factor should come first alongside price, whether you’re shopping online or in-person. This index shows the number of kilometers the manufacturer promises your tires can travel. Should you have not reached this commitment number, you can totally ask the manufacturer to give you a warranty instead of paying for a replacement.
In addition to this guaranteed number, you should also pay attention to the tire wear resistance level. This is a rating given by the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to a tire based on standard practice wear testing. The test results will be compared with a certain standard. The higher this number, the longer the tire will last before it needs to be replaced. For example, if your tires’ treadwear rating is 600, they will probably last 600 times longer than the tested standard ones.
By using better polyester and steel, manufacturers can reduce the tire’s weight while maintaining the tire’s rigidity even with less number of tracks. Lighter tires offer better handling and also use less fuel to drive. The rubber compound, especially on the tread and sidewalls, is truly the unsung hero of increasing traction, safety, and tire life. This compound provides excellent U.V. protection to the side walls protecting them from rotting after prolonged use, whether in dry, wet or even winter conditions.
The tread depth indicates the potential life of the tire, although another factor needs to be considered. For example, a tire with a wear rating of 800 and a tread depth of 12/32 inches will likely outlast a 15/32 second tire with a 600 rating. When choosing a tire, please remember to keep both of these factors in mind.
Tread Design – Weather Feature
Different tire models will design specific treads to suit particular road and weather conditions. These features are usually marked directly on the tire surface. If you plan to travel in inclement weather, you can try to find tires printed with the mountain/snowflake symbol, which shows that the tire is designed for extreme conditions. The name snowflake might give a weak impression, but these markings indicate that the tire should have unique designs such as rivet holes, extra-large gaps between the grooves, and the distinctive rubber compounds used to make that type of tire. Should the mark appear on the tires, their manufacturers are supposed to have combined many factors to enhance the production process, increasing the ability to grip the road, especially in the harsh conditions of winter.
A tire has to go through many different tests to determine its grip and earn the Traction Grade Rating from the U.S. Department of Transportation National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Traction grade gives a relatively accurate indication of a tire’s overall performance potential, even though it does not indicate much about side cornering or dry braking. In actual testing, we found that tires that exhibit good wet side grip and high dry brakes often also carry a higher Traction Grade Rating.
We recommend the Traction Grade for your SUV to be class A (above 0.47 g on asphalt or over 0.35 g on concrete), though it’s not the most premium rating. In fact, most A.A. grip tires (over 0.54 g on asphalt or over 0.38 g on concrete) on the market are generally performance-oriented, with the maximum grip. This will come at the expense of a lower tread grade and tire warranty in many cases.
This index shows the tire’s resistance to heat when running at speed specified for assessment. The slower you have to go because the tires cannot resist the effects of heat build-up, the lower the rating will be. The C rating means the tire is only heat resistant at 85 to 100 mph. While with class A tires, the speed can be up to 115 mph or higher.
This is an indicator of the quality of workmanship and materials that make up the tire. The way this rating is presented can be confusing at first. Example: When the speed rating cast on the rim is 113T, it does not mean that the tire can withstand a speed of 133mph. The number 113 signifies the load range is 2,535 pounds at this tire’s 44 psi maximum pressure. The following letter “T” indicates the actual speed rating, which represents 118 mph, probably one of the best ratings for family SUV tires.
Likewise, 122L doesn’t mean your tire is capable of 122 mph, but instead that your tire has a load index of 122 at a maximum load of about 3,307 pounds. The actual speed is L, which is about 75 mph. Let’s focus on letters. The further back the letter is, the higher the pace the tire can withstand.
Load Range And Carrying Capacity
Make sure you are choosing the right tire for the load range of your SUV. Numbers don’t always say it all. The L.T. tire is made by a completely different set of standards, with denser grain bundles, more grooves, or simply much heavier to typically have a higher load capacity. So if you own an SUV with an expectation of maximum tire pressure in the 65-80 psi range, these tires won’t be a good alternative. They’re often overkilling for an ordinary SUV, providing a slightly rougher, less comfortable ride. Unless the instruction manual requires L.T. tires, do not use this type. It only adds a large amount of rubber to increase the load capacity to a level that your car is not actually designed for.
MPG (mile per gallon) and Other Factors
Depending on your intended usage, the choice of a tire type, the creation of the tread, and the rubber compound will have their effects. They’ll have a significant impact on the MPG you might expect. We will aim for tires made in the U.S. for more durable and stable quality in many cases. Tires from China can be cheaper and have characteristics to suit Asian weather conditions. However, this can also mean less durability and stability when driving.
A few suggestions for your consideration
Pirelli Scorpion All-Season Plus 3
Pirelli is a brand that aims to optimize all-around performance in all-season tires for SUVs and crossovers. The Scorpion AS Plus 3 is a good and affordable option in all-season touring tires. Customers say that the tires are tough enough for wet conditions, helping to reduce vibration when traveling while still providing responsive handling feeling for the driver. The service life of this tire model is also relatively more extended than that of conventional tires.
Cooper Discoverer AT3 4S
This tire provides solid traction on many different types of terrain, including snow. Built for full-size SUVs, crossovers, or light trucks, it blends challenging off-road and highway performance. This tire model is very reliable on camping trips and soft terrain. It gives a special driving feeling with a reasonably long life. One minor drawback is that they are pretty noisy, similar to other off-road tires. But those who have used it say that this drawback does not significantly impact their experience.
Bridgestone Blizzak WS90
If your resident area is regularly covered with heavy snow or frost, the enhanced grip of the Bridgestone Blizzak tires will give you peace of mind when traveling. These are considered the best ice tires for SUVs, crossovers, or light trucks. Bridgestone’s rubber compound provides superior traction and braking power on icy roads. Active block ridges support responsive steering. The wide perimeter side grooves quickly push mud and snow out of the contact area.
Sumitomo Touring L.S. H
This tire has the unexpected quality and overall performance at a price of just under $500 for four 17-inch tires. The symmetrical tread pattern keeps the tire from vitrification, while shoulder pads provide extra grip. Although relatively quieter when compared to highway tires, the noise level when traveling is still relatively light while ensuring an excellent level of comfort. This type of tire has a slight disadvantage. The tread wears out faster than the big brands. But given its attractive price point, most users feel this is a reasonable compromise. For car owners who just need tires that can handle various conditions comfortably at a low price, the Sumitomo Touring L.S. H is a perfect choice.
Picking the correct tire for SUVs can be tedious. However, it’s a worthwhile process considering the comfort and safety that it brings to your commune. There might seem to be a lot of little details that you need to pay attention to. But rest assured. Once you already get the hang of it, we guarantee you’ll have a joyous experience not just during your travel but also when you maintain your precious SUV.
Related post: Best All Terrain Tires For Snow