The market is flooded with trucks, crossovers, and SUVs these days. Almost every carmaker has at least one such vehicle capable of relentless off-roading. However, as ironic as it sounds, most trucks and SUVs never see a day of off-roading. This odd window in the market has urged tire brands to expand their reach into a relatively new yet vastly popular niche — all-season highway truck tires! The Nitto Crosstek 2 is a great example.
Tires like the Nitto Crosstek 2 aren’t made for rough off-roading. Instead, they’re mainly designed for optimal comfort and quietness when you’re cruising along the highway. All major brands have a worthy offering in this segment of the tire market. Nitto is competing against similarly priced options from brands like Hankook, Kumho, General Tire, Cooper Tire, etc.
With this tire, the Nitto competitiveness comes from doing what they do best: offering tons of performance for much less money. This strategy has been working quite well for the Japanese tiremaker in the US market for years.
But to be a viable option in this category, the Nitto Crosstek 2 must be reliable in all conditions and safe to drive over wet and dry pavement. So, is the Crosstek 2 a hit or a miss? Let’s find out in this in-depth review of the tire’s features, performance, and functionality in different conditions.
Overview and Features
The Nitto Crosstek 2 is an all-season highway tire made for light trucks, crossover vehicles, and SUVs.
It’s certainly meant to be a budget-friendly tire, but the brand doesn’t want you to think of them as a cheap-tire option. Sure, it’s not as expensive as premium alternatives from Bridgestone or Michelin, but it’s not too cheap either. And thankfully, that’s evident from the tire’s comfort levels and tread life.
According to the Japanese tiremaker, their primary goals with this tire’s design were
- Reliable wet and dry handling
- Enhanced snow traction
- Plush ride quality, even on relatively bumpy roads
- Reduced road noise
- Longer tread life
All five of these areas are essential for any highway tire. Nitto has made the ideal material and design choices to achieve these critical enhancements in the Crosstek 2.
It all starts with its high-quality all-season tread compound that’s equally functional in scorching heat and freezing cold weather. The company claims that it’s sufficiently advanced to offer all-year traction, strong braking, and safe handling.
Most of the credit goes to the tire’s tread design. It features an asymmetric tread pattern with three wide circumferential grooves for stable wet performance. While most competitors have four grooves to counter hydroplaning issues, the three on the Crosstek 2 are wide enough to do the job.
According to the company’s simulation tests, some of the tire’s hydroplaning resistance also comes from its larger contact patch, which helps with wet braking and traction. We’ll see if these theoretical claims hold weight in real life in the upcoming wet performance section of this article.
Besides that, the tread features three-dimensional multi-wave sipes for enhanced biting edges. This is not so common for highway truck tires, but it certainly puts your car in a better spot for winter traction. Since the 3D sipes interlock, they also help keep the car stable at higher speeds.
Being a highway tire, comfort was never going to be overlooked by Nitto. The tire’s tread is deliberately designed for reduced cabin noise even as you travel at highway speeds. The circumferential grooves aren’t just there for hydroplaning resistance; the dense serrations on their walls also bring down the pipe resonance sound.
Normally, tread grooves act as an airway for road noise, but the Crosstek 2’s serrations disturb the airflow and keep resonance noise to a bare minimum.
Dry Road Performance
The tire didn’t give us much to complain about on dry roads. It offers lots of traction, high-speed stability, and confidence-inspiring handling. Most truck drivers aren’t even used to such a reliable drive, so kudos to Nitto!
The Nitto Crosstek 2 brakes pretty well, too! Sure, it doesn’t have any class-leading stopping distances, but it’s certainly good enough. The cornering grip isn’t bad either, but you might have to slow down a bit for sharper curves. Overall, the tire remains responsive and offers a safe drive for everyday use.
Judging by its sharp handling and control on dry roads, we expected the Nitto Crosstek 2 to blow us away with its wet performance. Unfortunately, that’s not the case, but it’s still grippy enough even in wet conditions. Some alternatives from Hankook might outperform in terms of traction on damp roads, but the difference isn’t deal-breaking.
Part of this could be accredited to only having three wide circumferential grooves instead of the commonly seen four. However, even with sub-par hydroplaning resistance, the tire remains completely usable in rainy weather.
Let’s be honest, there’s no all-season tire that can easily handle any type of snowy conditions. Unless you’ve got some dedicated snow tires installed under your truck or SUV, you’re bound to struggle in extreme winter conditions.
With that said, the Crosstek 2 stays true to its “all-season” tag on light snow. The traction and braking performance aren’t ideal, but definitely usable for a quick trip to the store. If the weather gets a bit too extreme during the winters where you live, you’re gonna need some proper winter tires.
Even though the Crosstek 2 is made for light trucks, SUVs, and crossovers, it’s simply not an off-roading tire. However, it still has an impressive amount of off-road potential for a highway tire. You’ll find decent amounts of traction on gravel and dirt (hardpacked surfaces), but it struggles for grip on large rocks, mud, and clay.
However, you shouldn’t have to worry too much about damaging the tire since the tread compound seems strong enough to deal with occasional off-roading.
Being a highway tire, this is where the Nitto Crosstek 2 excels. The ride is super smooth on the highway even as you move near the speed limit. It handles potholes quite gracefully, and easily irons out the road’s imperfection. And as we’ve discussed above, the tire is great at muffling road noise. So overall, a great highway truck tire!
The Nitto Crosstek 2 isn’t an outstanding tire in the all-season highway tires category for trucks and SUVs, but it definitely deserves a close look. While the tire struggles a bit in wet and snowy conditions, it certainly has its merits. It has superb traction levels and handling on dry tarmac, desirable comfort levels on the highway, and surprisingly great off-road potential. Like any other purchase decision, this one also comes down to your personal preferences and priorities.