When we looked over the smoothly shaped treads and tight block gaps of Falken's new WildPeak A/T we said to ourselves, "Street tire, good in rain, crap moist dirt traction, pack quickly with mud, quiet on the street." But the old adage "you can't judge a book by its cover" never rang so true.
We logged onto discounttire.com to order our tires and wheels. Naturally, the company's free tire rotation and flat repair services apply even if you purchase online, so if you're near a Discount Tire store, just pop on in. In addition to the normal flat repair for damage incurred on the tread surface, you can purchase the company's Certificate for Free Replacement which covers damage past the tread surface into the sidewall. Our 265/70R16 tires arrived mounted and balanced on 16x8.5 MB Wheels Chaos 5 wheels with a 4.5-inch backspacing. We set the tire pressure to 24psi front and rear, and then the rains came with a vengeance.
For starters, these are hands-down some of the best wet-weather street tires we've driven. Plowing through deep standing water is sure and predictable. Once the sun broke through, our suspicions of a smooth, super-quiet ride on asphalt were confirmed. Killing the engine and coasting elicited only the slightest road noise. You'll never hear these tires in a Wrangler, and we doubt even a Cherokee is aerodynamic enough to notice.
Off-road we hit some steep hillclimbs comprised of loose So Cal soil still wet from the recent rains, as well as the occasional mud hole or two. These treads actually self-clean at slow speed. Dropping the pressure from 24psi to 10psi only made it better. While the WildPeak A/T lacks the gnarly bite of a large-lugged mud tire, as long as you keep them turning slowly, they'll crawl and grip forward exhibiting sure-footed steadiness with no need to blip the throttle to clear the tread. The generous circumferential voids in the center tread did wonders for steep, off-camber sidehilling. Time and time again we expected the rear of the Jeep to break free and pivot down-slope, but the tires just stuck. Loose, sloppy mud wasn't a problem, but the gooier, taffy-like mud we found did clog the tread readily, which one would expect of any all-terrain or mild mud-terrain.
In the rocks, we again dropped our pressure down to 8psi rear, but left our fronts at 10psi to avoid slipping a bead. The tires don't really stick like glue to slick granite. There's a bit of very minor slip, but it never results in tire spin-only slip from one biting lug to the next. Indeed, the slow-speed slipping from one lug to the next seemed an operational characteristic of the WildPeak A/T in nearly every terrain.
Our testing did point out one weakness in the WildPeak A/T, and that was in stopping, especially in the dirt. It wasn't really an issue on-road, but off-road we found that these tires lock up and skid more readily than others in this category. Again, you really need to have that next tread surface come into play to get traction out of these tires. However, if you're looking for a mild street tire for your daily driver that won't leave you stranded during your weekend off-road excursions, the WildPeak A/T is a home run.
- Crazy wet pavement performance
- Surprisingly capable off-road
- Mild-mannered on-road
- Limited off-road braking power
- Steady throttle input required for best performance
- Doesn't like sticky mud