Do you live in an area that gets snow and ice? If so, you may be very interested in Cooper Tire & Rubber Company’s fascinating new Discoverer A/TW tire. Why? Well, this all-terrain tire has been infused with features that enhance its performance in the white stuff.
Cooper says that the A/TW far exceeds the standards set to achieve the severe winter rating for superior snow capability. What’s the story with the rating? Well, this rating is earned only if a tire achieves at least 10 percent more acceleration grip compared to an industry benchmark tire. Features that help the A/TW excel in snow and ice include Micro-Gauge Corrugated Siping (this is high-density siping that offers numerous biting edges that are critical to gaining traction on snow and ice), SNOWGROOVE 2.0 Technology (opposing grooves on the edges of the tread elements act as gripping agents in snow conditions to help hold more snow in the tread, which in turn acts to create snow-on-snow grip that is stronger than just rubber-on-snow traction), and Coupled Silica Compound (unique polymers, silica, and other materials coupled together in such a way as to improve wet grip, ice traction, and rolling resistance).
Was the A/TW only designed as a winter tire? Nope. Its heart is an all-terrain tire, and Cooper says it has the same overall sidewall and tread construction as the durable Discoverer A/T3 all-terrain tire. The A/TW sports features designed to keep you moving in the mud, sand, rocks, and loose soil, including Chevron Grooves (four wide circumferential grooves to provide a large number of biting edges and provide self-cleaning) and Cut & Chip Compound Additives (unique additives in the tread compound that resist the tread’s tendency to be cut and chipped in off-road, aggressive gravel, flint, or other stony driving conditions).
Naturally, street manners were also a critical factor in the A/TW’s design. Twin Tie-Bars provide added stability to the tread elements and reduce stone retention, large lateral grooves aid in water evacuation from the tread footprint, which improves hydroplane resistance, and there’s Computer Optimized Pitch Sequence, which means the pitch sequence of the tread elements are specially arranged to evenly disperse pattern-generated noise for reduced in-vehicle noise.
All this sounds impressive, but how does the A/TW work in the real world? Well, we had the chance to test the tire long before it became available to the general public. Cooper offered us a set of A/TWs at the tail end of winter in 2014, and this gave us some real-world experience with the tire over the course of several months in a variety of conditions. The tires we tested, a set of E-rated LT265/70R17-size tires, were installed on a set of 8.5-inch-wide Dick Cepek Torque wheels bolted on to our ’05 Dodge Power Wagon.
Full disclosure: The tires arrived at our northern Illinois Four Wheelermidwest bureau two days before all the snow had melted from the 2014 winter season, so snow testing was quick and limited. We had the opportunity to do some low-speed testing in about 3-4 inches of granular snow that had been through numerous freeze/thaw cycles. Traction with the tires at 50 psi (max for the tire we tested was 80 psi) was very good, and the A/TWs bit into the snow and propelled the truck forward far better than we had anticipated. So good in fact, that during testing to climb a steep 4-foot-tall snow pile created by plowing, the tires didn’t spin and throw snow for a photo as anticipated. Instead, they bit into the snow and helped to launch the truck onto the top of the pile, which then high-centered the rig leaving all four tires off the ground. About the time you read this, snow will be reappearing and we’ll be testing the tires further in an effort to ascertain a number of things, including handling at speed and braking traction on both ice and snow, so keep an eye on fourwheeler.com for a testing update on the A/TW tire.
As stated earlier, the A/TW isn’t just a winter tire, so it was important to see how it handled and how well it wore when not on snow and ice. We put thousands of road miles on the tire throughout the summer and found it to be a well-wearing, very smooth tire. It was very quiet at speed thanks to the Computer Optimized Pitch Sequence, and when tossing the Power Wagon through corners, the tire provided ample traction. We had no complaints when driving in the rain in regards to handling, accelerating, or braking. Even on wet pavement, in two-wheel drive, with an empty cargo bed, the tires stayed connected to the ground to propel the truck forward even under mid-heavy throttle. Prior to this, we’ve tested tires in the same situation and they’ve lost traction on wet pavement, which required us to use four-wheel drive.
We purposely mistreated the A/TW off-road. On one of our rutted test trails we stuffed the sidewalls into the rock-and-dirt rut walls repeatedly in an effort to test sidewall durability. No problems there. We also purposely took the wrong line off-road to see how the tires would perform, like perching the tread of the tire on the edge of the dirt ruts to gauge the lateral traction of the tire. The tire stayed put, at least until the rut wall collapsed. We were surprised at how well the A/TW shed mud. It’s no mud tire, but it did very well at cleaning itself when wheelspin was applied. We figured that the tire would load up with mud due to the Snowgroove 2.0 Technology that was designed to hold snow in the tread. Interestingly, that wasn’t the case. We were able to maneuver in thin, greasy, springtime mud with no problem and far better than a standard street tire.
In the end, we can’t find a reason to not run the Discoverer A/TW on a 4x4 that is used in climates that experience snow and ice. Our testing (so far) hasn’t provided us with any glaring downside to the tire, either in winter or summer. We’ll have more in a future update on fourwheeler.com, so stay tuned. The A/TW is available now at Cooper dealers.
Tire: Cooper Discoverer A/TW
Load range: E
Max load (lbs): 3,195 (SRW), 2,910 (DRW)
Sidewall construction: Two-ply
Tread construction: One-ply nylon, two-ply steel, two-ply polyester
Approved rim width (in): 7.0-8.5
Tread depth (in): 16.5/32
Tread width (in): 8.58
Section width (in): 10.9
Overall diameter (in): 31.65
Maximum psi: 80
Weight (lbs): 51
A/TW Sizing At this time, the A/TW is available in 10 SUV sizes and 13 light-truck sizes in 16-20–inch wheel diameters. Cooper says that in March 2015, it will roll out five new sizes for SUVs in 16 and 17-inch wheel diameters and four new light-truck sizes for 16-18–inch wheel diameters.