The Best Tires For Your Crossover
One of the easiest and most effective ways to personalize and increase the off-road performance of your crossover is to upgrade the tires and wheels. Aside from getting the right offset for your vehicle, you’ll need to be sure to purchase a set of tires that are correctly rated for your crossover. This is where we see time and time again people make mistakes.
For many years, if you wanted a larger-than-stock all-terrain tire on your crossover or CUV, you were limited to tires that were intended for Light Trucks. The issue with using LT (or Light Truck) tires is that they are overkill for the majority of the crossovers on the road today. Sometimes, overkill is good. However, overkill in this instance will equate to a big drop in power, fuel economy, and ride quality.
With a huge rise in outdoor enthusiasts moving to more fuel-efficient and off-road capable platforms such as the Subaru Outback and Honda Ridgeline, we are finally seeing companies step up with off-road tires actually designed for these platforms. In this article, we’ll breakdown why you don’t want an LT series tire under your crossover and showcase the latest all-terrain tire that’s an ideal alternative.
Many modern crossovers weigh in around 3,500 pounds. This relatively lightweight platform doesn’t require the tire to have a tremendous amount of load-carrying capacity. It’s why you’ll typically only see passenger or Hard Metric tires under a given crossover from the factory. Light Truck tires, on the other hand, are designed for heavier vehicles with more demanding load requirements. A Light Truck tire in the same exact size as a passenger tire will have a more durable sidewall and support hundreds of pounds of more weight. That sounds like a good thing, but there are some serious drawbacks.
Why Weight Matters
Adding an LT tire with more load capacity under your crossover will hurt it a multitude of ways. An LT version of a common 245/70R17 is 10 pounds heavier than an all-terrain tire that’s actually designed for a crossover. This increase in weight is not only going to zap acceleration and braking performance, but you’re going to take a major hit to your fuel economy as well.
A major allure of the LT tire for off-road enthusiasts has always been the more durable sidewall that comes on Light Truck tires. While a thicker sidewall is a great benefit on serious off-road trails, for a crossover, it will equate to a harsher ride on-road and off.
All Terrain Options
We’ve talked a lot about why Light Truck tires are not ideally suited for the crossover. Now, we’d like to show you something that is. What you are looking at is the Nomad Grappler Crossover-Terrain tire from Nitto Tire. It’s an all-terrain tire engineered specifically for crossover vehicles. They are light, correctly weight rated, and fit with a tread pattern that works great in every terrain.
Real World Testing
We’ve been running the Nomad Grappler under our 2020 Subaru Outback and 2022 Ford Maverick Hybrid. In both platforms, we noticed an enormous difference in grip on-road and off. It rains a fair amount here in southeastern North Carolina, so the wide array of sipes work great. While we don’t see any snow due to where we live, it is worth noting that these are three-peak rated.
The Right Direction
It’s definitely a good sign that tire manufacturers are starting to support this market. With new additions to this weight class such as the 2022 Ford Maverick, we expect even more tire sizing options from enthusiast tire companies such as Nitto Tire. No matter what you do with your crossover, when it comes to buying tires, put in the homework. Getting the right tire for your vehicle makes a tremendous impact on how it will ride, drive, and burn through fuel.
More From Driving Line
- Want to know more about the 2022 Ford Maverick? Watch our full review here.