Tire Suggestion - Admittedly Hard to Please

Joined
Sep 13, 2022
Messages
2
Alright, here we go...

I have a 2018 Ford Explorer Sport. A sports car nut at heart, I wanted the ecoboost, AWD and sporty suspension. However, I live at the start of the hill country here on the upper north side of San Antonio - Bulverde actually. We have friends with land/property; we like to go to the lake; we go to wineries that are set back sometimes a mile off the main road; etc. One of the shooting/training facilities I frequent is outdoor and the entrance is about 1/4 mile of loose(ish) cobblestone and rock. So, I'd say I'm 85-90% on-road use, and any offroad terrain I plan to encounter is dirt/pebble/small rock road and bumpy field type of terrain. No rock crawling or backwoods exploring over fallen trees or anything. When it rains, the roads are slick - blacktop. I drive to Houston a lot on i10, and I HAVE had to dive off through the grass and up on to the feeder (frontage road for you non-Texans) and it has been wet more than once - different vehicle. I'm a spirited driver, hence the Sport model. I've never considered "off road" capability even a little in my past tire choices, but we also only just moved here and are discovering more and more to do in the hill country. The "least" performance tire I have purchased in the last 6 vehicles is the Michelin Pilot Sport AS3, if that says anything. I say that to say that maybe a good All Season is what I need - I just don't know what tires are and are not capable of "lite" off roading.

What I want to achieve: something that will take a spirited drive in the winding and hilly countryside around here and not feel like the sidewall is caving in the curves, and also not have to drive at 5mph when we get on to my friends/family's properties. I won't be towing a boat or anything either. Does this exist? I will be buying a light weight forged wheel of some sort (Forgestar, TSW or similar) to help keep weight down while remaining structurally strong. The size will depend on the tire I end up with. I currently have Michelin Defender LTX M/S in stock 255/50/20 - meh. They are OK. I don't have any real complaints about them other than they look boring as hell. I'm looking at the following size options:

265/50/20
265/60/18 (most options)
275/60/18
 

01svtL

Thread starter
Joined
Sep 13, 2022
Messages
2

Just to clarify - you linked a Conti tire but suggested a Nokian. Was that on purpose or the wrong link?

Edited - I actually had the DWS on my old Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8 and LOVED them. I never went off road of any kind with them though, so wouldn't be able to comment on it.

Edit again - DWS not available in the sizes I'm willing to consider. I've at least narrowed my search down to those sizes, as it accomplishes the other 2 goals: fill the wheel well a little more and a little more rubber on the ground.
 
Joined
Feb 20, 2007
Messages
6,418
Location
Southeast
So… some, but not much off road. Lots of curves and hills on wet highways.

off road tires need designs that go against great pavement manners.

my favorite to date with best wet traction is the continental TerrainContact AT. It is a mild all terrain that has excellent highway manners. May need to add a couple psi for better carving, it has a softish sidewall, may be fine as-is for the size on the explorer.

the Yokohama g015 is a good mixed tire with a stiffer sidewall, but not nearly as good in the rain.

your sporting aspects really lean me more towards:
michelin pilot AS4
continental DWS06+
bridgestone potenza
… for your use, favoring the continental TerrainContact AT first
 
Joined
Jan 12, 2008
Messages
465
Location
Long Island, NY
Hard calls between wanting the performance and then some off road. On those requirements I would stick to the 20" rims as it will reduce the sidewall flex. The Vredestein Quatrac Pro comes in 265-50-20 with an XL rating for the weight of Explorer. Gets good reviews for wet and dry. Should be fine for the gravel etc. Treadwear rating is a bit low but that is normally a tradeoff for better grip.

With the exception of the spirited carving the Defender LTX M/S would be my choice and what I use on my Pilot for beach, gravel/light mud to hunting cabin and nice quiet drives on highway.
 
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