The best tires for Ford Explorer should provide you with safe traction, grip, and braking on dry and wet surfaces.
The Ford Explorer and its Firestone tires were part of one of the largest recalls in automotive history. Fortunately, both companies learned a lot when it comes to tire degradation. Today, we are lucky to have a completely safe and reliable Ford Explorer, which is easily one of the best crossovers in its category.
That said, to get the best from the Explorer, you will need a great set of tires. Many drivers don’t often think about tires, but they might be more important than the vehicle itself. Even the best car in the world won’t do much with a set of bad tires. And by bad, we mean tires that don’t offer a safe driving experience and aren’t very reliable.
Fortunately, the market today is flooded with high-quality tire options for crossovers like the Ford Explorer. Unfortunately, with all the options available, it’s hard to make a choice, especially if you don’t understand much about tires. And trust us, there are things that you should learn before purchasing tires.
You can buy the best tires overall on the market, but they might not work for you. For example, if you care about off-road driving, the best street tires won’t do anything to give you better traction on slippery surfaces. Like with other products, you need to choose tires that will suit you, not the other way around.
The best tires for Ford Explorer should provide you with safe traction, grip, and braking on dry and wet surfaces. That’s something that every tire you purchase must achieve, regardless of the category. Then, your new Ford Explorer tires should also be very durable – nobody wants to replace the tires every two years. Ultimately, given the fact that the Explorer is a family car, the tires should also be comfortable over bumps and quiet on the highway.
Honestly, though, that’s a very tall order. In our experience thus far, there is no single tire that can give you the best of all worlds. There will always be compromises. And we are mostly talking about tire categories here – some models are designed for ultimate performance, others for comfort and durability.
To help you choose the right model for you, we will give you a carefully selected list of the best tires for Ford Explorer of 2021. In that list, the products will be divided into different categories, so everyone can find a set of tires that works best for them. Remember, there is no such thing as the best tire. Instead, there is the best tire for you and your needs.
After the list, you can also find our buying guide on Ford Explorer tires, where we will explain all the differences between various types of tires. We recommend reading through it if you don’t know much about tires. Without further ado, let’s dig into the matter!
Best tires for Ford Explorer 2021
1. Best Touring Tires for Ford Explorer
Bridgestone Dueler H/L Alenza Plus
The Dueler Alenza Plus is a tire that most manufacturers use as an OEM choice on their crossovers and for a good reason.
Apart from the slightly worse responsiveness, Bridgestone’s touring tire performs greatly in almost every aspect.
On the street, the Dueler provides the driver with excellent grip and traction on dry and wet surfaces, and it even works over light snow.
Moreover, the Dueler Alenza Plus is very, very comfortable over bumps, and quiet on the highway. Ultimately, this is the longest-lasting crossover touring tire – it even comes with an impressive 80,000-mile warranty.
- Most comfortable and quietest tire in its category
- Best treadlife in the category
- Safe handling and braking on dry and wet tarmac
- Usable in light snow
- Responsiveness and steering feel could be better
Continental CrossContact LX25 with EcoPlus+ Technology
The newest touring tire in Continental’s lineup sets new standards in rainy conditions. Traction, braking, and handling on wet pavement are top-notch.
Moreover, the CrossContact LX25 works very well in dry conditions, and it is even usable in light snow. Impressively, the tire comes with the EcoPlus+ Technology, which greatly improves fuel economy.
Furthermore, the tire provides the passengers with a smooth and quiet ride, just like the best touring tires.
That said, while the 70,000-mile treadwear warranty is very good, it’s not as impressive as the Dueler Alenza Plus.
- Very good handling and braking in dry conditions
- Excellent handling and braking in the rain
- Smooth ride quality and quiet rolling on the highway
- Low-rolling-resistance improves fuel economy
- Usable in light snow
- Trails behind the best in terms of treadwear warranty (still good, though)
Pirelli Scorpion Verde All Season Plus II
Like most tires from Pirelli, the Scorpion Verde provides the driver with excellent responsiveness and a very good steering feel.
On top of that, the Italian tire works very well on dry and wet surfaces – handling is superb in both conditions. We also found that the Scorpion Verde is usable in light snow.
Despite the focus on responsiveness, this tire still offers a plush and quiet ride on longer trips. With that said, the 65,000-mile treadwear warranty is lower than on the closest rivals.
- Excellent wet performance
- Outstanding cornering on dry tarmac
- Very good highway stability
- Smooth and quiet ride
- Responsive handling and good steering feel
- Shorter treadwear warranty than rivals
Michelin Premier LTX
If we only valued handling and cornering, the Premier LTX would’ve been on the top of the list. However, the shorter treadwear warranty (only 60,000-miles) and a higher price placed this tire lower on the list.
Still, the Premier LTX has the best combination of performance and comfort in the touring sector. Handling and braking are outstanding, both over dry and wet pavement.
Highway stability is excellent as well, and the tire is very quiet and comfortable. We also found that it is usable in light snow, unlike other all-season tires.
- Very responsive for a touring tire
- Great handling and cornering on dry tarmac
- Excellent wet traction and grip
- Very quiet and comfortable
- The 60,000-mile treadwear warranty is far from impressive
Cooper CS5 Ultra Touring
The CS5 Ultra Touring is one of the most popular touring tires across North America, thanks to the outstanding combination of great driving performance and low price.
On the road, the CS5 Ultra Touring feels planted and provides the driver with very responsive handling and good steering feel. Traction, grip, and braking are excellent over dry and wet surfaces, and the tire is very quiet and comfortable.
The 70,000-mile treadwear warranty is certainly impressive for the price as well. That said, snow traction is worse than the best.
- Very responsive handling and good steering feel
- Excellent traction on dry and wet surfaces
- Very good braking
- Wallet-friendly pricing
- Excellent treadlife for the price
- Snow traction is far from impressive
BF Goodrich Long Trail T/A Tour
BF Goodrich is mostly known for its crossover and SUV products and the Long Trail Tour is a very good example of why.
This tire is one of the best in terms of handling and cornering in the touring category, despite the lower price.
Moreover, the tire is very responsive and offers high levels of grip and traction over dry and wet surfaces. Comfort levels are excellent as well.
Still, not everything is shiny here – the treadwear warranty is only 60,000-miles, and the snow and ice traction are far from impressive.
- Very good handling and traction on dry and wet pavement
- Responsive handling with excellent steering feel
- Smooth ride quality
- Quiet on the highway
- Shorter 60,000-mile treadwear warranty
- Not very impressive on snow and ice
2. Best Highway Tires for Ford Explorer
Michelin Defender LTX
The Defender LTX is by far the best highway tire on the market. If it wasn’t for the higher price, it would’ve had a perfect score.
This tire is great across every category. Handling and cornering are excellent, with or without a trailer attached, on dry and wet surfaces.
Highway stability is top-notch, comfort levels are outstanding, while the treadlife is best in the category (a 70,000-mile treadwear warranty).
- A very good option for towing large trailers
- Excellent stability when loaded
- Great cornering and braking on dry and wet surfaces
- Comfortable and quiet
- Outstanding treadlife
Cooper Discoverer HTP
The Discoverer HTP is a budget-friendly highway tire that doesn’t skimp on performance. On the road, this tire is as safe as highway tires go, providing the driver with high responsive handling and usable grip and traction on dry and wet surfaces.
Moreover, the Discoverer HTP is very quiet at higher speeds and comfortable over rough patches on the road. Also, you can easily tow larger trailers with the HTP. Cooper Tire even provides a 65,000-mile treadwear warranty, which is excellent for the price.
That said, light-snow traction is only average – the premium competitors are better in that regard.
- Dry cornering is very good
- Safe in very wet conditions
- Excellent highway stability, even with a trailer attached
- Comfortable and quiet
- Excellent 65,000-miles treadwear warranty for the price
- Light snow traction is average
3. Best Summer Street/Sport Tires for Ford Explorer
Continental CrossContact UHP
The CrossContact UHP, once installed on your Ford Explorer, will greatly improve the overall performance of the vehicle.
This tire is simply outstanding in terms of cornering. Responsiveness and steering feel are top-notch – much better than any other tire on this list.
Moreover, you will be greeted by outstandingly high levels of grip and traction, strong braking, and excellent highway stability. The CrossContact UHP is even comfortable for a Street/Sport summer tire. Impressive stuff, indeed.
That said, Continental doesn’t provide any treadwear warranty, but it’s the same with most tires in this category.
- Outstanding responsiveness and steering feel
- Excellent handling, cornering, and braking on dry tarmac
- Outstanding performance on wet pavement
- Very comfortable for a Street/Sport tire
- No treadwear warranty
4. Best Winter Tires for Ford Explorer
Michelin Latitude X-Ice Xi2
The Latitude X-Ice Xi2 is the only winter tire for crossovers and SUVs that comes with a treadwear warranty. Michelin provides 40,000-miles coverage, an impressive result.
Besides the excellent treadlife, you are also getting the best overall winter performance. The Latitude X-Ice Xi2 works excellently on dry and wet roads in the winter.
More importantly, though, this tire performs outstandingly well on snow, slush, and ice, both in terms of traction and braking.
The sad thing is that the Latitude X-Ice Xi2 is expensive, but you’re getting what you pay for.
- Best-in-class grip and traction in the winter
- Outstanding snow, slush, and ice traction
- Best-in-class 40,000-mile treadwear warranty
What to look for when choosing a set of tires for Ford Explorer?
The Ford Explorer is a family-oriented crossover-SUV. Because of that, when choosing tires for this vehicle, buyers should mostly pay attention to safety, comfort, and durability.
Sure, if you own a more powerful version of the Explorer, you might want to upgrade to performance tires, but they have several disadvantages that might haunt you in the long run.
Also, you need to think about the climate in your area, as it can greatly impact how tires perform. Let’s discuss each type of tire below so you can find one that works best for you.
1. The Weather Factor
Nothing is more important than choosing tires that will work with the climate in your area. For example, even if you choose the best summer tires on the market and live in places with harsh winters, you won’t experience any of the qualities of the tire.
The main reason why that’s the case is the tread compound. Each tire is made of rubber with various hardness levels. Tires made for colder weather are usually softer and more pliable, while tires made for hot weather are harder.
That said, the tread compound also has some other qualities, like how much it sticks to the road. Tires that stick to the road better will give you much better handling and braking over dry and wet surfaces, but they will also wear faster.
Furthermore, there are differences in the tread patterns. Tires designed for cold climates have a more prominent and aggressive tread pattern. As a result of that, these tires work much better when driving over snow or slush.
So, what happens when you use hot weather tires in cold conditions? Well, the rubber becomes too hard and brittle, which lowers grip and traction. Also, this can easily damage the tire.
Contrarily, tires designed for cold weather become too soft in warm conditions, which hurts responsiveness. Moreover, the tread compound will start to wear very fast, which hurts durability.
All being said, all-season tires are the middle ground when it comes to climates. They are designed to work in warmer and colder weather and to give you reliable traction and braking on dry and wet surfaces, as well as light snow.
Now, many people view all-season tires as a compromise, and that’s true. In hot weather, all-season tires won’t give you the ultimate grip and traction of summer tires, and they won’t give you the same snow traction as winter tires.
Nonetheless, for the majority of Ford Explorer owners, all-season tires may be the only tires they need. For normal street driving, the best all-season tires for Ford Explorer are more than good enough in terms of grip, traction, and braking. Besides, all-season tires last much longer than any other tire type and come with outstanding treadwear warranties.
All-weather tires are a sub-type of all-season tires, designed for colder weather. These models will have better traction over snow, slush, and ice, but slightly worse responsiveness and handling in hot weather. They will also wear slightly faster. However, they are an excellent option for people that live in areas with slightly harsher wintry conditions.
For those that encounter very harsh wintry conditions, though, the best choice is a set of winter tires. These models will give you by far the best combination of grip, traction, and braking in the winter. Moreover, they work much, much better over snow, slush, and ice.
Contrarily, summer tires will perform outstandingly well in the summer. Even when compared to all-season tires, you can expect much higher levels of grip and traction and stronger braking. Summer tires are better in the wet, too. That said, they don’t last nearly as long as all-season tires and usually don’t come with treadwear warranties.
That being said, most tires available for the Ford Explorer are all-season tires. Owners of crossovers and SUVs usually don’t need the sporty handling of summer tires and for them, all-season tires work excellent. That’s why, most of the tires on the list will be all-season tires, with some winter options as well.
2. Touring Tires
The best tires for Ford Explorer are touring tires with an all-season tread compound. These tires are designed with safety, comfort, and durability in mind, qualities that fit perfectly with Ford’s popular crossover.
The most beloved thing about touring tires is how long they last. The best touring tires for Ford Explorer on the market today come with up to 80,000-mile treadwear warranty, which is an outstanding number. In the real world, you can drive on these tires for 5-6 years between replacements.
Moreover, touring tires aren’t very expensive to buy. Pair that with the outstanding treadlife and you will get the most cost-effective solution in the long run.
Touring tires are also very, very comfortable. Thanks to the softer sidewalls, these tires simply glide over bumps on the road. On top of that, they are also very quiet, even at highway speeds. On the new Ford Explorer, you’d be hard-pressed to notice the noise coming from touring tires.
Now, when it comes to performance, touring tires are adequate for every condition you encounter. Sure, they are far from responsive and won’t give you excellent steering feel, but for everyday street driving, then will work fine.
All-season touring tires will provide you with admirable traction, grip, and braking on dry and wet surfaces, as well as usable traction in light snow. Just don’t be too aggressive while driving and you should be completely fine.
Most modern touring tires also come with good load ratings, which makes them useful for towing smaller trailers. However, if you want higher towing capacities, we recommend highway tires.
3. Highway Tires
Highway tires are similar to touring tires in many ways. They are designed for street and highway driving, with a focus on safety, durability, and comfort. However, highway tires are only available in SUV, crossover, and truck sizes, while touring tires are available in smaller sizes for passenger vehicles.
On top of that, highway tires also come in larger load ratings, thanks to the stiffer and tougher construction. As a result of that, highway tires work much better with large trailers attached, especially when it comes to highway driving.
Without a trailer attached, though, touring tires are more responsive, offer better handling and stability, and stop much sooner. Touring tires are slightly more comfortable and quieter, too, but the differences aren’t very large.
Highway tires are also more resistant to cuts and chips, which might make them useful for driving over dirt and gravel.
So, there you go – if you often tow with your Ford Explorer, highway tires are the way to go.
4. Street/Sport Tires
The Ford Explorer is one of the most accomplished crossovers in terms of handling and performance. Naturally, it is a good fit for performance tires as well. For crossovers, SUVs, and trucks, they are called Street/Sport Tires. They are similar to high-performance tires for sports cars, though.
With a set of Street/Sport tires, your Ford Explorer will be much more responsive and give you better steering feel. On top of that, the tires will provide you with much better stability, higher levels of grip and traction, and stronger braking. If you’re a spirited driver, these tires will work best for you.
Nevertheless, Street/Sport tires also have some disadvantages. First and foremost, they are less comfortable over bumps, especially over rough patches on the road. Street/Sport tires are louder as well – they can be easily heard inside the cabin at highway speeds.
The biggest downside of these tires is the shorter treadlife. Now, sure, all-season Street/Sport tires come with 50,000 to 60,000-mile treadwear warranties, but that’s still shorter than touring and highway tires.
And if you want to truly experience the best possible handling, you should go for summer tires, which sadly, often don’t come with treadwear warranties at all.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
How often should I rotate my tires?
We recommend rotating the tires every six months, or every 5,000 to 8,000-miles (whichever expires first).
Will low-profile tires damage the ride quality?
Yes, putting larger wheels and lower-profile tires on your Ford Explorer will hurt the ride quality. Please note that Street/Sport tires are mostly available in sizes with low-profile sidewalls.
Which type of tires is best in the rain?
Summer tires, both high-performance, and touring will give you the best grip and traction in rainy conditions.
We can’t stress that enough, but you should always choose tires that will work best for your needs. We included only high-quality tires in our list above, but even then, you should be the one that says the last word. Read the detailed review of every tire and pick one that will suit you well. By doing that, you’ll ensure years of happy and carefree driving!
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