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Enough time has passed that I'd like to give an update on my attempt to soften the ride in my '15 AWD Limited.

I was able to snag a set of XLE 17" alloy pulls off eBay. They will replace the 18" alloy Limited wheels. I was hoping that the taller rubber would help cushion the ride in the Limited. The OEM Limited wheels are 7.5" x 18" and run P235/55R18 tires. The car came with Toyo tires and they wore out right at 40,000 miles. In defense of the Toyo tires, my commute was over a mountain on a twisty two-lane road. It is expected that the edges of the tires would prematurely wear. The XLE 5-spoke alloy wheels are 7.0" x 17".

To keep the same height profile, I went to the OEM XLE specified P225/65R17 17" tires. This gives me approximately an extra inch of tire height over the OEM Limited tires.

Results after several weeks of driving?

From the get-to, I noticed an immediate difference. And this initial difference was not a very secure feeling. I noticed that the ride was a lot more 'mushy' and I had to pay better attention to where the car was headed. The mushiness manifested itself in the car tending to 'wander' if I wasn't paying complete attention.

Soon enough, I got accustomed to the extra mushiness and started paying attention to the road surface and how the car reacted, compared to the past with the 18" wheels. This was a huge difference. No longer, on those sharp, abrupt 'bumps' did the rear end go CLUNK. It is now just a minor bump, hardly noticeable anymore.

Another advantage I noticed is that my dashboard does not rattle anymore on rough surfaces. I've had the RAV in three times during the warranty period in an attempt to get them to eliminate the rattle. They never could! I finally gave up, and the warranty expired shortly thereafter. I was resolved to just 'live with it'. Well, no more! The rough-road rattle is gone. A side benefit that I did not expect.

Yet another advantage is that 225/65R17 tires are substantially less expensive than 235/55R18 tires. Approximately $50 less per tire! That's a cool $200 for a set. No small change. I went with Yokohama Geolander A/T GO15 tires. Main reason is that I'll be moving to North Idaho next month and would rather have a M+S tire with the snow/mountain symbol on the sidewall. (With AWD and the snow/mountain symbol, the need for chains is minimized.) Even though the tread pattern is more 'knobby' than a normal tire, it is still rated 600/A/B for treadwear/traction/temperature. So far, I really like those Yoko tires. An added benefit is that they are a lot quieter than the OEM TOYO tires.


Overall, I'm glad I made the switch. The ride is a lot more pleasant now. I may, or may not, keep the 18" wheels. If I do, I'll put some studded snow tires on them for winter use. Or, I might decide to just sell them. I cannot 'throw' the car into a curve like I was able to with the 18" wheels. Not that I push it very often anyway, but at times, it is fun. I also noticed that when I was passing a particularly slow car in the #1 lane on the freeway, I got up to just over 90 mph. Whoe-wee! That was dumb! Good thing I was able to pass him quickly because I had to back off right quick. The car, with the taller tires, is just not 'stable' at that speed. The car wanted to 'float'. No more high-speed passing for me.

I'll be ready for the day when some smart-alec says, "Hey, why do you have a 'Limited' badge on your car when it is a XLE? You have XLE wheels. You're such an poseur."
 

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Another data point:

My LE has 16" winter wheels - it rides much softer but is likely also a factor of the tires too.

Badges get removed from all my cars.. be careful as the Toyota paint chips easier than others. It's amusing how many people don't even know what model of car it is when badges are removed.

Modern stud-less snow tires are incredible. I've never been suck and have seen a lot of snow skiing in Denver's I70 resorts this season (been ~thirty times). Also have Traction mats and snow chains in the boot but not needed them yet. 16" are a way better size for winter wheels as the chance of skidding and hitting something like a curb are much higher.
 

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Absolutely agree with Volosong, might add the extra air/rubber advantage should obstructions be encountered, less chance of bent rim/ruined tire. Never could understand that setup on a pickup truck.
Just bought the '15 Limited and haven't had it long enough to make a judgement as to need to change rims/tires $$$, however, should an 18 get bent, would consider it.
 

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2014 Limited Ride Improvement

My 2014 Limited was fitted with the Bridgestone Dueler H/T 687's when purchased. Theses tires lasted all of 20,000 miles before I replaced them. I contacted Bridgestone about the poor mileage and they said the 687 tire was designed to Toyota specifications and had no mileage warranty. I purchased Continental Pure Contact tires and noticed a huge improvement in ride quality. The Continental's are quieter and absorb bumps much better. They come with a 90,000 mile, 6 year warranty and 3 years of roadside assistance. The technician at Discount Tire said that the Goodyear Assurance Comfortred Touring would also provide an improved ride.
 
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