Pirelli Scorpion All Terrain Plus: Taking the New Pirelli All-Terrain on a 15,000-Mile Torture Test

    Testing the new Pirelli Scorpion All Terrain Plus

    Jered KorfhagePhotographer, Writer

    With a name like Pirelli, you might not expect to find the company’s new tire anywhere but on the tarmac, clocking high-speed laps and apexing every chicane. Interestingly, that was precisely our first experience with the Pirelli Scorpion All Terrain Plus—and we were so intrigued that we wanted to learn more.

    We met the previous iteration of Pirelli’s all-terrain tire, the Scorpion ATR, more than a decade ago in the Nevada desert, and the tire has since been heavily reimagined. We were told emphasis was put toward building a tire that was visually appealing and capable off-road, while making no sacrifices to handling on the blacktop. Engineers even addressed the tire’s performance in wet grass, identifying an off-road niche they claim to be frequently overlooked. Our initial rendezvous with the tire was inspiring (yet brief), so we decided to get chummy with the Pirelli Scorpion All Terrain Plus between Ohio and California, driving in everything from thick mud and rocky washes to blizzards and sand dunes.

    The Mud

    Summer in Ohio means rain, and rain not only makes corn but mud as well. The blue-gray sludge has the sucking power of your shop vacuum, the consistency of cold pudding, and it is where we sunk our new Pirelli tires the same day we got ’em mounted. The 15/32-inch-deep treads fought the mud to the best of their ability, and despite being at street pressure, they succeeded at pulling our Jeep through a severely rutted backwoods trail, with the help of the moderately sized shoulder lugs and some momentum.

    The Road

    Once we flung the mud from the tires, the highway portion of the test started in a big way—driving the open interstates from Ohio to California. Having stepped into our new Pirelli shoes from a set of mud tires, we were pleased that highway noise was next to imperceptible. The tires took minimal weight to balance, tracked straight on the pavement, and appeared to be right at home on the surface we spend the majority of our time driving. When the summertime thunderstorms left the highways resembling small waterways, we were thankful for the tread grooves and their diligent direction of water out from beneath the tires, preventing hydroplaning even at highway speeds and during braking.

    The Rocks

    Although we wouldn’t pick the Pirelli Scorpion All Terrain Plus for our next dedicated rock buggy, we made darn sure to test them out on a few ’crawling adventures. Seeing as street pressure gave these tires as much sidewall flex as a regulation basketball, we broke out the deflator and dropped them down to about 20 psi. Sure enough, the contact patch increased and the sidewalls flowed around the boulders, giving us the grip we needed as we expertly picked lines through rugged rock gardens. The weakest link in the new Scorpion is the two-ply sidewall, and extra care is required if you spend more of your time among jagged rocks.

    The Gravel

    To keep our off-road desires satisfied on the journey from Ohio to California, we planned dirt detours at least once every 24 hours. While crossing America’s Heartland, that meant a handful of gravel county roads to break from the monotonous pavement. If a solid portion of your off-highway driving is graded dirt and gravel, then the Pirelli Scorpion seems to be formulated just for you. Of the 15,000 total miles we drove on these tires, the second most prevalent terrain was dirt/gravel roads, and we cruised happily without worrying about punctures or losing traction in the turns. Galloping through roads seemingly paved with fist-sized rocks, a situation where we’ve seen mud-terrains lose noticeable chunks of rubber, the Scorpions emerged largely unscathed.

    The Snow

    Though our Jeep spent the winter in California, there were ample amounts of white stuff within weekend-exploration distance, and it was not uncommon to see flakes flying during our travels. The best part of snowy roads with the Pirelli Scorpion All Terrain Plus tires? The Three-Peak Mountain Snowflake symbol emblazoned on the sidewalls. When other motorists were begrudgingly fastening snow chains to their 2WD sedans, we cruised slowly past them with warm smiles as our tires bit into the frosty roads. The tighter spacing of the tread blocks and generous siping were visually similar to dedicated snow tires, and they performed as such.

    Our best snow experiences were during snowfall and in moderate accumulations of freshly fallen snow. The rubber compound stayed pliable and the sipes kept biting, keeping us plowing through the trails like a horse-drawn sleigh.

    The Sand

    Whether it was just-for-fun laps at the dunes or many miles deep into a backcountry wash, we were not disappointed with the Scorpion’s sand performance. Perhaps it was the desert-dwelling creature that inspired the tire’s name, or the fact that flotation was commendable at both reduced and street air pressures. Again, it is by no means a sand paddle, but we did not have to consult our trail shovels or recovery gear once while testing in the sand.

    Thoughts After 15,000 Miles

    This tire is worth your attention. Its happy place was dry to moderately wet dirt and gravel, pressure dropped to roughly 25 psi, cruising at a spritely pace, with the sidewalls absorbing the irregularities in the trail. Ride this tire on the pavement and you’ll easily believe it was purpose-built to be there. Drive in the snow as much as you do the gravel? This is your tire. Will it still get you home from a day in the dunes, rocks, or mud ruts? Absolutely. Does it give that trail-ready curb appeal? You bet.

    Specifications (as tested)

    Tire: Pirelli Scorpion All Terrain Plus
    Size: 285/70R17
    Type: Radial all-terrain
    Load range: D
    Max load (lb): 3,200@65 psi
    Sidewall construction: 2-ply polyester
    Tread construction: 2-ply polyester, 2-ply steel, 2-ply nylon
    Approved rim width (in): 7.5-9
    Tread depth (in): 15/32
    Section width (in): 11.5
    Overall diameter (in): 32.8
    Maximum psi: 65
    Weight (lb): 54