What Are All Season Tires?
If you were to go outside right now and look at the tires on your vehicles and the vast majority of the other cars in your neighborhood, there’s a decent chance that you would see all-season tires. These are by far the most common types of tires put on cars today, so it’s no surprise that you’ll find them on just about every car out there. So what even are all-season tires?
As the name suggests, all-season tires are exactly that — tires designed to be used in all of the seasons. From the warm temperatures of summer to the cold and potentially snowy weather during the winter months, all-season tires are expected to perform well and offer reliable traction.
That’s why they’ve become so popular in recent decades. They are like the jack-of-all trades when it comes to tires. You can have them installed on your car and you’re all set until they wear out and need replacing. You don’t need to constantly swap them out for season-specific tires depending on what the weather’s looking like and where you live.
Like most tires, all-season tires excel in warm weather and with dry road conditions. But the all-season tread compound and tread pattern enable them to whisk water away from the center of the tire to offer traction in rainy weather conditions and even in light snow. The rubber used with all-season tires also remains flexible during the cold weather months so that they still offer grip and traction in the winter.
Pros of All Season Tires
- Versatile, can be driven on year-round in most weather conditions
- Most affordable type of tire since they’re the most common
- Seemingly endless options to choose from
Cons of All Season Tires
- Won’t excel in any specific season (i.e. summer tires and winter tires are better for those respective seasons)
- Can be difficult to decide on the brand and specific tire since there are so many options
Are All Season Tires Good For Winter Driving?
Even though we’ve gone on and on about all-season tires and their ability to provide traction year-round, it’s important to note that they are not the same as winter tires. And they won’t afford you with the same traction and grip in cold weather and snow that winter-specific tires will.
Winter tires are made specifically for cold weather and are designed to offer unparalleled grip and traction on snow and even ice. All-season tires are not designed for this purpose, so don’t think your all-season tires will get you home in the middle of a winter storm. For that reason, we always suggest buying actual winter tires and swapping them on when temperatures drop.
Winter tires use stiffer rubber compounds, are designed to create thousands of biting edges that dig into the snow and ice, and use all sorts of technologies designed specifically for winter driving. If you do opt for winter tires in addition to your all-seasons, make sure you put your normal tires back on before it gets warm out. Otherwise, your winter tires will wear out very quickly.
What Are Touring All Season Tires?
It might be a little confusing because touring tires are also called touring all-season tires, so what exactly are we comparing here? Stick with us, because we’ll explain everything as we go through this section! But yes, touring tires are, in fact, a specific type of all-season tire. Remember above when we said there are all kinds of different all-season tires? Touring tires are just one of them.
So what exactly are touring tires and how are they different from regular all-season tires?
Touring tires are designed to offer a bit more than standard all-season tires. Designed to really be driven, touring tires are made to offer drivers a more comfortable ride, reduce road noise, enhance performance, and even provide better handling and cornering. They’re basically the higher-end model of all-season tires across the board.
Touring tires come standard on many higher-end vehicles and for good reason. They provide the best possible ride of any tire out there. With a combination of enhanced comfort and increased performance, touring tires offer everything that most people want out of their tires. But as expected, you will typically have to pay a little more to reap the rewards that touring tires have to offer.
At the end of the day, touring tires have everything that regular all-season tires have and more. So you’ll still get the same reliable traction and grip year-round and in all weather conditions, including even light snow. But all year long, you’ll also get all those extra benefits I talked about above. Let’s take a quick look at some advantages and disadvantages of touring tires.
Pros of Touring All Season Tires
- A more comfortable ride with reduced vibration and road noise
- Increased performance and handling capabilities
- Year-round traction and grip in dry, wet, and even snowy conditions
Cons of Touring All Season Tires
- More expensive than normal all-season tires
- There are still better options for specific seasons like summer and winter
What Are Grand Touring And Ultra Touring Tires?
Not only are touring tires a thing, but you might have also heard of grand touring and ultra touring tires. Are these actually different types of tires just to add to the confusion even more? Thankfully, that isn’t really the case. At least not exactly.
The terms touring and grand touring are often used interchangeably to refer to the same tire — touring all-season tires. Manufacturers like to use the grand touring moniker for their touring tires because that’s the same wordage that automakers use on some of the higher-end trims of their cars. Ever heard of a “GT” model on a car? It stands for the same thing, grand touring. It basically just means it’s meant to be driven!
But what about ultra touring? For the most part, ultra touring tires aren’t actually a thing. There’s only one brand that really uses the term, and that’s Cooper Tire. Cooper has two lines of tires that use the touring descriptor and they used grand touring for the original tire line. So when they came out with the upgraded CS5 tire, Cooper decided to call it an “ultra touring” tire. It’s basically just an upgraded version of their grand touring tire.
So for all intents and purposes, touring, grand touring, and ultra touring all mean the same thing. They’re just touring all-season tires!
Should I Get Touring Tires?
The biggest question you likely have throughout all of this is whether you should opt for touring tires over regular all-season tires. That really comes down to what type of driving you do, what you’re looking to get out of your tires, and how much you’re willing to spend.
For the vast majority of drivers and vehicles, a high-quality all-season tire will be more than sufficient. Especially if you get one of the upper brands like Michelin, Continental, or Pirelli. Then your all-season tires will drive great, perform exceptionally well, and offer a great driving experience without spending the extra money.
But if you really want to get the most out of your tires in terms of comfort, road noise, and performance, then you should definitely consider spending a little bit more and getting a high-quality touring tire. Keep in mind, however, that not all touring tires are created equal!
In fact, if you were to opt for a touring tire from a cheaper tire brand just so that you can have a touring tire, chances are good that it’s actually a worse tire across the board than a standard all-season tire from one of the three brands that I just mentioned above. But brand for brand and model for model, the touring option ( if available) will be better than the regular all-season.
Are Touring Tires Better Than All Season Tires For Driving In Snow?
So what about winter driving? If touring tires are better than standard all-season tires in most aspects, can they drive well enough in the snow to forgo the need to buy winter tires? Although this might seem a little counterintuitive at first, touring tires are actually just a little bit worse than standard all-season tires when it comes to driving in the winter and in snowy conditions!
You read that right, for all the great benefits that touring tires have to offer, they aren’t a great option if you live in an area where you expect to be driving through snow and ice on occasion. Since they’re designed with a little bit more performance in mind, most touring tires are actually only offered in the sportier sizes. The low profile tires.
In general, low profile tires are not great for driving in poor conditions because the small sidewall reduces flexibility even further, exacerbating one of the main issues of cold weather, to begin with. On top of that, the tread patterns of touring tires are typically altered for performance enhancement, not for directing snow and water away from the contact patch like on standard all-seasons.
So no matter if you opt for all-season tires or touring tires next time you’re in the market, I strongly encourage you to pick up a set of winter tires. You’ll be shocked at how much better winter tires perform in snow than either all-season or touring tires.
Do Touring Tires Cost More Than All Season Tires?
Due to the fact that touring tires are basically just all-season tires on steroids, it’s safe to assume that in most cases they will be a little bit more expensive than their all-season counterparts. Typically the price difference won’t be anything crazy such as double or anything. But you can realistically expect to pay about 10% - 20% more per tire for the touring version over the basic all-season version.
So in the end it really just comes down to what you’re willing to pay and what amenities you’re looking to get out of your tires. If you want reliable traction year-round with reduced vibrations and road noise, a more comfortable ride, and enhanced performance, then it might be worth it to splurge a little and buy the touring tires. If you’re not that concerned about the nuances of different tires, then a regular all-season tire from a good brand will be just fine!
About The Author
I've spent many years selling cars, working with auto detailers, mechanics, dealership service teams, quoting and researching car insurance, modding my own cars, and much more.Read More About Charles Redding