Tires are a staple of our industry and one of the most important parts of a Jeep. Without a properly shod 4x4, you won’t be having much fun in the dirt, or mud, or sand, or even highway. That last pavement pickle is the real stickler for 90 percent of our market. We all want gnarly looking and long lasting mudslinging tires that wear like iron and ride like a pillow. Fortunately, this type of tire is actually available now and in all the popular sizes: welcome to the Toyo Open Country R/T. This tire may not be the most aggressive, and it’s probably not the longest lasting (although it’s rated at 45,000 miles), and it’s not the smoothest riding, yet because it still excels in all those areas, it may be the best bang for the buck. This type of tire is known as a “tweener”—not a full mud-rated tire like the Toyo Open Country M/T but not as well mannered as the Open Country A/T. It’s the perfect combination of all of a tire’s good qualities, without the drawbacks, noise, harshness, or weakness.
The tread blocks are unique and not too aggressive, while still providing good traction. It’s a wide and square shoulder that still flexes well enough to handle rocks. Stone ejectors, sipes, and all the regular top-end features are included. The Optimized Pattern Arrangement (yeah that’s what they call it) actually does a great job of keeping the sound down and providing great traction.
We mounted up a set of 37x13.50R17LT on some Method beadlock wheels and headed to the desert to try the tires. Our first surprise was the noise level—or lack thereof. Sure, we drive a big, loud, open Jeep and sometimes need earplugs to save our hearing, but the new meats were surprisingly quiet. We’ve tested many a mud tire on the Jeep and know what noise is, both on and off the road. These tires were quiet at 35 psi as they were at 10 and at speeds from 10 to 75 mph. After a weekend of thrashing them through every terrain but snow, we were pleasantly surprised at the good road manners, great wet and dry pavement traction, super flotation in sand, and mud traction. Our only complaint was that they didn’t flex as well as some smaller tires with a lower load rating, but then again, we were running a D-rated tire on a 4,000-pound Jeep, not a 10,000-pound tow rig. Even at that, the tires flexed well enough in the rock garden to grab and go without any slippage. We figure that given the good wear quality, we will get way more than 45,000 miles on them before it’s time to turn them in.
We took the tires mounted on Method wheels down to our local Discount Tire store (America’s Tire in California) for top-notch balancing. They averaged between 2 and 4 ounces each, resulting in a smooth, vibration-free ride.
Size Tested: 37x13.50R17LT
Load Range: D
Maximum Load (lb @ psi): 3,195@50
Sidewall: Three-ply Duragen
Tread: Radial steel belted
Approved Rim Width (in): 8.5-11.0
Tread Depth (in): 18.9⁄32
Tread Width (in): 11.0
Section Width (in): 13.6
Overall Diameter (in): 36.8
Weight (lb): 84.0
Method make a wide assortment of race, rally, UTV, and street wheels, but this beadlocked 24-bolt model 105 is our favorite. They even have adjustment shims available for those tires that may have a larger bead bundle. With the deep drop center, it was far easier to mount these to the Toyos compared to other wheels.
Fast dirt driving showed us the excellent lateral stability of the tread and three-ply carcass. While they have a Q speed rating of 99 mph, we doubt we’ll ever hit that number. Scooting down sandy washes and dirt roads showed that they had the chops to take on the terrain.
Rocks are fun, and this pile we ran the tires on showed the R/Ts were up to the test. Slow speed crawling is an art, where slippage is not acceptable. The proper combination of torque input to the tires allowed the improved rubber compound to grip instead of slip. Throttling up also made for noise, smoke, and forward motion! Note that at 10 psi the tread wrapped around the rocks well. We could have gone lower pressure, but it wasn’t necessary.
Mud can be more fun. Horsepower is what it takes to sling some goo, and the Open Country R/T took all we could send them. When a tire spins the idea is for the mud to fly out, giving the tread elements a fresh biting surface. While not a dedicated mud tire, these rubber donuts performed so well we hit the pit again and again without fear, even idling in to save some stuck brethren.
This shows how the square block style of the tire collects the mud, and then ejects it at speed. We found the pattern effective in wet and dry roads, mud, sand, and rock. Snow would have been fun, but Southern California has little to choose from.
Aggressive treads are said to work poorly in the sand, but we have found that to not necessarily be the case. Aired down to 10 psi, they floated and grabbed, and even at the initial 35 psi, they performed more than adequately.