Continental TerrainContact A/T First LookPosted in How To: Wheels Tires on December 14, 2016
Continental Tire went all-in with the new TerrainContact A/T, the company’s first tire in the all-terrain segment. We recently traveled to Pennsylvania for the unveiling of the new tire and heard the impressive backstory about its development, design goals, and testing procedure prior to getting a few hours of drive time on the new treads.
According to Continental, the TerrainContact A/T is aimed for late-model pickups and SUVs with a “premium package.” It’s geared for the truck owner who spends the majority of time on-road but needs more off-road traction. The tire was designed to meld on-road quiet comfort with all-terrain durability and style.
To accomplish these goals, the tire underwent a three-year development and testing procedure, including new testing methods. The tally included more than 100 hours of computer simulation, 12,000-plus hours of machine testing, required more than 1,500 tires tested, and more than 1,000,000 miles of machine testing. All told, the tire was tested for more than 2,000,000 miles both on- and off-road.
The TerrainContact A/T features the debut of TractionPlus Technology. Defined, this means that the tire provides traction and durability via an open pattern and large stable tread blocks to enhance off-road performance, while on-road the tire has the hallmarks that Continental fans have come to expect. The tread compound contains the patented +Silane material, which helps to provide excellent wet traction. Contributing to a quiet, comfortable ride is noise blockers and pattern shifting. To help performance in snowy climates, the TerrainContact A/T has Traction Grooves, which provide gripping teeth inside the groove that lock snow for improved snow grip while full-depth sipes aid in snow and ice traction.
Continental turned us loose on a wet braking test area, which was a water-saturated aircraft runway. We were able to experience the TerrainContact A/T’s performance and handling during full-on wet braking and compare the TerrainContact’s braking distance from 55-0 mph to the distance of some competitor’s tires. Even without the comparison, it was clear that the TerrainContact A/T is a very good wet weather tire. Grip and control during hard, mash-the-pedal braking was excellent. It appeared that Continental’s focus on best-in-class wet braking had paid off.
Among other things, we drove late-model Ford Super Duty pickups equipped with the TerrainContact A/T on a variety of paved and gravel roads. There was no hardcore off-roading on the docket, which makes sense considering that the tire wasn’t designed for that. On-road, the tire was stable and smooth and the strong shoulders helped keep the big Super Dutys planted on curvy roads. The tire was also exceptionally quiet at speed, which was one of the major goals during the design of the tire and points back to the aforementioned design features like the noise blockers on the shoulders of the tire. On loose gravel and dirt roads, the tire performed admirably, returning very good traction as the tire conformed to the road surface. The tire resisted picking up small stones and pebbles and the ride quality was outstanding.
We see a lot of potential in the TerrainContact A/T as a capable all-season, multi-terrain tire for a daily driven 4x4. We’re hoping to get a set of Continental’s TerrainContact A/Ts for a long-term test, and if that happens, we plan to run them through the gamut, including snow testing. Stay tuned.