General Grabber AT Tire - All-Day DriversPosted in How To: Wheels Tires on August 1, 2009
Sometimes comfort matters. When you're slogging umpteen miles on your tires every day with only the occasional foray into the back woods, it makes sense to select a tire with mild on-road manners and not a crazy off-road performer that will shake your fillings loose on the pavement. We ran a set of General Tire's now-discontinued Grabber APs on a daily-driver nearly 20 years ago. So when it came time to shoe another daily driver with a tire that wouldn't make us feel like we were driving a paint shaker, we were curious to see the improvements time and technology brought about in General's more modern AT2 tire. We had five of the tires in a 235/75R15 size mounted and balanced on our Wrangler's 15x8 aluminum aftermarket rims and proceeded to eat up the on- and off-road miles.
How They Work
Let's not beat about the bush. To us the Grabber AT2's slightly crescent-shaped, highly-siped lug design is somewhat derivative of a BFG AT, so we expected performance on- and off-road to be reminiscent of this old standby. And not surprisingly, the Grabber AT2's on-road ride was as smooth, quiet, and predictable as any set of passenger car tires (or BFG ATs) we've driven on. The closely-spaced and relieved tread blocks hit the pavement like feather pillows. We simply weren't able to hear any tread noise over our Wrangler's soft top. In fact, the only time we ever heard them on-road was when we were testing the outer limits of the tire's ability to keep our 3,000lb Wrangler planted on hairpin, windy mountain roads. And for what it's worth, if you're looking for a good rally car tire for your Jeep, we were very pleased with these tires' lateral grip and on-road bite when pushed beyond the limits of common senses and good reason. In the wet, the tires' generous 1/2-inch tread depth had little trouble evacuating and channeling water to prevent slipping and hydroplaning. We never found any snow or ice, but the outer tread blocks will accept snow studs, so they've got that going for them if you've got to contend with months of frozen ground where you live.
Heading over the mountains from San Diego, California, to the Anza Borrego desert, we first ran our Load Range C tires over some mild, rocky trails at our street pressure of 20psi front and rear. Even at full pressure, the tires would bulge a bit over rock obstacles and we were pleased with the tread's ability to grip and grab slick granite. Airing down slightly to 12psi smoothed out the ride over the rough stuff and helped traction even more. A tire like this would feel at home in rocky terrain from Moab slickrock to Rubicon granite, with its supple tread and good sidewalls.
We were also able to throw in some sand testing at the infamous Blow Sand Hill in Ocotillo, California. Blow sand is deceptively loose and rutted and in a stock vehicle you normally don't make it half-as far as you think you're going to. So when we lined up our (then) stock, open-diff Wrangler at the bottom we really didn't think we'd get much more than half-way to the top. Granted our rig's light weight had a lot to do with it, but when the dust cleared we were just a couple feet shy of the top. The Grabber AT2s stayed up top and didn't dig even with generous tire speed. So we'll add sand work to these tires' repertoire as well.
The one area we did find to be this tread's Achilles Heel was moist, loose dirt and mud. Like most all-terrain tires, sticky mud quickly packed the tight tread voids and no amount of spinning could clear them sufficiently. We were fairly surprised, however to discover that moist dirt would do the same. We found ourselves stuck more than once when wheeling the soft dirt hills of Southern California a couple days after rainstorms had moistened the hillsides. The tread did fine as long as the tires stayed on top of the soil, but as soon as they started to claw and dig, the tread plugged right up and wouldn't self-clean. Although almost any all-terrain would have exhibited a similar propensity to clog the tread, we felt these tires didn't self-clean as well as some other all-terrain treads we've driven.
Moist dirt and mud performance aside, if you're looking for an affordable all-terrain tire that's killer on the street and works great off-road in a variety of terrain, we think the General Grabber AT2s should be high on anybody's list. The on-road ride is without compromise and as long as you don't expect to go mud running or slogging through wet, silty soil, we're confident the off-road performance won't leave you wanting.