Lost in the hubbub of sexier and more aggressive tires was the announcement of the Goodyear Wrangler Silent Armor. It features a layer of Kevlar just like the MT/R and has the same Severe Snow rating that the Duratrac sports. However, the smallish lugs and lack of void space kept many of us from looking at it. We were curious how they would perform, because from the specs they looked like they would be as durable as the MT/Rs but would they be usable?
We got a set 285/75R16 tires and mounted them on Wrangler Rubicon rims under our Comanche. The D load range tire was too much for our light Jeep and we only needed 26 psi to get proper wear on the road. The tread is comprised of five plies (two plies of polyester, two plies of steel, and one ply of aramid (Kevlar)) while the sidewall is two plies of polyester. Off-road, we aired down to 7 or 8 psi to get the contact patch we wanted, but that led to a couple of spun and popped beads so we went back up to 11 psi and kept our bead but lost some contact patch.
As the name implies, these things are quiet on-road. They work great in rain, ice, and of course dry pavement. Light snow posed no problem, but deeper snow left us spinning our tires quite a bit to maintain forward momentum. We tried slowly letting off the clutch but the tires would just spin until they got down to pavement. Standing water on the freeway ended up as just a light pull on the steering wheel and was totally controllable.
Off-road, our test tires would have done better under a heavier vehicle or with beadlocks. Even at 11 psi they have no problem floating in sand, but they just didn't envelop the rocks like we wanted them to. We had less chunking of these tires in sharp rocks than we thought we would thanks to the smaller tread blocks and shorter siping. The center lugs hold onto mud like no one's business and it almost takes getting back on the street to clear them out. The circumferential grooves clear out easily while the shoulder lugs will clear but it depends on how much skinny pedal you are OK with. Sandy mud will clear out pretty easily, but the closer down the line you get to muddy clay you will end up with a big chocolate doughnut. They do OK in snow, but we needed to keep wheel speed down to maintain whatever forward progress can be had spinning the tires faster usually won't dig down to the trail, just turn the snow to ice.
We put about 10,000 miles on these tires and are very happy with the wear or lack thereof. We beat the heck out of them with a bunch of high-speed desert abuse and some rock abuse and they are still OK. Overall, we like the carcass and the idea of a stouter all terrain but this wouldn't be our first choice if any mudding is involved. Rocks, desert, and daily driving are all good to go.
- Kevlar ply in tread
- Good in snow
- Problems clearing mud
- Better suited for heavier vehicle
- Would do better in rocks with beadlocks