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Subaru’s all wheel drive system has helped bolster their reputation as the best choice for avid hikers, skiers, and outdoor explorers of all types. However, the stock tire choice from the factory leaves a lot to be desired for off-road use. Many people are now opting to switch over to an aggressive tire to help get the full potential out of their Subie.
Whether you have a brand new Outback, Ascent, Forester, or maybe an older Impreza that needs a little extra grip and off-road capability, there are some good all terrain tire options that many Subaru drivers trust. We’ve tested our fair share of tires and scoured countless reviews online to bring you a list of our favorite all-terrain tires for your Subaru.
In this article we will explore the different types of off-road tires, but we’ll include a list of our favorite options that fit great on Subarus.
First Step: Select a Tire That Fits Your Needs
You will also want to consider size when selecting a tire. If you aren’t lifted yet, you’ll need to choose a size that will still fit inside your wheel well. If you’re considering a lift in the future, pick a tire that will work well with that set up.
(For a guide on some of the common ways to lift your Subaru, check out this article.)
Three Most Common Tire Types:
- All Season
- All Terrain
- Mud Terrain
Choosing the right type for your driving needs is important for enjoying the next 40-60k miles. There are 3 major categories of tire that you will commonly come across as you search: All-season, All-terrain, and Mud-terrain. All-season tires are very mild and non-aggressive. They’re used mainly for city and highway driving. The two main types we will look at are All-Terrain, and Mud-Terrain.
For those of us who work 9-5 but love to play hard, an all-terrain tire is a great choice. They allow for a wide range of off-road capabilities without sacrificing too much ride comfort. Typically they will have a tougher sidewall and much more aggressive, deeper tread than an all-season tire. Some of the abilities of these tires include:
- Navigating old forest roads with minor washouts
- Driving on roads with deep potholes
- Handling most shallow mud situations
- Pulling through lightly snow covered roads
It’s also becoming more common for all-terrain tires to be rated for severe snow conditions (you can find these ratings signified on the sidewall with a three peak mountain icon.)
You may want to consider the following drawbacks before purchasing an all-terrain tire:
- Increased road noise from the aggressive tread pattern
- Slower handling and response in on-road situations
- Potential loss of fuel economy (you can expect roughly 1-2mpg loss)
When should you buy an all-terrain tire?
- If you plan to split your on and off road driving almost evenly
- You want year-round performance on a wide range of surfaces
- You want off-road performance without sacrificing too much fuel economy
Mud Terrain Tires:
If you’re looking strictly for off-road capability and on-road ride comfort is of little importance to you, then a mud-terrain tire is perfect for you. They deliver excellent performance and the most aggressive look possible for off-road and over-landing use.
Some of the benefits of choosing a mud-terrain tire are as follows:
- Maximum performance in deep mud
- Unrivaled capability when climbing slippery rock surfaces
- Navigate washed out, rocky roads more efficiently
- Aggressive appearance
While Mud-Terrain tires do very well in the conditions they’re designed for, they do have some drawbacks:
- Decreased steering responsiveness
- Lower braking performance
- The chunky tread blocks can wear out quicker on pavement
- Lower fuel economy
Should you buy a mud-terrain tire?
Mud-terrain tires are great for those who will spend 80-90% of their time off-road. If you plan to drive these tires more than 20% on-road, this may not be the best choice.
Our top picks for all-terrain tires:
This tire is available in both LT and P options and comes in a wide range of sizes. The ever-popular 235/75R15 size that is run by many Crosstrek owners and 245/65R17 can both be purchased in the Wildpeak AT3W.
The Discoverer is a fantastic option for someone who is looking for a daily drivable all-terrain tire. This is our top pick for Subaru owners who use their car for more than 60% pavement driving. They score extremely well with consumers for dry pavement handling, comfort, and road noise.
Of course, being a more drivable all-terrain tire means that the tread pattern is slightly less aggressive than what we’re used to. We wish the sidewall design was a tad more “mean” looking. But it is still far more robust than your average all-season tire and will give your Subie substantially more off-road capability.
Toyo Open Country A/T III– This is another great option for anyone looking to enhance the look of their Subaru and gain additional off-road performance. This tire is built to take on any adventure you throw its way – whether you’re cruising on the highway or exploring off-road trails. With its aggressive tread design and durable construction, this tire offers good traction on various surfaces. We’re hearing that it performs well on dry pavement, wet roads, and even muddy trails. The AT3 seamlessly transitions between different environments, providing exceptional grip and stability throughout your journey.
The AT3 is available in a wide range of sizes, including several options that are popular among off-road Subaru enthusiasts. Whether you’re driving a Subaru Forester, Outback, Ascent, Crosstrek, or even WRX, you’ll likely find a size that suits your needs. The AT3 tire comes in sizes such as 215/75R15, 235/75R15, 225/65R17, and 235/60R18, which are commonly fitted on Subarus. These sizes provide a great balance between off-road capability and on-road performance, ensuring a proper fit and maintaining an overall feeling of capability.
We put about 20k miles on the Toyo Open Country AT2 and the newer AT3 is even better in our opinion. Read the AT2 review here: Toyo Open Country Review
These tires do very well in rain, snow, dirt and gravel. They are also surprisingly quiet at highway speeds.
BFGoodrich KO2– You’ve no doubt seen these on at least one lifted Subaru; and for good reason. They are one of the most respected all-terrain tires across many different car communities. One of the biggest benefits of these tires is the ride comfort that is still present even with the extremely aggressive tread pattern. They also come in a wide variety of sizes to accommodate most SUV’s, crossovers, and lifted sedans.
BFGoodrich also stands behind their tires with an exceptional warranty. Learn more about them here.
The only thing to be aware of with the KO2 is that it is heavier than most other tires since it is available in LT versions made for heavier SUV’s and trucks. On a Subaru, it will hold down the drivetrain pretty substantially. Please keep that in mind before choosing this tire. I don’t usually recommend this tire to drivers unless they plan to run challenging trails – specifically trails with sharp objects.
Our pick for mud-terrain tires:
If you are looking for an affordable, grippy, and aggressive looking mud tire, the Accelera MT01 is our top pick for best overall value. We’ve tried out a good number of MT’s and these stood out to us immediately. These tear right through snow, sand, mud, and anything else we’ve driven them through.
We bought them on a whim just to take on a snow wheeling trip. Needless to say, we were impressed by their performance. We’d never had this much fun in our Subaru. Even with snow up to our doors, these tires helped us continue plowing through.
The biggest reason we chose these was the weight. They only weigh right around 34 lbs. and this will allow you to run an aggressive tire without robbing all of your horsepower, and killing your gas mileage.
BFGoodrich Mud Terrain T/A KM3
BF Goodrich Mud Terrain T/A KM3- The KM3 comes in enough sizes to satisfy almost all needs and has an aggressive pattern that’s certain to please avid off-roaders. With an uncanny on-road comfort, the KM3 delivers heavy duty resistance to punctures, self-cleaning tread design, and a tread & sidewall design that’s ready to take on the most challenging terrain.
Check out BFG’s webpage to learn more here. https://www.bfgoodrichtires.com/tire/bf-goodrich/mud-terrain-t-a-km3
NOTE: Keep in mind that this tire should be used on Subarus that will be driven mainly on trails. They are going to be much louder, and heavier than the average all terrain tire. But they perform really well on “extreme” trails!
Always Keep Safety In Mind When Purchasing Tires:
- Always buy your tires from an authorized dealer- this is the best way to ensure genuine quality and to take advantage of manufacturer’s warranty.
- Have them installed by a professional and make sure torque specs are correct.
- Ask your tire dealer what they recommend for air pressure.
- Always double check your fitment before buying. Take measurements and be ready to make small modifications when fitting a bigger tire.
- Don’t skimp on tires- they’re the only thing holding your car to the road.
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