A CUV/SUV Tire For The Masses
Have you ever noticed that many four-wheel-drive CUVs and SUVs never leave the paved road? Of course you have. They're everywhere. Sure, trail junkies may think that's plenty weird, but the reality is that most owners of those vehicles chose them simply to get the upper hand in inclement weather. Heck, you may even have a CUV or SUV in your driveway that was purchased just for the peace of mind of commuting in bad weather.
BFGoodrich thinks that the time is right for a tire that is designed specifically for the CUV and SUV crowd, so they've rolled out the new Long Trail T/A Tour. BFG says that the Tour uses the "tough foundation of the Long Trail T/A to bring drivers more of what they need every day-better road manners, longer life, and more control." We recently had the opportunity to experience the Long Trail T/A Tour fitted under a Toyota RAV4. We drove the vehicle on-road from Asheville, North Carolina, to BFG's Laurens Proving Ground (LPG) in South Carolina.
Around town, and on the highway on dry pavement, the first thing we noticed was that the tire is as quiet as a passenger-car tire. This is due to optimized "rib shifting." In English, this means that the tire's tread blocks are staggered. When the tread blocks are staggered, it disrupts the sound profile, hence making the tire quieter. The Tour also had a solid on-center feel. This is due to the specially-designed center rib on the tread face. At highway speeds, the tire felt very stable. This is due to what BFG calls ETEC. This system features strategically placed reinforcement under the tread, which allows the tire to retain its shape at higher speeds. The tire actually cornered quite well too, and this can be attributed to unique contoured tread blocks on the shoulder area.
Once we got to LPG, we had the chance to test the Tour head-to-head with a similar competitor's tire on a water-soaked circuit. After a warm-up lap in our Tour-equipped RAV4, we were urged to push the vehicle as hard as we felt comfortable through the wet, twisty course. Several laps later, we had developed a feel for how hard we could push the vehicle before traction was lost. Then we strapped in a RAV4 shod with the competitor's tire. It became really clear really quick that BFG did their homework on the Tour. Not only did the competitor's tire break loose on the wet pavement faster than the Tour, it also provided less braking traction and acceleration traction. Further, it didn't move standing water as well, which led to hydroplaning on high-speed stretches. The reason the Tour exhibits such good manners on wet pavement is twofold. First, it has deep circumferential grooves in the tread. These deep, wide grooves mean that water has an easy way out, and this translates to less water and more rubber underfoot. Second, the Tour has strategic siping. These tread-block elements fight their way to traction in even the worst weather.
At the end of the day, it was hard not to be impressed by the capabilities of BFG's new Long Trail T/A Tour. If you have a CUV or SUV that spends much of its life on the paved road, you'll want to take a look at this refined tire.
Tire: BFGoodrich Long Trail T/A Tour
Size (as tested): P235/60R17
Load range: N/A (load carrying capacity is reflected in the service description)
Max load (lb @ psi): 1,764 @ 44
Construction: Two-ply polyester, nylon cap, two steel belts
Approved rim width (in): 6.5-8.5
Tread depth (in): 12/32
Tread width (in): 9.85 on an 8-inch wheel
Section width (in): 9.45 on 7
Overall diameter (in): 28.11
Static loaded radius (in): 13.63
Revolutions per mile (in): 740
Weight (lb): 32.3
The new BFG Long Trail T/A Tour is now available. It is a P-Metric tire in 35 different sizes for 15- to 20-inch wheel diameters. No matter what size you choose, you'll get a tread depth of 12/32 inch and a 60,000-mile tread wear warranty.