Nitto Ridge Grappler – Hybrid Theory
It’s hard to deny that the hottest segment of the off-road tire market right now belongs to the hybrids. No, we’re not talking some funky gas/electric mash up, but instead about the tires that blur the lines between a traditional all-terrain and mud-terrain. Nitto was on the forefront of this trend when it released the Exo Grappler a few years back, and the company is now offering a new take on this class of rolling stock with the introduction of the Ridge Grappler.
We’ve got to admit we were a bit surprised when Nitto introduced the Ridge Grappler. Not because we don’t welcome new tires into the world, but more that Nitto already had a robust lineup of off-road tires that includes the Terra Grappler, Terra Grappler G2, Dune Grappler, Exo Grappler, Trail Grappler, and Mud Grappler. We’re sure at least one of these models will eventually be put out to pasture, but for the time being Nitto has some of the most comprehensive off-road tire choices in the industry.
Using the lessons learned from decades of off-road tire manufacturing, Nitto set out to build the ultimate do-it-all tire: the Ridge Grappler. Variable pitch tread blocks are used to reduce road noise and alternating tread block shoulder grooves work to clear mud, maintain traction, and provide a multitude of biting edges for extra grip when the trail gets tough. The bases of the tread blocks, where they attach to the carcass, are reinforced to provide rigidity, which improves the tire’s on-road handling characteristics. Stone ejectors are found between the outer tread blocks and work to both prevent mud adhesion and keep rocks from drilling into the tire. Staggered shoulder lugs help with traction off-road, and dual sidewall patterns give buyers the option of either a more traditional look or more modern, aggressive style.
Eager to see if the Ridge Grappler lived up to the hype, we mounted a set of 37x12.5R17 tires on KMC’s new Machete beadlock wheels. Before we bolted them up to our test Jeep, we headed over to America’s Tire to get them balanced, and the first thing we noticed was how easy it was to achieve a perfect balance on each one. These tires are impressively round. Once on the Jeep we found the highway ride to be smooth and quiet, exactly what we expected from the Ridge Grappler.
While the tire’s highway manners were impressive, where it really shined was off-road. Traction is impeccable on all surfaces, from sand to dirt to rocks. The Ridge Grappler is a true do-it-all tire. Driving in rain we found it to be quite competent, maintaining traction far better than a typical mud-terrain. In soft snow, the tread easily cleared itself of the slush and maintained excellent forward momentum. The Ridge Grappler worked decently well in mild mud, but if deep, sticky bogs are your thing, this might not be the right tire for you.
There’s no doubt that the Ridge Grappler is an excellent all-around tire. Sure, there are going to be areas that an all-terrain may be better suited for and places where a mud-terrain will outshine this mixed-breed tire. For the daily driven truck or SUV that occasionally heads off the beaten path, the Ridge Grappler is a fantastic choice. The tire is quiet, works great, and seems to be wearing well even after thousands of miles. And with sizes from 31 to 37 inches, 17- to 22-inch wheels, and up to a load range F, there’s a Ridge Grappler for just about everyone.
SpecificationsTire: Nitto Ridge Grappler
Sizes Tested: 37x12.5R17
Load Range: D
Maximum Load: 3,525 pounds at 50 psi
Sidewall Plies: 3-ply polyester
Section Width: 12.5 inches
Overall Diameter: 36.7 inches
Revolutions Per Mile: 577
Weight: 81.5 pounds
Test Vehicle: ’07 Jeep Wrangler