Whenever we consider a tire to run on our project vehicles, we tend to gravitate toward those that combine a good reputation in the dirt with a nod to highway performance, since most of our driving consists of running down the super slab between home and the office.
One such tire that has these highly regarded traits is the Toyo Open Country M/T, which is known for its ruggedness on the trail while keeping a docile nature on the pavement. This might be surprising, considering the large lugs and three-ply construction, but the Open Country's computer-designed tread and deep siping make for a good performer on the street.
With recent success in desert racing, we decided to try out a set of Toyo Open Country M/Ts on our Project Con Artist in the 35x12.5R17 size. These tires proved to be very round, only requiring a minimal amount of weight. We ran the tires all over Moab at about 12 psi on our factory rims and had no issues. In fact, the giant sidewall lugs excelled at gripping the slick rock while doing a good job of protecting the face of our rims from trail damage, and no chunking of the tread or bruising of the sidewall was observed.
On a side excursion to the La Sal Mountains, we even found them to be quite acceptable at breaking through 2 feet of fresh snow on the trail, cutting through and slinging the powder out of the way and in a limited opportunity to try them in the wet, they never contributed to any nervous moments.
In the mud, this M/T chews through the goo, self-cleaning, as one would expect. Aired down, the tires floated nicely and provided plenty of traction in the sand dunes-usually not an M/T strong point.
On our thinly sound-deadened JK, the thrumming of the Toyos was noticeable on pavement, especially concrete, where the gentle hum from asphalt would increase in volume enough to necessitate turning the radio up. However, we have found the Toyos on closed-cab vehicles, such as fullsize trucks, to be quite acceptable.
Despite the slightly elevated noise levels in our Wrangler, highway manners are better than what you might expect from an M/T. Sure, they are slightly slower to respond to steering inputs than an A/T, but the Open Country M/T has proven to be relatively grippy, never squealing in protest on freeway onramps, and always providing sure braking.
One final note: The same sidewall lugs that give the Open Country M/T great crawling ability, may also pose a problem in space-constrained applications, as they make this M/T much wider than the sizing would suggest when compared with competing M/Ts in a similar size.
Tire: Toyo Open Country M/T
Load range: D
Max load (lb @ psi): N/A
Sidewall: 3-ply polyester casing
Tread: 2 nylon cap plies, 2 steel belts
Approved rim width (in): 8.5-11
Tread depth (in): 21/32
Tread width (in): 12.5
Section width (in): 13.2
Overall diameter (in): 34.8
Static loaded radius (in): 16.2
Revolutions per mile: 595
Weight (lb): 83
Test vehicle: 2007 Wrangler Unlimited