Featured Hybrids - The New Winter Tire

Discussion in 'The Garage and Car Talk' started by nay, Oct 3, 2016.

  1. nay

    nay dirt heel pusher Skier

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    Driven by the resounding success of the Goodyear Duratrac as a year round all weather tire, the major tire manufacturers are flooding the market with new entrants targeting consumers who want tough year round tires that offer significant winter performance.

    The common theme is that these are "hybrid" tires with a tighter "all terrain" inner tread pattern with an open lug "mud terrain" outer tread pattern with more siping and grooving than traditionally found on this type of tire. Most sizes are offered in lighter duty p-metric passenger versions as well as heavier duty light truck versions. All of these tires bear the mountain snowflake symbol and some carry 50K+ treadlife warranties.

    Despite some significant flaws, Goodyear has pretty much owned the light truck hybrid tire market for several years with Duratrac, which receives consistently high ratings in snow and ice and is studdable.

    IMG_2281.JPG

    Goodyear caught BFG resting on its laurels with the old school BFG AT ko, and BFG (a Michelin brand) has taken a major step to reclaim its spot with the 2014 release of the AT ko2. While bearing resemblance to the old tire, the outer lugs are opened up and the classic interlocking inner tread has more channeling to the outside. Michelin has clearly gone technology forward as this is a thoroughly modern tire that has regained its standing as the benchmark in the class. It has been stated on some forums that on certain tire retailer sites, the ko2 is the best reviewed tire ever, of any class, for across the board performance.

    IMG_2282.JPG

    Cooper released its mundane looking AT3 a few years ago and won tire test competition after tire test competion. Seizing on this it came out with the ATW, a winter oriented version of the AT3 that has also won in some independent winter testing for SUV tires. Cooper found the mountain snowflake rating to be so low with the ATW that it has apparently lobbied for changes to the standard.

    IMG_2283.PNG

    Entrants over the past year include the Falken AT3W and Nitto Exo Grappler AWT. The Falken is getting rave reviews on 4x4 forums and seems to be an emerging player given its comparative price point.

    Falken

    IMG_2280.PNG

    Nitto

    IMG_2284.PNG

    Kumho has also released the seriously budget priced Road Venture AT51, which was designed to a greater extent with all weather and winter performance in mind.

    IMG_2285.PNG

    I own a set of ko2 and having hated its predecessor, this tire is delivering on the promise of year round traction in all terrain with very solid treadlife.

    I have a set of Falken AT3W on the way for the new to us Sequoia. Deep snow, packed snow and ice, slush, heavy rain, offroad...is the OTQ here?
     
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  2. cantunamunch

    cantunamunch Meh Skier

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    There's something about the ko2 that tweaks my brain in a "please please please mount me on a bright red El Camino SS" way.
     
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  3. crgildart

    crgildart Gravity Slave Skier

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    Softer compounds do better on cold, icy roads, but grind away quickly on hot summer pavement. I've heard some claims that a few of the new eco compounds have shown to actually get SOFTER in COOL weather and HARDER in WARM temps.
     
  4. Philpug

    Philpug Enjoying being back on two skis. Admin Pugski Ski Tester

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    @nay Great topic, and awesome information especially this time of year. THANK YOU!!!

    We have been very happy with the Hankook Dynapro AT

    [​IMG]
     
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  5. jmeb

    jmeb Stereotypical Front Range Weekend Warrior Skier

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    Very interested to read more about this -- any links?

    I had a set of AT3's on the old van and was very impressed with their snow performance. 90% or more as good as their Discoverer M + S (SnowFlake rated). Significantly better than the new vans Big O Big Foot ATs.

    My buddy just got setup with some Cooper ATWs and they certainly look and feel the part. Nice highway ride too.
     


  6. Tom K.

    Tom K. HRPufnStf Skier

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    Cooper in the hunt for a podium position?!

    Aren't they usually priced ~30% less than The Big Brands?

    Very interesting.
     
  7. Dryheat

    Dryheat Putting on skis Skier

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    Very interesting.

    Would this be an appropriate "snow" tire for a Phoenix guy that hopes to chase a few winter storms this season? Swap them on the Forester in December and off Mid-April?
     
  8. Jersey Skier

    Jersey Skier aka RatherPlayThanWork or Gary Skier

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    How are these in the summer at highway speeds? My Suburban needs new 20" tires. Torn between just getting another pair of Michelin LTX's or going with something like these. If my truck sees 20 days of snow a year it's a banner year around here. But I do try to chase storms as much as the family allows.
     
  9. Philpug

    Philpug Enjoying being back on two skis. Admin Pugski Ski Tester

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    Even though we park the Yukon in the summer, there were some warm 75*+ days that we drove it and they were real good, quiet and very little vibration feedback. These were recommended by both our Discount Tire Guru here in Reno and the Service Manager at @Tricia's old GMC dealer back in Michigan. The second one was completely unsolitcited, we didn't ask him what he thought of the tires but asked him what tire he recommended.
     
  10. Thread Starter
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    nay

    nay dirt heel pusher Skier

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    I have the Dynapro ATM on the Sequoia right now. It's also snowflake rated, is an established solid winter performer, and is a really quiet road tire. It is a great tire for the price, although there are some interwebz rumblings that it doesn't perform as well in winter in the second half of its life and it seems to be slipping as a top pick. The long and short of that, IMO, is that the Dynapro ATM has been around for awhile, and some other tires may be surpassing its performance at similar price points. That's the theme of this thread as traditional top performers are being passed by newer offerings, with tires that are offering both excellent wet weather performance in all temps along with solid winter performance.

    Following Nitto's labeling: "AWT" = "all weather traction".

    I went with the Falken because I am upgrading size, a p-metric tire is a bit light duty for the idea that this truck will see some offroad use, and in the LT version of a 285/75R17 the tread depth is 20/32nds, which is really deep for this type of tire (that kind of tread depth is usually reserved for the dedicated offroad tires). With full tread depth 3D siping (patented) and some other modern shoulder features, at $190/tire for a 34" size plus a $75 manufacturer rebate, this tire was a steal if the performance promise is met.

    Any of these tires would seemingly serve very well. I'd look at price, load rating, and if it matters a tread life warranty although the warranties typically only cover the p-metric versions and not the LT, so if you need a higher load tire (or prefer them on a heavier truck), you are on your own.

    That Kumho AT51 is a getting really good reviews for it's price - I might compare that tire to the Hankook staying at the lower end of the price scale, especially p-metric versions.
     
  11. Thread Starter
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    nay

    nay dirt heel pusher Skier

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    Absolutely. If you stay with one of the models that is more road oriented you could just run it year round given the high mileage tread life warranties in many cases and how incredibly onroad friendly these tires have become despite their tread depth and relatively aggressive tread designs. I have seen some discussion on some of these tires on Subaru forums as I was doing my own research, but I didn't dig deeper since my stable truck based.

    Some other relatively new offerings:

    Toyo AT2

    IMG_2290.JPG

    Nitto Terra Grappler G2

    IMG_2291.JPG
     
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  12. Thread Starter
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    nay

    nay dirt heel pusher Skier

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    I'm looking for a link...I saw something on one of the forums when I was researching, but I didn't bookmark it. This was a quote from Cooper when the A/TW was released:

    "Following in the footsteps of our successful Discoverer family product lineup, the A/TW far exceeds the standards set to earn the mountain snowflake symbol for superior snow capability, and this tire leads the way for drivers seeking a diverse, 12-month tire option."

    The "far exceeds" statement was a shot across the bow of the classic winter tire market saying what we all already know: the mountain snowflake symbol is a very low standard that any tire focused on winter performance is going to substantially exceed. This begs the question of "what is enough" in terms of running a 12 month all weather tire understanding that these tires are not remotely in the class of "all season" car tires.

    I think that Cooper believes that the A/TW is good enough to bump some other tires out of the category if the standard was raised and that this is effectively a new class of tire that challenges the notion of a "winter" tire as mutually exclusive to other performance characteristics. That latter point is something I agree with and it's really great to see some real competition in this category.

    The extent to which this can trickle down below the CUV class to cars may be limited. By nature these are heavier duty tires even in p-metric versions, but I'd think there is a point where a car just lacks the drivetrain out to the wheel bearings to run this type of tire.
     
    Last edited: Oct 4, 2016
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  13. Jersey Skier

    Jersey Skier aka RatherPlayThanWork or Gary Skier

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    The AT51's are what got me thinking about this type of tire in the first place. Saw some very good reviews on Tirerack and they are much cheaper than the Michelins. But I have always had the Michelins last at least 60k miles (and I've never ended up in a ditch).
     
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  14. DoryBreaux

    DoryBreaux Friend for Hire on Powder Days Pugski Ski Tester Industry Insider

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    I hated both the original BFG AT KO and the KO2 in pretty much every condition, save pavement. On top of that, the road noise from my current MT tires (some off brand that I was sort of forced to buy thanks to an oh shit situation) is only marginally worse than my KO2s that I had for all of a few months when they first came out. They also perform better on dirt roads, in deep soft dirt (Tahoe Moon Dust), on rock, and in mud (you'd better hope...) than any AT tire I've owned/tested. Now, I expect I wont care for their performance on packed snow and ice, but that isnt what they are for. They also cost me about 1mpg compared to the AT KOs that I was running beforehand. All that being said, I do wish I had a slightly less aggressive, slightly narrower "trail" tire. I'm not sure what my next set of truck shoes will be, but I know they wont be anything BFG.
     
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  15. cantunamunch

    cantunamunch Meh Skier

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    As a former Ecsta user, I would have to be convinced the rubber is very different, if not reformulated from scratch, in the AT51 series. The Ectas drove great so long as the tread was warm (i.e. there was enough frictional contact to the road, independent of the air temps).

    But put black ice or a super-chilled rain on the road and in 3-4-5 minutes the tires would start doing the same sort of squeaky skip that superwide tires do during low-speed turns in smooth-floored garages.
     
  16. Thread Starter
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    nay

    nay dirt heel pusher Skier

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    Look at the Cooper ST Maxx. People love that tire, and probably can be found in something like 235/85 size that gets you tall and skinny.

    IMG_2292.PNG

    The interesting thing about all of this is that these hybrid tires were really born as rock crawlers. Not "mud terrain" as the siping and other features were much more effective in the rocks, but labeled "MT" because that's the more aggressive class over "AT".

    People figured out a good rock tire made a good all weather tire, and here we are.

    You might check reviews on the Falken as well - they are reputed to be a lot more aggressive in person and Falken is making a big push in its off-road lineup. Given the huge tread depths in the LT versions that tire is really promising (there is something like a 45 page thread on it on Tacoma World). At a third less than ST Maxx, Duratrac, or ko2...well...my set arrive tomorrow.

    I'll be interested to see what I think compared to the ko2 on the Cruiser. Those are 37x12.5 (without even any balance weights on the outside of the rim...a long way we've come) so it's a lot more tire than factory sizes. With a 34" going on the Sequoia it will be a reasonable comparison for tread performance.

    The big tree is gonna be a winter monster. At least if I can get the heat working :).
     
    Last edited: Oct 4, 2016
  17. Thread Starter
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    nay

    nay dirt heel pusher Skier

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    The AT51 is supposed to be a completely new beast, but the off-road forums don't have much to say about it. That tells me people are buying it more on budget and don't consider it offroad biased enough (much like the Hankook).

    It was my #2 choice to try and the tire site reviews are generally very good. The somewhat less offroad bias probably plays very well to typical plowed road usage and moderate fresh depths, and they could be half the price of a "leader" when factoring in OEM rebates.
     
  18. Thread Starter
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    nay

    nay dirt heel pusher Skier

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    Not always - some of their tires like the ST Maxx are premium priced...although that's probably a true 10 ply or whatever tire as opposed to "10 ply rated" tires that are usually more like 6 ply but with heavy duty construction so they can be E load rated for LT use.

    I really think Cooper was the first to realize the true market potential of better aligning "all terrain" to "all weather" and have had some very well received recent offerings that have had compounds designed for the task. Hence a mundane looking tread winning the offroad portion in some tests.

    This is a really good non-winter tire review for performance characteristics that go well beyond what we see on the surface. The Cooper wins here and its interesting what they have to say about it.

    http://expeditionportal.com/where-the-rubber-meets-the-road/

    Here are a few excerpts:

    "On pavement the A/T3 behaves more like a performance tire. It had consistently short braking distances and recorded the second fastest speed in the slalom course. Grip improved even more on wet asphalt, where the Cooper clocked the fastest speed—so high that Joe suggested we stop the test for safety reasons. On ice and snow we have found traction is nearly as effective as a winter tire. The A/T3demonstrated superior ride quality, NVH, and skid pad handling; it cannot be overstated how well these tires perform overall on the pavement. While proprietary engineering data from Cooper was not available, we concluded that the excellent pavement performance was a result of high adhesion (softer durometer), lug integrity and stability (shouldered lug design), and aggressive siping."

    "With many of these tests we were surprised by the results, the outcome often challenging years of assumptions or general industry belief. This test was particularly compelling, as the conclusions rocked those long-held opinions. We all expected the BFGoodrich to be a leader on the dirt, but it struggled against more modern designs. We expected the Dick Cepek to excel at the rock climb, but it failed to make the top. As a result, it is clear that an all-terrain must be a combination of a multitude of critical design considerations, including a flexible and durable carcass, advanced tread face design, and most important, rubber composition."
     
    Last edited: Oct 4, 2016
  19. DoryBreaux

    DoryBreaux Friend for Hire on Powder Days Pugski Ski Tester Industry Insider

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    Funny you should mention both of those tires; I've been wondering about both of them. Interested to hear what you think about the Falken.
     
  20. Thread Starter
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    nay

    nay dirt heel pusher Skier

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    Mmmmmmmm....rubber....

    IMG_2305.JPG IMG_2306.JPG IMG_2308.JPG
     

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