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Tire Testing Year In Review

Four Tires, Maximum Testing

Dec 1, 2015
Contributors: Scott Thompson, Corey Simone
Photographers: Jason Gonderman
We report on a lot of different products and vehicles in every issue, on our website, and through our social media channels. While this is a great way for us to perform a lot of diverse testing, it often doesn’t leave room for long-term follow up. In an attempt to buck that trend, we left four sets of off-road tires mounted up to our test rigs for an entire year. You saw their introduction and first test in the Mar./Apr. ’15 issue, now let’s take a look at how they performed through a 12 months of driving both on and off the pavement.
Photo 2/9   |   002 Off Road Tire Test Year In Review
General Grabber
Functionality Meets Strength
Looking to try out a new type of off-road tire, we mounted a set of General Grabber tires to Fuel Anza beadlock wheels. After a quick balance check at Discount Tire, we headed out to find some rough terrain to put the aggressive off-road tires through their paces. The first trip out with the red-letter General Grabbers left us very impressed. On-road ride quality was noticeably stiffer than our outgoing tires, due in part to the Grabber’s 10-ply construction, but this was reassuring as a puncture deterrent in most off-road conditions. Traction has been plentiful throughout the year, as our testing has led us though mud, rain, snow, and ice conditions. Road noise is surprisingly minimal thanks to a hybrid tread pattern that blends an aggressive mud terrain, all-terrain, and off-road racing tire design into one cohesive package. Over 10,000 miles later we haven’t noticed any excessive tread block wear, even with a Detroit locker in the rear axle. One concerning drawback with these tires is their weight. At 79 pounds each, acceleration, braking, and fuel economy degradation was both expected and noticeable. Despite the weight, we were impressed overall with the fit, quality, and capabilities of the tires.
Specifications
Tire: General Grabber
Size tested: 35x12.5R17
Type: Radial
Load range: E
Maximum load (lb @ psi): 3,197 @ 65
Sidewall plies: 3 Polyester
Tread plies: 2 polyamide, 2 steel, 3 polyester
Approved rim width (in): 8.5-11
Tread depth (in): 18/32
Section width (in): 12.5
Overall diameter (in): 35
Revolutions per mile: 594
Weight (lb): 77
Test vehicle: ’02 Ford Ranger
Photo 3/9   |   003 Off Road Tire Test Year In Review
Nexen Roadian MT
Low Cost, High Performance
Our family wagon Ford E-350 was in need of a new attitude, so we installed Nexen’s Roadian MT tires in place of the factory-sized street rubber. Initially, we were quite impressed with their cost, performance, and looks. Over the course of a year we managed to log 8,000 miles of mostly in-town driving and towing. This is not the ideal setting for any mud-terrain tire, so what do we think of them now? They have not shown any excessive wear or cupping beyond what can be expected with any lifted vehicle. The tread blocks remain stout and have lots of life left. They are no louder a year later than when first installed and retain their aggressive appearance. The Roadian MTs performed very well during our off-road testing and proved very adept in loose sand and rocky conditions. Our test vehicle’s capabilities were vastly improved with the tires alone, despite the open rear differential. With an E-rating for load range, the tires were great when towing as well and afforded a sense of confidence when road conditions deteriorated. We did manage to pick up a huge bolt that pierced a tread block on the freeway resulting in a flat, but it was determined no other tire would have fared better. After a quick repair from our friends at Discount Tire, we were back on the road with no further issues to report. Overall, the Roadian MT is a great tire choice for the budget-minded off-road enthusiast looking to enhance their vehicle’s appearance and capabilities while maintaining pleasant on-road manners.
Specifications
Tire: Nexen Roadian MT
Size tested: 265/75R16
Type: Radial
Load range: E
Maximum load (lb @ psi): 3,087 @ 50
Sidewall plies: 4-ply polyester
Approved rim width (in): 6.0-7.5
Tread depth (in): 17/32
Section width (in): 9.3
Overall diameter (in): 31.7
Revolutions per mile: 637.6
Weight (lb): 36
Test vehicle: ’02 Ford E-350
Photo 4/9   |   004 Off Road Tire Test Year In Review
Toyo Open Country R/T
Dual Sport
Throughout the last year we’ve been running the Toyo Open Country R/T tires mounted to a set of Dick Cepek Gun Metal 7 wheels under our mildly customized ’09 Dodge Ram 2500. Our initial impression of these tires was very positive with great street manners and a quiet ride, especially for a large tire with an aggressive tread pattern. The tires performed admirably when the pavement faded away and allowed for great traction and shedding capabilities in even the most demanding situations. With just under 8,000 miles and one tire rotation, we are pleased to say that tread wear is barely noticeable without any cupping or visual defects. The sidewall armor has proven its worth in rocky conditions and saved us in many situations. These tires are load rated E, which proved to be ideal for a vehicle that often times found itself hitched up to a trailer. The Toyo Open Country R/Ts maintained their confident and quiet ride even when loaded down. Tire pressure was varied throughout the test for maximum comfort and traction and did not seem to have a negative impact on tread wear or handling capabilities. Overall impressions of this tire remain very positive one year later and we look forward to many more years of service from them.
Specifications
Tire: Toyo Open Country R/T
Size tested: 35x12.5R17
Type: Radial
Load range: E
Maximum load (lb @ psi): 3,195 @ 65
Sidewall plies: 3 Polyester
Tread plies: 2 nylon, 2 steel, 3 polyester
Approved rim width (in): 8.5-11
Tread depth (in): 19/32
Section width (in): 12.5
Overall diameter (in): 34.8
Revolutions per mile: 598
Weight (lb): 75
Test vehicle: ’09 Dodge Ram 2500
Photo 5/9   |   005 Off Road Tire Test Year In Review
Nitto Exo Grappler AWT
All Weather – All The Time
When searching out a new tire for our leveled Ford F-150, we ran across the new Nitto Exo Grappler AWT. The AWT stands for All Weather Traction, which is a claim that they have, for the most part, lived up to during out year of testing. A cross between a mud and all-terrain tire, the Exo Grappler’s tread pattern is rather unique, even in a class that’s seeing more competition every year. Abundant siping and large tread blocks are what give this tire true four-season traction. During our 10,000 miles of testing, we noticed that traction was spot-on, both off-road and on dry pavement. On wet pavement, however, the tires were quick to break traction when briskly moving from a stop. Was it bad? No, but it could certainly be improved. On the comfort front, the tires started off with an audible hum, which has only gotten louder with age. It’s not Mud Grappler loud, but you certainly know it’s present. Wear has been phenomenal, and we fully expect to get over 50,000 miles out of this set. Overall, we’re very pleased with the performance and styling of the Exo Grappler. We would whole heartedly recommend them for the person that wants a bit more style and function than a traditional all-terrain, without the sacrifice of a full-blown mud tire.
Specifications
Tire: Nitto Exo Grappler AWT
Size tested: 35x12.5R18
Type: Radial
Load range: E
Maximum load (lb @ psi): 3,415 @ 65
Sidewall plies: 3 Polyester
Tread plies: 2 nylon, 2 steel, 3 polyester
Approved rim width (in): 8.5-11
Tread depth (in): 19/32
Section width (in): 12.52
Overall diameter (in): 34.76
Revolutions per mile: 598
Weight (lb): 78
Test vehicle: ’07 Ford F-150

Sources

Nitto Tire
Cypress, CA 90630
877-565-8448
www.nittotire.com
General Tire
Charlotte, NC 28288
800-847-3349
www.generaltire.com
Dick Cepek Tires & Wheels
Stow, OH 44224
330-928-9092
www.dickcepek.com
Toyo Tires
800-442-8696
www.toyotires.com
Nexen Tires
800-576-3936
http://www.nexentireusa.com
Fuel Offroad Wheels
Rancho Dominguez, CA 90221
800-493-7891
http://www.fueloffroad.com

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