Tires are not a one-size-fits-all purchase. Your climate, your driving habits, and the type of vehicle that you drive can all impact the best tire for your specific situation. The types of roads that you drive on should also influence your purchasing decision. Picking the right tire for your daily drive can help you to balance tread life, performance, and comfort.
The Commuter: Soaking Up Highway Miles
If you rack up most of your miles on the freeway, then you'll want a tire that can comfortably handle high speeds and long distances. While any modern tire will deal admirably with highway miles, not all tires will deliver the same performance characteristics. If your primary concern is keeping your ride comfortable and supple during a highway commute, then all-season tires often offer the best option.
Note that all-season tires may be the right choice even if you live in a warm climate that doesn't see much snow. Although summer tires offer better traction and performance, their performance tuning also means they tend to be noisier and less comfortable. These characteristics may not be bothersome if your primary concern is driving dynamics, but they can make daily driving more of a chore.
The Middleground: Mixed Travel
While heavy highway driving is all about traveling long, straight distances at high speed, many drivers spend more of their time on a variety of roads. If you occasionally get out to twisty mountain roads or lonely suburban streets, then you may prefer a tire that offers better overall handling performance. In these cases, touring tires strike a fair balance between comfort and grip.
For winter driving on mixed roads, it's always a good idea to use a dedicated set of snow tires. These tires can provide drastically better traction than all-season or touring tires in inclement conditions.
The Road Less Traveled: Occasional Off-Roading
Dedicated off-roaders likely already have strong preferences for all-terrain or even mud-terrain tires, but what if you only occasionally make it to a trail? Keeping a specialized set of all-terrain tires around that you only use once or twice a year can be cost-prohibitive, so it's crucial to find a tire that can handle adventurous paths without creating a miserable on-road experience.
In most cases, striking this balance will mean selecting between trail (sometimes referred to as all-purpose) tires or less aggressive all-terrain tires. Trail tires provide a bit more off-road grip than all-season tires with fairly minimal losses in ride quality or noise. On the other hand, all-terrain tires can range from mild to highly aggressive, so it's crucial to choose one that strikes the balance you want.