It's a bit strange that more four-wheelers aren't familiar with Hankook tires. After all, Hankook is the seventh-largest tire manufacturer in the world and has been making tires since 1941. Yet, unless the family car came with a set, or at least the spare was a Hankook, many have never even heard the name before. Well, with 350-some brands on the market, few people know them all, so that is excusable, just as if you assumed that "MT" stood for mud terrain. In this case, it's short for Maximum Traction.
From a purely visual standpoint, the DynaPro's 9.8-inch-wide tread doesn't appear particularly newsworthy and is actually quite familiar looking. You'd likely think you've seen this pattern before, several years ago and before computer-generated designs became the norm. Be that as it may, there is definitely something about this MT RT03 that makes the tire work very well.
Despite its contemporary carcass consisting of two plies of polyester, two steel belts, and two nylon caps, the DynaPro features an unusually flexible tread area, helped by the openness of the 19/32-inch-deep tread. This would explain its trail prowess as the tire can better conform to trail obstacles and thereby get better traction, but it does nothing to rationalize the Hankook's good street manners.
Not expecting much in the way of highway friendliness from this aggressive mud tire, we didn't even bother balancing the RT03s after mounting them on a set of aluminum 15x10 wheels. That was a mistake-or more specifically, two. Partially because the tires really could've used a balancing job, and also since it turned out that the DynaPro is perfectly acceptable on the pavement.
With the industry-standard varying-size shoulder lugs, we didn't expect the MT RT03 to be painfully loud on the highway, but we certainly weren't prepared for how quiet the Hankook turned out to be-for a tread of this kind. At 75 mph a slight hum was all that could be heard-in a not-particularly-quiet test vehicle, but still. Also, this vehicle is notorious for tracking, yet there wasn't any to be felt with the DynaPros, even on stretches of road that normally try to get the steering wheel off-center. All in all, this MT stuck to the pavement very well, rode very smoothly, didn't bark at slow turns or act up because of the rear Detroit Locker on twisty canyon roads, and handled really well for a 10-inch-tall sidewall. Obviously, steering response wasn't as crisp as it could've been with an 18-inch-diameter rim, but then this tire was primarily designed for dirt, not road racing, and we'd rather have some sidewall deflection on pavement than a short sidewall in the dirt. Besides, a tire with this type of tread won't last all that long when subjected to aggressive driving, anyway.
If the Hankook's pavement abilities were a pleasant surprise, performance in the dirt certainly didn't disappoint either. The RT03 happily climbed rocks and motored up and down loose and hard-packed dirt hills with unusual ease. We're sure that the aforementioned flexibility of the tread area has a lot to do with this, and the MTs actually outdid a set of custom-grooved bias-ply tires. Granted, those bias-ply treads are old and nowhere near as pliable as they once were, but it's nice to see a nylon-capped radial flex so well. Of course, the tread also played a role, working very well in loose dirt and silt. A DynaPro MT would surely do quite well in mud with its large void-ratio tread in a traditional mud-friendly design.
We still can't quite figure it out. The Hankook DynaPro MT looks much like the treads of the past, yet seems to work so much better. Either naming them "Maximum Traction" worked, or Hankook's engineers did a really good job. It's probably the latter.
Tire: Hankook DynaPro MT RT03
Load range: C
Max load (lb @ psi): 2,535 @ 35
Sidewall: 2-ply polyester
Tread: 2-ply polyester, 2-ply steel, 2-ply nylon
Approved rim width (in): 8.5-11 (10)
Tread depth (in): 19/32
Tread width (in): 9.8
Section width (in): 12.9
Overall diameter (in): 34.8
Static loaded radius (in): 15.8
Revolutions per mile: 597
Weight (lb): 62.3
Test vehicle: 3,550-pound Willys Jeep