LAST UPDATED: December 05, 2020

The Best 205/55R16 Tires (Review and Buying Guide) in 2021

Best Choice Hankook Ventus V2 Concept Hankook Ventus V2 Concept
Best Value Westlake RP18 Westlake RP18
Premium Pick Yokohama Avid Ascend GT Yokohama Avid Ascend GT

All-season tires for passenger cars are a versatile and ambidextrous lot by default. They have to stand up to rain, snow, sleet, and potholes trying to put holes in them. They also have to be excellent in the dry, quiet on the freeway, and long-lasting in any condition. Above all, they have to be cheap since very few people are willing to dish out for a wear item that they might not understand the importance of. A passable all season passenger car tire will do all of these things for all the normal cars populating city streets and highways. A good all-season passenger car tire will do all of these things, and further excel at one of them. Let’s look at some of them now.

The Hankook Ventus V2 Concept is a collection of highly regarded names that earned their notoriety. Hankook tires has long been a tire manufacturer at the forefront of the technology of tires, and has produced some of the best all-around performance tires on the market, including the Ventus series. While the upper end of the Ventus spectrum caters to racers, the more sensible V2 is designed to be an unassuming yet high quality all-season tire. This particular Ventus has a tough 500 treadwear rating that belies its highly durable and extremely long lasting nature. On top of all this, the Ventus V2 Concept has an advanced tread pattern that makes the most out of the compound for both dry and wet grip.

All-season tires tend to be cheap, utilitarian products meant to get vehicles back on the road at the minimum possible cost. The Yokohama Avid Ascend GT goes a few steps beyond that, to create an all-season touring tire that eliminates much of the road noise a standard all-season would normally generate. Touring tires are meant to be amiable companions for the long haul, providing moderate amounts of grip and high longevity, all while being quiet and unobtrusive. With a very high 740 treadwear rating, these tires will last through road trip after road trip with barely any wear, all while maximizing comfort and in some cases improving fuel economy.

One pitfall of the Avid Ascend GT’s build is that they are rather expensive for all-season tires, especially with such a high treadwear rating. If one is looking for grip rather than comfort, or a significant bargain, this Yokohama product is not the one to purchase. However, for many thousands of miles of quiet comfort, the Avid Ascend GT is the perfect tire in the all-season category. Depending on one’s priorities, this could be a great niche buy.

The Fullway HP108 proves that one doesn’t have to skimp on safety or value, even on a budget. Equipped with an advanced and thoroughly developed tread pattern, the HP108 maximizes available wet traction with a series of features that pull water away from the contact patch. This allows more of the tire to grasp solid ground, even when running quickly over wet roads. The rubber compound used on this tire is softer than the vast majority in the same price range, so that even in emergency situations a driver has greater control over their vehicle than they otherwise would. The HP108 comes with a 380 treadwear rating, offering solid reliability and grip while further minimizing cost. For impeccable safety, steadfast reliability, and extraordinary value, the HP108 is the best choice one can make.

Armed with all the capabilities an all-season tire needs, and more on top of that, the Bridgestone Ecopia EP150 is a tire that can handle just about anything. Deep lateral shoulder groves form the most prominent part of the EP150’s tread pattern, removing water at a rapid rate while retaining dry traction. The tire is unobtrusive and quiet, despite a relatively low cost. Not many tires offer this low level of road noise at this price point. The tire has a 380 treadwear rating, offering a good balance between grip for safety, and durability for thousands of miles of tire life. The EP150 incorporates a wide range of features and abilities to take on any challenge the road ahead might provide.

Pretty much every all-season tire claims to offer long life, and steadfast reliability, but the Prometer LL821 All-Season resets the scales. Most all-season tires have treadwear ratings hovering between 300 and 600, with each trying to find a balance between a lower rating and softer tire for grip, and a higher rating and harder tire for toughness. The LL821 basically takes that slider and slams it all the way to the right, resulting in a cartoonishly hardy 940 treadwear rating. While that high treadwear rating does impact grip, it substantially elevates the life of the tire, meaning that in some cases the car’s engine could very well fail before another set of LL821 tires is required. For extreme longevity, there is no better choice.

Goodyear is known for making solid tires for a huge range of environments and vehicles, with options ranging from high performance tires contracted by OEMs for exotic supercars to dependable long-lasting treads to take on everyday life. The Assurance is an all-season tire, meaning it is just at home cruising on a dry highway as it is when dealing with moderate snow. The tread pattern of the Assurance is quite standard for an all-season tire, with different cuts and tread blocks so the tire can always have some amount of grip, even in conditions that vary dramatically. This tire is in the 600 treadwear category, meaning that in most cases it will last for many years. Over most of this large period of time, the tire sticks just as well as it did when first installed, thanks to that high treadwear number.

However, that high treadwear does mean that it is not designed to provide the grip levels for higher performance driving, even on dry pavement. The tire’s high durability is gained by using harder rubber compound, which is why the treadwear rating is so high. Harder compound tires are great at lasting long, but are not as grippy as softer tires that meld to the road surface.

The Goodyear Eagle RS-A is not the tire for those who go with whatever option is cheapest. This is an all-season touring tire that bucks the trend of appealing to the lowest common denominator, and instead is built for a slightly more discerning audience. To start with, the tire has an almost unheard of 260 treadwear rating, which in turn means extremely high grip for any all-season tire. The RS-A is even classified as a touring tire, but thanks to that sticky compound it can compete with performance all-seasons in terms of outright grip. The compound’s effectiveness is maximized by aggressive shoulder tread blocks, asymmetrical construction, and wide lateral grooves. All of these features further enhance grip in varying conditions.

Firestone builds a mean winter tire. While many winter tires are more like modified all-seasons that offer better snow traction, the Winterforce 2 is specially designed from the ground up to be an incredibly effective snow tire. This ground-up design includes a winter-specific tread compound, open shoulder slots, and a tread pattern designed to grip what normally can’t be gripped. The pattern itself is a versatile one, with large channels to evacuate water and snow, but chunky tread blocks on either side to offer surprising amounts of cornering grip. One of the most impressive feats of the Winterforce is its longevity, with the ability to weather several winters without breaking a sweat. It is also designed to be capable of accepting size 11 studs for ice use. These studs allow the tire to lock onto ice, providing shocking amounts of grip where before there was none.

Like all snow tires, the Winterforce 2 has the caveat that using it in the dry causes premature wear, and using studded tires on pavement is generally illegal. But if serious winter traction is what you need, the Winterforce 2 is the way to go.

Irregards to snow tires, there are certain names that immediately command respect. These brands are built on consistent high performance and large amounts of grip in conditions where that grip would seem impossible to get. Sumitomo’s Ice Edge is not one of those names, but it does offer the performance of one. And it does so for half the price. The tread pattern, compound, and structure of the Ice Edge combine to produce one of the highest-grip snow tires on the market today, even rivaling legends like Blizzak. The tread pattern offers three dimensional sipes to yank snow and water away from the tread, backed up by wide channels in the tread that are serrated for extra bite. Stud pins are placed in optimized positions so that Ice Edge tires with studs installed get the very most out of them. 

When it comes to grip in the snow, the Ice Edge is very hard to beat. For other applications, though, other less specialized tires make for a better option. The Ice Edge creates a huge amount of road noise when driving on dry tarmac, and also experiences greater wear in those conditions. Keep it in snowy conditions, though, and you will be hard pressed to find a higher performance tire for the money.

Best 205/55R16 Tires Buying Guide & FAQ

Do You Need a 205/55R16 Tire?

Tires of the 205/55R16 size fit 16-inch wheels that are between 6.5 and 7.5 inches in width. They comprise both tires for road use as well as winter tires. This size is common for winter tires because they are relatively tall and narrow, allowing the tire to more easily cut through snow to reach the pavement beneath. Because the size has an abnormally tall sidewall, it is uncommon to see it as factory-supplied equipment on cars.

Where the 205/55R16 size is most common from the factory is on small late model crossovers, and the occasional light truck. These vehicles use the tire’s taller sidewall to make getting over obstacles easier, as well as softening the ride. For aftermarket applications the size is uncommon, besides performance off-road and snow tire applications. The tall sidewall is not ideal for high speed cornering with modern radial tire construction, but can be very useful in dealing with loose surfaces. Gravel rally tires have been made in this size, and propel competition-grade vehicles through treacherous courses in all kinds of conditions. Overall, while this is a sort of oddball size for normal road tires, it certainly has its place and capabilities.

  • This size fits the very common 16×7 wheel size perfectly, and thus can be used on an enormous range of compact and subcompact vehicles that require affordable tires.
  • Tires of this size are small enough where they are often among the least expensive in whatever tire model lineup they are featured in, allowing for those even on a tight budget to get brand new rubber on the road.
  • The primary physical difference between the 205/55R16 tire size and other 205 section width tires on 16 inch wheels is the tall sidewall, which is great for winter and off-road applications.

Popular Types of 205/55R16 Tires

worker taking the best 205/55R16 Tires
Mechanic Taking off the shelves 205/55R16 Tires

There are three common tire types associated with the 205/55R16 size, and all of them use the sizes unique dimensions to better suit their niche, whether that be for grip or comfort. While all of these types take advantage of the shape of the 205/55R16 size, they do so in what are often very different ways.

Touring

Touring tires are essentially made for road trip driving. They did not feature high levels of grip, but last considerable periods of time while providing a soft ride and significant noise abatement. While low end models of touring tires are not actually that different from standard all-seasons, more expensive variants put large emphasis on curtailing road noise, so that the interior of the vehicle they are mounted on is a quieter and more luxurious place to be. Touring tires largely use the 205/55R16 size on account of the small crossovers they frequently adorned from the factory. These small pseudo-SUVs often came with upmarket luxury wrappings, and touring tires were a great fit to help round out their plusher-than-normal experience. Despite their small size, touring tires of this size are not necessarily bargains, largely because of their noise-abating focus and the R&D and materials that focus entails.

Winter

Winter tires are tires specifically designed to make driving through snow and romping over ice into a safe endeavor. Attempting to drive in snowy conditions with summer tires is often foolhardy, and even with all-season tires a large amount of extra caution must be exercised to arrive at a destination safely. But with a proper set of snow tires, as long as you avoid black ice, you might as well just be driving in the rain. These tires are staggeringly good at converting a slick mushy surface into something a car’s tires can get purchase on, and the more hardcore snow tires also have locations for studs to be added. Studded snow tires make driving on ice similar to driving on normal tarmac, to the degree that vehicles with studded tires don’t really slide on ice at all in normal conditions. The sometimes soft compounds of rubber that snow tires are built from often do not hold up in dry conditions though, so winter tires are best used only in the season they are named for.

Performance All-Season

Performance all-season tires take the mundane multi-role all-season tire and add some spice. Generally speaking, performance all-season tires lose a little all-season capability, and gain some cost, to provide noticeably more grip and traction in the dry and wet. While still capable of being used in winter on plowed roads, these kinds of tires are not meant for trudging through snow. They excel when put on the daily drivers of enthusiasts, those who want more grip while romping around town but also still require true all-season capability no matter the weather. Performance all-season tires are a middle ground between truly high-performance summer tires and more pedestrian standard all-seasons. For many, this amount of grip in the dry is all they would ever need. Other positives about this niche of tire include their considerably lower prices when compared to summer performance tires, and their surprisingly long service life out on the road.

What to Look for When Buying 205/55R16 Tires

worker trying to repair 205/55R16 Tires
Worker Repairing 205/55R16 Tires

Be sure to note what your vehicle will be used for, as this dictates what type of tire would best suit your needs. Winter tires are great for snow driving, all-season performance tires work well when snow isn’t a factor, and touring all-seasons are a jack of all trades and a master of quiet drives. While knowing what size tire came on the vehicle is the best way to know what will fit to replace them, measuring wheel width from bead seat to bead seat is a good way to know houch much section width your wheels can support. 205 section width, as in the 205/55R16 size, is best on wheels between 6.5 and 7.5 inches in width.

Best 205/55R16 Tires FAQ:

Q. Can I use 205/55R16 tires instead of 205/65R16?

In most applications, yes, though it should be said that going from a 55 sidewall to a 65 sidewall will result in lower ride height and lower ground clearance. The tire may also look a little funny if it doesn’t fill up the wheel well.

Q. Which cars use 205/65R16 tires?

Most cars that use 205 section width tires only have sidewalls in the 45 or 55 range, so the only vehicles that use 65 sized sidewalls are those meant to sit higher and have some off-road ability, like small trucks and crossovers.

Q. Will 205/55 /R16 tires fit?

These tires will fit 16 inch wheels that are between 6.5 and 7.5 inches wide. Wheel width is measured from one bead seat to the other, the bead seats roughly where the tire’s sidewalls meet the wheel.

Our Top Pick

The Hankook Ventus V2 Concept is an awesome tire that provides adept performance in both dry and wet conditions, while maximizing longevity. Surprisingly grippy for an all-season tire, it makes dry driving sporty while keeping wet driving safe. While definitely not optimized for winter driving, once the roads are plowed it will also handle that environment without much trouble. Overall, it’s a great product at a fair price.

Final Thoughts

205/55R16 tires are not the most common size, but they provide a great base for tires like the Hankook Ventus V2 Concept and the Westlake RP18 to offer grip for smaller vehicles.

Sources:

  1. Tire Code – Wikipedia