Yokohama Geolandar X-AT Review: Snow Tires?
See how Yokohama’s new all-terrain grinds us through an early-season snowstorm.
We gave the Yokohama Geolandar X-AT a brief review during a test drive in the Nevada desert (read more about that HERE), and ever since, we've been itching to put the company's newest all-terrain tire to work on our own 4x4.
To make that dream a reality, we got ahold of five Yokohama Geolandar X-AT tires for our 2005 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited, the unofficial tire-testing LJ. The Yokohama Geolandar X-AT can be found in many popular sizes including 37x13.50R22, 35x12.50R17, and 31x10.5R15 in the flotation department; and LT325/60R20, LT285/70R17, and LT265/65R17 for those who want metric-sized tires. See the full sizing breakdown for the Yokohama Geolandar X-AT HERE.
Because our LJ exists without suspension modifications or aftermarket wheels, we chose 31x10.50R15 Yokohama Geolandar X-AT tires to avoid any rubbing or fender contact during articulation. After installation, we confirmed the tires' diameter to be 30.7 inches (some all-terrains can run up to a half-inch below their advertised diameters). Enough with the formalities, it's time to hit the snow.
With snow in the forecast for the mountains, that meant rain for the lower elevations—and we wasted no time splashing into it. The Yokohama Geolandar X-AT gave us no issues with hydroplaning whether we were commuting through town or using the interstate at the posted speed limits. As we increased elevation and rain turned to snow, it was important to note the Yokohama Geolandar X-AT does not carry the three-peak mountain snowflake emblem. Regardless, our test vehicle always carries snow chains to abide by all highway regulations, so we pushed forth.
Compared to other all-terrain tires, the Yokohama Geolandar X-AT didn't appear to have as many sipes (the narrowest gaps within the tread blocks), which could affect its performance on hard-packed snow.
Nonetheless, we found grip on the snowy highways to be right on par with what you might expect from an all-terrain tire. Since our Wrangler is not equipped with antilock brakes, we were also able to test the stopping distances on slush and snow. The tires grabbed onto the frozen ground predictably enough to keep us within the lanes and out of danger.
Detouring from the snow-covered pavement, we decreased tire pressure to about 15 psi, enough to see some sidewall bulge in our Yokohama Geolandar X-AT tires. Trails ranged from snotty red mud and slushy puddles to fresh powder drifting right over the tops of our snow boots. Our tires kept enough contact with the ground to power us up rutted climbs without packing the tread patches. Sidewall lugs come in two patterns (Summit and Mesa, one on each sidewall) and give a helping dosage of bite in deep ruts, especially when tire pressure is decreased. Again, "predictable" was the descriptor when we sawed the wheel to and fro during turns. The X-ATs held their ground beneath the front of the Jeep to keep us on the trail, and the rear tires only broke loose when we blipped the throttle in search of a fun slide. When the white stuff became deep, the tires clawed through the fluff valiantly until our progress was limited by the LJ's ground clearance, not traction.
Coming down from the mountain, we sure were glad to have the Yokohama Geolandar X-ATs on the Jeep versus the street tires it normally wears. Likewise, the all-terrains' performance on the snowy highways was noticeably more controlled than it is with mud-terrain tires we've used. Check back with us as we put the X-ATs through more on- and off-road testing with rocks, sand, mud, and more in the coming months!