Best Tires for the Subaru Forester

Which are the best tires for the Subaru Forester? That all depends on your lifestyle and where you drive. When Subaru chose tires for the Forester, it aimed for a good balance between cost, treadwear, fuel economy, and performance. It's something for everyone, but that might not be the best tire for your needs. Are you driving on dirt trails? Are you strictly hitting the highway? How much winter weather do you have to endure each year? Whatever your needs, our overview on the best tire options for the Subaru Forester can help.

Have an older Subaru Forester? See tire sizes for previous years.

Best Tires for the Subaru Forester Base and Premium:

Best Tires for the Subaru Forester Sport, Touring, and Limited:

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Top Replacement Tire Brands for Subaru Forester

We’ve recommended three replacement tires in both 17-, and 18-inch sizes, in budget, moderately priced and cost-no-object varieties. Whether you have plenty of cash to spend or are watching every penny, don’t worry; we’ve got you covered. All these tires have ratings of four-stars or higher based on consumer surveys:

17-inch Tires for Subaru Forester

  • Budget: Sumitomo Touring LS T - Your bargain choice at $103, these all-season tires are designed for long wear and a smooth ride.
  • Moderately Priced: Continental Truecontact Tour - Affordably priced at $140, these tires get excellent consumer ratings and boast a long tread life.
  • Cost-No-Object: Michelin Crossclimate+ - Coming in at $191, these tires offer a smooth, comfortable ride along with the capability to handle wet weather and light snow.

18-inch Tires for Subaru Forester

  • Budget: Laufenn S Fit AS - With a price of only $105, this is a great option if you want a quality tire at a bargain price. It has high customer ratings with performance handling and all-season traction.
  • Moderately Priced: Goodyear Eagle Sport All-Season - This tire comes in with a price of $155 and offers all-season traction, even in light snow.
  • Cost-No-Object: Goodyear Assurance Weatheready - The smooth ride of an all-season touring tire combined with a special formulated rubber that provides excellent winter weather traction can be yours for $208.

When Should You Replace Tires?

There are two regular milestones that will suggest that it’s time to replace the tires, not only on your Forester, but any vehicle in your driveway: Time and mileage.

Considering most drivers cover between 12,000 and 15,000 miles per year, most Forester owners will pass the miles their original equipment tires were intended to cover well before they’ll go past the tire’s usable age.

The life of your tire can be somewhat predicted by its UTQG (Uniform Tire Quality Grade) rating. Tire manufacturers apply their own grades to tires for treadwear, traction and temperature. When you’re researching tires online, a UTQG will come up next to the tire name in three digits and a number (ex. 500 A A).

You can glean a bit of info from the tires by reading this rating:

  • 500 - The durability rating of a tire, compared to a control tire with a treadlife of 100. To obtain a grade, tires run on a 640 kilometer course for 11,520 km. Every 1,280 km, the tread depth is measured, to provide a projected tread life. The higher the number, the longer the predicted treadlife.
  • A - This is the Traction rating of a tire, which indicates how well a tire stops in wet conditions. The highest letter grade is AA, followed by A, B and C.
  • A - The second letter in the UTQG is the Temperature rating, which indicates how well a tire holds up to extreme heat. A is the highest, followed by B and C.

Original equipment Bridgestone Ecopia H/L 422 Plus tires on the Forester earn a 600 AA UTGQ rating. Unless they are damaged, these tires could last up to 60,000 miles before you need to replace them.

The other consideration is time. Each tire has a raised date code on the sidewall. The number begins with the letters “DOT” followed by 12 digits in three four-digit groups. The date code is the third group of four digits. To decipher the date of your tires, the first two digits represent the WEEK the tire was produced, and the second two digits represent the YEAR.

For example, if your tire’s date code is 3217, that indicates the tire was manufactured in the 37th week of 2017, or sometime between September 11 and 17th that year.

Once tires go beyond five years old, it’s time to consider replacing them. Tires are made up not just of rubber and steel or Kevlar belts, but chemicals that help the tires resist UV rays, temperature changes and a lot of other environmental hazards. Those chemicals start to break down after five years or so, and the tires aren’t doing the job that they need to do. At that point, it doesn’t matter how good they look. It’s time for replacements.

Why Not Replace with Original Equipment Tires?

There’s nothing wrong with putting on the same tires that were on your car when it came from the factory. Although they’re perfectly fine, you may be able to find a tire that’s better suited to your specific needs.

You only need to purchase ONE set of tires for your car every four years or so, depending on how much you drive. When an auto manufacturer purchases tires, they buy them by the hundreds of thousands. For the manufacturer, the decision to choose a supplier one brand or another comes down to a price point.

For you, your consideration may be completely different. If you could get a tire that stopped 20 feet shorter for an additional $10 per tire over the original equipment, you’d probably do it. Similarly, if there was a tire that made less road noise for a minimal investment over stock, you’d probably decide on the slightly more expensive tire (that is, unless you’re trying to drown out the conversation of your back-seat-driving spouse.)

Subaru Forester Tire Sizes

Depending on the year and model, you may be shopping tires to fit anything between 15-inch for older models to 18-inch wheels with various widths and sidewall sizes along the way. It is possible to change the wheel and tire sizes, but a general rule of thumb is to keep the total diameter of wheel and tire the same. So, that means that downsizing an 18-inch wheel to a 17-inch wheel would include a proportionate upsizing of the tire sidewall to compensate.

Downsizing wheels has its advantages. Benefits include:

  • Better ride quality – More rubber means more cushion for poor road conditions.
  • Cost reduction – Big tires are expensive, so moving to a smaller wheel size will mean less costly tire purchases.
  • Seasonal changes – Winter and snow tires are available for a larger selection of smaller wheel sizes and the narrower footprint will provide better traction.
  • Off-road – Many people choose to downsize wheels for off-road use to increase the vehicle’s shock absorption capabilities and bump traction on loose surfaces.

On the other side of the coin, going up in wheel size has its benefits:

  • Better handling – Slimmer profile tires makes for less rubber to move around.
  • Better looks – This one’s subjective, but many people feel that larger wheels look better than smaller wheels with more rubber.
  • Better braking – Larger, wider wheels provide a bigger patch of rubber on the ground to slow the vehicle, reducing braking distance.

How to Read Tire Sizes

When reading tire sizes, it’s important to understand what the numbers mean. The Subaru Forester’s 18-inch wheels come with P225/55R18 98H all-season tires:

  • 225 - indicates the width of the tire from one sidewall to the other in millimeters. This tire is 225 millimeters wide.
  • 55 - indicates the aspect ratio, or sidewall height, as a percentage of the tire’s width. In this case, it’s 55 percent or of the tire’s width.
  • R - means radial tires. Radials are the most common type of automotive tire and have fabric woven in at various angles with tread that is strengthened with additional layers of rubber.
  • 18 - indicates the wheel diameter.
  • 98 - is the tire’s load rating.
  • H - is the tire’s speed rating. H-rated tires have a maximum top speed of 130 mph.

You may have noticed that the Subaru Forester’s two tire sizes have different diameters and different aspect ratios. Generally, automakers choose tires that have the same outer diameter. This allows them to have only one speedometer setting.

Now that you know what comes on a new Forester and how to read the size numbers, let’s look at the different types of tires available to you. Depending on the type of driving you’re doing, where you live, and the weather, you have a variety of choices for tire types:

  • Touring and All-season tires - provide a smooth ride, good wet and dry traction, decent winter traction, and longer tread life. These tires are acceptable for winter use but can’t be expected to provide the traction and stopping power that a dedicated winter tire can.
  • Performance tires - are focused on providing confident handling, better wet and dry traction, and a sporty feel. Their higher grip and speed ratings come with a tradeoff of shortened tread life and reduced ride quality.
  • All-terrain tires - are built to maximize off-road traction and provide good durability overall. Their construction means more noise and less comfort on the road, but winter traction and tread wear is acceptable.
  • Winter and snow tires - are made with special rubber compounds that maintain grip and pliability when temperatures drop. They are also built with special tread patterns to maximize the vehicle’s ability to start and stop on very slippery roads.

Tire Sizes By Year

YearTrimSize
2020Base225/60R17
2020Limited225/55R18
2020Premium225/60R17
2020Sport225/55R18
2020Touring225/55R18
2019Base225/60R17
2019Limited225/55R18
2019Premium225/60R17
2019Sport225/55R18
2019Touring225/55R18
20182.0XT Premium225/60R17
20182.0XT Touring225/60R17
20182.5i225/60R17
20182.5i Black Edition225/60R17
20182.5i Limited225/60R17
20182.5i Premium225/60R17
20182.5i Touring225/55R18
20172.0XT Premium225/60R17
20172.0XT Touring225/60R17
20172.5i225/60R17
20172.5i Limited225/60R17
20172.5i Premium225/60R17
20172.5i Touring225/55R18
20162.0XT Premium225/60R17
20162.0XT Touring225/60R17
20162.5i225/60R17
20162.5i Limited225/60R17
20162.5i Premium225/60R17
20162.5i Touring225/55R18
20152.0XT Premium225/60R17
20152.0XT Touring225/60R17
20152.5i225/60R17
20152.5i Limited225/60R17
20152.5i Premium225/60R17
20152.5i Touring225/55R18
20142.0XT Premium225/60R17
20142.0XT Touring225/60R17
20142.5i225/60R17
20142.5i Limited225/60R17
20142.5i Premium225/60R17
20142.5i Touring225/55R18
20132.5X215/65R16
20132.5X Limited225/55R17
20132.5X Premium225/55R17
20132.5X Touring225/55R17
20132.5XT Premium225/55R17
20132.5XT Touring225/55R17
20122.5X215/65R16
20122.5X Limited225/55R17
20122.5X Premium225/55R17
20122.5X Touring225/55R17
20122.5XT Limited225/55R17
20122.5XT Premium225/55R17
20112.5X215/65R16
20112.5X Limited225/55R17
20112.5X Premium225/55R17
20112.5X Touring225/55R17
20112.5XT Premium225/55R17
20112.5XT Touring225/55R17
20102.5 X Base Model215/65R16
20102.5 X Base Model215/65R16
20102.5X Limited225/55R17
20102.5 X Premium Package225/55R17
20102.5 XT Limited225/55R17
20102.5 XT Premium Package225/55R17
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Subaru Forester Tire FAQ

What is the best Subaru Forester tire pressure?

Check inside your driver’s side door for a white and yellow label that will tell you the exact tire pressure recommendations for your Forester model. That tire pressure can also change depending on the load of passengers you’re carrying, as well as the cargo load. Note that the pressure on the tire itself is never the correct setting, but rather a maximum.

How often should I rotate my Forester’s tires?

Rotating tires is more about the tire than it is about the car. A typical rotation interval is somewhere between 5,000 and 7,000 miles, though specific cars and tires may change those numbers a bit. The Forester is all-wheel so the front tires will likely wear first making it important to rotate regularly.

What is the best Forester tire change kit?

Your Subaru Forester should have come equipped with a compact spare tire and changing tools in the trunk. In this case, you already have everything you need to physically change the tire, but you may want to carry an extra roadside emergency kit with an upgraded lug wrench, jumper cables, and emergency markers just in case.

Tire Buying FAQ

Where do I shop for the best prices?

Several online retailers like Tire Rack offer regular discounts and free shipping for their tires. Their sites also have tire fit guides and pricing estimators to help you understand what you’re buying.

How much is shipping?

Most online tire retailers have free shipping or reduced shipping cost when you choose to have them installed at a partner shop. The retailer may have an arrangement with a local tire chain or installation center and can ship the tires there for free.

How long does shipping take?

Retailers like Tire Rack offer fast shipping and can often have tires to your preferred installer in as little as two days. Many others, like Discount Tire Direct, offer the same fast and free shipping. It also depends on where you live. If you’re in a large metro area, close to a distribution center, it should be relatively quick. If you live 5 miles from East Moosejaw, it might take a little longer.

How much does it cost to install a tire?

Some shops will offer free installation when you purchase tires from them, and online retailers often promote the same deal for people who choose to have installation done at one of their partners. If you do find yourself paying for tire installation, expect to pay between $15 and $50 per tire, depending on what is needed. That money pays for mounting and balancing the tire to ensure a safe and comfortable ride.

Do I need to change the tire pressure monitoring system with tires?

The tire pressure monitoring system (TPMS) is independent of your tires but should be checked at regular intervals to ensure no damage or malfunctions are occurring. Your local tire shop can perform this check as part of normal tire rotation or installation.

Can an online retailer help me with winter tires?

Yes! You can find the right fit, tread pattern, and speed rating on nearly any online retailer’s site. They sometimes offer specials and rebates around the time when people start looking for winter tires (late fall).

If I’m changing tire sizes or buying winter tires, should I buy a wheel and tire package from an online retailer?

It’s certainly not a requirement to buy your tires and wheels from the same place, but you’re more likely to get a deal on the package if you buy from the same place. Check the retailer’s specials and decide from there. You may also find a better deal ordering either the tires or wheels online and buying the other component from your local shop.

Do online retailers provide tire rebates the way traditional stores do?

Yes, and in some cases, rebates are offered alongside discounts on the tires. It’s important to ask questions and understand what you’re getting, so be sure to chat or call the retailer before ordering if the rebates are unclear.

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