Is “all-season performance tire” an oxymoron? What about “all-terrain”? Don’t get me wrong – I know we are all ultimate badasses around here who do nothing but track days and/or rock bouncing, so this doesn’t really apply to us. We’ll drive on slicks in a hurricane, and tow a boat down the highway with the vibration from our hand-cut mud bog tires slowly liquefying our internal organs.
But what about the other 99% of the world who would like to not feel like they’re going to die on the way home from work if they gambled and drove the muscle car that day and there’s a light dusting of snow on the interstate? Or the truck owners who use their vehicles as a way to get to a destination sometimes, not as the destination itself?
Cooper Tire understands their needs, and offers rubber designed to hit your personal “balance point.” For high-performance driving, there’s the Zeon RS3-S, a “three season” tire, and the Zeon RS3-A all-season tire. Both are asymmetrical designs, available in sizing for popular performance cars like Mustangs and Camaros. As a matter of fact, the RS3-S is factory-fit on new Roush Mustangs.
The RS3-S features large outside shoulder elements for predictable dry traction, as well as four wide circumferential grooves – a combination that provides outstanding grip in good conditions, and far fewer near-death experiences should a bit of rain come between you and the road.
The RS3-A takes weather tolerance even farther, with 3-D micro-gauge sipes that interlock under lateral load to maintain tread block stability while greatly improving wet traction, and a wide, sweeping elliptical groove that is actually designed to hold snow – snow-to-snow traction being far greater than snow-to-ice-cold-rubber. If you’re the kind of person who drives your “good” car year round, the RS3-A makes an excellent choice.
For the truck market, there’s even more choice, but for the sake of simplicity, we can look at Cooper’s Discoverer A/T³, S/T Maxx, and STT. The A/T³ takes a balanced approach with a 5-rib all-terrain design that uses coupled tread blocks for excellent stability and on-road handling. The S/T Maxx ups the ante off-road with a hybrid 4-5 rib pattern, non-parallel groove walls to help prevent chipping and cutting, and stone ejector ribs to discharge debris. The sidewalls also feature 3-ply “Armor-Tek3” construction to resist punctures and tears.
Finally, the STT maximizes off-road traction with a high void design and tread blocks that extend into the sidewall for better bite in soft surfaces, as well as improved abrasion resistance on the shoulder areas. Between these three Discoverer designs, drivers can choose the tire that best fits how they actually use their rig in the real world, rather than ending up with a tire that only makes sense three or four times a year.