In the world of off road, tire selection is likely the single most important consideration of your setup for one main reason – your tires are the only part of your rig that actually touch the rugged terrain beneath. For a point A to point B passenger car that never sees dirt, the difference between a good and bad tire can be pretty mineute whereas in contrast, the difference between a good and bad tire on an off road rig can be the difference between getting home and getting stranded in the middle of nowhere.
For those of us that like to go places that roads don’t, there are tire companies out there that share the same enthusiasm for the road less traveled. One company that likes to be on the leading edge of off road innovation is Georgia-based Toyo Tires who has been serving up innovative tire technology since 1966. Manufacturing premium replacement tires for just about any kind of high performance vehicle on the market is rooted into their DNA – as is their commitment to the off road community.
Their most prominently displayed off road advertising campaign has been through the sponsorship of BJ Baldwin’s Trophy Truck racing team and through the series of viral videos sponsored by Toyo Tires that features Baldwin’s trucks, Recoil and Recoil 2. With thier commitment, Toyo Tires has put off road racing in front of the eyes of the general public through a series of national commercials that show off the tremendous capabilities of high end off road trucks – so when they called us asking if we wanted to try out their latest off road creation, the Open Country R/T, we had to jump at the opportunity.
How The Tire Stacks Up
The two largest segments in off road tires are all terrain tires and mud terrain tires. Toyo Tires currently offers the Open Country M/T, which stands for Maximum Traction, but resembles a mud terrain pattern, as well as their all terrain offering, the Open Country A/T II. With tremendous success from both products, we were a bit curious to know where their new Open Country R/T fit in their lineup so we got in contact with their media contact, Jay Jones to get it right from the source.
From our conversation with Jones, it is clear that the Open Country R/T is designed to be a hybrid off road tire combining aggressive mud terrain styling with the ride quality and “go anywhere” design of an all terrain tire.
“Toyo defined a segment of enthusiasts who really want to split the difference between the Open Country A/T II and the Open Country M/T. Some may consider an Open Country M/T to be a little on the audible side on the highway, even though it is considered a quiet product for that segment, and yet they still want great traction. The Open Country R/T’s center section leans more towards an all terrain design for a quieter ride but also includes mud claw biting blocks. The outer portion of the tread area on the Open Country R/T really reflects more of an M/T influence, as it is more aggressive than the Open Country A/T II,” said Jones.
Featuring a three-ply casing, stone and mud ejectors, a 45,000-mile warranty, and wide shoulder lugs, the Open Country R/T is designed to be a great daily-driven tire that is quieter than a mud terrain, but still allows the driver to have traction on demand when needed. According to Jones, “Probably the most unique feature of the Open Country R/T over other Open Country products is that it offers two distinctive sidewall designs for personalization. Essentially, the look of the sidewall is different on opposing sides.” We found this to be both innovative and unique as it gives the customer the opportunity to really pick and choose the overall look they are after with thier rig.
Finally, features are all well and good on their own, but what about the design and testing process? Jones explained, “Once a prototype is made, it is tested on a variety of surfaces and vehicle types from different roads (a lot of which are in the U.S.), and in off road conditions. Testing is always ongoing with all Toyo Tires products in order to ensure product quality is maintained throughout their line of products.” As a very agile company, Toyo Tires is able to rapidly design and implement changes, when needed, to best serve the off road community, and we appreciate that!
In order to properly test these hot-off-the-press Open Country R/Ts, we needed a rig that was notoriously hard on tires, so we enlisted the help of a Cummins-diesel-powered 2008 Dodge Ram 2500 4×4 – a favorite among ranchers, Baja chase teams, and those who tow loads that would make most trucks cry.
The stock truck sits very high straight from the factory, and considering we are huge fans of the low-center-of-gravity look, stuffing as large of tires into a wheel well as possible, we decided to install Toyo’s 35×12.50R17LT-sized R/Ts. We brought the truck into the shop, took off the well used and already oversized tires, and proceeded to mount the Toyos. Offering two different sidewall designs, we chose the side we thought looked best with the Ram’s clean body lines and made quick work of the installation. The tires mounted without any trouble and balanced very easily – a feat considering their size and a true testament to Toyo’s design processes.
With the tires mounted, balanced, and installed back onto the truck, it was now time to hit the dirt and see what they were made of.
Off Road Performance
The proving ground of choice was a local’s favorite off road spot that consists of a good mixture of heavy rocks, hard packed dirt, loose gravel, a sandy wash, and when it actually rains in Southern California, mud. Right away we noticed that the Open Country R/Ts have gobs of forward bite in each of the varying surfaces. With their unique tread pattern, the truck was very easy to maneuver across the uneven terrain at high speed and does not get “locked in” to directional grooves that would otherwise require a considerable amount of driver input to correct. Rather, these tires tracked straight across a wide variety of speeds and when steering input was given, would predictably change the vehicle’s trajectory with minimal input.
While traveling at a high rate of speed across a trail covered in fist-sized rocks, again the tires displayed their consistent and predictable handling characteristics. Thanks to the stone and mud ejectors, once we stopped, we noticed that we did not get any rocks stuck in the tread that could cause damage to the tire or vehicle.
With the tires inflated to 35 psi, we decided to put the truck in four-wheel drive and head down into the wash – a sand-filled four-mile stretch of terrain that closely resembles the sand washes found in Glamis and Ocotillo Wells. Normally, when we venture into the wash, we air down the tires, even with four-wheel drive. This time however, in our thirst for a good time, we decided to head down as-is to see how long we could make it. Much to our surprise, traction was not an issue at all, even at low speeds.
With minimal throttle input and requiring next to no wheel-spin, we were able to go anywhere we wanted throughout the wash at speeds ranging from a brisk walk up to 55 mph. We experienced a good amount of flotation at speed and then when accelerating from a stand still in the sand, instead of digging into the earth below, we noticed a significant amount of forward bite that instilled a great deal of driver confidence. Climbing a 45-degree blown out sand hill to get out of the wash proved to be no problem at all as the tires clawed and fought their way right to the top, again with minimal wheel spin.
Finally, we headed to do some low speed crawling through medium to large rocks and the tires performed as expected with a lot of forward grip and lateral hold when on off-camber terrain. With their proprietary compound and muscular sidewall pattern, we experienced good side bite, and upon inspection had nearly no sign of damage on the tires after our afternoon of abuse. All in all, these tires got two thumbs up off road!
On Road Performance
Our on road test has been conducted over the last 1,000 miles of freeway and city driving. The first thing you need to remember about the Open Country R/Ts is that they are not silent like passenger car tires – they make noise, although not as much as you would expect based on their design. For a solid off road tire, especially one that has mud terrain styling cues, these tires are very quiet. A low level humming noise is all that can be heard, even at 75 mph on the freeway.
As a matter of fact, the owner of the 2500 test truck previously owned Open Country M/Ts on a past vehicle and commented that the R/Ts are significantly quieter – about the same noise level you would expect from your typical all terrain tire. In addition, they displayed a similar handling trait on road as they did off road by not wandering around on the highway, even with uneven road surfaces and California’s own longitudinal highway grooves that can be a handful with a poor set of tires.
The center set of lugs also provide a smooth ride on road since there is minimal gap between them. As such, this same set of lugs also provides a solid feel through turns – even when driving at a rate of speed that most wouldn’t expect a three-quarter ton truck to attain. Finally, with their 45,000-mile warranty, it was only fitting that the tires showed nearly no wear after a spirited 1,000+ miles of on and off road use.
From our time with Toyo’s Open Country R/Ts, we can confidently say this is a set of tires that live up to their expectations. With strong on and off road grip that instills confidence in the driver, the go anywhere and do-it-all nature of these tires will fit well with anyone’s high-octane lifestyle. For more information, check out Toyo Tires online and keep it locked to Offroad Xtreme!