There’s a growing trend among off-road tire manufacturers to create a hybrid tire that eliminates compromises . . . all of them. The general aim of this particular classification is to produce a tire that takes care of business off-road—with traction capabilities approaching that of a mud terrain tire—but with the on-road civility and wear characteristics typically exhibited by an all-terrain tire. What does this mean for the hunter and back country explorer if they work as advertised?
It means you’ll have no reservations about bombing down the highway at speed, and then immediately turning onto a backcountry trail and heading off into the deer woods. In theory, these tires will do both very well.
So, do these magical tires exist? They sure do, and one of the newest entries into this crossover market—the Toyo Open Country R/T (R/T stands for rugged terrain, by the way)—might be our favorite yet. Just like the company’s Open Country M/T (mud terrain) that we’ve come to know and love, the R/T is built with a three-ply polyester casing matched with an aggressive sidewall pattern and rubber compound to create a truly rugged and highly abusable tire.
On road—where your daily-driver truck or SUV will likely spend the majority of its time—the R/T rolls quietly and smoothly, and their aggressive tread pattern goes nearly 100% unnoticed. In fact, on our Jeep Wrangler, wearing the 285/70R17 size, we were pretty surprised to find that they actually made less noise and vibration than some of the less aggressive all-terrain tires we’ve used in the past. The R/T’s “E” load range rating didn’t offer much in the way of bump absorption on our lightweight Wrangler, but on a heavier truck or SUV they’d be right at home. Given their A+ behavior on pavement we weren’t overly optimistic about their off-road potential, but again, we were pleasantly surprised.
With tread blocks spaced somewhere between an all-terrain and mud-terrain, the R/Ts are able to run side-by-side with a mud tire everywhere but the swampiest of swamp muck. Though the tread voids eject mud with relative ease when ample throttle is applied, if mud is on the menu the majority of time, a more aggressive mud terrain tire will still hold a performance advantage. That’s a given, but the R/T’s impressive grip on wet, slippery rocks, dry rocks, sand and loose dirt exceeded our expectations. The scalloped should lugs, with their widely spaced voids grab onto terrain that would slip right on past an all-terrain, giving them a clear and decisive advantage where traction makes the difference. In the end, these are outstanding tires for those looking for better off-road performance everywhere over an all-terrain, but aren’t willing to deal with the day-to-day drawbacks of a mud-terrain.
This excellent new tire effectively splits the difference between the aggressive and civilized off-road tire categories, and in some circumstances, is a better choice for each job. Learn more about the Open Country R/T by visiting Toyo Tires; Tel.: (800) 442-8696, Web: www.toyotires.com