Competition is always healthy for an industry and ultimately for the consumer. Over the past three years, significant improvements in all-terrain tire design and compound development have resulted in exponential advancements in both on-trail and on-road performance. Traditionally, SUV and truck tires needed to be highly specialized. A tire that performed well in the rocks suffered greatly on ice and snow, compromises evidenced by their seasonal use. As of late, hybrid compounds and advanced tread designs allow manufacturers to offer all-season tires that can live on your vehicle throughout the year.
The A/TW was designed with this in mind, but with an emphasis on winter performance. Cooper’s engineers started with a completely new design and focused on the compound, for improved adhesion, and a tread construction that allowed for good mechanical keying in wet and icy conditions. The other objective was to provide four-season trail traction and longer tread life. To test the A/TW we mounted a set of 215/85R16 tires on our unmodified 1995 Range Rover Classic restoration project. A tall, narrow tire works well for stock exploration vehicles; the thin profile provides optimal vertical load and minimal frontal resistance in light snow.
The tires required a minimal balancing weight, and it was immediately apparent that the A/TW would be a quiet and comfortable tire. On the road, the tread blocks and carcass minimized felt impact and harshness from cracks and expansion joints. Under braking, the tires provided excellent grip and induced no notable wander. With those insights in mind, it was on to the trail and a fresh coating of Northern Arizona snow.
I spent most of the trip driving on unplowed roads with snow depths ranging from a few inches to nearly a foot. I was impressed by the grip the tires provided at full operating pressure. The traction under acceleration and braking were both excellent, which would be expected from a tire with the M+S and severe weather rating (3-peak mountain snowflake). Cooper engineers revealed that the A/TW was so effective that it outperformed most of its competition by over 20 percent, and was nearly 30 percent more effective than their excellent AT3 on ice and snow. Performance on ice is nearly that of a dedicated winter tire, and has the benefit of four-season utility and a 50,000-mile tread warranty.
The crucial obstacle during testing was a fresh layer of snow on the Broken Arrow Trail near Sedona. I arrived in the thick of the storm and no other vehicles had yet ventured onto the red rock. I positioned the Range Rover for a climb and engaged low-range. Under light acceleration, the vehicle inched forward, busting through the thin crust and pushing a half-foot of snow. At the first ledge, the front tires gripped and pulled as the rear axle articulated over the uneven rock face. I was certain the tires would slip, but the long-wheelbase Classic continued to climb. The rear traction control engaged and within seconds I crested the ledge. While it would be easy to credit the Range Rover or the driver for the easy ascent, I have no doubt it was the Coopers that made the grade. coopertire.com, 800-854-6288