We reported in Loaded 4X4 Issue 001 about the imminent arrival of Toyo’s new (to Australia) Rugged Terrain (R/T). Well, we can tell you that they’re here now and that’s good for we on and off-roaders, because there’s a genuine halfway-house between all-terrains and muddies. Toyo refer to it as a “hybrid”, and that’s a pretty good description.
Now let’s get a declaration of my interest in Toyo’s product out in the open. I get to drive a lot of vehicles fitted with all sorts of tyres and patterns. In my part of the world muddies aren’t the highest of priorities (I mostly work and live in SA), yet I have a set of Toyo’s Open Country M/Ts fitted up onto a set of CSA Raptor alloys for winter. My training track can get particularly sodden, so for that one environment they do the job of providing reliable grip, but would I have them on all the time. No. That might be different if I lived somewhere else that was damp all year round. The M/Ts see service on my DMAX between June and September, and then they get swapped out.
On another set of wheels (CSA Granite alloys) I’ve got Toyo’s OPAT2s fitted. They’re all-terrain, and much better suited to a normally dry South Aussie set of conditions, and they get the driving duties for the rest of the year.
Both sets I paid money for. It’s important for me to be able to advise my clients and report faithfully to you dear reader independently and without influence, based on my real-world experience and for you to know I arrived at these choices based on observations I make in the course of my business and personal touring because it’s dinkum.
So back to the R/T. I like the premise upon which this tyre is made. It’s the tyre that will become the great all-rounder in Toyo’s 4WD range.
The tread pattern is aggressive but not in the way a muddie is. It’s got a centre face area that’s all-terrain with shoulders that resemble a mud. I haven’t driven with them yet, but we will be soon, and we intend providing updates on tread wear, noise and comfort in future issues, but the feedback I’ve had from Toyo’s boffins initially is they’re not rowdy.
That’s an often quoted comment on the Toyo USA website too, and those US consumers should know because mall crawlers are big business in the States. If you want bragging rights the biggest, gnarliest and therefore loudest muddies will be top of your shopping list. Those same stadium tyres get a bit tedious over time and having to continually crank up the stereo to drown out the thrum of rubber hitting the road, will make you crave something quieter. One report I read suggested that the R/T was no noisier than the stock tyres that were fitted to his ute. If that is true, that is exceptional.
Now you’ve noted I said Toyo USA. The R/T has been available in the States for a few years now, and that’s good for us Down Under as it’s a proven pattern. Speaking of which the pattern is pretty uniform with big tread blocks laid down like a set of geometric tessellated tiles. I like the way the voids have a direct route to the shoulder of the tyre which will make pumping water off a road and clearing goop from the tread face a lot easier.
The same voids have ridges called evacuators that’ll also help to spit out rocks and gravels that might ordinarily get hung up in the gaps and to assist in the grip department the sidewalls have a sawtooth pattern on the shoulder that’ll lend some extra ability in a rut. I’m looking forward to trialling these in the Flinders Ranges scrabbling up a steep mountain face on some loose scree. I’ll be expecting some flexibility in the carcase when aired down so the tyre can mould itself to the shape of the rocks and grip rather than sit up high and bounce.
The other expectation I’ll have is that the R/T’s manners on bitumen are as good as the OPAT2, since most of us spend a lot of time on-road, driving to get to a location before selecting 4WD. The tread blocks on a muddie are tall, and they’ll squirm on a hard turn, and you’ll feel that sensation. It’s that sensation that has the potential to create a loss of control in an emergency change in direction. Some muddies are better than others in this regard, but I’d like to think that this hybrid pattern would pass the “Moose Test”. As a driver educator, I worry a lot about the Mall Crawler look because the combo of too tall a suspension and tall tyres better suited to mud, change the handling dynamics of a 4WD big-time. Have a read of what Nick had to say about the trend and what a poor set-up can do handling-wise in his column in issue 002 of our magazine.
I suppose the Rugged Terrain’s nearest rivals might be Cooper’s ST-Maxx, Mickey Thompson’s ATZ or BFG’s KM2 (although that is more muddie), so some of you will be familiar with the dual-purpose role these types of tyres are designed to fill. I reckon they’re pretty big shoes, work on bitumen, work on dirt and rocks, work on sand, work on mud. We’ll see.
In the meantime, head over to Toyo Tires website and check out the R/T.