We’re lucky. Modern tire technology has improved immensely in the last decade or so. There was a time when buying high-traction mud tires meant putting up with hard rubber compounds, relatively poor road handling, so-so ride comfort, and the obligatory road howl from running high-void treads. Today, radial, mud-terrain tire design is a whole new ballgame and it’s for the better. Granted, we are not talking about ultra-aggressive, dedicated mud treads but rather those that can dig into the weekend goo effectively, claw some rocks, and still hit the pavement in a refined way come Monday morning.
Yokohama Tire Company has served the U.S. marketplace since 1969 when it opened an office in Montebello, California. With global headquarters in Tokyo, Yokohama is celebrating its 100th anniversary in 2017. In 1982, the company introduced the popular Super Digger off-road tire, followed in 1995 by the Geolandar tire line. Over the years the line has expanded. There are now four Geolandar tires in the lineup.
We traveled to Gateway, Colorado for the introduction of Yokohama’s latest Geolandar, the M/T G003. It is a mud-terrain tire designed to offer drivers an aggressive tread pattern while still maintaining civil highway manners that consumers are more often expecting from this type of tire.
Yokohama’s designers used computers to create tread patterns, then tested prototype tires to gain the characteristics they wanted and that would exceed the performance of the previous generation of mud-terrains. The ratio of tread block to void was optimized and siping strategically added to increase traction and shorten stopping distances. Cut- and chip-resistance was a high priority, as was better wet surface braking. Tread elements, such as mud and stone ejectors, were added. Trapped stones can cause what is referred to as stone drilling, where repeated impact with the tire surface can damage the tire.
This tire was meant to provide long-lasting highway mileage with effective off-road traction. As such, Yokohama wanted a design that was quieter than the previous generation. The designers incorporated tread pitch variation to reduce the harmonics that cause tire howl on pavement.
We had the chance to try the tires in a 35-inch size on four-door Jeep JK Wranglers. Upon rolling onto pavement, we were pleased to note the absence of significant tire noise. For a mud-terrain tread, these tires are well on the quiet side. All on-road manners inspired confidence for a tire of this nature, and comfort and handling were good. Our time in the dirt was mostly over mild Jeep trails on which the tires did well and were comfortable for a tire of this type.
For those drivers looking for a mud-terrain tire for all-purpose wheeling and friendly highway use, the new G003 looks promising. It will be available in a wide range of sizes to fit most any vehicle. From a more aggressive use standpoint, many of us that crawl rocks but also do street driving look to mud tires for our rigs. The Yokohamas come with a three-ply construction on D- and E-rated tires, so it would be good to see how well they hold up under low air pressure and when subjected to rocky challenges.