After switching to a Forester late last year from 3 previous WRX's, I really wanted to get a beefier tire. I hadn't been too active on NASIOC anymore so I was happy to come across SubaruForester.org.
I did the obligatory search and came across plenty of threads with stock Foresters running a beefier tire. The two threads I gravitated towards however were Boone's 2014 Forester XT Touring & Boone's 2018 Forester XT Touring. I must admit I really loved SuBooneru's setup. Well, that and he had some great photographs. The '18 setup was exactly what I was looking for. 17" wheels with bigger rubber, a better look, some improved off-road capability and keeping the OEM suspension.
I looked at various different wheels. On Friday morning, I headed to my local Discount Tire. Like always, they worked up some magical deal on the wheels and tires. In the end, I decided on the same Drag DR-31's with a +35 offset that Boone had. Well, why stop there? I've always had good luck with Hankook Dynapro's so I ordered some 235/65 R17's. I did go with the newer Dynapro AT2 RF11 though. It's their newer version, and a bit better for the street. I live in Texas, Houston to be exact. I'm on roads nearly 95% of the time, and I like to road trip long distances to National Parks. So a bigger tire would be nice for the crappy roads here and the few times I'm exploring off-road.
Done, they're on order and I'm departing for a 3000-mile road trip to Colorado & Rocky Mountain National Park in 1 weeks time with the wifey. I was on the fence at the time about a lift and was considering a Subtle Solutions setup, something from 1 1/2" to 2". Since I was there at Discount Tire, I decided to call Subtle Solutions. I mentioned I had ordered some 235/65 R17's and was still on the stock OEM suspension setup. I could be wrong, but I felt as though they pitched some dire situation of constant rubbing during our road trip if I went with the 235/65 R17's. I had this feeling like it was a high-pressure sales pitch. One, the lift was really not in the budget, and two I just didn't want to wrench 1 whole day right before my road trip. All this after I had seen multiple posts about that size tire working on a stock Forester. What I hadn't seen though was how that tire worked with a loaded down Forester with 2 bikes on the back.
This was really in my head quite a bit. I talked to the manager at Discount Tire but I already knew they would recommend the more conservative size. I shot Boone a PM but don't think he ever saw it. I really wanted to know if he ever had his Forester loaded down with gear and if the tires rubbed. I couldn't really find an answer regarding that so I started a new thread search for other tires sizes that would surely work with no issues on a stock Forester. It came down to two really, either a 225/65 R17 or a 235/60 R17. I hit up a wheel offset visualizer to see the difference of various combinations. Indeed I think the 235/65 setup would work but it was pushing things very tight. On the other hand, the 235/60 setup was pretty close to stock. So, I could get a beefier tire, off-road tread and the speedo would read about the same.
Tire choices at this size are nill so I went with the Cooper Discoverer AT3 4S. I can honestly say, this tire is awesome. I didn't notice much of a drop in MPG in the city if any at all. On my 3000-mile road trip, I really can't give an accurate measurement. The first part of my trip about 300 miles through flat land, I noticed about a -1 MPG difference. Keep in mind, my Forester was loaded down, had a roof rack now, cargo basket and loaded cargo bag. That along with a Thule rack on the back with 2 mountain bikes. When my Forester was new I went to Lubbock, TX and back (about 1100 miles) and averaged 24.5 MPG. This trip, I did about 3000 miles, hit the mountains, 1 tornado warning storm, 1 blizzard, a desert and averaged 21.0 MPG. The Coopers have no additional road noise, they felt great in the rain and way confident in the snow and ice. I'm definitely a Cooper convert now.
In the end, I'm 100% happy that I went with the 235/60 R17. I experienced absolutely no rubbing, even at full lock tight turns, off-road loaded down with gear and the tires look great. Hope this helps anyone trying to decide on which tire size to go with on their stock setup.
Comparison between 235/65 R17 and 235/60 R17 vs the stock XT setup of 225/55 R18:
The new Drag DR-31's with Cooper Discoverer AT3 4S (235/60 R17)
Setup on unloaded Forester
Setup with loaded down Forester with bikes on the back
Closeup of the clearance when loaded down