The Ford Explorer was first introduced in 1991 and has received tons of updates and changes. As the Explorer has gained popularity, it has increased in versatility. It can be used as a highway vehicle, off-road vehicle, and a simple daily around-the-town car.
The Ford Explorer has always been one of the most sought-after SUVs on the market. With so many years and trims to choose from, you may find yourself wondering what the standard tires are on the Ford Explorer and which ones you can switch to. There are so many different tire brands on the market and shopping for them can prove daunting.
When searching for new tires, you should take into consideration what type of driver you are. You may want a high-quality all-season tire or a touring tire for the highway.
Today, we’re going to go into detail regarding which tires are the best for your Ford Explorer. Sure, your factory tires may be fine for an average driver, but sometimes they aren’t rugged enough for a more adventurous driver. Fortunately, there are many tires available to suit both of those needs. We reviewed several types of tires and came up with a detailed guide just for you.
The best tires for your Ford Explorer will greatly depend on the performance you’re looking for, how much you want to spend, and what type of tire you’re looking for.
Table of Contents
Best Tires for Ford Explorer
|Michelin Premier LTX||$243.99|
|Cooper Discoverer AT34S||$273.99|
|Continental CrossContact LX20||$245.12|
Ford Explorer Tire Size Chart
|2016||S, L, P||255/50R20|
|2017||S, L, P||255/50R20|
|2018||S, L, P||255/50R20|
|2019||S, L, P||255/50R20|
|2020||ST, L, P||255/55R20|
1. Michelin Premier LTX – Best All-Season Tires
The Michelin Premier LTX tires are the best all-season tires because they offer unmatched grip and traction in both wet and dry conditions.
We loved these tired because not only did they perform well in both wet and dry conditions, but they don’t make a ton of tire noise and they offered a comfortable ride. These tires have a proprietary EverGrip tread compound that helps them maintain traction on all road conditions, even light snow. This technology also greatly reduces the stopping distance under hard wet-braking conditions.
The Premier LTX tires are classified as a Michelin Total Performance tire, which means it does everything a tire should. It has fantastic stopping power, responsive steering, right control, and increased fuel efficiency. You can find these tires in sizes of 16” with a wheel diameter up to 22”. They’ll fit every model and trim of the Ford Explorer over the past decade and even on some older models.
The LTX tires have a 60,000-mile tread life warranty. It’s not the longest on the market, but for the price and enhanced all-season capabilities, it’s better than compared to its competitors. These are not ideal for off-roading but can be useful on dirt roads on occasions.
2. Nitto Motivo All-Season Radial Tire – Cheapest Ford Explorer Tire
We chose this particular tire as the cheapest because even though it’s not really the “cheapest” it has the best value.
We don’t like to recommend the “cheapest” tires because ultimately, they’re not the safest. So the Nitto Motivo is what we chose as the most affordable tire with the best value. It’s a fantastic all-season tire that can be used on some of the most challenging road and weather conditions.
We liked this tire because it was very quiet, even on the highway. Additionally, each tire has 3D multi-wave sipes that create an interlocking ripple design. The sipes lock together while braking to act like a continuous tread block. It also provides traction while accelerating.
For such an affordable tire, you will get the same tread life warranty as our top pick. Not only that, but each tire has outer tread blocks to optimize dry traction and the center rib gives the vehicle stability and handling. When used on snow, the “fin” sipes act to provide biting edges. It’s an all-around fantastic tire for a great price.
3. Bridgestone Dueler H/L Alenza Plus – Best for Ford Explorer Sport
We chose the Bridgestone Dueler H/L Alenza Plus tires as the best for Ford Explorer Sport trim because of their ability to enhance fuel efficiency and offer year-round traction.
The Ford Explorer Sport trim is meant to give you excellent driving abilities in snow, mud, rain, and more. The Bridgestone Dueler H/l Alenza Plus tires can perform in all weather conditions and bring better fuel efficiency.
its symmetric tread pattern helps reduce noise levels over long distances and the notched shoulder blocks and continuous center rib bring higher-level responsiveness and stability. These tires have wide circumferential grooves, lateral notches, and sipes that give you strong traction in wet, dry, and light snowy conditions.
If you plan to drive long distances and put a lot of miles on your tires, you can rest assured knowing you’re backed by a generous 80,000-mile tread life warranty.
4. Cooper Discoverer AT34S – Best For Ford Explorer Limited
We chose the Cooper Discoverer AT34S Tires as the best for Ford Explorer Limited because of its outstanding on-off-road capabilities and comfort.
The Discoverer AT34S is the ideal tire for your Explorer Limited. These are a personal favorite of ours because Cooper is a reputable brand with wonderful reviews. These specific tires are on-/off-road all-terrain for drivers looking for something that blends the off-road grip they need and the on-road comfort they want.
These tires feature Adaptive-Traction Technology. They combine silica-based tread into the Secure-Grip all-terrain pattern. Additionally, the open, five-rib design provides ideal performance in wet and dry conditions. There are also Aqua Vac Channels and wide, lateral notches to help remove water from the contact patch to avoid hydroplaning.
Furthermore, the inside of the tires consists of a durable, two-ply polyester case and a single-ply, nylon reinforcement above two high-strength steel belts to add to the durability of the tire. Not only that, but it improves handling response.
5. Continental CrossContact LX20 – Best For Ford Explorer XLT
We chose the Continental CrossContact LX20 tires as the best for an Explorer XLT because they offer a comfortable ride in all weather conditions and have a 70,000 tread life warranty.
Continental tires have always been good to us. These are fantastic touring tires that pair well with the high-tech features of the Explorer XLT. These tires useComfortRide Technology with the comfort band under the tread to reduce noise and vibration.
These tires also developed a proprietary EcoPlus technology that increases the longevity of the tire, generally more than the 70,000-mile warranty while improving the fuel efficiency of the XLT. These are all-season tires that offer traction, stability, and reliable handling on all road conditions.
We loved these tires because they offer long life, are comfortable, don’t make a lot of noise, and offer a generous 70,000-mile tread life warranty.
What Tires Come On A Ford Explorer?
Hankook Kinergy GT tires come standard on pretty much every model Ford Explorer.
These tires are grand touring tires that offer all-season performance and a comfortable ride. Some vehicles come with OEM tires that don’t last much longer after you take the car off the lot. However, the Hankook Kinergy GT tires are a quality product. Hankook tires are generally a great tire, to begin with.
These tires have a 70,000-mile tread life warranty on them and some customers even say that they have gotten more than that out of them.
Not only do they have long tread life, but they have circumferential grooves and sipes in all directions that channel water out and away from the center of the tire. This greatly reduces the chance of hydroplaning and helps keep control on wet roads.
What Are The Largest Tires You Can Put On A Ford Explorer Without a Lift?
The largest tire you can fit on a Ford Explorer without a lift is between 265/70/16 and 265/75/17. Anything larger than this and the tires may rub and cause steering issues.
Some individuals believe that as long as the tires fit, they’ll be fine for the vehicle, but this is wrong. The wrong tire size can be dangerous. Vehicles are tested for safety and longevity based on the specific tire dimension meant for that vehicle. Using tires that are too large can essentially make all of those tests void.
Choosing a tire that’s too tall for your vehicle can make it more prone to rolling over, which is a dangerous concern for most drivers. Not only that, but the tire may rub against the inside of the wheel well. This isn’t an immediate issue, but it can lead to steering issues over time.
Tires that are too tall for your vehicle can even raise the bumper, which could also have an impact on safety if the car is hit from behind during an accident.
As far as tire width, this can create more issues for you if they’re too thin. If they’re too thin for your vehicle, they may not be able to hold the weight of your vehicle. In dangerous weather conditions, the wrong thickness can cause control issues in already difficult driving conditions.
What Brand Tire Does Ford Use?
Ford has used four-tire brands over the many years they’ve been in the business including Hankook, Michelin, Bridgestone, and BFGoodrich.
We already mentioned the Hankook Kinergy GT tires, but now we want to point out the other tires that have come standard on Ford vehicles.
The first is the Hankook Optimo tires. These were designed the be the original equipment on a few different makes and models of Fords and are an all-season highway-terrain tire that gives riders a combination of comfort, durability, and performance. They were made to reduce road noise and increase cabin comfort. They have a 60,000 tread life warranty and can still be purchased for your Explorer.
Next are the Goodyear Fortera HL Tires. These have been used on occasion and were specifically designed for the Ford crossovers and SUVs. They’re also an all-season tire that provided consistent traction all year long in all weather conditions. They have a 60,000-mile tread life warrantee, but some users were able to get 65,000-70,000 miles out of them if they were well-maintained. These are still available for purchase as well.
The Michelin Cross Terrain SUV tires were another choice for OEM tires for several different models. They were designed to be the premier all-season highway-terrain tire for crossovers and SUVs. They utilized Michelin’s proprietary Dark Black technology that provided traction on just about all surfaces. These tires have been discontinued for a few years, so it’s not recommended that you put these on your Explorer.
Lastly are the BFGoodrich Rugged Train T/A tires. These were used on earlier models of the Explorers in the mid-2000s.
These have a more aggressive look than anything else with this all-terrain design. They were more suitable for highway driving and could be used off-road as well. They came with a 50,000-mile tread life warranty, but most Ford Explorer owners had been able to get more life out of them. Fortunately, these tires are still available for purchase.
How Long Do Tires Last on a Ford Explorer?
The longevity of your Ford Explorer tires depends on the type of tire and how well you maintain them.
There’s no set timeline as to how long your Ford Explorer tires will last. However, each tire comes with its own tread life warranty. This is how long the tire is expected to last with proper maintenance.
A good rule of thumb is to replace your tires if they’re more than 6 years old or if you notice one or more of these signs:
- Tread has been worn down to less than 3/32”
- There are noticeable bulges, blisters, or bubbles
- You see cracks in the gloves
- There are any punctures, cuts, or separation of the tire tread, shoulder, or sidewall
- You notice a sudden loss of tire pressure
- There’s noticeable handling or traction on slippery surfaces
- There’s pulling to one side
- There’s sudden vibration while driving
As you can see, there’s a lot that you can learn about the tires on your Ford Explorer. Not all tires are created equally, so it’s best to do thorough research. If you drive on the highway a lot, you’ll want a highway tire.
If you do a lot of off-road driving, you’ll want a chunky tire specifically meant for off-roading. If you rotate your tires 5,000-7,500 miles, you can get more life out of them which means you won’t have to replace them as quickly. We hope our words have helped you find the best tires for your Ford Explorer.
I’m William Guzenski, ASE certified master automobile technician & automotive expert. I love to attend race events and car shows throughout the country. I also loves to travel 40-foot motorhome, exploring abandoned mines and ghost towns. I’m currently building another car for Bonneville Salt Flats and will be campaigning a drag car at several events.