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What are the Best Tires for Toyota Highlander: 2019 Buying Guide

Crossovers are becoming ever so popular, and that’s especially true for mid-size models with three rows for seating. The most popular mid-size crossover in the US is arguably the Toyota Highlander, which just entered its fourth generation. The new Highlander is based on the new TNGA architecture, which brings several improvements to the table, namely better driving dynamics and ride comfort.

However, most second and third generation Highlander owners are still well-served by this vehicle. Being a Toyota, this mid-size crossover is supremely reliable, and it also offers a lot of room for passengers and cargo inside. Highlander’s are also very safe for the whole family, but only if you have a good set of tires on it.

The best tires for Toyota Highlander should offer absolutely supreme safety in every condition the driver will encounter, especially given the fact that owners use it for transporting their kids in the back seats. Then, the same tires must also be quiet and comfortable on the highway – you don’t want your family to suffer due to a lot of noise or unrefined ride. In the end, the best Toyota Highlander tires should also offer excellent durability and long-lasting tread life.

That’s a tall order when you think about it, which is why I’ve prepared a list of the Top 10 best tires for Toyota Highlander. In that list, you will find tires that have almost all those qualities in them, but also tires that are suited for different driving scenarios, such as snow for example. In order to better understand what type of tire you would need for your type of driving and the weather in your area, let’s first start with a short buying guide, aimed precisely at Toyota Highlander owners.

What to look for when choosing a set of best tires for Toyota Highlander?

best-tires-for-Toyota-Highlander

The Toyota Highlander may be a crossover, available in AWD form, but it really isn’t suited to off-road driving. Sure, you can use it on light terrain, but for more demanding conditions Toyota has the 4Runner. That’s why I will not spend too much time on all-terrain or off-road tires here – there is simply no reason for it. That said, if you insist on driving your Highlander in off-road conditions, then all-terrain tires are the best choice.

If you’re like almost every other Highlander owner and use your vehicle primarily on long road trips, then all-season touring or all-season highway tires are the best choice. The best tires in this category should give you excellent traction in dry and wet conditions, in warm weather and cold weather. Then, touring and highway tires are known to be extremely long-lasting, with warranties ranging from 65,000-mile to 80,000-mile range. Apart from that, both tire types are quiet and comfortable, something that is also very important to Highlander owners. In the end, touring and highway tires aren’t as expensive as high-performance summer tires, despite being more durable. A win-win situation for Highlander owners.

You will also encounter normal all-season tires when shopping. These offer virtually the same performance in both dry and wet conditions but aren’t as durable as touring or highway tires. That said, they are cheaper, which mitigates that issue. All-weather tires are another type of tires that work in every condition, with the added benefit of better performance in heavy rain and light snow when compared to all-season tires. However, all-weather tires tend to be expensive, which makes them a worse choice for owners who live in areas with mild winters.

And even if you live in areas with freezing and snowy winters, winter tires are absolutely the best choice. A combination of the highway or touring tire for spring, summer, and fall, and winter tires for the winter are the best for Highlander owners. With a set of winter tires, you can expect much better traction in cold weather, both in dry and wet conditions and especially when it snows. For that reason, I will also include a set of winter tires in the Top 10 list. With all that said, you should never use winter tires in warm conditions, because they have worse handling and degrade much faster.

For those who live in areas with a lot of sunny and warm days, summer tires might be the best option. These tires almost always come in high-performance guise, which means that they are better suited to owners of V6 versions of the Highlander. With a set of high-performance summer tires, your Highlander V6 will have much, much better traction in the corners, better grip, and more responsive handling, both in dry and wet conditions. However, summer tires quickly lose performance when the weather is colder, and that’s especially true in snow, where they are completely unusable. On top of that, high-performance summer tires don’t last nearly as long as all-season, highway or touring tires, which makes them highly unusable for covering a lot of miles annually. Please note that high-performance all-season tires are also available, but those lose a bit of the edge in the corners.

Having cleared that out, we can now start with the Top 10 list, where I’ll include every type of tire that I think will suit the Toyota Highlander and its owner.

Top 10 Best Tires for Toyota Highlander

1. Michelin Defender LTX M/S

Best highway all-season tire for Toyota Highlander 

Michelin Defender LTX MS

The most popular tire for owners of crossovers, SUVs and light trucks, the Defender checks all the boxes for owners of the Toyota Highlander. The Defender LTX M/S is an all-season tire that is capable of tackling any type of weather you throw at it, be it dry, wet or snowy. Then, it is extremely durable – one of the longest-lasting tires on the market right now, something that owners with families will like a lot. In the end, being a highway tire, the Defender LTX M/S is also very quiet and comfortable on the road, probably best-in-class. If you want a set of tires that best-suited to the Highlander, this is it.

Michelin used their proprietary Evertread compound with high-density Active Sipes to make the Defender LTX helpful in harsh weather, installed lateral grooves for better water drainage, and then used their MaxTouch construction technology that evens the force over the entire tire, which additionally helps with grip in the corners, as well as braking performance and durability.

All these technologies put the Defender LTX on top of any other tire in this category and help for excellent traction and grip in dry weather, both warm or cold. On top of that, the Michelin is on top of the class when it comes to wet or damp conditions, offering the driver completely safe driving experience with short braking distances, good handling at higher speeds, and excellent traction. Being a highway tire, the Defender LTX also offers outstanding high-speed stability, even with the heavier Highlander V6 model. In the end, this Michelin is also supremely quiet and comfortable on the road.

If you’re still not convinced, what if I tell you that this is the most durable tire for the Toyota Highlander out there and that it comes with fantastic 80,000-mile tread warranty? Sure, the price is higher than most other tires, but in this case, it is absolutely worth the cost!


2. Continental CrossContact LX20 EcoPlus 

Best MPG/touring tires for Toyota Highlander

Continental CrossContact LX20 EcoPlus

If you want a slightly cheaper set of tires for your Toyota Highlander, then the Continental CrossContact LX20 EcoPlus first comes to mind. It comes in a close second when compared to the Defender LTX in almost every category, which means that it is the best of the rest. I think that most owners will be completely satisfied with a set of these Continentals’.

The secret behind the quality of the LX20 EcoPlus is the Tg-F polymers and +Silane additives that give the tire both good handling abilities and durability. That said, the warranty sits at “only” 70,000-mile treadlife, which is shorter than the Defender, but still better than most tires in this category. On the other hand, the EcoPlus has low-rolling resistance up its sleeve, so you might see some MPG improvements.

It’s not only low-rolling resistance that the Continental gives the driver but also very good traction and grip in dry conditions, up there on the level of the Defender LTX. Traction and grip in wet conditions are also excellent, and the same can be said for braking performance. On top of everything, the CrossContact LX20 EcoPlus is also usable in light snow, again almost at the level of the Defender.


3. Bridgestone Blizzak DM-V2

Best winter tires for Toyota Highlander

Bridgestone Blizzak DM-V2

Michelin and Continental might have a slight upper hand with their all-season offerings, but their Biggest rival Bridgestone is simply unbeatable when it comes to winter tires. The Bilizzak DM-V2 is absolutely the best winter tire for Toyota Highlander. With a set of these tires, you can expect excellent traction in freezing weather, dry or wet, and especially in the snow. Driving in slippery conditions with the Blizzak DM-V2 feels very safe, which makes them the best choice for buyers who live in areas with harsh winters. While they might be expensive for some people, I think that they are completely worth the money, because they offer the highest levels of safety for you and your family.

Bridgestone’s Blizzak line is so successful in cold weather thanks to the NanoPro Tech Multicell compound that features a water-loving hydrophilic coating. Why “water-loving?” Well, it takes the water out of the snow, which greatly improves traction, grip and braking distances. On top of that, Bridgestone installed microscopic bite particles in the Blizzak DM-V2, so that it can bite into snow or ice. The Multicell compound is also extremely flexible, which is another important trait for a winter tire.

The compound is only half of the story here. The directional tread design features 15% more aggressive block edges than the previous Blizzak tire in this category, which channels water, slush, and snow out of the contact area of the tire. And if that wasn’t enough, Bridgestone installed 3D zigzag sipes on the tread, for even more biting edges. Interestingly, the Blizzak DM-V2 even has a tread depth indicator that shows when the NanoPro Tech Multicell Compound is used (55% of the tread), and when the tire only uses normal winter compound (remaining 45%). That will not happen soon though as the Blizzak DM-V2 is one of the most durable winter tires out there.


4. Falken Ziex STZ05

Best high-performance all-season tire for Toyota Highlander

Falken Ziex STZ05

The Highlander is certainly not a sporty vehicle, but for those who own a V6 version and want a more focused driving experience, they might want to try the Falken Ziex STZ05. Unlike most high-performance tires, which are the only summer rated, this one can work in all conditions, with the inclusion of cold weather and light snow. Sure, performance in harsh weather, like deeper snow, for example, is not on the level of touring or highway all-season tires, but still fine for most people. Handling, on the other hand, will be much more responsive and the grip levels will be much higher in warm weather.

Falken achieved this by equipping the Ziex STZ05 with five-rib symmetric tread design for long life and stability, solid center rib for better handling precision in the corners, wide shoulder blocks for enhanced stability at higher speeds in both dry and wet conditions. The wide and narrowing shoulder grooves offer a surprising amount of quietness and comfort, but the tread warranty is severely limited at 50,000-miles. Still, not surprising for a high-performance tire, especially one that doesn’t cost as much as others in its category.


5. Bridgestone Dueler H/L Alenza Plus

Best comfortable tires for Toyota Highlander 

Bridgestone Dueler H/L Alenza Plus

This is Bridgestone’s direct competitor to the Michelin Defender LTX and one that is close in almost every category to that tire. However, while the Defender gives slightly better performance in the corners, the Dueler H/L Alenza Plus is all about comfort and quietness. If you care about a comfortable driving experience with your Highlander, this is the one to get!

The excellent ride comfort and quietness on the street are achieved thanks to the symmetric tread pattern. Even at higher speeds, the Bridgestone is supremely quiet and comfortable, bringing additional calmness to the already refined Highlander. Despite its comfort-oriented design, the Dueler H/L Alenza Plus still offers excellent performance in slippery conditions thanks to the circumferential grooves, lateral notches, and sipes. It is even good in light snow if you need winter performance.

Oh, and with 80,000-mile tread warranty, the Bridgestone is neck and neck with the Defender LTX when it comes to durability.


6. Pirelli Scorpion Verde All Season Plus

A good option for Toyota Highlander all-wheel drive 

Pirelli Scorpion Verde All Season Plus

Pirelli is probably the fourth biggest player on the tire market, next to Bridgestone, Michelin, and Continental, so, therefore, it is expected to include one of their tires on this list. The Scorpion Verde All Season Plus is an all-season tire with the very lightweight rubber compound, which makes them a great choice for AWD models due to their higher weight than FWD models. That said, they will still work fine on models with the front driven wheels.

Pirelli achieved this with the lighter weight of the silica-enhanced tread compound, which not only helps in the performance department but also makes the Pilot AWD more efficient due to low-rolling-resistance credentials. For great traction and grip in wet conditions, as well as in light snow, Pirelli equipped the Scorpion Verde with an asymmetric tread design that allows for uniform contact patch. This also helps in the handling department – like with every Pirelli tire, you can expect responsive drivability in the corners.

That said, durability might be a concern for some people – the manufacturer gives only 65,000-mile tread warranty, which is less than all of its direct rivals.


Best Budget Tires for Toyota Highlander

7. General Tire Grabber HTS 60

Best budget all-season tires for Toyota Highlander 

General Tire Grabber HTS 60

General Tire is a brand that’s known for producing high-quality tires at a lower price point than premium manufacturers, which makes them very popular in the US. Their Grabber HTS 60 model is, in my opinion, a great all-season option for owners of the Highlander who don’t plan on spending too much money on new tires or own one of the first two generations of the model. General says that the Grabber HTS 60 offers a blend of style, comfort, durability, and performance, and I can confirm that this is the case in reality.

On the road, the General Grabber HTS 60 offers excellent traction and grip for the price, both in dry and wet conditions. Like its premium competitors, it is also usable in light snow, but only just. One area where the Grabber HTS 60 also shows promise is comfort – this is one of the most comfortable and quiet tires in the category. The 65,000-mile tread warranty might be limiting for some buyers, but don’t forget that the price is much lower than the competition which offers  15,000-mile longer warranty.


8. Yokohama Geolandar A/T G015

Best budget all-terrain tire for Toyota Highlander

Yokohama Geolandar A/T G015

Despite the fact that most Highlander owners will never venture off-road with their vehicles, there are still some that might be tempted to go in the wilderness. For them, the best option is the Yokohama Geolandar A/T G015, which not only offers excellent performance across the board, but it is also cheaper than premium offerings.

Yokohama and its Enduro all-season compound with orange oil and EdgeTec grooves give it an advantage over other companies when it comes to traction in off-road conditions, but also on the road. Unlike many other all-terrain tires, the Geolandar offers very good traction and grip on the road, both in dry and wet conditions. It is also covered by 60,000-mile tread warranty, which is unbeatable by most tires in its category.


9. Nitto NT421Q

Best cheap tires for Toyota Highlander

Nitto NT421Q

While I am almost always on the side of premium tires, because they are one of the most important parts for a safe driving experience, there are some products that offer very good results at a budget price point. I would recommend tires such as the Nitto NT421Q for owners of first or second gen Highlander models, or people who simply don’t have enough budget for premium tires at the moment.

The Nitto NT421Q offers great value for the money because it offers very good traction and grip in both dry and wet conditions, as well as excellent durability at 75,000-mile tread warranty, beatable only by tires such as the Michelin Defender LTX. On top of that, the wide circumferential grooves which help in wet conditions, also give the Nitto good traction in light snow.

The reason why the Nitto NT421Q is excellent across the board is the rubber inserts in the shoulders, which add structural integrity to the tire and make it withstand greater “G” forces in the corners – almost on the level of a high-performance tire. For $50 less per tire when compared to premium products, this is outstanding, to say the least!


10. Hankook DynaPro HT RH12

Best budget low-rolling resistance tire for Toyota Highlander 

Hankook Dynapro HT RH12

Made of the premium all-season compound, the Hankook DynaPro HT RH12 is a great option for those who want all-season performance and low-rolling resistance in a budget package. This is a tire that will offer excellent traction in dry and wet conditions, while also being good in light snow. The ride is quiet and comfortable, almost like premium tires in this category, and the 70,000-mile tread warranty is okay for the price. That said, owners of Highlander V6 may look away – the Hankook DynaPro HT RH12 isn’t very responsive when driven fast through the corners.


Conclusion

By choosing a tire from the list above, you will ensure that you get a high-quality product that will be both safe and comfortable, and serve you for a long time. That said, to achieve that, it is recommended that you rotate your tires at every oil maintenance. Whatever tire you choose from my list of best tires for Toyota Highlander, be sure that it suits your driving style and the weather in your area – only then you will get the best possible performance.

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