A New All-Terrain Gold Standard?
One simply can't help but notice a striking resemblance between the new General Grabber AT2 and the old venerable . . . well; we'll just call it the "Brand X A/T." At first, we thought it was an exact copycat. However, after a recent trip to General Tire's Uvalde, Texas, proving grounds, where we had one-on-one time with both engineers and R&D officials who developed the Grabber AT2, we were convinced that though the two share aesthetic similarities, the architecture and rubber compound differences-combined with lower retail pricing and a better warranty-tip the scales slightly in favor of the Grabber AT2.
True, "Brand X" is a name Americans have come know and trust, but looking past that, we realized that General Tire, which is actually owned by Continental, is the primary shareholder of the European tire market. This doesn't mean squat until you understand that the average European consumer is influenced more by performance than price. Maybe that's why the finest European sports cars cost so much, yet lack simple conveniences like cupholders. It's safe to say that General Tire developed the new Grabber AT2 with the enthusiast in mind. True, "Brand X" does spend a ton on marketing its off-pavement prowess, but how much of the price of your tires do you want going to marketing campaigns?
In the end, we think General's low profile in the American tire market may actually result in a better product, based on the concept that fewer dollars per tire are spent on advertisements and, dare we say, supporting expensive Baja racing efforts. Instead, General is funneling its profits into R&D for better products. We're not saying Baja is a bad place to spend R&D money-we're just saying there are a lot of other places with fewer variables to consider.
Take, for instance, the mile-long shale-rock dirt track at the Uvalde proving grounds. During our visit, we drove a Toyota pickup sporting the Grabber AT2s on this track. As we completed the test, we couldn't help but wonder if anywhere in Baja-or the world, for that matter-you would find a road with such extreme conditions. The track is covered with very sharp stones that could almost be mistaken for Indian arrowheads. As it turns out, General regularly uses the track to evaluate puncture resistance, and testing in a controlled environment like this allows for more repeatable results.
The Grabber AT2 features a very quiet interlocking tread pattern that works well in everything except sticky mud. They are available in sizes ranging from 26 to 35 inches in overall diameter and for wheel diameters of 14 to 20 inches. The 265/70R17s that we tested on an '05 Nissan Pathfinder impressed us, requiring only 2 ounces on the worst one to balance.
Tire: General Grabber AT2
Load range: SL
Max load (lb @ psi): 2,602 @ 35 psi
Sidewall: 2-ply polyester
Tread: 2-ply polyester, 2-ply steel, 2-ply nylon
Approved rim width (in): 7.5-9.5
Tread depth (in): 17/32
Tread width (in): 10.43
Section width (in): 10.7
Overall diameter (in): 31.7
Static loaded radius (in): N/A
Revolutions per mile: 636
Weight (lb): 22.8