Best Tires for the Subaru Outback

Best Tires for the Subaru Outback 2.5i Base, Premium (17” wheels)

Best Tires for the Outback 2.5i Limited, Touring (18” wheels)

Best Tires for the Subaru Outback 2.4T Limited XT, Touring XT, Onyx Edition XT

When looking for the best tires for your Subaru Outback, asking which is the best option will get different answers from different people. Subaru, for example, chose the factory tires that came with your car based on several requirements from engineers, financing, and marketing. The priorities of Subaru’s choice and your choice may be different. You may be more interested in fuel economy, a long tread life, performance on or off the road, or with your tire buying budget. Whatever your needs, we’ve got you covered here.

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

Original Equipment Outback Tires

The current-generation of the Subaru Outback has several original equipment (OE) tires, depending on the trim level chosen. The 2.5i Base and Premium models have 17-inch wheels while the other trims have 18-inch wheels;

  • The Outback 2.5i Base,Premium came clad in Yokohama Avid GT tires in 225/65R17 102H.
  • All Outback models with 18-inch wheels, including the 2.5i and 2.4T models, were sold with Yokohama Avid GT tires in 225/60R18 100H.

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Top Replacement Tire Brands for the Subaru Outback

We’ve recommended two replacement tires in 17- and 18-inch sizes. Each choice is based on budget, but if you read further you’ll learn about other metrics that may also impact your decision. All of these tires have ratings of four-stars or higher based on consumer surveys:

17-inch Tires for Outback

  • Budget: Riken Raptor tires - are a good budget option with high customer ratings, good tread life, and good all-season traction.
  • Moderately Priced: Hankook Dynapro HT RH12 tires - offer good mid-range performance for tread life and traction and are rated highly by consumers.
  • Cost-No-Object: Michelin Crossclimate SUV - have everything one could ask for when only the best will do. High customer ratings and a strong reputation for long life and performance.

18-inch Tires for Subaru Outback

When Should You Replace Tires?

When looking at tire replacement, there are two things to consider: the amount of mileage on the tires and how old the tires are. Mileage is a rough measurement of tread life whereas age is a measurement of the chemical breakdown that occurs to tires over time.

These rules apply whether looking at the tires on your Subaru Outback or on any other vehicle in your driveway or garage. Most vehicles have abou 12,000 or so miles per year put on them and the average tread life for a set of tires is around 30,000 to 40,000 miles. Doing the math, most consumers will require tire replacement on their vehicle every three or four years.

Keep in mind that the treadwear, traction rating, and temperature rating on your tire (more on how those work in a minute) are measured and marked by the manufacturer. There are industry standards for how these measurements take place, but there is no private or government regulation of these measurements to verify claims. The best measurement is the reputation of the tire maker and the consumer ratings given to the tires on sites like Tire Rack.

The measurements given for tread, traction, and temperature are part of the Uniform Tire Quality Grade (UTQG) rating that is embossed on the tire’s sidewall. Every tire should have this rating, which consists of a three-digit number followed by two letter sequences. Something like “500 A A” or similar.

This UTQG rating gives a fair amount of information. Using our example above, here’s what we can learn about the tire:

  • 500 - This is the durability rating of a tire as compared to a control tire. The control tire’s tread life is 100. The tread life is determined in a test where the tire is used for 11,520 km (7,158 miles). At every 1,280 km, the tire’s tread depth is measured, providing a projected tread life. The higher this tread life number is, the higher the expectation.
  • A - The first letter is the traction rating of the tire, measured as AA, A, B, or C. This indicates how well the tire stops in wet conditions, usually tested on wet pavement. AA is the best rating, A is the next-best, and so on.
  • A - The last letter is the temperature rating of the tire, as above. This indicates the tire’s ability to withstand very high temperatures for a period of time.

The factory tires on the Subaru Outback in its current generation are Yokohama Avid GT models. The ratings on the 17-inch tires are slightly different than those on the 18-inch ones, so we’ll look at the slightly lower-rated 18-inch tires. These have a 400 BA rating. This means they are good for about 40,000 miles in tread wear and are moderately good at wet stopping and very good at extreme temperatures.

The other consideration for tire replacement that we mentioned was time. Tires are usually rated to last five years before the chemical breakdown could begin to make them unsafe. On the sidewall of every tire made in North America is stamped the letters “DOT” followed by three groups of four digits. The last group of four digits is the date code for the tire. The other digits indicate some composition requirements of the Department of Transportation.

The date code indicates a week and a year. The first two numbers are the week the tire was produced while the second two are the year it was produced. So a tire marked 3217 was made on the 37th week of 2017 or September 11-17, 2017. Tires have an expected lifespan of five years. So this tire would expire on September 11, 2022.

The thing that breaks down quickest in most tires are the chemicals that protect the rubber and other compounds from the sun’s UV rays. Once those are no longer protecting the tire from breakdown, the tire can begin cracking, splitting, or worse.

Why Not Replace with Original Equipment Tires?

There is nothing wrong with going with original equipment (OE) tires as replacements when the time comes. This is easy, predictable, and a no-brainer. Many choose this route out of convenience. The factory’s choice for tire, however, may not be your best choice for your Outback. You may want better fuel economy, more winter driving safety, longer tread life, or to pay a lower price for your tires. Or some combination of these things.

It’s worth shopping around to see what is available. Beating the wet stopping distance measurement on the stock Yokohama tires on your Subaru Outback is easy to do. Raising that B to an A without compromising the other metrics, for example, may be important to you and worth an extra $10 or $20. Or getting more than 40,000 miles out of the tires may be your priority. This is where shopping around is worth the effort.

Changing Subaru Outback Tire Sizes

Depending on the model, your Subaru Outback may have 17-inch or 18-inch wheels and require tires to fit those. If you have aftermarket wheels (or are upgrading to them), you may have a different size, but most Outback models will have either 17s or 18s.

When sizing tires, the general rule of thumb is to retain the overall diameter of the tire and wheel no matter how you change other metrics. So, for example, going to a larger sidewall tire (which adds cushion and comfort) would mean dropping to a smaller wheel diameter to compensate. Similarly, going to a thinner profile tire would mean a bigger wheel is required.

Downsizing wheels has some advantages:

  • Better ride quality – More rubber and sidewall means more cushion for poor road conditions.
  • Cost reduction – Thin profile tires are expensive, so moving to a smaller wheel size for a bigger sidewall likely means lower-cost tires.
  • Seasonal changes – Swapping to winter snow tires may be a need and in that case, the tires and wheels need to match.
  • Off-road – Smaller wheels off-road means more tire sidewall for cushion and grip off the pavement.

Going up in wheel size has benefits as well:

  • Better handling – The slimmer the tire profile, the tighter the road feel and grip.
  • Better looks – It’s fashionable now to have thinner profiles and larger wheels.
  • Better braking – Lower profile tires usually have larger tread meeting the road which means better stopping distances.

How to Read Tire Sizes

Tire sizes are also an important factor and play into the wheel sizes we talked about above. The Outback comes with 225/60R18 100H tires on its upper-end models. Here’s what those numbers mean:

  • 225 - is the width of the tire from one sidewall to the other in millimeters--in other words the tread width. This tire is 225 millimeters wide.
  • 60 - indicates the aspect ratio, or sidewall height, as a percentage of the tire’s width. Here it is 60 percent of the tire’s width (or 135mm).
  • R - means radial tires. Radials are the most common type of automotive tire. There is fabric woven into the tires to strengthen sidewalls and tread and help the tire retain its shape. These are positioned “radially” so they are strongest while the tire is spinning.
  • 18 - is the diameter of the wheel (in this case, measured in inches).
  • 100 - is the tire’s load rating, indicating how much weight it can bear.
  • H - is the tire’s speed rating. H-rated tires have a maximum top speed of 130 mph.

It’s worth noting that the Outback’s 17-inch wheels are clad with 225/65R17 tires, keeping the aspect ratio between the 17- and 18-inch wheels the same.

In general, there are four kinds of tires available at most tire shops for most vehicles and tire sizes. Which is your best choice will depend on the type of driving you do the most. These four include:

  • 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
2020Base225/65R17
2020Limited225/60R18
2020Limited XT225/60R18
2020Onyx Edition XT225/60R18
2020Premium225/65R17
2020Touring225/60R18
2020Touring XT225/60R18
20192.5i225/65R17
20192.5i Limited225/60R18
20192.5i Premium225/65R17
20192.5i Touring225/60R18
20193.6R Limited225/60R18
20193.6R Touring225/60R18
20182.5i225/65R17
20182.5i Limited225/60R18
20182.5i Premium225/65R17
20182.5i Touring225/60R18
20183.6R Limited225/60R18
20183.6R Touring225/60R18
20172.5i225/65R17
20172.5i Limited225/60R18
20172.5i Premium225/65R17
20172.5i Touring225/60R18
20173.6R Limited225/60R18
20173.6R Touring225/60R18
20162.5i225/65R17
20162.5i Limited225/60R18
20162.5i Premium225/65R17
20163.6R Limited225/60R18
20152.5i225/65R17
20152.5i Limited225/60R18
20152.5i Premium225/65R17
20153.6R225/65R17
20153.6R Limited225/60R18
20142.5i215/70R16
20142.5i Limited225/60R17
20142.5i Premium225/60R17
20143.6R225/60R17
20143.6R Limited225/60R17
20132.5i215/70R16
20132.5i Limited225/60R17
20132.5i Premium225/60R17
20133.6R225/60R17
20133.6R Limited225/60R17
20122.5i215/70R16
20122.5i Limited225/60R17
20122.5i Premium225/60R17
20123.6R225/60R17
20123.6R Limited225/60R17
20123.6R Premium225/60R17
20112.5i215/70R16
20112.5i Limited225/60R17
20112.5i Premium225/60R17
20113.6R225/60R17
20113.6R Limited225/60R17
20113.6R Premium225/60R17
20102.5i215/70R16
20102.5i Limited225/60R17
20102.5i Premium225/60R17
20103.6R225/60R17
20103.6R Limited225/60R17
20103.6R Premium225/60R17
Show 47 more rows

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Subaru Outback Tire FAQ

What’s the best tire for a Subaru Outback?

Most Outback models feature 18-inch wheels, so the Bridgestone Dueler H/P Sport are a solid budget option. The Yokohama Geolandar GO55 is a great mid-priced, long-life option. Bridgestone Dueler H/P Sport AS RFT is a good all-season, long-life choice.

How long do Subaru Outback tires last?

A lot of that depends on how you drive the vehicle, but any original tire should last 50,000 miles before you should start shopping around. Of course, the best thing to do is not replace tires at a specific mileage, but measure the tread depth and replace them when the tires are sufficiently worn.

Do Subaru vehicles need special tires?

No, but you may want to choose tires that are geared for how you drive. Spend a lot of time on trails, dirt roads or mud? An all-terrain tire may be a better choice than an all-season. Live in the upper reaches of the Snow Belt? An all-wheel drive vehicle like a Subaru Outback will benefit enormously from a dedicated winter tire.

What brand of tires does Subaru use?

Subaru relies on the Yokohama Avid GT in various sizes.

What is the right Subaru Outback tire pressure?

Inside your driver’s side door should be a white and yellow label that will tell you the exact tire pressure recommendations for your vehicle. There should be a “cold” and “hot” rating, which are the tire pressures (in PSI) for tires when cold and when hot. Your vehicle’s tire pressure monitoring system (TPMS) will be calibrated to these numbers.

How often should I rotate my Subaru’s tires?

This is more about the tire than it is the car. The owner’s manual for your Outback will have recommendations based on the Subaru’s factory tires, but any replacement you have put on may have different recommendations. Most of the time, rotation intervals take place every 5,000 to 7,000 miles or, typically, every oil change. It’s important that this be done to ensure maximum performance and longevity for your tires.

What is the best Outback tire change kit?

Outside of the original equipment Subaru included with your car, such as the factory scissor jack and lug wrench, you may wish to carry an easier-to-use jack or wrench, some emergency placards or triangles, or some emergency lighting. A flashlight for nighttime tire changes is also a good idea.

Tire Buying FAQ

Where do I shop for the best prices?

Many online retailers have excellent prices and choices for tires. Local shops, especially in moderately-sized cities, have competitive pricing as well.

How much is shipping?

Shipping from most online retailers is free. Especially when sending to a local shop for replacement.

How long does shipping take?

Most retailers require 2-5 business days for shipping unless the tires are very near your location. Some can ship the same day if the tires are already in inventory at your preferred shop and the online retailer has a relationship with them.

How much does it cost to install a tire?

Many shops include installation with the price of the tire. Some add on installation charges such as replacement tire stems, balancing, and so forth. The charges usually range from $10 to $50 per tire depending on the services and your location.

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

The tire pressure monitoring system (TPMS) is not part of the tires, but is often attached to the wheel instead. If the wheel is damaged or requires replacement, then the TPMS may also need to be replaced. Most of the time, though, normal tire changes do not affect the TPMS.

Can an online retailer help me with winter tires?

Most definitely. Online retailers often coordinate with local tire shops during the height of the winter tire buying season.

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

It’s not required, but it’s not a bad idea to do so. Having the winter tires mated to a dedicated set of wheels will mean easier changes and a guarantee that the tires and wheels match the total diameter required for your Outback.

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

Many of them do, yes.

Editor's note and disclaimer: Car Talk is supported by our fans, readers and listeners. When you click on some of the links on our website, we may receive referral compensation. However, you should know that the recommendations we make are based on our independent editorial review and analyses.