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Nitto Exo Grappler AWT Tire Test

Posted in Product Reviews on March 31, 2015
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When Nitto injected the Exo Grappler AWT into the well-versed Grappler line, we were excited to see what the “all-weather tire” had to offer. Clearly more aggressive than the company’s all-terrain staple, the Terra Grappler, the Exo Grappler AWT put Nitto square into ring of the growing market of aggressive all-terrain tires. Fit with wide tread blocks, deep voids, and gracious amounts of biting edges, the Exo Grappler AWT not only has a unique look but a Three Peak Mountain Snowflake rating. We could have tested these tires under one of our lightweight wheelers, but it was clear by the E-only load range offerings that these tires were meant for a heavy-duty truck.

To put the tires to work, we strapped them under our ’14 Ram 2500. Equipped with a Cummins diesel engine and substantial solid-axles, our 3⁄4-ton 4x4 hauler was exactly what these tires were designed for. Since our truck is still stock height, we opted for a factory replacement size of 275/70R18. With a load rating of 3,640 pounds, it was more than capable of supporting our pickup’s max payload.

While two different sidewall patterns come standard, what’s more impressive is the tires three-ply sidewall. Capable of supporting 3,640 pounds, the load range E tire is a great fit for the weight and performance demands of our 3⁄4-ton truck. For those of you who frequent as many gravel roads as we do, you will be happy to know that the stone ejectors in the tread are actually very effective.

Going from stock highway radials to the Exo Grappler AWTs was like moving from housing slippers to hiking boots. The noise difference was definitely noticeable but not any louder than other aggressive all-terrain tires we have tested. As we mentioned, these tires can hold a considerable amount of weight. This equated to a very stiff sidewall, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing in our application.

We found around 50 psi worked great in the rear and the factory-suggested 60 psi upfront was plenty. Those tire pressures are for your daily commute. If you are towing heavy loads, you’ll need to bump up the rear. Fortunately, we didn’t notice any real fuel economy penalty with the tires and found the street manners to be stable and smooth, especially in wet weather. Overall, we found the tire’s street manners were very similar to that of the Terra Grappler, which was a pleasant surprise.

Nitto spent a significant amount of time fine-tuning the Exo Grappler AWTs tread design. The staggered and heavily siped tread blocks offer a tremendous assortment of biting edges, while the pitch of the block keeps the road noise down. A unique tread compound was also used to help combat damage and chipping often associated with off-road driving.

Off-road, the tires did not disappoint. While we avoided deep mud, the tires performed great over the sandy and loamy Southeastern soil. Again, these are workhorse tires. For where most of you (and us included) would take your tow rig, they will work great. We did drop down the pressure to the high 30s when cruising off-road for a substantial period of time. This helped tremendously with the ride quality and grip. Sadly, we only briefly had a bout with snow. For our short mountain jaunt, we were impressed at how well the tires kept the truck planted over the white stuff. We were also equally impressed with the Subaru Outback that was battling the powder behind us. So, take that for what you will.

In the Grappler line, the Exo Grappler AWT is exactly what the company needed. It performs better than your average all-terrain tire without sacrificing on-road performance. The fact that it comes with holes to accommodate TSMI #15 studs, also speaks to its serious winter-weather intentions. Ultimately, the Exo lives up to it’s all-weather-terrain badge rather well, and we look forward to seeing what kind of mileage we can pull out of these under our heavy-weight pickup.

Tire: Nitto Exo Grappler AWT
Size: 275/70R18
Type: Radial
Load range: E
Max load (lbs): 3,640
Sidewall construction: Three-ply polyester
Tread construction: Two-ply steel, three-ply polyester, two-ply nylon
Approved rim width (in): 7-8.5
Tread depth (in): 18.4⁄32
Section width (in): 10.98
Overall diameter (in): 33.43
Maximum psi: 80


Nitto Tire
Cypress, CA 90630

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