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Mickey Thompson Baja Pro XS Review: 7,000-Mile Torture Test

You know you want this tire, just look at it.

Jered KorfhageAuthor, Photography

We tested the Mickey Thompson Baja Pro XS over 7,000 miles in mud, rocks, more mud, roots, mud, rocks, gravel, and more muddy rocks—and here's what we thought of the company's newest off-road rubber.

This tire grabs hard—punishing the mud, putting rocks in a rubbery chokehold, and demanding attention from the trailhead to the beachfront. Before we even got ahold of the Mickey Thompson Baja Pro XS, we were aware of the accolade bestowed upon the tire: the world's tallest D.O.T.-approved light-truck tire. Yes, you can buy them in sizes up to 58 inches (that's almost five feet tall), and drive 'em on the road, no problem.

"Streetable." That's the S in the Mickey Thompson Baja Pro XS's name and part of what separates it from its off-road-use-only cousin. Mickey Thompson refined the design of the Baja Pro XS by adding sipes, narrowing the gaps between tread blocks, and constructing the sidewalls from four plies of nylon, just to name a few of the tire's facets. The resulting rubber is a flat-out formidable weapon of dirt domination overbuilt for off-road and with just enough street manners to get you to the trails.

In addition to the chart-topping 58-inch-diameter size, the Mickey Thompson Baja Pro XS is offered in nine more enthusiast-oriented denominations including 54-, 49-, 46-, 43-, 40-, 38-, and 35-inch varieties. When the smallest size in a lineup is 35 inches, you know the tire means business. We began our experience with the Mickey Thompson Baja Pro XS tires by visiting the 4WD professionals at 4 Wheel Parts, who had mounted and balanced our 35x13.50R17LT rubbers on the Mickey Thompson SD-5 wheels in no time at all. While we were at 4 Wheel Parts, the staff showed us around the company's full showroom of off-road equipment and reminded us that the on-site ASE-certified technicians perform everything from suspension upgrades and bumper installations to regular vehicle maintenance. And with that, we began our 7,000-mile torture test, which included greasy mountain boulders and jagged sandstone ledges, oceanside sand and midwestern pancake batter mud pits. Read on for snapshots of what we learned about the Baja Pro XS tires during the journey.

Fresh off the lift at 4 Wheel Parts from the professional mount-and-balance job, this is the cleanest we would ever see the Mickey Thompson Baja Pro XS tires..

With a 13.5-inch-wide footprint, the Mickey Thompson Baja Pro XS had the surface area to keep our Jeep afloat on the sand both on the beach and when our trails winded through dunes.

Our Mickey Thompson Baja Pro XS tires were right at home at Rausch Creek Off-Road Park, where the terrain was largely black mud and pebbled limestone.

Gaping voids between the tread blocks appeared to be largely gravel-phobic as we cruised stone-strewn backroads. Where you might be used to your tires firing a barrage of rocks toward the ionosphere, the Mickey Thompson Baja Pro XS left the pebbles on the two-track, but picked up the occasional fist-sized rock, instead. Shown here sans glop and resembling cafeteria serving spoons, we enjoyed watching the concave Mud Scoops on the shoulder blocks working overtime when we entered the sticky stuff.

We dropped the pressure in our Mickey Thompson Baja Pro XS to just above 10 psi and let the four-ply nylon sidewalls work their magic. Craning our necks out the driver's window, we found happiness in watching as the tires crept up to sandstone ledges, spinning for a brief moment, searching for grip like a climber's fingertips feeling a cliff's edge for the next hold. Sidebiters would encircle the rocks like the legs of a millipede and lift the Jeep up and over the obstacle.

Phrases like "looks like a caterpillar track," and "wraps like a wet rag" can be used to describe the aired-down performance of the Mickeys on the rocks. Whether the terrain was wet roots, mucousy mud, or slick rock, the treads fought to keep us tracking straight, refusing to let the Jeep slide sideways.

Even though they appear to be packed with sludge, the Baja Pro XS tires were never short on biting edges, and with a bit of wheel spin, the directional treads and four-pitch Sidebiters were quick to evacuate the crud and plow us through even the most heinous mire.

Fans of Mickey Thompson's Baja Claw TTC will be able to spot cues that carried over into the design on the Baja Pro XS.

We plunged differential-first into some of the Midwest's most unpleasant mud, whose suction is known to devour less-prepared rigs. Although the deeper pits took some work and forced us to stand on the gas, we never found ourselves stuck.

Bottom Line

After 7,000 miles off and on the trails, we found the Mickey Thompson Baja Pro XS tires to be downright outrageous. Their head-turning demeanor attracted attention before the rubber even hit the trail, and their performance in the absence of traction spoke even louder. Speaking of volume, the bias-ply construction and vicious tread pattern was designed so that you can leave the trailer at home on the way to the off-road destination. As expected, that came with the cargo plane howl at freeway speed. However, the tires balanced easily and tolerated the pavement stints without hassle. We feel as if 7,000 miles only just got the tires "broken in," even despite the generous time spent on the blacktop, and we'd confidently wheel this outrageous set of off-road rubbers for many thousands of miles more.