Mild Looks, Great Performance
Having us Jeep-obsessed meatheads at Jp test and evaluate anything but the most aggressive, loud, big-tread, block-wearing mud tires is generally like leading the lambs to slaughter. We are used to growling tires that are barely balanced and are only occasionally in contact with the road. We don’t usually worry about how a tire balances, wears, or sounds while running down the highway, as if we could hear them over the flap of a soft top and rock-damaged mufflers! Despite knowing this, Nitto bravely sent us a set of its Terra Grappler All-Terrain Light Truck Radials for a long-term review, and surprisingly, we are pretty impressed with their on- and off-road performance. We’ve been running a set of D-rated LT295/70R17 Terra Grapplers on our ’01 WJ Laredo for almost a year now. The Jeep is our Swiss Army knife and gets used for everything from hitting milder rock trails, mud, snow, ice, sand, to towing, runs to the airport, and occasionally the quick trip to the grocery store. These tires do it all and do almost everything well.
Around town we tried to keep the air pressure on these tires at about 32 psi. This seemed to give the best contact patch with our relatively light Grand Cherokee. Driving our WJ down the highway on the Terra Grapplers results in a slight hum (as if we are good judges of road noise, as previously mentioned). The tires balanced relatively easily and have had no balance issues or punctures so far. What little water, snow, and ice we see in the Southwest has been handled by the Terra Grapplers with ease and grace. The deep siping and lateral tread voids do their job grabbing on ice and clearing standing water, respectively. Despite our lack of maintenance and generally unrealistic expectation that these tires can and will handle all we toss at them, Our Trail Grapplers are still going strong and showing almost no wear.
The mild looking tread is like a wolf in sheep’s clothing. These things get grip where you might not expect traction from an all-terrain. Off-road we usually air the tires down to 10-12 psi. The tires grip loose sand and silt well, and despite the relatively short sidewalls, soak up the bumps while blasting down our favorite back country dirt roads. In dry dusty trails and on the occasional rock, we were very pleased with the traction afforded by these mild looking all-terrains. Okay, these are not the best tires for your dedicated rockcrawler or mudder, but they are perfect for our Grand and would fit the bill for most Jeeps used primarily on the road with reliable traction if you do venture off the beaten asphalt. Not surprisingly, thick mud fills the smallish voids between tread blocks, but the tread did clear quickly with a little wheel speed. The large, staggered outer shoulder lugs do a great job of grabbing dirt, mud, and sand. We have noticed some small nicks on the tires from rocks. That’s hard to blame on the tires and is probably more related to our abusive nature.
Great wet traction on-road, supple tread grips well off-road, tread has worn well for mileage accrued
Mud, relatively thin sidewalls may be a liability on the trail
Put ’em on:
Daily driver/weekend warrior Jeep that sees lots of highway time
Drivers who don’t like loud tires, but need decent off-road performance