Kids these days with their computers. What can’t they do? Three-dimensional printers that whittle a working steam shovel, program your DVR from the other side of the country, and make a mild-mannered all-terrain tire work like an aggressive mud-terrain in the dirt. We know we blather on and on about how good the modern crop of all terrains work off-road and how well behaved modern mud-terrains are on the street, but unless you lived through the howling, squirming, blocky ride characteristics of the old mud tires or suffered the anemic, pantywaist, hopeless off-road performance of old-school all-terrains, you have no idea how good we have it nowadays.
We’ve lived with several sets of the previous Toyo Open Country A/T, so we’ve got a good baseline for comparison for the redesigned A/T II. In short, the old tires worked extremely well, but wore rather quickly. Toyo has addressed this with a new rubber compound and tweaking of the tread’s siping shape and the addition of tie bars between the outer lugs to stabilize the tread blocks. As a result, the Open Country A/T II offers 40 percent longer tread life than the previous A/T, with a 65,000-mile warranty. So you’ll be living with them for a long time. But will you want to? To find out we had a set of 31x10.50R15s mounted on a set of tough, affordable 15x8 Black Mountain powdercoated steel wheels from Collins Bros Jeep, bolted them to our YJ test vehicle, and hit the road for a couple months.
It’s the same modern all-terrain story here, but we may as well tell it again. Rain, shine, wet, dry, the new Toyo Open Country A/T II excels on-road. They’re so quiet you just can’t hear them in a Wrangler with a soft top, and they roll so buttery smooth it’s silly. With all four tires at our as-tested street pressure of 32 psi, in twisty mountain roads we noticed a bit more stability when cornering hard compared with other tires we’ve run on the test Jeep, and we zipped through standing water without any hint of hydroplaning or instability. As an added bonus, we saw a 1 mpg bump in economy as compared with another set of 31x10.50R15 tires we were running, so the tread seems efficient as well. In roughly 10,000 on-road miles we noticed the slightest feathering on the outside of the front tires’ tread blocks, but that’s about it.
We were fortunate this time around to find just about every terrain to take these tires through including the ever-elusive (for Southern California) mud and snow. All of our off-road testing was done with the fronts at 10 psi and the rears at 8 psi. For starters, despite their pedestrian appearance, the deep voids between the treads and stone ejection blocks do a nice job at keeping the treads from flinging small stones at the underside of the vehicle. They also aided in mud use. The treads did pack, as would be expected, but judicious throttle would clear the tires enough to keep biting and chewing forward. We did reach the limits of the tires in mud and had to take a strap a few times, but overall we got farther into the slop than anybody thought we had business being. As for snow use, the tires did better on hard-packed snow and ice than they did in deeper, powdery snow. They just didn’t seem to have the bite to pull us very well when the white stuff got deep. They redeemed themselves in the rocks, however, with tacky grip on all but the smoothest, sheer faces. In those instances we’d get a little slip but then the tread would recover and pull us up and over obstacles with little drama. One of the most surprising areas of performance was in sand, where the tires just floated on top no matter how much throttle we fed them. There was no furrowing, hopping, or bucking as we chewed our way forward.
Sure, they don’t like taffy mud and deep snow, but really, what all-terrain does? For what they are and how civilized they behave on the street, if you’re looking for a set of tires for your multi-purpose Jeep, these won’t disappoint and will stick around for at least 65,000 miles.
Great all-around performance
Lots of 15-inch size availability
Bump in fuel economy
No sticky mud
Don’t like deep snow
Put ’em on
Where quiet counts