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Mud Tire Shootout Fourth Place: Nitto Trail Grappler M/T

Posted in How To: Wheels Tires on April 1, 2011
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Photographers: Cody Kanuscak

The Trail Grappler features a nondirectional tread pattern that is packed full of trail-friendly attributes. For starters, the four independent lug elements are mirrored from side to side to provide equal traction in both directions of travel. The center of the pattern includes a "z-groove" that is said to increase lateral stability at high speeds. A balanced void ratio assists in making the tire work well on highway while maintaining acceptable performance in the dirt. The sidewalls feature two distinctive designs that allow you to fine-tune the look of the tire, and a semi-soft, high-silica tread compound received a 66 durometer rating on the Shore A hardness scale. Manufactured in the U.S., the Trail Grapplers required less than five ounces in the worst case to achieve balance. The on-road portion of our testing proved that Nitto's extensive efforts to build a noise-free tread pattern has paid off. Over the 100-mile test loop, the average decibel reading was 71, and the ride quality was almost always supple. We suspect that the compound played a big role here, because looking at the Trail Grappler next to others in our test, it simply looked wider-and typically, wider equals louder. But this was not so in our case. Having the third largest footprint of the bunch at 10 psi, the Trail Grappler succeeded in cresting Hollister's slippery Truck Hill hillclimb without issue. However, we found the sidewall performance just slightly above average when we had to rev the JK's 3.8L V-6 above 3,500 rpm to reach the pinnacle of our rutted-out S-turn trail. We attribute this to the continuous rib at which each tapered side lug terminates; mud would cake up between the side biters, and without a clear pathway to be ejected through, the mud would instead stay put and reduce the effectiveness of the sidewall elements. Made in the U.S. and available in sizes from 32 to 38 inches, the Nitto Trail Grappler, as the name implies, grabs traction in virtually any condition.

The Bottom Line
The Trail Grappler M/T is an excellent choice for a daily driver that sees regular trail use, with split-personality good looks and a supple on-pavement ride. Just don't expect them to win at your local mud drags-the sidewalls are much better suited for high performance in rock, sand, and pavement.

Nitto Trail Grappler M/T

The Details
Tire: Nitto Trail Grappler M/T
Size: 37x12.50R17
Type: Radial
Load range: D
Max load rating (lb @ psi): 3,525 @ 50 psi
Sidewall: 3-ply polyester
Tread: 3-ply polyester, 2-ply steel, 2-ply nylon
Approved rim width (in): 10
Tread depth (in): 21/32
Tread width (in): 13.43
Section width (in): N/A
Overall diameter (in): 36.85
Static loaded radius (in): N/A
Revolutions per mile: 563
Claimed weight (lb): 83.77
Weight as tested (lb): 81.6, 82.6, 80.2, 81.6
Biting edges per square inch (in): 1.34

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