When it comes to light truck tires, there are a vast amount of choices for style and ride. Whatever you choose depends on your application, but as we all know sometimes ego plays a role. When visiting a tire store, the focus should be on what the main uses of your light truck, van or SUV are and to what degree. If you are a daily commuter with a passion for some occasional wilderness on the weekend, it could make a difference in your choice of tires. To simplify the differences, I will refer to the three basic designs as highway, all terrain and mud terrain or off, road as they are often referred to. They could be broken down further into commercial, winter, race or even extreme etc. but for this post we’ll stick to the three basics.
Highway Terrain Tires
A Highway Terrain tire usually has what is referred to as a rib designed for a reliable quiet ride and longer tread life. A rib design refers to the tread pattern being designed with symmetrical blocks for a smoother predictable ride. Many times they look like they form straight consistent pattern to allow for better straight line stability on paved roads. We won’t get into all the features incorporated into the Toyo Open Country HT highway terrain tire that helps reduce noise or increases tire life, but it should be noted that although they are listed as highway terrain you should not be fooled by the relatively tame look. This style of tire takes into consideration the need to be ready for some off road driving and it is prepared for such a challenge. It is a general workhorse.
All Terrain Tires
All terrain tires are usually the most versatile light truck tire offering more options for on or off road use. The tread pattern is usually designed with a larger block pattern and an increased void between the blocks to allow for better grip on gravel, dirt, mud or whatever. There have also been advancements in shoulder design allowing for a more aggressive and efficient grip when off road, while still allowing for a smoother ride on the highway compared to a more aggressive tire. Toyo Tires has spent a lot of time and effort to ensure the design of their Open Country A/T II tires gives an exceptional amount of grip yet offer a smoother ride. They are further matched to your driving needs by being offered in three different styles. They vary from the dependable light truck and P-metric sizes to the aggressive performing and looking Xtreme size offerings.
Mud or Off Road Tires
Mud terrain tires are the most aggressive and really the most specialized type of light truck tire. They are designed to take you to places a highway or all terrain tire cannot. They are also known for that aggressive look that enthusiasts like. Aggressive larger tread blocks are designed to cut into any terrain. These larger blocks in the past have created a bit of a problem. They were always hard to balance and generally they can be very noisy, especially in the later life of a tire. Based on new design and manufacturing methods, Toyo was able to produce the Open Country M/T mud terrain tire with previously unheard of uniformity levels in this type of a tire. What this means is you get a more comfortable ride, longer tread life without giving up the needed traction in a very aggressive looking tire; truly a well-respected combination.
Now does this information answer which type of light truck tire is best for you? Ultimately it is your choice and hopefully the tradeoffs are clear. It is always best to look at the quality of the construction of the tire as it does make a difference in the application and especially in the later life of the tire. Things like ply ratings and a tire’s reputation could be the difference between actually getting through the back country as opposed to getting stuck in it.