What To Look For When Buying The Best Tires For A Subaru Outback?
Here are a few things to look for when improving your Subaru with a new set of tires:
Since most people buy the Outback for the freedom to rally down dirt roads while maintaining decent fuel economy, I recommend you buy tires like my top recommended Yokohama Geolandar or Falken Wildpeak.
Michelin Crossclimate is also a super badass tire that fits the style and grace of your Subaru Outback.
Outstanding suspension/Alignment issues
Since I suspect you’ll be buying tires online (the smart idea), your Subaru may not get the proper inspection needed for identifying problems that can reduce tread life.
It’s worth saying, you should always make 100 percent sure that the car is in perfect alignment and that all suspension parts are in full order.
Don’t forget to always keep an eye out for rebate deals. Sometimes the brand doesn’t matter as much if you’re going to get a killer deal on a specific set of tires. The Subaru Outback is a pretty common vehicle, so don’t expect to find much as far as killer deals, but you never do know. Most of the time tires get cheaper because there is less demand for them, just FYI. And that won’t ever be the case with the Subaru Outback; their most common tire size will always be in demand.
Since Subaru Outbacks are used eclectically, it’s important to think about exactly which type of tire you want for your Outback.
I recommend all-season tires for most sedans, but the Subaru Outback is a bit different case. These wagons just happen to be super badass at backcountry access, and I’ve been surprised to see them in places where I wouldn’t think they would be able to get to.
I still recommend all seasons all the way with the Outback, but if you want to step it up notch traction, go with an all-terrain choice as we recommended in our top spot above.
You might still want to use snow chains with all-season tires, depending on where you live.
Touring tires are kind of a mix between performance and all-season tires. That might not do as well in the rain compared to all seasons, but they bring it with the performance in dry driving conditions.
Just don’t expect your touring tires to do well on dirt roads, and don’t expect them to be that smooth over the bumps like all-terrain tires and all seasons.
All-terrains are surprisingly a recommended option for the Subaru Outback. I recommended the Yokohama Geolandar set as my top pick, but you could also go for brands like Toyo (Ken Block uses Toyo), Falken, etc.
You might still want to use snow chains with all-terrain tires, depending on where you live.
- Summer tires/Ultra-High Performance
There aren’t many Subaru Outback drivers that use summer tires, but there is that occasional city dweller that likes performance summer tires on their Outback. Nothing wrong with that! Summer tires are great for highway trips, but don’t expect them to be as smooth over small bumps when compared to an all-season tire.
You wouldn’t find my Outback with summer tires in a million years, but it’s still a possibility. The upside of high-performance tires is their ability to handle fast speeds. And sure, the Outback is pretty damn fast.
- Snow tires
Some high rollers choose to own two sets of tires and wheels to switch from summer to winter tires, and the reason is usually that they live clear the f*ck up in the mountains and need the studded/ribbed traction that snow tires offer to fend off the icy conditions.
Try Michelin X Ice, Bridgestone Blizzak, Pirelli P Zero Winter, and other tires similar for your Subaru Outback.
Tires have specific speed ratings based on their performance, and that’s something you’ll most definitely want to keep an eye on if you’re worried about rallying hard. Typically, tires with faster speed ratings will be safer at faster speeds, but softer tires are much more comfortable on the bottom when going over road bumps.
You do have a slight amount of wiggle room when it comes to sidewall height on your Subaru Outback. Just as a reference, the middle tire size number (i.e., 225/65/R17) is the aspect ratio that determines how tall the tires are. Sportier tires have a smaller aspect ratio while all-season tires have higher sidewalls that tend to ride a bit smoother over potholes and whatnot.
My best advice is to plug in your Subaru’s year and submodel into Tire Rack’s system and let the tire size recommendation machine work its magic. Choose the fitting aspect ratio for your driving style.
How Much Do Tires For A Subaru Outback Cost?
Such a loaded question! Okay, so to be honest, you could always just choose the cheapest possible option (Starfire Solarus). There’s nothing wrong with that honestly.
The low price for Subaru Outback tires is anything under a hundred bucks a tire. The high price luckily is anywhere just under 200 bucks a tire (that’s lower than other cars).
In my opinion, if you spend over 200 bucks a tire for your Subaru, you’re blowing it. Buy economical, because you never know when you’ll blow one out, and it’s never pleasant when the service advisor tells you that you need two new tires instead of one on your Outback sporting symmetrical all-wheel-drive.
That’s right, this ain’t no Honda Civic. You’ll need to replace your Outback tires in pairs.
Four New Tires
On the low end, four new tires for your Suby will cost you around $360 for tires + the cost of installation at your local mom-and-pop tire shop. Expect to pay $50-$100+ for a low-end tire mount and balance.
On the high end, four new expensive tires will cost you around $800 for the tires + a heftier fee if you take it into your local stealership. (dealerships typically charge a couple of hundred bucks + for mount and balance).
Two New Tires
Two new tires will cost around $180 plus about $50 bucks for installation on the lower end of things. On the higher end, expect to pay at least $500 for tires and installation when buying two new tires for your Subaru Outback.
The only single tire you should be buying for your Subaru Outback is the spare. Don’t mess up the drivetrain system by mounting up a new tire on one wheel and leaving the old one on the other side of the axle. You want to keep your front tires twins and your rear tires twins.
A spare tire (with wheel) will cost you anything from $50-$300+ depending on how you acquire it.
What Tire Size Is Best For A Subaru Outback?
I always recommend the stock-size tires and wheels for optimum performance (try to match the existing tire size). In my opinion, putting tires that are too big or too small for your Outback will cause side effects like reduced fuel economy, AWD drivetrain issues, etc. that you don’t want.
How Long Should Your Subaru Outback Tires Last?
It all depends on which tires you choose. The overall trend for the Subaru Outback is around 50 thousand miles as far as warranties go, but you’ll notice that some of these tires have 60 thousand+ mile warranties.
Your tire longevity also heavily depends on your ability to maintain the tires and the vehicle suspension/alignment. I highly recommend filling your tires up with Nitrogen because it eliminates flat spots and prevents tire deflation. Most tire shops have a nitrogen machine.
When To Replace Tires On Your Subaru Outback?
Always be checking the tread wear on your Outback. This is an all-wheel drive vehicle, and some of the older Outbacks have funky stuff. Treat it like a four-wheel drive truck or SUV.
There’s a pretty funky (but awesome) lateral link system in the older Subaru suspension systems that can cause premature tire wear if they get knocked out of wack.
Of course, the rule of thumb is to replace your tires when they get past 2/32” (two thirty-seconds of an inch), or 1.4 mm.
And then again, you can always stick a penny inside your tire treads and decide whether or not the top of Abe Lincoln’s head is still showing when inserted face down into the crevice.
Does The Brand Matter For A Subaru Outback When Replacing Tires?
Sure does! Different brands that make tires that fit Subarus bring in a wide range of options.
For example, our top choice (Yokohama Geolandar) makes a super versatile offroading tire that also happens to perform quite nicely at higher speeds. It’s like the perfect mix you would need for a Subaru Outback (go figure, Yokohama is also a Japanese company).
Wait, isn’t the international speed limit only 100 km/hour in Japan? So why are these guys so damn good at engineering fast cars and tires then? They’re doing a great job at it.
I do recommend tires made in Japan for your Subaru. I think they fit the style and function the best, so look for brands like Toyo, Yokohama, Falken, etc. because they make great all-terrain tires for crossovers and whatnot.
Some other tire brands, and models you might want to check out are our Michelin Crossclimate, Michelin Defender LTX, anything Pirelli, Goodyear Assurance, etc. I don’t recommend putting Chinese tires on your Outback because that’s supposedly what the Russians did with their military vehicles, and look how well that turned out for them! They ended up with a bunch of vehicles immobilized because of flat tires.
And I’m not saying Chinese tires won’t work just fine for your Subaru. China is coming along nicely with its technology. Just don’t rely on them at all. Like if you buy Chinese or any other type of off-brand tires, you should be defensive driving in the right or middle lane expecting a blowout at any moment.