Despite the entry of several new players into the market, Toyota Highlander remains one of the most popular crossovers. Its spacious seats, strong body, and powerful engine continues to delight the users of the Highlander more than a decade after the AWD was first released to the world.
However, despite all its brilliant features, this mid-size crossover is only as good as the tires underneath it. This fact becomes more crucial for owners who use its back seats to transport their kids, as the presence of average tires would result in vibrations, thereby ruining the whole driving experience.
That’s why we decided to come up with this article of best tires for Toyota Highlander. As proud 2nd generation owners of the Toyota Highlander, we are aware that the tires which the company supplies with this model give way after a few thousand miles. So we have only selected those pairs which, if maintained, can last ages.
Things You Should Know Before Buying Tires
As you might already know, Toyota Highlander drivers just cannot go to the market and purchase the tire which meets their eye. There are at least three factors that should be common between the original tires of your Highlander and the ones you’re going to replace them with. They include:
Same Tire Size
Most people already know this fact that the replacement tire should have the same size as that of the original tires which come with your Toyota Highlander.
Provided you don’t follow this golden rule, the tire you may end up choosing would most likely decrease your car’s performance and increase its fuel consumption.
Same Speed Rating
As we have told you in these pages before, a tire’s speed rating is a measure of the maximum speed it can sustain without experiencing any damage.
What we haven’t told you before, however, is that the replacement tires of your vehicle need to have the same speed rating as the original ones.
Same Load Index
As its name betrays, a tire’s ‘load index’ defines the maximum load limit of your vehicle. Typically, the road index of AWD ranges between 739 pounds and 2,000 pounds.
To find out the load index of your Highlander’s original tires, look at its tread. You might see a term like P195/60R15 87S, whose last 3 digits are the code for load index.
How to Choose the Best Tires for Toyota Highlander
If you’re like most drivers, you’d already know that this vehicle isn’t made for off-road driving. Toyota has the 4Runner for those of you who want to take their vehicle to the extremes. That’s why we aren’t going to talk much about off-road or all-terrain tires.
Depending on your needs, the following three types of tire might fit the bill:
You can count on all-season touring or all-season highway tires to provide best traction in dry and wet conditions. Also, if kept maintained, these tires can last ages. That’s why you get long warranties on these models – ranging between 65,000 miles and 80,000 miles.
At the same time, all-season tires give something which Highlander owners dream of: quiet and vibration-free riding experience. Though these tires aren’t recommended if you live in an area that lies in snowy conditions for the better part of a year.
Normal All Season Tires
When compared with the all-season touring/highway tires, these normal all-season tires have their plus and negative points. Starting with the areas where they perform better, these tires cost less and provide almost the same level of performance in both weather conditions.
On the flip side, you cannot pay less for these tires and expect them to last as long as their touring/highway counterparts. You can guess the same thing by looking at their warranties – as normal all-season tires have fewer warranty periods.
In contrast to what most people choose to believe, winter tires are popular not only because they provide superior traction on snow and ice due to their tread patterns. These tires are also recommended because of the soft rubber compound in their tread design.
Due to the presence of both these elements – super tread patterns and softer rubber compounds – you can expect winter tires to perform head-and-shoulders above their all-season counterparts on snow, slush and (yes) off-road conditions.
Most of us don’t have the luxury of living in areas where heat waves can’t touch us. Summer tires are the best options, therefore, for the unfortunate ones among us who live in areas that receive more sun than their due share.
Like their all-season counterparts, summer tires aren’t a one-trick pony as well. They are available in multiple versions including high-performance, all-season, highway and touring, among which the high-performance summer tires get our nod due to their more responsive handling and better grip.
Best All Season Tires for Toyota Highlander
General Grabber HTS 60
Best All-Season Highway Tire for Toyota Highlander
The General Grabber HTS 60 is a tire made for SUVs, crossovers, vans and even light pickups. It comes with a warranty of over 50,000 miles and offers all-weather traction – features which make this tire a must-have for your Toyota Highlander.
One common feature among all General tire is that they come loaded with technologies. The Grabber HTS 60 isn’t an exception to this norm. It is equipped with DuraGen Technology which helps this tire provide excellent cut and chip resistance by introducing cuts in the tread.
The Comfort Balance Technology, meanwhile, has covered the top of the tread with a cushioned layer to isolate your vehicle’s cabin from vibrations. Equally useful is its StabiliTread Technology which increases the footprint of the HTS 60 on the road, thereby reducing the pressure on the tire.
Additionally, you won’t be able to find many faults in this tire’s wet performance as it has circumferential grooves which channel slush and water away from the tire’s diameter. This arrangement prevents hydroplaning – a dangerous phenomenon that causes the tire to start slipping on wet surfaces.
Having used this tire in our Highlander, we cannot compliment its all-season tread compound enough. It helps the HTS 60 maintain flexibility at all times of the year, with the ribbed tread pattern giving brilliant steering response and maximum controllability on the road.
Finishing our review of this all-season tire with a glance at its noise level, we are happy to report that the Comfort Balance Technology has done wonders in this regard. By introducing a disturbance-absorption sheet beneath the tread, this technology has made your ride (almost) noise-free.
- Excellent grip
- Brilliant steering response
- Quiet and comfortable riding
Michelin Premier LTX
Best All-Season Touring Tire for Toyota Highlander
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Ever thought that you’d see sunflower oil used in anything else besides fried items? Even if you haven’t, the Michelin Premier LTX tires have used the same substance in their tread compound. Scroll down to see how it takes the performance of this tire to a whole new level.
The presence of silica compound and sunflower oil in these tires’ tread has done wonders to their performance level. While the former equips acts as a bonding agent to improve its strength, sunflower oil has made the tire flexible enough to provide traction on all types of surfaces.
You also cannot disregard the importance of its steel belts to improve the strength of the LTX. Reinforced with polyamide cord and protected with a ply of the polyester casing, the steel belts prevent the majority of vibrations experienced by the tires from making an entry inside the cabin.
The LTX has Michelin’s ‘EverGrip’ Technology to provide traction on dry tarmac and wet surfaces. This technology does that by tinkering with the tire’s tread design. As the tread grooves show signs of wearing, it starts to widen them and replaces the worn-out grooves with the new ones.
Consequently, even when the tread is showing visible signs of being worn out, it would continue to provide the tire with excellent traction in all types of surfaces. That means that the tire would continue to stop shorter on the surface upon the application of immediate brakes.
Above all, the fact that this tire comes with a warranty of 60,000 miles tells you everything you need to know about the trust Michelin places in its shelf-life. This tire is made to last and whether you look at its warranty period or tread design, there’s no reason for you to dismiss this claim.
- Super-quiet riding experience
- High level of traction
- Flexible at lower temperatures
- Tread life is short
Best Ultra-High-Performance All Season Tires for Toyota Highlander
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Provided you came to this review looking for a pair of tires that have all their bases covered, the Nitto NT421Q has everything to meet your requirements. It is the newest breed from the manufacturer which targets crossovers and gives a noise-free riding experience.
A closer inspection of this tire will reveal that its face is divided into two sections. The outer-facing shoulder contains large tread blocks with smaller open grooves whereas the inner one contains larger open grooves in smaller blocks.
In addition to giving the NT421Q its aggressive looks, this unique tread design serves another purpose. The outer shoulder with the wider tread bocks is there to give better stability, braking and cornering on dry surfaces. The inner blocks, meanwhile, channel water away to improve winter performance.
You might also find it good to know that this tire has its manufacturer’s exclusive 3D interlocking sipe and 3D multi-wave design. Both these features make sure that as you apply the brakes, the sipes lock together, create a bigger surface area and provide better handling.
Scoring equally well on the utility-scale are this tire’s additional shoulder inserts. Supplemented with an extra layer of rubber along the tire’s circumference, they empower the tire to not only absorb a lot of bumps but also save sitting inside the cabin from feeling the vibrations.
On top of this tire’s tread are maintenance indicators to give you every information you need to have about the condition of the tire. These indicators are there to tell you how well (or otherwise)) the wheels are aligned. If you see them wearing unevenly, it’s time to have the wheels re-aligned.
- Has maintenance indicators
- Competitive pricing
- Admirable performance in inclement weather
- Expensive replacement tires
Michelin Defender LTX M/S
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Similar to most other all-season tires that you might already have seen on the market, the Michelin Defender LTX M/S is designed to be driven on dry tarmac. Sure, it would provide decent traction on wet surfaces but where this tire really shines is the highway.
Michelin has cast the net wider by offering the Defender LTX M/S in three versions. Both the first two versions – the 215/75415 100T and 235/75R15/XL 109T – come with a 70,000 miles warranty, whereas the 31x10.50R15/C 109R won’t insure anything above the 50,000 miles mark.
Regardless of the version that fits your Highlander, you could expect all of them to have three of Michelin’s exclusive technologies, among which our favorite is the Comfort Control Technology as it minimizes the noise of this tire to give you a quiet-riding experience.
Then there is the Evertread technology. It reinforces the inner substances of this model’s tread to empower them to better withstand wear and tear, thereby increasing this tire’s shelf life. And finally, you have the Intellisipe Technology which maximizes this tire’s grip by increasing its biting edges.
Moving away from all this techy talk, the reinforced internal structure of this tire showed its sturdiness during the test drive. Featuring twin steel belts and using Max Touch construction which evenly distributes the forces of cornering, braking, and acceleration, it doesn’t let this tire deform under pressure.
Lastly, while the performance of the LTX M/S on snow is exactly what you might expect (not good), it did well on wet surfaces. Perhaps that’s because of the almost invisible 3D active sipes that even when driving at high speeds on roads which had recently received a light shower, we didn’t experience any slippage.
- Good grip on wet roads
- Quiet riding experience
- Long tread life and warranty
- Not good in snow
Continental CrossContact LX20 with EcoPlus Technology
Best Budget All-Season Tires for Toyota Highlander
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Despite the fact that the Continental tire brand is one of the oldest in the world, it made its entry into the American market only in the late 80s. Thirty years later, its models like the CrossContact LX20 Eco Plus have shown the US-based drivers what their ancestors had been missing for all those years.
In case you were wondering, the term ‘Eco Plus’ in the name of this tire isn’t some marketing jargon. It indicates the presence of Continental’s eco-friendly tread compound in the LX20. One which you could count on to deliver better fuel economy reduced wear and excellent all-season performance.
How so? The mixture of Tg-F polymers and +Silane additives decreases the rolling resistance of the tire’s rubber while improving its traction. That is a pretty unique combo but that is exactly what this tire offers to raise its stock in the eyes of Toyota Highlander drivers.
Furthermore, to make sure it performs adequately on wet surfaces, the four wide circumferential grooves and additional traction grooves of this tire play a huge part. They increase the LX20’s biting edges to increase its grip on loose pavement, wet and snowy conditions.
What makes this tire a must-have is its aggressive tread design. It consists of asymmetrical patches that can handle rough surfaces without making a noise – and that too while providing the passengers in your crossover with a silent and comfortable highway ride.
Lastly, this model gives assured traction on dry tarmac. It has a continuous center rib whose independent tread blocks offer better grip and solid steering feel on dry tarmac. Hence the reason why we call this budget model as one of the best tires for dry surfaces.
- Noise-free ride
- Solid in the corners
- 70,000-mile tread guarantee
- Not the best in snow
Best Winter Tires for Toyota Highlander
Hankook DynaPro HT RH12
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The Hankook DynaPro HT RH12 are a great option for those of you who can’t afford to pay over the odds for a tire that delivers a low-rolling resistance and all-season performance. Also, apart from performing adequately on dry surfaces, these tires have the capability to hold their own in snowy conditions.
As you’d expect from every pair of winter tires worth its salt, the DynaPro HT RH12 come with several features to improve their grip in snowy conditions. Its tread design contains built-in snow kerfs whose only purpose is to prove the tire with biting power on extra slippery surfaces.
Then there’s the rib design with its interlocking geometry and highly-stiff center block. It improves the steering response of your crossover and enhances its handling on snow. Equally useful are the semi-solid ribs which join their forces with the snow kerfs to provide enhanced snow traction.
Drivers who ride their vehicles on snow are aware of the importance of straight groove channels of the HT RH12. They effectively channel water from beneath this tire’s tread to make sure that the tire’s contact with the road never breaks off, thereby keeping hydroplaning at bay.
Additionally, to protect the tire from abrasions and cuts, Hankook has provided it with under-tread protection. The presence of zigzag sipes, meanwhile, increases the absolute number of biting edges, all but guaranteeing this tire’s traction on snowy surfaces.
Lastly, your comfortability is one area where these tires could have done a little better. As they roll over bigger-than-average speedbumps and potholes, those sitting in the cabin won’t be able to help but feel some of the vibrations. Luckily, that’s the only negative point we could find about this tire.
- Excellent traction on snow
- Brilliant steering response
- Remarkable handling
- A bit lacking on the comfort front.
Bridgestone Blizzak DM-V2
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As far as summer tires are concerned, Michelin and Continental enjoy a lion’s share of the market because of their all-season offerings. However, when it comes to performing on snow, Bridgestone stands equal to its rivals with this Blizzak DM-V2 tire.
One of the major reasons why you can’t use all-season tires in snow is because their tread compound doesn’t have anything to help them give traction on extremely loose surfaces. The Blizzak DM-V2 has tackled this problem with aplomb with its multi-cell compound, Nano Pro technology, and 3D sipes.
The multi-cell compound effectively channels water from beneath the tire’s surface and has microscopic pores that improve the grip of this tire on snow. As for the Nano Pro technology, its even distribution of silica particles increases the flexibility of the V2 in freezing conditions, helping it to maintain traction.
Bridgestone knows that excess of anything is bad. That’s why where on the one end it has equipped this tire with flexibility, on the other, the 3D sipes help the DM-V2 maintain sufficient strength. You can also rely on these zigzag sipes to improve this model’s traction on layers of snow.
Next come its large shoulder blocks which enhance the cornering power of this tire. It also has the circumferential grooves which direct water away from the tire, thereby helping it maintain contact with the road. Whereas the multi-Z center pattern complements the biting power of the sipes.
All in all, the Bridgestone Blizzak DM-V2 tires have everything to become a top-rated choice for winter conditions. Throw into the mix its 12,000 tread miles warranty – which extends to 15,000 tread miles on certain sizes – and this tire doesn’t give you many reasons for ignoring it.
- Grooves effectively channel water
- Microscopic pores provide better grip
- Silica enhances flexibility
- Tread life might be short on some surfaces
Best Summer Tires for Toyota Highlander
Pirelli Scorpion Verde
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In the Scorpion Verde All-Season, Pirelli has managed to create a tire that isn’t only gentle on the environment by increasing the fuel efficiency of your Highlander but offers better performance in moderate weather conditions.
That the word ‘Verde’ means ‘green’ in Italian tells you everything you need to know about where the priorities of this tire lie. To reduce your car’s carbon footprint (CO2 emissions), it enhances its fuel economy by giving a mixture of reduced weight and low-rolling resistance.
Moreover, to decrease its noise to the bare-minimum level, Pirelli has equipped the Verde Plus with two specific features – the first of which is its Noise Cancelling system which has integrated a sound-absorbing device inside the circumferential wall to radically drop road noise levels.
The second of the two noise-canceling features is the optimized pitch sequence on the tread which you cannot see with naked eye. Consisting of sequencing on the treads, it increases the points at which the tire would come into contact with the road, thereby reducing tire stress and, by extension, road noise.
Moving away from all this noise talk, you’d be pleased to note that this tire provides excellent handling on dry tarmac. The braking was brilliant as our Highlander stopped several feet short than what it did when we were using the tires which were supplied by Toyota.
Lastly, part of the reason why we categorized this tire as an option which you should only exercise in summer is that its performance in wet weather is satisfactory. That means that while it would grip well at low speed on slippery surfaces, the traction level of this tire would deteriorate as the reading on the speedometer goes right.
- Noise-free riding experience
- 65,000 tread mile warranty
- Asymmetric tread design improves handling
- Average high-speed traction on wet roads
Yokohama Parada Spec-X
Best Summer High-Performance Tires for Toyota Highlander
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During our test drive of the Parada Spec-X, this tire performed brilliantly on dry tarmac, was able to hold its own in wet surfaces, and gave way on snow-laden roads. That’s why our experts refer to it as a summer high-performance tire.
Any tire which claims to provide all-season traction cannot do so without an asymmetrical tread pattern, which is exactly what we found in the Parada Spec X. This model grips the road well in both dry and wet conditions and has a directional tread pattern that increases the rate of water dispersal.
Impressively for a tire that won’t blow a hole in your pocket, the Parada Spec X has taken many measures to prevent hydroplaning. Apart from the abovementioned directional tread pattern, it has center circumferential grooves that effectively channel water and make this tire safe to use.
Even though we drive-tested this model for a few thousand miles, we are confident that it tread life is long-lasting. That’s because we know what the dimples in the tread and reinforced shoulder blocks are capable of slowing down the tread wear rate of this model.
Provided you want to know how we’re sure of that, here’s why. The dimples which are visible in the tread relieve heat build-up on the tire whereas the reinforced shoulder blocks evenly distribute forces of braking, cornering, and acceleration. Together, both of them extend this tire’s tread life.
All the abovementioned features also play their part in making sure that this tire is safe to use. For instance, while the shoulder blocks increase traction to improve the cornering ability, the directional tread pattern shortens the braking distance to decrease the chances of sudden collisions.
On top of everything we have just said, you can expect your ride on the Parada Spec-X to be a noise-free experience. That’s mainly because of the pitch tread pattern which cancels out the road noise by creating a sound frequency of its own.
- Shorter braking distance
- Reduced noise levels
- All-weather traction
- Winter handling is average at best
Best All-Terrain Tires for Toyota Highlander
Pirelli Scorpion ATR
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As the name of this tire implies, the Pirelli Scorpion ATR are designed to provide all-terrain performance but not at the cost of highway traction. These tires are built for crossovers, SUVs and light pickups and come with many sporty features to deserve a place underneath your Highlander.
Pirelli took a novel approach when introducing this tire to the world. It constructed two off-road courses – one a dirt field at the Las Vegas Speedway and the other a trail ride in the Nevada desert – to demonstrate that this tire was capable of handling most kinds of extremes.
We came across the videos of both these episodes while reviewing the features of the Scorpion ATR. While they didn’t tell us anything we didn’t know – as we had already driven 3,000 miles on this tire – they re-confirmed our belief the Scorpion ATR is a terrific all-terrain tire.
As we were riding on this tire, we realized that its silica-enhanced tread compound sticks brilliantly to twisty dirt roads. It is even quieter than we expected it to be and has excellent load-transitional characteristics, plus very responsive steering, generous siping and a smooth ride.
Unlike what Pirelli would like you to believe, this tire doesn’t perform very well in mud – though that’s the only surface where this tire didn’t perform as expected. Traction on rocks was good thanks to its multiple sipes and a durometer of about 65, which is on the lower side.
Loose dirt performance is also satisfactory whereas the ATR reserves its best performance for harder-packed dirt. That means that as long as your traveling route doesn’t consist of wet clay and mud, you could take the ATR anywhere with your Toyota Highlander crossover.
- Good traction on rocks
- Performs brilliantly on dirt
- Noise-free riding experience
- Won’t do well at wet clay and mud
To this day, there aren’t many vehicles in the same price range which can rival the spacious seating, strong body and powerful engine of the Toyota Highlander. However, all these brilliant characteristics would come to naught if your driving experience isn’t comfortable. That’s why we came up with this review of best tires for Toyota Highlander to give you the best models for your needs.